Could Obama’s growing problems with the community translate into popularity
for our least-favorite Sarah? Despite a new website, most experts say no.
If you believe the conventional wisdom about the 2008 presidential election, Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama was having a very tough time garnering Jewish support before Sen. John McCain picked a running mate. Polls in the Jewish community had Obama getting about 55 percent of the Jewish vote, as much as 20 percentage points lower than John Kerry or Al Gore, the two previous Democratic presidential candidates.
N.Y. area rabbis, some feeling ‘forced,’ wading into rocky political waters; anxiety seen in pews.
As the strain in U.S.-Israel relations continues, some area rabbis who generally don’t mix religion and politics on the pulpit are setting aside those constraints.
“People were asking me and my hand was sort of forced,” said Rabbi Perry Rank, spiritual leader of the Midway Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue in Syosset, L.I. “My sense is that Mr. [Barack] Obama has unnerved the American Jewish community and people are looking for a perspective on the issue.
I present below, in its entirety and without further comment, former mayor Ed Koch's latest essay on the tensions between the White House and Israel. In it, he concedes that some will call him alarmist, but finds some parallels between the administration's treatment of Israel and the Roman siege against Jews at Masada.
Okay, everybody knows Ed Koch is a former New York mayor and a major player in Jewish politics. In 2008 he campaigned aggressively for Democratic nominee Barack Obama; these days he's giving President Obama heartburn by leading the charge against his current Middle East policies.
But Ed Koch is also a film buff and a keen-eyed critic, as recipients of his movie review emails know.
Mr. Koch was kind enough to share his top movie picks of the past 12 months with the Jewish Week:
Newest City Council member marks his victory, but has some powerful enemies.
Assistant Managing Editor
In his decisive victory in last week's hotly contested City Council race in Brooklyn, David Greenfield made good use of some powerful friends who helped him carry the day.
They included former Mayor Ed Koch, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose endorsements gave his candidacy credibility; Sephardic community leaders who quickly filled his campaign coffers; Brooklyn's Democrat chair, Vito Lopez, who provided ground troops to get out the vote, and Mark Botnick, a former aide to Michael Bloomberg, who helped corral the mayor's endorsement.
The gesture of recognition came very late in the day, but when a major American Jewish organization last week honored Yuri Fedorov — a non-Jewish human rights activist who served 15 years in Soviet prison camps for his contribution to the cause of freeing Soviet Jews — late certainly felt better than never.
The $8,500 in NY state aid per pupil attending charter schools should also be available to parents of religious school students.
George N. Spitz
Special To The Jewish Week
Repealing or ignoring the last remaining vestige of bigotry contained in the New York State Constitution, the so-called “Blaine” amendment, could open the door to providing parents with children attending religious schools — Jewish, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Greek Orthodox — with the same approximate $8,500 annually per pupil that charter schools receive, all deducted from the budget of the local school district that the charter school pupils would otherwise attend.
Last January, dozens of well-heeled New Yorkers gathered at Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria to raise money for the archbishop of New York's last gesture toward the Jewish community he held so dear.
The archbishop's birthday dinner raised $1.5 million for the establishment of the John Cardinal O'Connor Distinguished Chair in Hebrew and Sacred Scripture at St. Joseph's Seminary, the Westchester institution that trains future priests. O'Connor wanted to teach seminarians greater respect for the Jewish roots of Christianity.
As the "Sensation" storm raged last month, the fact that a Catholic mayor was accusing the Brooklyn Museum's Jewish director of promoting Catholic bashing was noted but not highlighted.
Now with the controversy being decided in Manhattan Federal Court, Jewish involvement in the affair is being scrutinized further, even as it becomes clearer that the city's Jewish community has split along political lines.
Some kids growing up in south Brooklyn in the 1960s had heroes such as Mickey Mantle, John F. Kennedy or The Beatles. For Madison High School graduate Chuck Schumer, it was his grandfather Jacob, a Polish immigrant.
“My real hero is my grandfather,” Schumer said fondly during a recent interview.
It was a quiet, touching moment, free of the increasing nastiness of the campaign trail, in which Schumer, the veteran Democratic Brooklyn congressman, is locked in a contentious, too-close-to-call battle to unseat longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato.