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72http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/11/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---11_25_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 11_25_2011
11/24/2011 08:51 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 25, 2011

 

“How not to win the Jewish vote” was the headline of the article by Michael Medved in USA Today on Monday, November 21, 2011. It caught my attention. In the article, Medved writes, “Republican identification as the more viscerally, consistently pro-Israel party won’t attract American Jews as powerfully as they’ll feel repelled by the GOP image as the more outspokenly religious party --- and particularly the political home of the enthusiastic Christian Evangelicals.”

                Medved is right. There isn’t any political aspirant who wouldn’t support Israel and its relationship with the United States. You know the drill: it’s the only democratic, western, and modern state in the tumultuous Middle East, and the only true ally we have. Assuming, then, that all GOP candidates hold this position and wouldn’t negotiate it, there must be another litmus test that might separate them from potential Jewish votes.

                The single issue that would test even the most secular Jew would be a candidate’s outspoken religious message, and Medved means the Christian evangelical one. His article reminded me of an event that Lisa and I attended many years ago at Minute Maid Park, where a popular Houston preacher led a prayer on the occasion of George H.W. Bush’s birthday. Sitting with Jewish friends who invited us to join them, the preacher said, and I paraphrase, “Those who don’t join us in prayer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, please allow those of us who do to offer our thanks.” I remember feeling shocked; I turned to Lisa and remarked how alienated I suddenly felt for the first time in my life. It was a foreboding sign of the religious chasm that was growing in our country and with deep roots in Texas.

                Years later, when Rick Perry supported and attended the August 2011 event at Reliant Stadium to pray for rain, it offended Jews and mainline Christians, alike. As a keen observer noted last summer, Rick Perry prayed for rain and the state burned. However, on Yom Kippur 2011, following a day of solemn prayer, worshipers exited Beth Israel and saw a magnificent rainbow in the sky after the first day of rain we had had in many months. Obviously, it’s not a contest; but their noxious religious boundaries which are nothing new to us will be --- should be --- reasons Jews don’t vote for any candidate who opposes our Jewish positions on matters beyond Israel. In America, issues such as abortion, civil unions, women’s rights, comprehensive immigration reform, education, health care, and tax reform are all causes that carry with them formidable Jewish points of view with roots in Torah, not Texas.

                I’m not supposed to use my pulpit for partisan politics, but a Blog for religious rights seems terribly appropriate in our country that takes a cue from Torah, Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants.” This year so much is at stake and not just for the 99%. America needs a leader who can reach 100% of our nation’s men, women and children. Full from Thanksgiving, it’s time to preserve the reasons we are all grateful Americans, by supporting candidates who speak for everyone, no matter how they pray. Tell anyone who asks, that God hears Jewish prayers and Jewish votes count.

                From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving and Shabbat Shalom.

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