After a candidate endorsed by a local Orthodox group easily won election as Democratic committeeman in Edison’s District 27, the losing candidate attributed the defeat to a personal vendetta.
Dr. Alan Singer defeated Craig Prupis 113 to 39 in the June 7 primary election in the heavily Orthodox district.
Singer had been endorsed by the Kehilla of Raritan Valley. With about seven board members and 18 executive committee members, the Kehilla is — according to a letter it sent out two years ago, before the last election — “a broad representation of prominent and well-respected individuals gleaned from the seven Edison/Highland Park Orthodox synagogues.”
Both Singer and Prupis are Orthodox Jews.
“I’m not upset about losing the election,” said Prupis. But, he said, he was upset that the Kehilla’s letter of endorsement for his rival referred to Singer as “one of our own.”
“What do they mean — I’m not one of their own?” asked Prupis in phone conversation with NJJN. “I have lived in this house [in Edison] since 1979. Because I went to Rutgers, I began going to [Congregation Ohav Emeth in Highland Park] when it was still in New Brunswick back in 1973.”
Prupis said he assumed the endorsement was meant as a slight toward him because he is not a Kehilla member, but rather “an independent voice for the Orthodox community.”
Dr. Israel Rivkin, who chairs the Kehilla, told NJJN the Kehilla gave its endorsement to Singer because he asked them for it.
“We have nothing against Craig, but we never heard from him,” said Rivkin. “Alan came to us a while ago and asked, and since he’s a nice guy, a real people person, we gave it to him.”
Two years ago the Kehilla also sent out a letter endorsing Vincent Guarino, who had held the seat for more than 30 years, over Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg. The religious leader at Conservative Congregation Beth-El, Rosenberg has Orthodox ordination and has been a member of the Orthodox Congregation Ohr Torah in Edison for more than 20 years.
When Guarino decided to retire, he asked Singer, who is a neighbor, if he would be interested in taking over the seat, Singer had told NJJN.
Prupis said he was astonished to read in the June 7 edition of NJJN (“Orthodox candidates vie for seats in District 27”) that Rivkin said he had never asked for the endorsement, since he had approached Rivkin in Ohr Torah — where Rivkin serves as gabbai, a top lay position — several months before the April 11 filing date inquiring whether Guarino was running.
“I told him that if Vinnie wasn’t running I wanted to,” Prupis said. “Izzy never answered me. I asked him every week.
“Who is the Kehilla but Izzy Rivkin?” asked Prupis. “If you look at the letter, the return address is his home address. No decisions are made without his approval. His problem is with me personally because I don’t seek his approval.”
When contacted by NJJN, Rivkin said he would not comment on the allegations because doing so would drag the issue out.
“It was a good election, a fair election, and that’s it,” he said. “We just need to bring an end to this and get on with life.”
Prupis praised Rivkin for “the amazing amount of work” he puts into the upkeep of the community eruv, or Shabbat boundary, and other matters, such as arranging with the township to dispose of forbidden leavened products at Passover.
“He battles for important religious issues,” said Prupis, a former township council candidate. “He’s established a relationship with various officials over the years. He has whatever relations he has, and if business or professional people go to him for help, that’s fine.”
Neither Singer nor Prupis was aware the other had filed.
“I look forward to serving the community,” said Singer. “I haven’t seen Craig since the election, but when I do we’ll shake hands and continue to be friends.”