This came in a few days ago – OK, we were out for Sukkot: Haaretz reports that American rabbis are coming out publicly for the two U.S. presidential candidates in record numbers this year – the early ones for Barack Obama, with a Rabbis for McCain coming soon, as well.
One of the Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative members, Sam Gordon of Congregation Sukkat Shalom, Wilmette, Illinois, was a founder of Rabbis for Obama. Gordon told Haaretz he has known Obama from the beginning of his public career, which makes sense, as Wilmette is in metropolitan Chicago, Obama’s home territory.
And a follow-up article in the same newspaper rates Gordon as one of the 36 (get it?) most influential Jews in the U.S. election cycle for that effort.
Gordon says the group includes rabbis from all streams of Judaism:
“More rabbis wish to sign and even Chabad functionaries support Obama, but wish to remain unnamed. More than we wanted to state our support for Obama, we felt the need to demonstrate our sympathy for him in response to the smear campaign waged against him in the Jewish community….I’ve met him several times and believe he will be an excellent president.”
Rabbi Gordon’s statement on the Rabbis for Obama website:
I have been a rabbi in Chicago for twenty-eight years. In all that time I have never publicly endorsed a candidate for office. As a congregational rabbi, I have always avoided taking such a public position. This year is very different. First, I have been deeply offended and outraged by the lies and smears about Senator Obama that have been specifically targeted to the Jewish community. I find it shameful that there are those who feel they can manipulate the American Jewish community through these attacks. As a Chicago area rabbi I have been fortunate to know Senator Barack Obama. I have met him on many occasions, and I witnessed his swearing in for his Senate seat in January of 2005. More importantly, people I know and deeply trust have known Barack Obama since his days at Harvard Law School.
Barack Obama is a man of incredible wisdom, insight, and integrity. His connections within the Chicago Jewish community could not be deeper. He has won the admiration and trust of many of the leading figures of Chicago Jewish life. Those who know him best recognize him to be a person who truly understands the American Jewish experience as well as the centrality to Jews and all Americans of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East and America’s strongest ally. He demonstrated a remarkable depth of understanding of Israel in his most recent visit there and impressed all those whom he met. I support him as well because of his commitment to an America called to its highest ideals. On all the major domestic issues Barack Obama shares the values of the American Jewish community. I am endorsing Barack Obama for president because I know him to be a man of incredible judgment and vision. This is the most important presidential election of our lives. These times demand that we elect Barack Obama President of the United States.
Do you think rabbis should take a public position on political candidates? The Haaretz article cites several leading U.S. rabbis who say the answer should be no. Write a comment and answer the poll question.