Scandal of all scandals- Mayor Katz, Councilman Feit, Councilman Rudolph, former Councilman Yitz Stern, and Teaneck Planning Board Chairman Joey Bodner are pictured in this week's Suburbanite while meeting with other Orthodox Jewish elected officials from throughout New Jersey. While many at tonight's Council meeting were quick to condemn this meeting as portraying some kind of disregard for other Council members or conveying the impression that religious ties somehow trump the issues, the individuals appearing in the photo are guilty of nothing more than having a tin ear for politics. Given current sensitivities in Teaneck, it is unwise for people in positions of power to play up their affiliation with the Orthodox Jewish community, unbelievable as that may seem (could anyone imagine members of the public or fellow Council members complaining if Council members Kates, Honis, and Parker joined a group of local female politicians for a meal or if Council members Honis and Parker appeared at a gathering of African-American elected officials?). Political considerations aside, did those who attended the meeting do anything wrong by going there? Absolutely not.
Mayor Katz's perfectly acceptable explanation for why he and others decided to attend the friendly luncheon meeting (as if any was needed) should close this absurd chapter forever. He and his colleagues have every right to freely associate with whomever they please. In fact, one might argue that their posing for a photo that was voluntarily released to the press by one of their number itself demonstrates that they probably were not up to anything untoward.
Though observers may fault their timing or question their political judgment, there are no apologies required here, and those who suggest otherwise should be ashamed of themselves.