Rabbi Yehiel Mark Kalish has accepted an appointment to the Illinois House of Representatives, replacing the former deputy majority leader, Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie).
Kalish, who is a member of Agudath Israel of America’s board of trustees, established an Agudath Israel legislative office in the Chicago area in 2002. He served as Agudath Israel of Illinois’ (AIOI) Midwest Regional Director and expanded the reach of the organization by establishing additional regional offices in several states. In 2007 he assumed the position of national director of government affairs for Agudath Israel, and ultimately became the organization’s vice president for development and state relations. He is currently the chairman and CEO of S4 Group, a lobbying and business consulting firm.
While he has been working in the private sector for several years, his connection to AIOI has remained steadfast and strong. He maintained a very close relationship with the late Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin, member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages. His ongoing involvement in communal affairs has earned Kalish the respect and admiration of the broader Jewish community. With their encouragement and support, he agreed to accept the appointment.
Illinois House District 16 is demographically diverse and flows over the northwest tip of Chicago, spanning an area that includes Skokie, Lincolnwood, and Morton Grove. A growing number of Orthodox Jewish families reside in the district along with other ethnic groups. Outgoing State Representative Lang, a faithful public servant for over three decades, was a fierce champion of the Jewish community, as well as all others. When he announced his decision last week to pursue a business opportunity in the private sector, there was considerable angst over who his replacement would be. Under a weighted vote system, the Democratic committeemen in the district are empowered to select a replacement when a seat is vacated. The committeemen are former state Senator Ira Silverstein, Alderman Patrick O’Connor (40th), and Lang, who had the weighted vote. Along with fellow committeemen, Lang evaluated many qualified candidates and ultimately tapped Kalish to fill his seat. With a reputation for truly caring about broader society, and being effective while upholding the highest ethical standards, AIOI is confident that Rabbi Kalish will be successful in this new chapter of his life and will represent all of his constituents with passion and integrity.
“Rabbi Kalish has always been an invaluable asset to our community as a leader and advocate,” said AIOI’s director of government affairs, Rabbi Shlomo Soroka. “Now the beneficiaries will be his constituents and all the citizens of Illinois.”