With the passing of Sheldon Silver on Monday, the Jewish world lost its most indefatigable, loyal and productive advocate in government. In the course of his over forty years’ service in the New York State Assembly – and as its speaker from 1994-2015 – he was responsible for the enactment of more legislation protecting the rights of Jews to practice their religion than any other legislator on the federal state or local levels.

It was largely through his work that in almost all instances where Jewish religious practice clashed with standard societal practices – such as Sabbath Observance and the five-day work week, civil service and college entrance exams scheduled for Saturdays or religious holidays, autopsies, anatomical gifts, the agunah problem and much, much more – Shelly Silver was there for all of us in the Assembly and the courts as pro bono counsel.

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Truly, it is not hyperbole to say that over the years Shelly Silver wrought a virtual revolution in the way observant New Yorkers are able to go about their daily lives while remaining true to their faith.

He was one of a kind and someone who comes along once in a very long while. He is sorely missed.

May his memory be for a blessing.

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