When the Rebbe Wouldn’t Support Chuck Schumer

In 1980, Susan Alter, a frum woman from Boro Park ran for Congress against Mr. Chuck Schumer. Quoting the “stand of Lubavitch,” she wrote to the Rebbe for support, who took his consistent position.

By Anash.org writer

Susan Alter was the first and only frum woman to serve on the New York City Council, where she served from 1978 to 1993. In 1980, she ran against Mr. Chuck Schumer for a position in Congress from the Sixteenth Congressional District.

A newspaper clipping from that time reports:

“Vying for Miss Holtzman’s position are four politicians heavily committed to the trade…

“Mr. Schumer, a 29-year-old, five-year veteran of the state Assembly, started running for office the morning after he graduated from Harvard Law School. Mayor Koch and Miss Holtzman have endorsed him.

“Susan Alter, a City Council member since 1978, who is in an unusual position as a woman representing an Orthodox Jewish community (in Borough Park), is financing half of her $100,000 campaign from the insurance she collected when her husband died.”

During that time, Mrs. Alter reached out to the Rebbe regarding a “stand of Lubavitch” she had received about the elections. It is unclear whether those rumors where in support of herself or of Mr. Schumer.

Regardless, the Rebbe took his consistent stand of keeping Lubavitch above politics.

The Rebbe responded with a letter, one that bears keeping in mind as the election season riles up Jewish communities in New York and across the country.

The Rebbe’s letter reads:

19th of Tammuz, 5740
Mrs. S. Devora Alter
1667 Flatbush Ave.
Brooklyn, N. Y. 11210

Blessing and Greeting:

I received your (undated) letter, and was surprised to read in it about a purported stand of Lubavitch in connection with the forthcoming elections for Congress from the Sixteenth Congressional District.

It is well known that neither I personally, nor the Lubavitch movement, take a public stand In any election to any office, which is a policy of long standing. It therefore surprises me how you could have received any impression contrary to this established policy.

With blessing,

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  1. Very misleading headline with a clear agenda to make it sound like the Rebbe supported Chuck Schumer…
    How do you take a letter of the Rebbe literally saying he won’t take a stand and twist it to support *your* stand? What a chutzpah. Need a חשבון הנפש

  2. “When the Rebbe wouldn’t oppose Susan Alter”
    “When the Rebbe wouldn’t promote Chuck Schumer”

    You get the idea…

  3. I don’t understand the headline. ” When the Rebbe wouldn’t oppose Chuck Schumer”
    Does that imply we shouldn’t oppose him now?
    Or that we should oppose him but the Rebbe didn’t then?
    Either way I think it is misconstruing the Rebbes words to mean the exact opposite of what the Rebbe said ” Lubavitch as a movement, does not take a public stand in any election”.

  4. if i may only suggest that the title of the article is very misleading, leading the reader to the conclusion that he should vote for a specific candidate, instead of the correct conclusion that the Rebbe doesn’t take a stand neither for or against any candidate or party. the title could just as well been “WHEN THE REBBE WOULDN’T OPPOSE theodore silverman” or even susan alter for that matter… i hope the editors will fix this issue very soon

  5. The title of this article is misleading and totally contradicts what the Rebbe said.

    This was CLEARLY not about “not opposing Chuck Shumer”. The Rebbe literally said that he/Lubavitch doesn’t get involved in politics.
    It is clear from what the Rebbe said that he doesn’t and wouldn’t oppose him/not oppose him/or support him etc.

  6. Why can’t the headline just be “when the Rebbe didn’t take a side”? Schumer is just a detail, now the headline sounds like the Rebbe was against him.
    This isn’t hard.

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