Sheldon Silver was ‘broken man’ at Shabbat services after conviction
Sabbath services at the Lower East Side’s Bialystoker Synagogue felt funereal Saturday as its star congregant — disgraced ex-Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver — fell from grace, again.
The 74-year-old, convicted Friday for the second time for selling his office for $4 million in kickbacks, showed up as usual for the 7 a.m. service at the historic shul.
But where he was once treated as a celebrity and bestowed with honors, his fellow worshippers gave him a wide berth and the mood was somber “as if someone had died,” one observer said.
There was no special prayer of healing as both the rabbi and the rabbi’s assistant offered after the Democratic leader’s 2015 arrest — an accommodation the politician declined at the time.
And Silver was not called upon to read a blessing over the Torah, which is considered an honor.
Now facing up to 130 years in prison after Friday’s guilty verdict in federal court, he sat largely alone in a corner of the synagogue’s basement prayer space.
“The whole entire time he was just sunken into his prayer book. He seemed like a broken man,” the observer said.
Congregants seemed to walk on egg shells around him, offering a traditional “Good shabbos” greeting, but then quickly moving on.
He joined the 20 or worshippers in attendance for the kiddish meal after the service, sitting together at one long table.
A congregant discussed the day’s Torah portion saying that God would not cast out a member of the community “so we too shouldn’t cast anyone out,” according to the observer.
But the words were cold comfort to Silver who merely nibbled on the warmed over meal of potato and noodle kugels, herring and cholent, a traditional stew. Small glasses were set out for a drink of schnapps.
After the meal, Silver picked up a prayer book again and headed to sit back down in the shul alone.
Sentencing for Silver, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016, is scheduled for July 13 and he was allowed to remain out on bail.
He said outside the courthouse Friday that he was “disappointed” and would pursue an appeal. “I am very confident the judicial process will play out in my favor,” he said.
But the enormity of the situation seemed to weigh heavily on Silver Saturday.
“He seemed worried and sick,” the observer said.
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