Jewish Journal


September 10, 2008

Obama’s Jewish problem: 300 rabbis endorse him *



As The Web Guy pointed out in the post about the Alliance Defense Fund challenging preacher to sermonize on political candidates, 300 rabbis have signed a list showing their support for Barack Obama.

I’m not sure what the legal implications are here—I believe ministers can back particular candidates but can’t preach it from the pulpit—and I’m waiting for an answer from the IRS.

Here’s the letter from Rabbis for Obama:

We join together to support Senator Obama for President, and we do so in the belief that he will best support the issues important to us in the Jewish community.

Some of us know Senator Obama personally, and we recognize that he has been inspired by Jewish values such as Tikkun Olam and the pursuit of justice, and he is deeply committed as well to a civil discourse between opposing arguments. We also know that Senator Obama will inspire young people, both in the Jewish community and the wider American community, to become more involved in improving this country and repairing the world.

We know that Barack Obama’s longstanding, stalwart support for Israel is a testament to his own principles as well as the strong bi-partisan pro-Israel movement in America, and we fear that the attempts by some to use Israel as a wedge issue against him - unjustifiably - is dangerous in that it politicizes the pro-Israel position. Most importantly it has completely distorted Senator Obama’s record. With his tough but pragmatic approach to Iran, Senator Obama is in the best position to restore faith in America as a leader in the fight against serious threats to Israel, our allies, and the United States.

Senator Barack Obama inspires in us the hope for an America once more called to its best values. We know him to be a man of incredible integrity, born of a deep and abiding spiritual faith based on the teachings of the Hebrew Prophets, and committed to achieving a world of peace with justice for all people.

*Updated: The IRS e-mailed me Section 501 of the tax code. This pertains to—you guessed it—501c3 organization. In regards to politicking preachers, this is an example of an acceptable endorsement:

Minister C is the minister of Church L, a section 501(c)(3) organization and Minister C is well known in the community.  Three weeks before the election, he attends a press conference at Candidate V’s campaign headquarters and states that Candidate V should be reelected.  Minister C does not say he is speaking on behalf of Church L.  His endorsement is reported on the front page of the local newspaper and he is identified in the article as the minister of Church L.  Because Minister C did not make the endorsement at an official church function, in an official church publication or otherwise use the church’s assets, and did not state that he was speaking as a representative of Church L, his actions do not constitute campaign intervention by Church L.

The rabbis names, many of which are familiar, appear after the jump:

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