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Orthodox rabbi says new polling place means congregants can't vote

Posted: Friday, October 20, 2000

TEANECK, N.J. (AP) -- The township's move of a polling place from an Orthodox Jewish synagogue to a Lutheran school has drawn sharp criticism from a rabbi who says this effectively prevents his congregants from voting.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky told The Record of Hackensack that ''Jews are prohibited from entering churches, so this would prevent them from voting.''

Teaneck officials moved the polling from Pruzansky's synagogue to a school connected to a Lutheran church less than a mile away. When a 1999 election fell during Passover, the synagogue forbade poll workers to eat during 14-hour shifts due to holiday dietary restrictions.

The principal of the Lutheran school said it has a separate entrance from the church so Jewish voters won't go near the sanctuary. There is a crucifix on the wall but the area is not used for Christian worship.

Rabbi Steven Dworken of the Rabbinical Council of America, which represents 1,000 Orthodox rabbis nationally, said if the entrances are separate Jews would not violate the prohibition.

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