My friend Javier who runs The Shark Tank writes about an op-ed in the liberal leaning Jewish Telegraphic Agency, written by Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Ms. Schultz explains her reasons why she believes Jews should cling to the Democratic party.
Ms Schultz’s op-ed says in part:
Growing up, my parents taught me that tikkun olam – repairing the world – is a central tenet and one of the most important outward expressions of our faith. As Jews and as active citizens, it was our responsibility to help and advocate for others. As I grew up, I also sought to exemplify other Jewish values like tzedakah and gemilut hasadim. Like many other American Jews compelled to stand up and speak out for the causes of justice, equality and righteousness in public policy debates, I found a natural home within the Democratic Party.
It is Democrats who seek to right injustice, promote tolerance and constantly strive to move our nation toward a more perfect union. Jews overwhelmingly support women’s rights, workers’ rights, gay rights and civil rights for all Americans. We know that when we help those around us, our community and our country are stronger as a whole. We understand the importance of America as a place of new opportunities, and believe in immigration reform that will pave the path toward a better future that welcomed our ancestors when they arrived on America’s shores. These are values for which Democrats have fought and Republicans have not.
Instead of changing their positions on the issues that matter to American Jews, Republicans have chosen the dangerous strategy of politicizing Israel’s security as their strategy to win over Jewish voters. This strategy is not good for Israel or for the long-term relationship between our two great nations.
Let’s put aside for a moment that it was the Democratic Party’s walking away from Israel which made Israel a political football, and for the purpose of this posts let us ignore that Ms. Schultz appears on Sirrus/XM Radio’s Hanukkah programming each year bragging that she celebrates Hanukkah (which is a holiday about fighting assimilation) going to her friend’s house for Christmas.
As far as Jewish traditions matching one party or the other Debbie Wasserman Schultz is 100% wrong.
Republican Party principals such as limited government, individual responsibility and traditional morals are all deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. Even the fact that America’s founders intended for the county to be led by people who based their political decisions on religious values (something that scares the heck out of most liberal Jews) complements Jewish tradition.
The creation narrative in Genesis explains that man was created in God’s image. But we were also taught that our maker has no bodily form, so how can that be? The Bible is not teaching us that we are all dead ringers for ”big guy upstairs” (if that was the case the pictures on everyone’s drivers licenses would look the same, no one would be able to get a check cashed and CSI would be a very boring TV show).
Created in God’s image is supposed to teach us that just as God acts as a free being without prior restraint to do right and wrong, so does man. God performs good deeds as a matter of his own free choice, and because we are created in his image so can man. The Rabbis teach us that only through free choice, can man truly be in the image of God. It is further understood that for man to have true free choice, he must not only have inner free will but have it in an environment in which a
choice between obedience and disobedience exists. God thus created the world such that both good and evil can operate freely; this is what the Rabbis mean when they said, “All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven” (Talmud, Berachot 33b). God controls all the options we have, but it is up to man to choose between the correct or incorrect option, or to put it a different way, free will is the divine version of limited government. God picks the winning direction, but does not pick winners and losers.
Because we all are created in God’s image, Jews believe that ”all men are created equal,” meaning that we all have the same ability to be infinitely good or wicked, to be the best we can be based on the talent God gave us, and to forge a relationship with God regardless of intellectual capability, social background, physical strength, etc. Created equal does not mean, as the liberals ascribe to, that when it comes to talents, predilections, or natural abilities we are all equal. Nor does it mean we all should have the same big screen TV, healthcare, high speed internet, ice cream toppings, or savings account balance.
While Democratic Party politics preaches class warfare, Jewish tradition takes a positive view of both the institution of ownership and the accumulation of wealth. It respects economic success, so as long as it is obtained honestly, and proper respect is shown for the social responsibility to help others that comes with it. That social responsibility is an individual duty and a job for the community led by its religious leaders, but not for the government.
The book of Leviticus (25:23) says “If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him proselyte or resident so that he can live with you”
Notice it says live with you, it does not say live in a government facility that’s because the obligation is on the individual. In rare times the community was called on to pick up the slack but it was never
the community government’s job, it was the local Rabbi who would lead the effort. The Hebrew word for charity tzedaka, has in it root the word tzedek which means righteous, because Jews are taught that personally giving charity is one of the keys to righteousness.
I once read that when God created the world sparks of his holiness were spread across the earth. Every time that a person makes the choice of performing a righteous act one of those sparks is purified and sent back to heaven, through that process we become closer to God.
Liberal Democratic Party government takes away that choice. It assumes that left to our own devices, we will do the wrong thing (or at least what they contend is the wrong thing). Democratic Party big government takes over the role of God, and steps in to control our decisions. Liberalism is anti-Jewish because takes away our personal choice and gives it to the government. That lack of choice retards our spiritual development and most importantly, the opportunity to get closer to our maker.
The Democratic Party teaches that we must always rely on others for a solution. Again not a Jewish teaching.
and do something! And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” Yet when Moses lifted his staff the water did not part. The Egyptians were closing in but the sea wasn’t moving. The Israelites stood on the banks of the sea, frozen like a deer in a chariot’s headlights, until a man named Nachshon took the responsibility upon himself to act. Nachshon decided to walk into the water. He waded up to his ankles…his knees…his
waist… his shoulders, and just as the water was about to reach is nostrils the water parted. It is one thing to have faith and believe God will eventually help us, but we cannot get that help until we take personal responsibility and act on our own.Sometimes that help does not come in big miracles like the splitting of the sea, but it comes simply, as in the success of one’s endeavors. In June 1967 Israel sent its air force to take out the Egyptian planes just a few hours before they were to be sent to attack the Jewish State, then they prayed for success.On the other hand the Democratic Party preaches that the government will always bear the responsibility of protecting us; there is no individual responsibility just the collective bailout. Instead of each one of us assuming a personal responsibility and using our good deeds to gain closeness to God, we become part of an overall group with no responsibility. That’s why the progressives like to label people, we are not Americans, we are Black, Latino or Jew. It’s just easier to control people that way.Liberal Democratic Party Jews get very worried when they hear a political leader talk about God. If the political leader is a Christian (as most of them are in the US) they see the person as some sort of zealot who will eventually force everyone to become Christian. If the person is a Jew, they get angry the Jew is wearing their religion on his sleeve.
In the Torah it is God who sets up the first Jewish government, he chose to have a political/ government leader: Moses, and as religious leader Moses’ brother Aaron. Even though Moses was the governmental leader, the Torah tells us that Moses used God’s law and morality to make his “political” decisions. In that first Hebrew government set up by God there was no wall separating church and state but the jobs were kept separate. They were separate not to protect government from religion but to protect religion from government. Political leaders were expected to consult with God’s law in making their decisions. Since that was fine for the first government set up by God, it should be acceptable for a government set up by man.
The founding fathers of America agreed. They guaranteed us freedom of religion that means that the Government cannot stop Jews from practicing the rituals and prayers of our faith, but it did not call for a separation of Church and State. In his farewell address, Washington said:
Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the
pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
The Jewish picture of God is of a creator who instilled in us a personal responsibility to do the right thing and provided us with the choice to accept that responsibility or not. That’s Just like the tea party. There is no room in Jewish law for a government that forces people to follow their interpretation of the right thing. There is also little room for a Government that does not include religion and morality in their consideration set before they make decisions.
Sorry Ms. Schultz, It is the traditional Republican Party values that best matches Jewish tradition. When it comes right down to it tradition tells us those principals such as limited government, individual responsibility, and traditional family values are all Jewish principals.