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RED BANK: YOM KIPPUR SESSION CANCELLED

hot-topic_03-220x138-9108919By JOHN T. WARD

Less than 48 hours after a divided Red Bank council voted to hold a public session on Yom Kippur, the meeting was cancelled late Thursday.

In addition, the three councilmen who voted to hold the meeting walked back from their positions Friday.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, who had no vote on the matter at the council’s workshop meeting Wednesday night, announced the cancellation on his Facebook page late Thursday.

By a 3-2 vote, the decided Wednesday to stick to its schedule and hold its next meeting on October 9, Yom Kippur.  The meeting date had been approved by the council in January, apparently without anyone noticing that it fell on the one of Judaism’s holiest days of the year.

Councilwoman Kate Triggiano argued for cancellation, on the grounds that the holy day, known as the Day of Atonement, would prevent some residents from attending the meeting.

She and Council President Erik Yngstrom voted to cancel the meeting, while council members Michael Ballard, Hazim Yassin and Ed Zipprich voted to stick to the schedule and hold the meeting.

The outcome “surprised” Triggiano, she said, and drew criticism on social media.

Thursday night, Menna announced the meeting would not take place after all, with this posting on Facebook:

At the Workshop Meeting of the Council, we discussed cancelling the meeting of October 9th due to the Yom Kippur holiday. The motion to cancel the meeting failed by a vote of 3:2 of the Council.

As Mayor I cannot vote unless there is a tie.

As Mayor I do have the prerogative to determine the calling or cancellation of meetings as appropriate.

I have individually polled the members who voted to cancel and the absent member [Councilwoman Kathy Horgan] to see if they would attend the October 9th meeting as a matter of principle. They will not.

I also will not attend the meeting out of long standing respect for the traditions of our residents.

As a result, the Council will not have a Quorum and cannot legally convene.

The meeting is therefore cancelled.

Here’s what Ballard, Yassin and Zipprich said via email Friday in response to a redbankgreen inquiry into their reasons for favoring the meeting:

BALLARD:

My opinion to hold the pre-scheduled October 9th Council meeting was based solely on my responsibility as an elected official to conduct the business of the borough as scheduled.  After outreach and further reflection, I better understand the importance of the religious observance and support the decision to cancel the meeting.  I believe, however, that going forward the Borough’s annual calendar of meetings should be more inclusive and deferential to all important religious holidays during the planning stage.

YASSIN:

If you recall, my concern was that I wanted to make sure we were showing reverence to all religions. I still want to be sure that we are treating all religions equally moving forward.

After reaching out to local Jewish leaders, we as a council felt it was best to not to proceed with the meeting and I respectfully agree.
I want the administration to be conscious of all religious holidays in planning all future meetings.

ZIPPRICH:

After reaching out to religious leaders in our community and having met with one local rabbi, i  have a better understanding of the important Holy day and the respect it deserves.

Understanding this I encourage the administration to carefully and respectfully plan all future meeting dates. I concur with my colleagues to suspend the October 9 meeting.
Rabbi Dovid Harrison, of Congregation Beth Shalom on Maple Avenue, told redbankgreen by email that he was thankful to Menna and the council for “working together to resolve this matter.”
He also said he would reach out the council and borough Clerk Pam Borghi so “that we can work together in the future to avoid such conflicts before they arise.”
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