Judaism — it’s a big religion; America — it’s an even bigger place.
But one man — one brave, self-sacrificing man — has taken upon himself the weight and burden of serving both constituencies, of being just the Jew that this country needs, of being: America’s Rabbi.
I’m sorry, did I say “one man”? I meant “five men.”
There are five American men (and yes of course they’re men) currently laying claim to the title of “America’s Rabbi.” Five, can you believe it? Why, that’s as many books as we have in the Torah! We’re going to have to add a chapter to our Holy Scriptures, or at the very least create a field guide, to sort them all out.
So allow me to present to you: A Field Guide to “Rabbis, America’s”
As the election enters its final stretch, the Forward is making some final projections for our congressional scorecard based on the latest polling results.
We now predict at least 31 Jews — 10 in the Senate and 21 in the House of Representatives — will serve in the next Congress, a slight rise from the initial projection of 30.
But the biggest shift doesn’t change the numbers either way. We are now projecting that Rep. Brad Sherman will likely win his intramural fight with fellow Los Angeles Jewish Democratic Rep. Howard Berman.
The race, which ranked as one of the nastiest in the nation, has been seen as close from the beginning when they were thrown together to fight for one seat due to redistricting in the suburban San Fernando Valley. The two even nearly got into a physical altercation during debate. Berman had the backing of Democratic heavyweights, while Sherman held on to a strong ground operation.
Jewish Republicans closed Monday night at a fancy Cuban-style restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City district. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson entered the Columbia restaurant accompanied by RJC director Matt Brooks and what appeared to be a bodyguard.
Adelson, sporting a short sleeved shirt in an otherwise jacket and tie crowd, seemed at home with the many Republican delegates and operatives filling the restaurant, where a strip steak costs $33 and ‘La Reina Isabella’ veal chop goes for $29.95.
Noticing the interest from journalists in the restaurant, the Adelson party quickly moved to another part of the restaurant, where they were later joined by another Jewish Republican, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach who is running for Congress in New Jersey’s 9th congressional district and has recently received Adelson’s endorsement.
Also speaking to the Adelson’s was CBS Radio reporter Dan Raviv, author of books on Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman’s defeat in the Democratic primary on June 5 has presented the state’s 9th district Jewish voters with a choice, between a non-Jewish Democrat and his rival, a Jewish Republican.
Democrats consider the district safe, meaning they do not feel it is in danger of falling into Republican hands and most Jewish residents of the newly-drawn 9th district, which includes Bergen, Passaic and parts of Hudson counties, are also seen as leaning heavily toward the Democratic side.
For them, Steve Rothman was an ideal candidate. One of the top players on the pro-Israel scene, a moderate in his views, and well known to his fellow Jewish constituents.
His rival, and now the Democratic candidate, Bill Pascrell has less of a track record with the Jewish community. He previously represented a district with a more significant Muslim population and had less contact with Jewish voters and activists.
Pascrell will be facing in November Rabbi Shmuli Boteach, the winner of the Republican primary. Boteach, who aims to be the first rabbi elected to Congress, is well known both within the Jewish community and outside. A rabbi to the stars who has broadened his reach to write about sex, family life, and Jesus Christ, Boteach is hoping to win over Jewish voters who might have voted for Rothman but are now wary about Pascrell.
When lobbyist Jack Abramoff appeared in federal court, where he was eventually convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy, he faced a sartorial dilemma.
Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew, wondered whether he wear his kippah and risk smearing the Jewish people with his transgressions? Or should he cover his silver mop with a fedora, which would diminish his religiosity in the public eye? In the end, Abramoff went with the fedora, a look, he said, that garnered him accusations of being a gangster.
Abramoff’s soul searching, which he details in his new book, “Capitol Punishment,” was of great interest to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the Orthodox pop writer and spiritual advisor to the stars. Boteach invited Abramoff, who got out of prison last year, to a chat in Manhattan Thursday night to talk about Abramoff’s Jewish identity, his crimes and punishment.
The take-away was simple: if Abramoff was ambivalent about expressing his Jewish identity during his sentencing, then he has decided to embrace it full-on as he seeks repentance.
Sitting in the front of a wood paneled room on the 10th floor of the Manhattan Jewish Experience on the upper West Side, Boteach acted the stern therapist to Abramoff’s strangely gregarious penitent.
After Nancy Pelosi asked the House Ethics Committee to look into the Anthony Weiner sex scandal, The Washington Post talked to the former staff director of both the House and Senate ethics committees, Robert Walker. He made the sensible point that there’s nothing to investigate unless somebody shows some evidence that a law or congressional rule was broken. “If the only evidence out there… clearly indicated that this was personal conduct only between consenting adults, I just don’t see a reason why the ethics committee would or should take it up,” Walker told the Post. “Even if people think it’s reprehensible conduct, that doesn’t mean it’s an ethics violation.”
So far there’s no evidence of either. Zip. What there is, is a whole lot of hand-wringing about how awful men behave, how something has gone wrong with the American male (here is Rabbi Shmuley ‘Kosher Sex’ Boteach explaining how Weiner embodies the Broken American Male, and here and here he is beating the topic to death, and he’s hardly the only one) as though we had somehow just discovered that men are horny bastards who can’t keep their zippers up. Hasn’t anybody ever heard of King David and Bathsheba? Joshua and Rahab the harlot? Thomas Jefferson?