When Gov. Larry Hogan makes a transportation announcement in Montgomery County Thursday, some local elected officials are likely to be absent.
It’s Rosh Hashanah. Many of the local politicians are Jewish. And some are less than impressed with the political savvy of his scheduling.
“I am surprised and disappointed that the governor would hold a major event on the Jewish New Year,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who is Jewish. “It seems unlikely that they would hold a similar event on Good Friday or Christmas out of respect for Marylanders observing their faith.”
Kagan, who received an invitation Wednesday, noted that half of the county’s Senate delegation is Jewish.
Hogan’s invitation to the Gaithersburg event promised a “major multi-jurisdictional transportation announcement.” Messages left with the governor’s office were not answered.
Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary’s College, noted that Montgomery County has a significant Jewish population.
“I would consider that to be a faux pas,” Eberly said. “Why would you schedule a major announcement for a day that is a holiday for those folks?”
Eberly said somebody on Hogan’s scheduling staff is likely to receive a “severe tongue-lashing” but added that “the buck stops at the top.”
Several Jewish members of the Montgomery County legislative delegation did not answer their phones in the evening. Under Jewish law, the holiday began at sundown.
Montgomery Del. Kirill Reznik, reached while there was still light in the sky, said it “probably wasn’t the best timing.”
Even though he normally isn’t shy about criticizing Hogan, Reznik said he wasn’t upset.
“These kinds of things, they’re timed when they’re timed,” he said. “It’s a constant issue that Jewish legislators contend with.”
Reznik noted that the House of Delegates typically meets on two Saturdays each session but never meets on Sundays, the Christian sabbath.