Magazine article Tablet Magazine

The Rabbi Who Influenced Paladino's Speech

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

The Rabbi Who Influenced Paladino's Speech

Article excerpt

Yesterday on The Today Show, Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino implied that some of his more gay-bashing prepared remarks Sunday were written in consultation with unnamed Orthodox Jewish leaders, who, he added, "went too far." The cryptic pseudo-blaming makes more sense now that we know about Yehuda Levin, an Orthodox (though not Hasidic) right-wing Brooklyn rabbi who several months ago offered to help Paladino navigate Brooklyn's religious Jewish communities. Paladino worried about winning these votes after calling Sheldon Silver "an Antichrist and a Hitler." But Levin agreed with Paladino's diagnosis of the (Orthodox Jewish) Assembly Speaker and he wished to lend his aid. Levin avers that while he did not pen Sunday's controversial speech, "I did have some input into itand I stand ready to defend the content of it."

Paladino's campaign manager, Michael R. Caputo, saw the relationship with Levin as a way for Paladino to break into Democratic rival Andrew Cuomo's Hasidic support, since Paladino's positions on abortion and gay marriage jibe with most Hasids'. The problem, as the New York Times's Nick Confessore explains, is that most ultra-Orthodox rabbis "preach traditional values in shul but are highly pragmatic when it comes to picking politicians to endorse, backing winners and those most likely to deliver resources to their communities"which, in this case, would lead them (and has led them) to endorse Cuomo. …

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