Gary Schaer: The Orthodox Jewish Assemblyman


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schaer.jpgAssemblyman Gary Schaer was nowhere to be seen as lawmakers gathered in the wee hours of a Saturday morning for a critical budget vote. Schaer, a Passaic Democrat, was in the lower level of the State House, studying religious texts and sleeping.

With lawmakers poised to pass the budget and end a week-long government shutdown last summer, Schaer designated an aide to cast his vote.

The reason for Schaer’s disappearing act was simple. He’s an Orthodox Jew — the first one in the New Jersey Legislature — and can’t work on the Jewish Sabbath.

“I couldn’t be on the Assembly floor,” Schaer said recently. “But the rules of the State House are such that if a [legislator] is in the building, then someone else can vote for him.”

The freshman assemblyman for the 36th District frequently faces such dilemmas as he tries to balance his rigorously traditional brand of Judaism with the demands of a seemingly 24/7 political career.

(Story taken from NJC)


  1. The fact he was in the legislature on Shabbos struck me. I was wondering if there is a heter for it.

    (Obviously I am not asking him or for a psak din, just wanted others input on this issue. That is what this forum is here for.)

  2. Blue Pinky – It sounds awfully close to working on Shabbos. Would you go to your office on Shabbos so your goyish employee could do some business?

  3. I’m just amused at the statement that he was “studying religious texts and sleeping.” Doing both at the same time, I imagine. 😉

  4. Blue Pinky – It sounds awfully close to working on Shabbos.

    To me it sounds like learning and sleeping on shabbos. It specifically does NOT sound like working.

    Would you go to your office on Shabbos so your goyish employee could do some business?

    I’m sure this man’s set of circumstances are quite different than mine. Regardless of that, what you or I would do does not define issur and heter. See, this is why we have poskim!

  5. No, because they would all have slept through the entire Shabbos! There would have been no session until they got over their stomach aches sometime Monday afternoon. Now chicken soup, that’s another matter.

  6. Reb Motcha- It seems that you don’t know the power of cholent. Beats chicken soup by miles.
    #1- His name is Shaer – and wasn’t taught in kidergarten to share.
    #2 – Did you read the text?
    This was a ‘critical budget vote’. They could’ve been counting beans!
    #3 – Quoting Shaer “I couldn’t be on the Assembly Floor” Well after a good plate… they would all have such BOICH SVORESS that all of them would’ve been stretched out on the ‘Assembly Floor’.
    #4 – Just send him to Lakewood to Yusssi’s before his next Shabbos vote. He’ll be a winner all the way.

  7. Joseph, who are you to get involved in Mr Schaer’s life. He is a fine man, a baal tesuvah who decided to be frum. For you to come on a public forum and imply that what he did was questionable is wrong and certainly on the border of loshon hora. In the future , please refrain from being frum on yenems cheshbon and worry about your own life before publicly criticizing someone elses.

  8. mike, I am not involved in his life. But if someone publically does something that is a possible issur of chillul Shabbos Kodesh, and calls his himself frum to boot, it is incumbent on all to point out there is nothing frum about going to a workplace or doing a maaseh chol on Shabbos Kodesh. To do less is to deny Shabbos Kodesh its true Kedusha.

  9. Joseph, did anyone appoint you to be a shabbos czar? Trust me there are frum people in every ones community who consider themselves frum and do things on a daily basis that are against halacha. But does that make it your business to criticize them? What he did is between him and G-d and none of your business.
    Please study hilchos loshon hora and find me a heter to question someones actions in a public forum. In fact shemiras halashon only authorizes to talk loshon hora about someone who is a mumer beyisroel.I don’t think Mr schaer falls in to that category.

  10. mike, again, if someone publically reduces Shabbos Kodesh to a weekday, it is incumbent that we protest. Because others violate halacha in other regards, does not justify reducing the great sanctity of Shabbos Kodesh. When it is done publically, it is not a matter between him and G-d. It is a public issue. It must be addressed. And it must be protested. Period.

