Monday, September 15, 2008

The More Traditionally Jewish, The More Republican

In a column amusingly entitled, "Thinking Outside the Lox," in today's Wall Street journal online, Joseph Epstein, with tongue firmly in cheek, describes the phrase "Jewish Republican" as an oxymoron, a figure of speech in which two contradictory terms appear in conjunction. Even Epstein, who confesses to voting for Republican presidential candidates since 1980 (except for 1996 when he did not vote at all), won't unequivcally commit to voting for McCain-Palin in 2008.

What Epstein does not note, but should, is that the Orthodox Jewish community stands in stark consequence to their co-religionists. Two weeks ago, I was a guest at a Friday night Sabbath dinner. With perhaps 10 people at the table, 8 were committed McCain supporters, almost a mirror image of the preference for Obama-Biden in the overall Jewish community. What seems clear to many observers, including Michael Medved and Dennis Prager, is that the more traditionally observant a Jewish voter is, the more likely that he or she will vote GOP.

This trend is even apparent within the Orthodox community. On Sunday, I had the pleasure of patronizing Ron Sieger, a local stam sofer, a traditional Jewish scribe, in order to purchase some mezuzot (the parchment with biblical verses that is posted on the doorposts of observant Jewish homes). In addition to Torah scrolls and mezuzot, Ron had available for purchase both hats and kippot (skullcaps) with a McCain-Palin logo in Hebrew. Ron explained that he had the hats and kippot prepared following a visit to Bnei David Judea, a more liberal Orthodox synagogue, where he saw a number of Obama kippot on congregants, and found himself wondering, "What can these people be thinking." Among Orthodox Jews, as well as among Jews at large, the degree of Republican support would appear to be directly proportional to the degree of traditional observance.

This shouldn't be surprising. By definition, Orthodox Jews have opted for the traditional over the trendy. Halacha--Torah law--is by its very nature conservative. Moreover, Orthodox Jews, in stark contrast to their liberal brethren and sistren, are strongly committed to traditional sexual and family mores, including opposition to homosexual marriage and to abortion except where continuing a pregnancy would pose a serious risk to the mother's life or health.

For those who are interested, this online merchant offers an assortment of merchandise with a Hebrew McCain-Palin logo.


Anonymous Michael G said...

I have also created a store at cafepress for Hebrew McCain Palin items to show support.

Monday, September 15, 2008 7:36:00 PM  

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