John Podhoretz writes about the event, which was live-blogged by Danya Ruttenberg. Podhoretz thinks that this idea of Obama's was nothing less than brilliant:
...These are the only days in the year in which one can expect American Jews to attempt, at least, to attend synagogue and listen to a sermon — and in an election year, Obama was offering these rabbis plenty of grist for their mills in convincing their parishioners to vote for him, at least implicitly.I thought it was interesting that at the end, Obama took questions--one from each of the 4 branches--and as Jake Tapper of ABC's Political Punch notes, the questions seem to reflect the segment of Judaism that each rabbi represents:
...What Obama’s team has done here is extremely clever. Pulpit rabbis do not go to the lectern and announce that their congregants should vote for someone. But they will be more than happy to do everything but — by attacking the notion that Obama is not a friend of Israel or of the Jews, by talking about the lies told about him, and the like.
By paying court and obeisance to a group of American clergy that actually doesn’t get this all that often, and at a moment of political peril for him, Obama has probably done himself a world of good.
Anyone familiar with those branches will not be surprised that the Orthodox rabbi expressed concern that Obama’s K-12 education funding plans exclude private religious schools, the Conservative rabbi asked Obama to talk about his recent trip to Israel where he met with various political leaders, the Reform rabbi asked how one addresses the economic needs of most Americans while not forgetting the poor, and the Reconstructionist rabbi asked, according to Ruttenberg, “how people of all faiths and people of no faiths can both speak from where they are (in their respective belief systems) and also come together.”The oddest comment seems to come from one rabbi who commented that is support of Obam
“is a case of both ahavat Mordechai and sinat Haman” (love of Mordechai and hate of Haman).That is the most potentially provocative statement since Obama's comment about lipstick on a pig and dead fish.
At least these 900 rabbis will have something to talk about to their congregations--not that it is usually such a problem.
Exit question: will Muslims feel left out that Obama did not have a similar conference call with 900 imams prior to Ramadan?
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