A Jew Shouldn’t Vote for a Believing Christian, According to Rabbi Gottlieb

by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

“I signed on to be a Rabbi for Obama. There are no other clergy groups, such as Imams or Priests for Obama. Really, what Jewish person wants to vote for a guy who believes all Jews should move to Israel so that we can all finally convert and bring the end of time and go to heaven or be burned up in the Apocalypse?” - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

Lynn Gottlieb, as you may know by now, is the center of the storm regarding the Democrat party’s developing of a “Rabbis for Obama” list. Articles have appeared in countless newspapers concerning her rather radical views about Israel. Among other things she demands equality for Palestinians residing in the territory “from the Mediterranean to the Jordan” and decries the persecution of Palestinian farmers by Israel who merely wish to live from the bounty of the earth upon which they toil. She has supported the call of anti-Zionist organizations for a boycott against Israel. There is an outcry demanding the President distance himself from her, and now it seems seven other rabbis on the list who share her opinions, or that rabbis whose names appear on the list remove their names from that list.

Associated with and ordained by the Jewish Renewal Movement – I would suggest, the most “progressive” expression of Jewish religion in America today – her view, stated above, is remarkably un-liberal when it comes to believing Christians, in this case, Gov. Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. I find it remarkable, indeed astonishing, as for years Jewish organizations would condemn Christian clergy, who urged that Americans not vote for Jewish politicians, as Jews do not accept the “true” Messiah.

I have been disturbed by the attitude of so many Jews who are all too willing to be friendly with mainline church groups who traditionally have had rather negative views toward Israel and who, in their not too distant past, advocated the violent and contemptible accusation of deicide against the Jewish people, yet are quite unwilling to be friendly with evangelical and Pentecostal church groups who express strong support for the Jewish state. For me, as a believing Orthodox Jew, all my actions and attitudes in life are formed and informed by my religious belief. Frankly, I can find no justification for remarks such as Gottlieb’s in our Jewish tradition.

It is fundamental to Jewish belief that all human beings are beloved by G‑d. Further, Judaism does not require our non-Jewish neighbors to convert to Judaism to live a G‑dly life. As for other religions, to the extent that they conform to the principles encapsulated in the Seven Laws of Noah, those laws. our sages tell us, serving as the guideposts for a righteous life for the non-Jew, they enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of Judaism. As for their theories concerning the end of days, with all due respect, as a Jew, I must state that I do not believe they will come to pass, as they are not in accord with what we are told in the Jewish Bible and taught by our great sages, making them totally irrelevant in my evaluation of the moral and ethical posture of an individual.

Surely what is most important in evaluating a potential leader of society, especially one who wishes to be the leader of the free world, is to understand his/her value system and attitudes toward the many moral issues presently being debated in our society today.

And while it is true that I find many of the theological precepts of Mormonism to be difficult to comprehend, in terms of what we as Jews understand, there is no question that the concepts of family, decency, respect, and attitudes toward such issues as marriage, fidelity, personal responsibility, charity, the sacredness of life and the Biblical work ethic exhibited by Mormonism are very much in tune with Jewish values.

Frankly, if we are to judge a man by his church affiliation, one should have had grave concern about our President, who, when he first ran for his office, for 20 years attended a church well-known for its anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and racist attitudes, and considered its controversial pastor as his “spiritual” father. Frankly, unlike Rabbi Gottlieb, I do not use the beliefs of President Obama’s former church to condemn him, but rather listen carefully to what he says and does to come to a proper conclusion about the nature of his belief system.

What is become eminently clear in Jewish life today is that all too many Jews believe that a liberal social agenda is Judaism. Any cursory review of Judaism, both in terms of the values depicted in the Bible, Talmud and rabbinic literature over the past several thousand years; a modest anthropological study of the social structure of Jewish society over these years would bring one to the opposite conclusion. As the years move on, the liberal social agenda less and less bespeaks a Jewish value system.

As for President Obama’s vigorous support for the state of Israel claimed by the signatories to the Rabbis for Obama list, I share with you a letter I received from then Senator Obama on the subject. You be the judge.