Meeting during the international convention of Chabad rabbis held in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Chabad rabbis talk about freeing convicted felon Sholom Rubashkin, and say that of politicians want our support, they will have to help Rubashkin to get it.
Chabad To Politicians: If You Want Our Support And Access To Our Members, You’ll Have To Pressure The Department of Justice And The White House on Behalf Of Convicted Felon Sholom Rubashkin To Get It
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Is Chabad breaking the law?
What you'll see below are two brief videos shot today in Crown Heights.
Chabad-Lubavitch is holding its International Conference of Shluchim (official Chabad representatives) in Crown Heights. A meeting was held during that convention and attended by approximately 50 Chabad shluchim from across the US. It was held in a classroom of Oholei Menachem, the school started by the late Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, located at 667 Eastern Parkway. It featured convicted felon Sholom Rubashkin's lead attorney Nathan Lewin.
The meeting took place at the same time and in the same building as a resource fair that is an official part of the convention but which features "outside" vendors who pay for space to display their products.
However this meeting was not held in the same room as the resource fair and does not appear to have been an official part of it.
Instead, the meeting was held in classroom located on a floor above the resource fair, and it was attended by Chabad shluchim from across the country.
Rubashkin, the former VP of Agriprocessors and a leading member of the Chabad community, was convicted on 86 felony counts of bank fraud and related crimes in 2009. His appeal and his subsequent request for an en banc hearing were denied. His legal team is currently preparing to appeal to the US Supreme Court.
The meeting was meant to update Chabad shluchim on the Rubashkin case and to coordinate political efforts by those shluchim to obtain Rubashkin's release.
In the first video, you'll hear a Chabad rabbi address the meeting and say that at first, Rubashkin's Chabad advocates had trouble getting congresspeople to exert pressure for Rubashkin. But because we're now in election season these congresspeople are now contacting Chabad shluchim and asking to speak in Chabad Houses and Chabad Synagogues. (He cites a couple of examples of Chabad shluchim so contacted, one of them Rabbi Reuvi New of Chabad of East Boca.) And then he says that we have to tell those congresspeople that supporting Rubashkin is necessary if the congresspeople want Chabad's support.
By law, religious organizations can not take sides in elections. They can not support candidates.
They also can't do what these Chabad shluchim are trying to do – using access to their congregations and photo ops with religious leaders as a quid pro quo granted to politicians in return for specific political favors. (I.e., things like: "I'll let you speak at my synagogue, I'll hook you up with wealthy donors and I'll pose for pictures with you and publicize them – but I'll do all this only if you get me government money. But if you don't try hard to get me that money, I won't let you speak to my membership and I won't do anything to support your reelection. I'll deny you access to my members or schedule you when the fewest number of people will attend. And I won't introduce you to any wealthy potential donors.")
It seems to me that Chabad should lose its tax exempt status for doing this.