Lieba Rudolph
Lieba Rudolph

Keeping politics out of the family


It wasn’t as bad as finding out that the Unabomber was in our mishpocha, but some family members were definitely disturbed. The Jewish Journal had disclosed the ancestry of a political wunderkind making news today. And now, everyone who sees this article will know that Stephen Miller, who is said to be the Jewish brains behind Donald Trump’s campaign, is part of the Glosser family from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He’s my husband’s second cousin, once removed.

Why am I sharing this information with you? His last name is Miller and mine is Rudolph. If Donald Trump loses the election, it’s possible you’ll never hear the name Stephen Miller again. Full disclosure: I’m a little impressed that our family now includes a real wunderkind. As far as I know, it’s a first. And, from the Chassidic perspective, it’s no accident that Stephen Miller became Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisor by the age of 30.

For the sake of peace in the family, let’s kvell over Stephen’s success rather than debate his politics. At the end of the day, one candidate will win and the other will lose, and we all have to get along no matter what. Because we’re family. That’s right, Stephen Miller is your relative, too, though possibly a bit more distant.

How did the details of Stephen Miller’s ancestry come out? His tough stance on immigration prompted the Jewish Journal’s writer to trace Miller’s family’s roots back to Belarus. The writer then wondered how a person whose great-grandparents narrowly escaped the horrors of Hitler or Stalin could speak so negatively about “outsiders.” Here’s what really clinched the embarrassment for some of the descendants of David Glosser, my husband’s grandfather: the writer shares that he got his information about the Glossers from the book, Long Live Glosser’s. And this book apparently glosses over David Glosser’s involvement in building Glosser Bros., Johnstown’s iconic department store.

Never mind that the store closed over 25 years ago and we’re talking about Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Some members of the family don’t think the story was told accurately.

Does it matter what the book says? Or for that matter, what anyone says? How do we separate “perception” from “truth”? It’s getting harder and harder.

Here’s what I try (emphasize, try) to keep in mind: I am responsible for my own thoughts, speech and deeds, known in Chabad parlance as “the garments of the soul.” I may not always see the consequences of my behavior, but they exist. And they matter, especially to G-d.

And G-d has also given the mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael, to love all Jews unconditionally, because we are essentially united (along with theTorah and the land of Israel). For the sake of our family, smaller and greater alike, can we try to avoid letting American politics come between us?

In the meantime, we can’t go wrong by praying that this wunderkind is good for the Jews — and the world.

About the Author
Lieba Rudolph, her husband, Zev, and their young family returned to observant Jewish life when they were both over thirty. Now, after spending equal time in both worlds, she shares the joys and challenges of her journey, answering everyone's unasked question: why would anyone normal want to become religious?