As an Orthodox Jew and fervent Zionist I’m often asked why I support President Obama. Firstly, I admit that I do not agree with all his policies, but I do believe that he’s not responsible for many of them. I want my president to have an “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security”, and who would say something like, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.” Now “it is not what one says, but rather what one does” (Perkei Avos). The numbers say it all, and the Obama administration has given record breaking amounts in military aid to Israel, the most America has ever given to Israel during a President’s first term.
During my two years in Israel at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh I had to run to the miklat (bomb shelter) frequently. I even spent an entire week sleeping in one. Spearheading hundreds of millions of dollars in support for Israel’s short range rocket defense system, Iron Dome, he is the first president to ever do so. Thus showing the American people how much he values people’s lives who live within rocket range of terrorists in Israel. This system saved, and continues to save hundreds, if not thousands of lives, including my own. I personally thank the President, not only for potentially saving my life, but also for enabling me to learn Torah in Israel, at the Yeshiva of my choice.
President Dr. Simcha Katz and Director of Public Policy Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union said it all when the President defended Israel in the U.N. while the PLO wanted to declare statehood “The Orthodox Union commends President Barack Obama for his clear statement of opposition to the Palestinians’ effort to unilaterally seek recognition at the United Nations instead of at the negotiating table with Israel. We also commend President Obama’s strong statements of support for Israel and his Administration’s commitment to Israel’s security.”
My next concern is that America, along with Israel, prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Leading enforcement of the harshest sanctions that Iran has ever faced, the President risked America’s economy, for the sake of Israel, and demanded to cut off Iran’s central bank from the global economy. With little economic backlash for America, the President was overwhelmingly successful in destroying Iran’s economy. Diplomatically insuring that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons, the economic walls that the President has put up have cornered Iran and successfully stalled its economy. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “For the first time, I see Iran wobble under the sanctions that have been adopted and especially under the threat of strong sanctions on their central bank.” And President Shimon Peres said “The United States and Israel share the same goal—to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. There is no space between us… [Peres] was also appreciative of the anti-terror efforts of US President Barack Obama and said that the President’s achievements in this respect were impressive, especially because he had succeeded in the difficult task of forming a coalition against terrorism that had imposed effective economic sanctions against Iran” (JTA January 4th 2011).
Not only is the President helping to keep Israel strong and secure, but he also stands with us here at home. As Orthodox Jews we should all be aware and fear government involvement in our daily lives. What scares me the most about the religious candidates is that they are not afraid of implementing their religious beliefs into the government. Yes, we share some religious beliefs and should support each other because of that, but what we do not always agree. “Agudath Israel opposes initiatives that would make abortion unlawful even in situations where termination of pregnancy is mandated by religious law as it is, for example, under Sinaitic Jewish law when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother” (Agudath Israel of America – National Public Policy Position Paper). While according to their religion it’s immoral to get an abortion under these circumstances, according to Halacha we deserve the right to save a life, and the government should not determine Halacha.
Another issue which concerns me is the government’s involvement in marriage. I think it’s a simple kal v’chomer (fortifier): If I would not seek a non-Orthodox rabbi to decide the Halachas (for me) and dictate who I can and cannot marry, kal v’chomer (all the more so), I would not trust a non-Jew on the Supreme Court deciding who I can and cannot marry. On a scarier note, can you imagine the government getting involved in Agunas (women who haven’t received their get yet) and gets (divorce document)? Anyone with any secular understanding can comprehend how a secular government might think that any of these things are sexist or immoral. Another example would be government regulations on kosher slaughter houses. Along with the constitution, the President supports freedom of religion. I don’t want a the government to tell me how to study a daf of Gemora or have government involved in how I live my religious life, to fit their own values.
So as an Orthodox Jew I have supported the President because of his unshakeable support of Israel, his actions against Iran, and allowing me to practice my religion according to how my Rabbi learns a blatt of Gemora. Shkoyach Mr. President.