Rabbi David Steinheart’s B’nai Torah synagogue in Boca Raton, Florida is a House of Worship, a House of Study and a House of Gathering, according to the website. The “Gathering,” however is not “House” wide if you oppose Barack Obama. The synagogue welcomed US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice to the building when she wanted to make a case for how supportive Obama is of Israel, which has legs only if you are illiterate. Many in this South Palm beach community don’t see Obama as embracing Israel in the traditional American embrace, so when Obama asked long-time supporter Steinheart to hold a “campaign event,” and Steinheart agreed, some were shocked to find their names on a blacklist due to their opposition to Obama. The evening of the “event,” standing in the rain, they were turned away from the synagogue – the House of Worship, the House of Study, the House of Gathering.
B’nai Torah says it is affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). The USCJ seems mainly involved with the experience of “Israel.” The USCJ Yeshiva in Israel is the focus of the organization, and the website says: “We are a vibrant, open-minded, egalitarian community of committed Jews who learn and practice and grow together.”
egalitarian: asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic, or social life. Source Dictionary.com
egalitarianism: a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs and a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people. Source Merriam Webster
Steinheart says the synagogue supports Conservative/Masorti Judaism, which goes back to the USCJ mentioned above. Steinheart says his congregation “inspires social action.” What he did not say is that not supporting Barack Obama is an unacceptable “social action”
Masorti Rabbis apparently are considered “non-Orthodox,” and that tid-bit is probably not significant in this story, except that a commenter at Israel Matzav says Steinheart is “about as much of rabbi as a mechanic is a nuclear scientist or an engineer is a surgeon.” So, there’s that. I can’t vouch for the truth of it.
Can you imagine a Protestant church in America holding a “campaign event” inside the church and turning away people, including members, who disagree? I hope I live to see the day when churches routinely do hold political events on church property, but turning people away should never be acceptable unless and until there is major disruption to the point that speakers cannot be heard, or near violence ensues (example: jihad).
In the video, you will hear three prominent Democrats say that “we” (United States) do not accept the legitimacy of settlement activity.” Consider this:
Do you support Israel’s right to exist? Assuming that your answer is probably “yes,” how do you feel about Israel’s “occupation” of the lands granted at statehood and those “retrieved” in the Six Days War? Perhaps your answer is “everything would be much easier if Israel were not an “occupier,” but still…you support Israel’s right to exist.
Are you a bit queasy about Israel’s “disproportionate response” to Palestinian aggressions; aggressions which include years of firing thousands of rockets and mortars into Israeli border towns?
You probably acknowledge that Hamas should not be digging tunnels under the border into Israel…kidnapping Israeli soldiers, secreting arms through those tunnels from Egypt and Iran… to use on Israel, but still…Israel has a fearsome military, and after all, Gaza is a terribly poor area, filled to bursting with refugees existing for years in loathsome refugee camps – and don’t forget that Gaza is historically Palestinian – you might say. You support Israel’s right to exist, but still…it would be so much easier if the poor and oppressed of Palestine were not the victims of Israeli military.
Everything in the Middle East tends to be complicated, but some things can be understood by the Western mind. Here are a few facts that should ease your mind about “Israel the occupier:” continue reading here after watching the appalling video below.
My disclaimer: I know little about the differences between the various segments of Judaism, and cannot truthfully say that I have explained the kind of synagogue Steinheart pastors – meaning the Conservative/Masorti, so perhaps my friend findalis at Monkey in the Middle will stop by and set me straight if I got it wrong.
Rabbi David Steinheart, B’Nai Torah, Boca Raton Blacklists Political Opposition to Barack Obama (video)