Help Me Out Here

If you consider yourself an Orthodox Jew I’m seriously interested in why you voted for Donald Trump. It’s a phenomenon that I’ve been trying to understand for several months now. And I just can’t. It’s so counter intuitive.

I’ve heard it said that Jews who supported Trump were fed up with the present administration’s treatment of Israel. Obama isn’t Israel’s greatest friend. I personally was never a big fan of his. Or Hillary. Or Bush. Or most of our recent American presidents or wannabees. None of them were out to eradicate Israel but they certainly didn’t wave that blue and white flag and sing Hatikvah either. Pareve is probably more the word I’d use than tref. They viewed Israel, and still do, as a political challenge, an impediment that they have to live with for all the usual reasons.

And as to Hillary being a woman. That was of absolutely no relevance to me. I think the really sophisticated voters won’t vote gender in either direction. You select a candidate on their merits, or on the demerits of their opponent, and gender is irrelevant. At least to me. So I didn’t vote for HIllary to see the glass ceiling shattered. It’s a meaningless metaphor. Can you just see Hillary in an apron cleaning up the glass? Silly.

But I did vote for Hillary. Enthusiastically. The reason is obvious. I would have voted for my local dogcatcher enthusiastically. In my wildest dreams and imagination I could, and can, see no candidate more undeserving of my vote than Donald Trump. So I was compelled to vote for Hillary, someone I wasn’t passionate about, but she was, to use a bridge analogy, no trump.

So, if you’re an Orthodox Jew, how do you reconcile your Trump vote?

It’s not like I’m campaigning against Orthodox Judaism. Many of the members of my immediate family are Orthodox and I love them dearly. Of course I would have continued to love them if they had supported Trump. Biology and blood trump politics. But, not a single one of them did. Happily. So there were no political disagreements within our family but lots and lots of trying to fathom why and how other Orthodox Jews could support a candidate like Donald.

Please notice I’m not substituting religious for Orthodox, as is done in some circles, especially in Israel. I don’t think your label necessarily defines your religiosity. I am a practicing Conservative Jew, a member of congregations in both New Jersey and Herzliya. I consider myself to be religious even though I’m not Orthodox. I observe Shabbat, for example, even though I sit next to my husband in shul. But, this is not about me. I want to know about those who are Orthodox who voted for Trump. Most Conservative Jews did not!

Trump epitomizes the antivalues of Judaism. If you have values which you associate with your Jewishness, you know that Trump does not share those values.

Let’s talk about sex and yetzer ha ra. Trump supporters voted for a man who can accurately be described as a sexual predator. In his own words. Repeatedly. He makes disgusting remarks about women’s bodies. He is a voyeur, in his own words. As a mother and grandmother of young women, I can truthfully say I would be afraid for any of them to be alone in a room with Donald Trump. I know you can understand that and you probably feel the same way. Yet, if you voted for him, you did so knowing that he’s perverted.

Let’s talk about ethics. Pirke Avot. Trump has amassed billions by being a dishonest businessman. Think about how many small business people have charged him with fleecing them. Talk about what would be the laughable Trump University, if it hadn’t given false hope and stolen money from so many vulnerable and needy people.

Let’s talk about honesty. Medaver sheker tirchak. Can you really believe anything that Trump says? OK. So where are the promised income tax returns? And where’s the promised plan for divesting himself of his businesses while serving as president?

Let’s talk about lashon ha ra, motze shem ra. Who could possibly begin to document the endless insults lashed out by Trump against virtually anyone and everyone who opposed him. Childish insults from a thin skinned and definitely paranoid man. And yes, perhaps I too am guilty of motze shem ra as I make accusations against Trump. But I am citing what we all have witnessed and know is true. I call it, instead, pikuach nefesh.

Let’s talk about limud learning. A Jewish value which idealizes a life devoted to learning and Torah. Trump tells us that he’s smart (although his grammar, spelling and syntax clearly prove otherwise), so smart that he doesn’t have to read, or listen to daily updates from security professionals. Do we really want the guy with his fingers on the buttons that can end the world to be ignorant? I think not.

And how about Trump the bully, the guy who can dish it out but can’t take it? Or the climate change rejectionist? Or the guy who spends his days watching TV and churning out tweets? Or the guy with the incredibly inflated ego who goes on victory tours to hear cheers instead of buckling down and learning his job? Or the guy who encourages violence? Or the guy whose right wing friends are alarming? Or the guy who has, so far, loaded his cabinet appointments with unqualifieds and, yes, deplorables? And yes that does include the ambassador to Israel, a guy who has already shown the world how very undiplomatic he is and a guy who has his own agenda.

I’m not telling you everything. I don’t have enough time! But, you know it all anyway. The Trump we see after the election is the guy you may have voted for. The same guy you saw before the election. I’m asking why because I truly don’t understand.

I know you consider yourself to be a good, moral, committed Jew. An ahavat Tzion. Me too. I am a citizen of Israel and she is the center of my life. So please tell me how you ignored the facts on the ground and voted for Donald Trump. Lots of people would like to understand. Lots of people are very frightened. Me too.




About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of two. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.
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