view counter
The Race For The White House: Two Views - A President Of Vision And Values
Mon, 10/15/2012 - 20:00

Jewish voters know the scene well. Politicians show up at our synagogues, community events and Jewish homes for the aging—all talking up “Jewish values,” all trying to speak the language of the Jewish community.

This election season, we are seeing more of the same. Yet the trick for our community and congregations is to decipher who really means it. It is to judge our political figures not by how well they can pronounce certain Hebrew terms, but how effectively they act on our shared values.

By this standard, there is no contest: President Barack Obama is the candidate who best represents our Jewish values. He is a leader of vision and integrity. His record reflects the embodiment of our deepest obligations: tikkun olam, tzedakah, shalom — to repair the world, to pursue justice, to seek peace.

When the president spoke to the Union for Reform Judaism late last year, he offered an unexpected d’var Torah on that week’s parsha, delivering a powerful meditation on the term “hineini —“Here I am.”

As he made clear in those remarks, his words are not meant as hollow promises; they reflect tangible actions. As he has done throughout his first-term in office, on the priorities important to American Jews, President Obama answers: “Here I am.”

The president has been there to advance a vision of responsibility and compassion at home, in our neighborhoods, in our cities and in our communities. With health care reform, his efforts have helped us to heal the sick and lift up the weary; to live up to the call that says, “when we save one life, we save the world.”

With a focus on higher standards, better teachers and more resources in our schools, his policies put education front and center — a recognition of the rabbinic reminder that children are truly building blocks of our future and that students increase peace in the world.

With support for clean energy, higher fuel efficiency, and environmental protection, his actions reflect our duty to protect God’s creation and preserve a cleaner planet from generation to generation, l’dor v’dor.

With financial reform, investments in jobs, and assistance to the less fortunate, the President adheres to the words we recently read in the Torah: to “open wide your hand to your brother [and sister], to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”

In all these areas, and more, President Obama’s accomplishments and commitment help us work toward tikkun olam and tzedakah.
And on yet another core value, shalom, the president has earned our trust and support — because he knows full well that the pursuit of a lasting peace for Israel is contingent on the safety and security of the Jewish state. His achievements for Israel are second to none.

Under this Obama administration, Israel has received record levels of security aid. Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge has been restored and strengthened. And Israel’s families in Sderot and Ashkelon and Beersheva are now protected from rocket attacks, thanks to President Obama’s investment in the Iron Dome system.

As Iran’s leaders pledge a world without Israel, President Obama has made it his promise plain and clear: We must not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. That’s why he worked with Congress to impose hard-hitting sanctions against Iran that are already dramatically affecting the Iranian economy.

That’s why he built a global coalition to enhance our sanctions and isolate the Iranian regime. And that’s why he has promised to take no options off the table to counter the threat of a nuclear Iran — including military action. And as we’ve seen time and again, this president means what he says.

When no one would stand for Israel at the United Nations, the president has taken up the cause; he has said, “Here I am.” When the Carmel fire threatened to spread and risk even more Israeli lives, the president ensured that Israel got everything it needed to halt the flames; he said, again, “Here I am.” And when six Israelis were under siege by a mob at their embassy in Cairo, and no one in Egypt would take Israel’s calls, the president intervened to secure their safe passage home; in Israel’s time of need, he said, once more, “here I am.”

This is the character of President Obama — always there, prepared to carry the banner of our values, ready to move forward for peace, for justice, and for a better world.

As it is written in the Book of Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Luckily for our community and our country, our president is a man of vision and strong character, integrity and faith. His values are Jewish values. They’re American values. We need his values in the White House for four more years.

Rabbis Steven Bob, Sam Gordon and Burt Visotzky are the three co-chairs of “Rabbis for Obama.” This op-ed was made available through

2012 elections

Our Newsletters, Your Inbox


The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


Goodnick or nudnik?

President Obama shows concern for Israel because he wants to be reelected. As much disdain as he has for Israel's elected officials now, it will be worse should he become a lame duck president. I shudder to think what would happen should Obama get reelected and if Israel should elect a leftist government. I shudder to think what will happen to American embassy security around the world when direct warnings are ignored. I shudder to think what would happen with a President who would accept a Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing nothing.

really? seriously? for me to show you proof of refuation, i would need to write an article the same length as yours. do you really think people in southeastern israel are protected? so how come that house got hit two days ago???? do you really think that higher unemployment is a jewish value? and the current lower take-home pay? and no economic recovery? and did you forget about religion? (is that a jewish value????) romney strongly professes his faith. highest deficit spending is NOT a jewish value? allowing iran to continue unabated is ok? feel free to write me - - happy to discuss this further, with all of the details and facts. all checked by fact check!

Well said. What drives the Republican party is furthering the interests of the rich and finding the 47 per cent, the underprivileged, an irritant. That is as un-Jewish as you can get.

Do these rabbis believe in integrity? The President at the second debate lied about LIbya (Pipes "The he misrepresented the facts when he said ' The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that...this was act of terror.'" His UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, repeatedly insisted that a video was the cause of the attack -- even days after it became clear that the video played no role in the deliberate assault to kill Americans. However this is no surprise. The President has attemped to fool American in telling foreign leaders that he will do what they say after the election but he can't tell Americans because then he will not be elected - followed by his endorsement by the enemy of the US, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. He has attempted to fool American for the past four years that he cared about Iran and Israel even when four years ago the Jewish Voice in New Jersey documented that Joe Biden told everyone that Iran is going to have a bomb and "get used to it" and also that Joe Biden was involved with the US-Iran Friendship league. You want four more years of this so-called caring and integrity?

Goodnick or nudnik? The kind of thinking you represent is harmful to our country and harmful to Israel as well. Your points have been amply refuted again and again, and in any case, this is not the issue. The issue is the kind of man who consistently changes his position, hasn't a clue about foreign policy, insults foreign governments and/or people when he visits, thereby embarrassing us all, and worse -- represents the most regressive me-myself-and I attitudes that he expresses with an arrogance that is in no way merited.