  11. Joseph, you are so flawed in your thinking. He did not do any work on shabbos. He had a non jew cast a vote in his name by either saying yay or nay. You are skirting the issue on loshon hora.You have still not provided me with a heter of speaking loshon hora about someone whom in your mind went against halacha. Instead of going on about how he desecrated shabbos, please respond with your heter why this is not considered loshon hora.

  12. I will not respond if you cannot address my concern. Define loshon hora.I was taught in school ( and correct me if I was taught incorrectly) that if you see someone doing something wrong it is forbidden to tell someone else regardless what the individual did was true or not true. Why in this case, which seemingly in your mind he did something wrong, is it permitted to publicize his transgressions? I challenge you to provide me with any heter.

  13. mike, You keep repeating the same mantra requiring me to repeat myself: If someone publically disgraces Shabbos Kodesh every Jew must protest. When someone tramples publically on the Torah it is no longer a private matter of loshon hora. If the Klal fails to protest, it will give the uneducated the impression that it is okay.

    The point here is that you cannot have your employee or subordinate do a melacha for you on Shabbos Kodesh, even if he is a goy. And you further cannot enter your place of business, in this case the legislature (as he has done), to enable someone else to do a melcaha on Shabbos Kodesh for you.

    This is from Aish HaTorah (and is a well-established principle in the Torah):

    One is only required to begin correcting a person privately if he sins privately. If one is committing a sin in public, however, where others may learn from him, then he should be publicly corrected.


    (Editor: I know you don’t like links. This is to If it is still unacceptable, please just remove the link.)

  14. mikedrezz – time for my two cents to be added to the conversation. Joseph DID NOT publicize the senators actions. go all the way back up to the article and you will see that this contains a link to another publication that had interviewed the senator. Joseph is commenting on the actions of the senator – something that was made public by the senator.

    if you think he is wrong and it is acceptable for the senator to work 24/7 as it says in the article so be it – the point is no longer worth arguing with you. If you still feel that Joseph is writing Loshon Hora, then you must feel that YW is guilty of Loshon Hora AND the senator is also guilty of speaking Loshon Hora (about himself).

  15. Joseph, you might want to read the entire link you sent me.
    “However, a person who has been brought up in a nonreligious environment where he never had the opportunity to learn about Judaism, is like a child who was abducted, and is not considered to be doing wrong purposely. Even if he is later exposed to authentic Judaism, he is not to be blamed for rejecting it, since it is almost impossible to overcome one’s childhood” upbringing. Therefore, such a person is not to be counted among the nonbelievers, and he should be approached with love and with every attempt to bring him back to the teachings of our faith.

  16. YW does not have a problem degrading YU or modern orthodoxy, yet when serious allegations against the orthodox are raised YW never reports on it. Never.Double standard.Thats what it is. Shame on all you fakers and morons who have absoloutly no conscience.

  17. mdlevine is correct (Thank You.)

    And mike, my point (from Aish) still stands. If it was done publically, we must correct him publically so others do not think it is okay to do. (This doesn’t change regardless of the persons upbringing.)

    And finally, after losing the argument on the (Torah) merits, fully sourced, you have been reduced to calling anyone and everyone who disagrees with you and (again, with sources) points out the factual errors in your statements, with personal insults. ad hominem attacks have always been committed by those on a losing argument.

  18. Disregard the last paragraph. Comment #22 was made by someone else. My apologies. (The last paragraph is directed to the author of #22, which wasn’t clear.)

  19. I find Joseph’s argument to be very persuasive.

    Just because he is a baal teshuva, and we must do it with love and not blame (something no one in these comments has done), the correction must still be done publically (to insure others know it was wrong) since the original act was done publically.

  20. This aish link you sent provides no mareh makomos what so ever. In fact I asked my R”H, one of the leading ones in America , about this story. He happens to know Mr schaer and informed me that what he did was not keneged halocho what so ever.Joseph, you are no posek and you do not have the right to pasken. Since this is the case you have a moral duty to ask Mr schaer for forgivness.

  21. mike, I strongly disagree. Obviously we will have to agree to disagree here. But what Aish HaTorah quoted is a well-known principle in the Torah. If someone does something brabim, he must be corrected brabim. I will not argue a Torah point.