Agudah to Albany Legislators: Preserve Traditional Marriage


albany_delegation-smallAn Agudath Israel-sponsored delegation of a dozen community askonim from Brooklyn, Monsey and Queens traveled to Albany today to register strong opposition to any redefinition of marriage in New York State. A bill aiming to do that passed the State Assembly in May and is currently before the State Senate. The gravity of the issue was made clear at Agudath Israel’s recent anniversary dinner, when the Rosh Agudas Yisroel, the Novominsker Rebbe, addressed it prominently in his words to the gathering.

The delegation was led by Agudath Israel’s vice president of community affairs, Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, and was joined as well by the organization’s associate general counsel Rabbi Mordechai Biser.The delegation included: Chaskel Bennett, Rabbi Mechel Deutsch, Tzvi Gluck, Leon Goldenberg, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Chaim Israel, Mendy Israel, Yoel Lefkowitz, Sender Rappoport, Avi Schron, Rabbi Moshe Schwab and Yerucham Silver.

Among those with whom the group met were chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith, Shelley Meyer; Senators Ruben Diaz, Martin J. Golden, Carl Kruger, Thomas P. Morahan, John L. Sampson and Dean G. Skelos. The delegation also met with a member of Senator Toby Ann Stavisky’s staff, and the group was accompanied by Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

“The delegation’s purpose,” Rabbi Lefkowitz explained, “was to impress on legislators that this issue is one that our community truly and strongly cares about.”

According to the Agudath Israel representative, the group not only expressed the community’s essential opposition to changing a fundamental societal institution but emphasized how such legislation would in effect render New York residents with traditional values “bigots” and conceivably subject people with sincere beliefs to not only societal disapproval but even legal action.

That was a point made in two separate statements Agudath Israel issued in recent weeks, the first back in April, when New York Governor David A. Paterson introduced a bill to redefine marriage in the state; and the second, in May, as the members of the New York State Legislature consider the proposed legislation. The latter was a joint Agudath Israel and Orthodox Union statement, and a copy was provided to each legislator and the governor.

Members of today's Agudath Israel delegation to Albany, conferring with State Senator John L. Sampson.
Members of today's Agudath Israel delegation to Albany, conferring with State Senator John L. Sampson.

It spoke of the “the bedrock relationship of the human family” and its centrality “to the formation of a healthy society and the raising of children.”

“It is our sincere conviction,” the statement declared, “that discarding the historical definition of marriage would pose a severe danger to society in a variety of ways. Thus, we are compelled to protest the proposed redefinition of marriage for the State of New York.”

It warned, too, that should redefinition of marriage in New York occur, citizens of the state “who are members of traditional communities like ours will incur moral opprobrium and risk legal sanction if they refuse to transgress their beliefs. That prospect is chilling, and should be unacceptable.”

In reiterating that warning in person, the Agudath Israel askonim were putting a human face on the opposition to the bill. “Here,” said Rabbi Lefkowitz, “was a group of sincere, polite and impressive Orthodox Jewish citizens, well-spoken and clearly not bigoted – but whom this bill would turn into pariahs.”

Rabbi Lefkowitz would not speculate about which way he thought the vote would go. “All I can say is that the fact that twelve busy people took a day off of their work and family obligations to help us make this hishtadlus made a real impact – hopefully on the eventual outcome of the vote, but surely on the serious issue of k’vod Shomayim at stake.

{ Newscenter, Elisha Ferber}


  1. My Senator e-mailed me a half an hour ago.


    G (Toeivah) marriage is a problem, but children harmed by pedophiles is not a problem? What do your people stand for?

    I too was opposed to the bill, but after witnessing the blatant hypocricy of your leaders, I will vote for the bill.

    So no, this was not a succesful day of askanus in Albany.

  2. could you please provide a full copy (right here on Matzav) of the Email you claim to have in your possession ???

  3. Anonymous one,

    I too want to see the email you claim to have.I’m adding that the ‘Senator’ shouldn’t spend so much time on blogs (he/you are parroting the blog party line almost verbatim) and that he should learn how to spell…