Saturday, September 22, 2012

Debate planned for Jewish high holy day cancelled 

A Bay Ridge civic group has cancelled the neighborhood’s largest political debate — a heated back and forth between four pairs of candidates that stunned Jewish residents for being scheduled on Yom Kippur.

The Bay Ridge Community Council scheduled its so-named “Great Debate” for Tuesday, apparently unaware that the Jewish day of attonement began on the same night — a move that puzzled many Jewish Bay Ridgites.

“Most government offices are out and most other agencies and groups respect that day,” said Herb Karasik, chairman of the board of trustees for the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, who said Bay Ridge has a mall, yet significant, Jewish population in the predominantly Italian, Irish, and Arabic neighborhood. “There are Jewish people on the Council, and they wouldn’t be able to attend.”

Organizers apologized for what they called a “scheduling oversight” as well as “any offense it may have caused.”

“They must have miscalculated,” said Ted General, a member of the Council’s board of directors. “I think they knew Yom Kippur was the next day but not that the evening was significant too.”

The event was supposed to feature showdowns between State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Democratic challenger Andrew Gounardes, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge) and opponent John Mancuso, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Bay Ridge) and GOP rival Tom McCarthy, and Congressman Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) and Democratic contender Mark Murphy.

Debate organizers realized they erred when Brook-Krasny, a Jewish emigre from the former Soviet Union, told them that he would have back out.

“Any other holiday I would be able to attend, but Yom Kippur I cannot do it,” the six-term legislator said.

Brook-Krasny didn’t ask the Council to reschedule — and was trying to work out a plan where he could submit written responses in advance and have them read aloud at the debate — when the group decided to throw the event in the dustbin.

Organizers say they plan to reschedule, but have yet to agree on a date.


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