Yesterday, the American Republican Jewish Coalition (a group I had never heard of until this weekend) held a gathering featuring the president. There were three main things about this little shindig that has Jewish Twitter (Jwitter?) talking about. Some of these are problems, in my opinion, and some are not. Let’s try and take these sequentially.
- The Day of the Meeting – The day the meeting was held was a Saturday. Yes, that’s right a Shabbos. The Shabbos is supposed to be a day of rest and no work should be done (of course the Orthodox Jews have a lot more restrictions than Conservative or Reform Jews.) I think it is in bad taste and a poor choice for the American Republican Jewish Coalition to have a political gathering on Shabbos. I do want to be fair and make a
counter point. It is possible none of the people responsible for putting this together have an idea about what Shabbos means and how important it is to many Jews. Regardless I think since they were working with the White House (where at least one Orthodox Jew in a position of power) there should have been some feedback about the day.
- Trump Dealing the Dual Loyalty Card – You need to be fair and where there is anti-semitism you need to call it out regardless of where it comes from. The President of the United States to the American Republican Jewish Coalition that Israeli Prime Minister was “their Prime Minister”. In my opinion, this is nothing short of saying that Jews have dual loyalty.
If we are calling going to call out Ilhan Omer for her accusing Jews of having a dual allegiance, we need to call out anyone who does that. This includes the President of the United States.
3. Dayenu – Near the end of the section of the Seder where we retell G-d taking us out of Egypt there is a part which is almost always sung called Dayenu (translated as “It would have been Enough). The song has a verse about a miracle G-d performed and ending with the chorus of “It would have been enough”. It seems that they created their own song based on what President Trump has done.
Some commentators like Jonah Goldberg didn’t like this revision.
I understand his point, but I will disagree. I don’t think that this is a big idea. Yes, it is a degree of a cult of personality and it would be if former President Obama had a similar song. However, in the scope of things, I don’t think this warrants as something to get bent out of shape about. As a nation, we have been slowly but surely creating a cult of personality of whoever the current is at that time. This is a societal problem I don’t think we will be solved anytime soon (for a good book on the topic check out The Cult of the Presidency written by Gene Healy).
The biggest problem here is the dual loyalty accusation. These kinds of things can’t stand. It doesn’t matter who is saying it.