Letter from Rabbi Egolf 12/8/2016

For Ourselves…

When I was growing up I remember a Saturday Night Live skit featuring the self proclaimed Father Guido Sarducci. On this particular evening he held up a picture of a pizza and invited the viewers to play the game with him ‘Find The Pope in the Pizza Contest.’ Now looking at the picture it was … a pizza. Yet the next week the Sarducci announced that there were 254 popes in the picture of the pizza. However, let’s be honest, it was a picture of a pizza, and I never saw any pope’s image in the pizza.

Today it feels as if there is a new game afoot. Not about finding popes, rather about finding anti-Semites, and not in a pizza. As new leadership is sought, regardless of political stripe, the new game is accusing the other political party of having the greater anti-Semite(s). It is hard to see white supremacists offering a Nazi salute to the president-elect. Yet as the debate devolves, all the ongoing conversation offers is a choice of which anti-Semite is worse. At first it was Steve Bannon whose ex-wife leveled charges of anti-Semitism against the president-elect’s pic. Then there is the article which appeared in the newspaper where Bannon was the editor entitled, Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew. Where do Jews turn?

This week we find the game of ‘who is the worse anti-Semite’ has another named contender. In this week’s Forward Bannon’s supporters sought to paint the leading candidate to take over the DNC in this light. As of this writing Representative Keith Ellison is the leading candidate for heading the DNC. In the December 2, 2016 edition of The Forward an article by Nathan Guttman claimed that Ellison was accused as being “even worse” than Steve Bannon. The ADL came out against him, yet in looking at the entirety Ellison’s remarks (something our ADHD culture has no time for any more) folks might draw different conclusions.

As I write this I believe that it is time to turn from both the left and the right. If we tolerate anti-Semitism from either party or its leaders, then we are tolerating danger. No party may be inclined to work against its own interest. This could mean that either is willing to throw American Jews under the bus. When politicians the claim of American Jewish citizens to religious liberty as a weapon against them…we should not and must not accommodate anyone politician questioning our rights as American citizens. As Jews we have one interest. That is a political framework that is against hatred and persecution of minorities. Hiding behind party labels is not confronting the true issue we continue to face as American Jews.


Rabbi Jim