Felon Elected To Head Council in Brooklyn

By E.B. Solomont

Published March 18, 2005, issue of March 18, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A convicted felon has been elected leader of a government-funded Chabad-dominated community council in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

Despite serving a 15-month jail term for bank fraud, Rabbi Moshe Rubashkin captured 71% of the 1,208 votes cast in the recent election to head the Crown Heights Community Council. The council, a nonprofit group, receives $1.9 million per year in public funds to provide social services, including food stamps and affordable housing.

Some voters told the Forward that they hoped Rubashkin, a popular TK, would help bridge divisiveness in their community.

“I voted for Moshe Rubashkin,” said Chanina Sperlin, a longtime committee member. “Moshe Rubashkin is a fine man. Moshe Rubashkin loves to help Jews, and more than a Jew, a Jew who needs help.”

Rubashkin pleaded guilty to bank fraud in July 2002, according to court records obtained from the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania. He served a 15-month jail sentence, and is currently serving a five-year probation term.

Rubashkin’s victory was first reported last week in Newsday. The vote took place January 31.

His supporters praise him for clothing Israeli yeshiva students and for welcoming needy Jews to his annual Purim celebrations.

In a statement to the Forward, Rubashkin wrote, “The community leaders and residents were fully informed of all issues and honored me with their trust to lead us into a brighter future.”

City councilwoman Letitia James, whose Brooklyn jurisdiction represents parts of Crown Heights, was one of several elected officials who attended a Sabbath dinner at Rubashkin’s home following the election.

“I believe in the democratic process, and he received the overwhelming support of the Crown Heights community,” she said.

James noted that convicted felons may legally run for government-funded groups and that Rubashkin’s past had been disclosed to voters. “Who am I to judge?” she said.

At least one observer of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which controls the secular Crown Heights group, said that Rubashkin’s election could bridge the gap between those who believe that the sect’s late spiritual leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was the messiah and those who do not.

“Moshe Rubashkin served his time and is moving on in society,” the observer said. “The real story is that he is a practical guy who wants to heal internal divisions in Crown Heights.”

Still, the community group is taking pre-emptive measures. According to a spokesman for Rubashkin, the new community council head “will not be involved in the dispersement of checks out of an abundance of caution.”

The spokesman, who asked not to be identified, said that Rubashkin is “related to the family” that owns the AgriProcessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. He declined to elaborate.

The plant has been the target of a recent advertising campaign launched by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group, known as Peta, has claimed that the plant was employing inhumane slaughtering practices.

AgriProcessors has denied the allegations.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.