With the days rapidly closing on the projected Crown Heights election, but no updates from the CHJCC or the Rabbonim, many wonder if the elections will ever happen. CrownHeights.info contacted the CHJCC and Rabbonim to gain clarity.
The Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, which advocates for Crown Heights causes and helps the Crown Heights Jewish Community, has not held a successful election in eight years. The last attempt at an election happened three years ago, and fell apart in its beginning stages.
In what appeared to be a welcome return to proper procedure and the possibility for change, the CHJCC announced mid February in a letter to the Rabbonim that elections would be held in June/Sivan of this year.
The letter called on three Crown Heights Rabbonim to choose the members of the election committee by February 28th, with each being able to name two members to the committee. The three Rabbonim were, Rabbi Osdoba, Rabbi Schwei, and Rabbi Braun.
The deadline came and passed without word from neither the Rabbonim nor the CHJCC. So will the elections actually be happening?
In a phone interview with CHJCC Executive Director Rabbi Eli Cohen, CrownHeights.info was told that the CHJCC and the Rabbonim were working together to bring the elections to fruition.
When pressed, Rabbi Cohen admitted that only Rabbi Schwei and Rabbi Braun were actually in talks with the community council, with no plans to actively try to bring Rabbi Osdoba on board.
Rabbi Osdoba, the Mara Dasra of the Crown Heights Beis Din, denied any communication with the CHJCC beyond receiving the initial letter.
He went on to highlight that having the Rabbonim choose the election committee and bypassing the “Netzigim,” was an inappropriate way of going about the elections.
When asked what would happen should Rabbi Osdoba not send his representatives to the committee, Rabbi Cohen answered that the decision of how to proceed would fall to Zaki Tamir, the chairperson elected 8 years ago.
Rabbi Cohen also pointed out that the Netzigim format was still an option for this election, should they get together on their own.
With the Rabbonim fractured, and only one side working with the community council, many in the community fear another election collapse, leaving Crown Heights again fractured and polarized.