Photo Credit: Daniel Schwen / Wikipedia
Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

“I’m proud to have been one of the foot soldiers…to protect a woman’s right to choose…. It’s clear that Roe [v. Wade] is at risk from Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointees.”

“Protecting access to safe and legal reproductive healthcare …is a priority for me because a woman’s right to choose is under assault from Washington.”

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“Equality for all citizens is a fundamental constitutional and moral principle. We are all equal under the eyes of the law and G-d, and marriage equality is no exception, and that’s why I support [gay marriage].”

Who made these statements? A liberal atheist? A graduate of Chovevei Torah?

No. According to the Chicago Tribune, they come from the mouth of the newest member of Illinois’ General Assembly, Rabbi Yechiel “Mark” Kalish, formerly national director of government affairs for Agudath Israel and currently a member of its board of trustees.

In a private e-mail to supporters, Kalish denied making these statements. Yet, a week has passed since the article’s publication, and he still has not publicly repudiated them. In other words, for an entire week, he has let the public believe that an Orthodox rabbi can celebrate gay marriage and abortion-on-demand. Doesn’t he care about the Chillul Hashem he is causing?

Moreover, the Chicago Tribune is hardly the only outlet to have reported that Kalish holds liberal social views. In a Chicago Sun Times article that Kalish proudly tweeted, he is quoted as saying, “As it relates to issues that may come up in the Legislature, I will support the law of the land. And if the law of the land is Roe v. Wade, I will support Roe v. Wade.”

That same article quotes former Rep. Lou Lang – who chose Kalish to replace him in Illinois’ General Assembly after he resigned – as saying, “Just because he’s a rabbi and just because he works for an organization that is pretty conservative does not mean that he is not personally progressive. I would never, ever appoint somebody to replace me that didn’t share my values.”

What that means, reported Politico, is that: “‘Yes,’ [Kalish is] pro-choice. ‘Yes,’ he supports gay marriage.” As Kalish reportedly told Lang, “The voters of [Illinois’] 16th District won’t notice a difference in my voting record compared to yours.”

Is Kalish now claiming the Tribune, the Sun Times, and Politico are all lying? And was the Chicago Tribune also lying when it reported that he attended the governor’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that has resulted in the deaths of 60 million babies?

Considering the damage he’s done and the lack of judgment he’s shown, the only way forward for Kalish is to apologize, recant, and resign. Additionally – due to Kalish’s close association with Agudath Israel – members of that organization’s Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah need to clearly state that they absolutely oppose gay marriage and abortion on demand. Dare we remain silent when 83 percent of Americans in a recent poll agreed that there should be restrictions on obtaining an abortion?

A Tanzanian cardinal recently urged his government to refuse huge food shipments for his country’s hunger-stricken population if accepting it would mean decriminalizing homosexual behavior. Dare we be less principled than this righteous gentile?

Agudah needs to speak out on other issues as well. Where was it, for example, when pro-transgender legislation passed in New York two weeks ago? Why did it say nothing when Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal and Steven Cymbrowitz voted for this bill as well as Gov. Cuomo’s radical abortion bill that, among other things, permits withholding lifesaving treatment for a baby that survives a botched abortion?

The homosexual lobby would never be so cavalier about its agenda. Can we be cavalier when it comes to the Torah’s agenda? Henceforth, Agudah must reassure us that it will only act in political circles based on the guidelines of gedolim. We need to read a series of in-depth articles and guidelines written personally by Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Rav Aharon Feldman, Rav Elya Brudny, and other rabbanim with Torah sources on voting for immoral legislation and relating to politicians who champion it.

Our community is starving for strong leadership. It wants uncompromising moral leadership that will serve as a beacon for millions of pro-family Americans who wish to keep this country anchored to its biblical foundations. We – the am hanivchar – cannot be AWOL when moral values that haven’t been challenged since pagan times are under attack. Believing Christians are fighting. Where are we?

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