“I signed on to be a Rabbi for Obama. There are no other clergy groups, such as Imams or Priests for Obama. Really, what Jewish person wants to vote for a guy who believes all Jews should move to Israel so that we can all finally convert and bring the end of time and go to heaven or be burned up in the Apocalypse?” — Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Lynn Gottlieb is the center of the storm regarding the Democrat Party’s developing of a “Rabbis for Obama” list. Articles have appeared in numerous publications concerning her rather radical views about Israel. Among other things, Gottlieb demands equality for Palestinians residing in the territory “from the Mediterranean to the Jordan” (apparently oblivious to the fact that Arabs living in Israel who opted for citizenship, were accorded the same rights as any other citizen) and decries the persecution of Palestinians by Israel. To that end, she has supported the call of anti-Zionist organizations for a boycott against Israel’s exports. There is an outcry among Israel supporters demanding that the President distance himself from Gottlieb, and the handful of other “rabbis” who share her views.
Associated with and ordained by the Jewish Renewal Movement – arguably the most “progressive” expression of Jewish religion in America today, her view, stated above, is remarkably un-liberal when it comes to devout Christians, or in this case, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. It’s particularly ironic given the long history of Jewish organizations condemning those among the Christian clergy who would urge Americans not to vote for Jewish politicians, as they do not accept the “true” Messiah.”
This author is distraught by the attitude of so many Jews who are all too willing to be friendly with mainline church groups who traditionally have had rather negative views toward Israel, and in their not too distant past advocated the vile and contemptible accusation of Deicide against the Jewish people, yet are quite unwilling to be friendly with Evangelical and Pentecostal church groups who express strong support for the Jewish state. For me, as a believing Orthodox Jew, all my actions and attitudes in life are formed and informed by my religious belief. Frankly, I can find no justification for remarks such as Gottlieb’s in our Jewish tradition.
It is fundamental to Jewish belief that all human beings are beloved by G-d. Further, Judaism does not require our non-Jewish neighbors to convert to Judaism to live a godly life. As for other religions, to the extent that they conform to the principles encapsulated in the Seven Noachide Mitzvot (the laws that, our Sages tell us, serve as the guideposts for life as a righteous gentile, all of whom share the merit of being descended from Noah), they enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of Judaism. As for their theories concerning the end of days, with all due respect, as a Jew, I must state that I do not believe they will come to pass, as they are not in accord with what we are told in the Hebrew Bible and taught by our great sages, making them totally irrelevant in my evaluation of the moral and ethical posture of an individual.
Surely what is most important in evaluating a potential leader of society, especially one who wishes to be the leader of the free world, is to understand his/her value system and attitudes toward the many moral issues presently being debated in our society today.
And while it is true that I, as a Jew, find many of the theological precepts of Mormonism to be difficult to comprehend, there is no question that the concepts of family, decency, respect, and attitudes toward such issues as marriage, fidelity, personal responsibility, charity, the sacredness of life and the Biblical work ethic exhibited by Mormonism are very much in tune with Jewish values.
If we are to judge a candidate by his church affiliation, one should harbored grave concerns about our current president, who, for 20 years, attended a church well known for its anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and racist attitudes, and who considered its controversial pastor to be his “spiritual” father. These views were not mere conjecture of what may come to pass in the future. They were specific attitudes, which mold the views and actions of individuals in the African American community. Yet, unlike Rabbi Gottlieb, I do not use the beliefs of President Obama’s former church to condemn him, but rather listen carefully to what he says and watch what he does to come to a proper conclusion about the nature of his belief system.
What has become eminently clear in Jewish life today is that all too many Jews believe that a liberal social agenda is Judaism. Any cursory review of Judaism, both in terms of the values depicted in the Bible, Talmud, and rabbinic literature over the past several thousand years, and, a modest anthropological study of the social structure of Jewish society over those years, would bring one to the opposite conclusion. As the years move on the liberal social agenda less and less bespeaks a Jewish value system.
President Obama, when in the Illinois State Legislature, supported a radical position on abortion and has yet to back down from it – a position which the late liberal Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan criticized as being “too close to infanticide.” As for President Obama’s vigorous support for the State of Israel claimed by the signatories to the “Rabbis for Obama” list, I share with you a letter I received from then-Senator Obama on the subject. Unlike most politicians who respond to a Rabbi clearly indicating an affinity for the positions of Israel and many times stating their support of Jerusalem as the eternal and united capital of the Jewish People, Obama lists the issues the Palestinians recount as unresolved or needing further work including the future status of Jerusalem and refugees. You be the judge.