City Won’t Force Orthodox Jews to Go to Church — to Vote


Assemblyman Dov Hikind has intervened on behalf of his fellow Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn so they won’t have to cast ballots this November in a Catholic church.

Ecumenism goes only so far. Big crosses adorn St. Agatha’s in Sunset Park East/Borough Park, so this means that the Orthodox Jews may not have to be confronted with the question in the polling booth of who would Jesus vote for.

But many other New Yorkers have cast ballots in religious buildings, and they will again this year.

It looks as if another site will be chosen before the November 8 general election. But there’s no time for a switch before the September 13 primary, so Orthodox Jews objecting to the St. Agatha’s site will be casting their ballots at the Board of Elections under a special exemption regarding “religious scruples.”

Though public schools are typically used, numerous churches, chapels, Jewish centers like YWHAs, and even a Mormon church are among the hundreds upon hundreds of polling sites.

At issue is St. Agatha’s, at 736 48th Street. Hikind noted in a press release, quoted by the Forward and other Jewish news services, that there are large crosses on the interior and exterior of the church, which is a new location this year for voters in the 73rd and 74th Election Districts of the 48th Assembly District.

“Who knows how many Orthodox Jewish or other voters would have been disenfranchised by the Board of Elections’ decision to move these voters to a church?” Hikind was quoted as saying.