As a tourist in New York last week I went on Shabbat Chanukah to one of Manhattan’s most prominent modern orthodox shuls.
State blessings started with the prayer for the ‘Government of the United States of America’. That left me wondering when it changed from ‘The President and Vice President’’ which is what was written in my old American machzor. I hoped that this had nothing to do with Donald Trump’s election and political correctness in the state and city that elected Cuomo and De Blasio.
But what followed was the prayer for the State of Israel, where they all sang “Avinu, avinu … shebashamayim…”. This was clearly a big favourite with the crowd, especially the ladies. The singing went on for nearly 10 minutes as each segment of the prayer refrained with gusto to the chorus of “Avinu avinu ..etc”.
Any visitor to this shul would be mightily impressed by this congregation’s outpouring of love and compassion for Israel and concern for the safety and welfare of its people.
But then, looking around me, I was exasperated by the thought that, after all the music stops, 8 out of 10 of these people will go out and vote against Trump – the president who has shown more kindness to Israel than any previous occupant of the White House.
I realise of course that this is uber-leftist-progressive New York City where it is not politically correct to identify with Trump. That would be social suicide for most of our people who have this overwhelming need to be accepted and blend-in; not to raise any waves. If truth be told, diaspora Jews have been slaves to ‘political correctness’ for ages, and long before PC got its name.
So, I ask myself – you people singing every week with such fervour: what’s more important to you – the welfare and security of your brothers and sisters in Israel, or your social standing in New York?
You pray “Chazek et yedei meginei eretz kodsheinu”: strengthen the hand of those who defend our holy land, but you’ll still vote against Trump who proclaims Jerusalem as the eternal Jewish capital, accepts our sovereignty on the vital Golan border and is about to do the same for the Jordan Valley; the only border not yet in the hands of Iranian proxies.
If I needed advice on how to keep my home safe, I would ask my local police. They deal with crime round the clock, they know the usual suspects and how they operate, and can assess your vulnerabilities better than anyone else. The same goes for Israel. You want to know what’s good or bad for its security? Ask the army, the defence minister or the prime minister. They are dealing with life and death threats every hour of every day. Ask them whether Clinton, Sanders, Warren, Pelosi, Schumer or any one of the past two dozen US secretaries of state (including Kissinger) would ever have gifted us sovereignty of our vital border depth or so audaciously and proudly opened the US embassy in Jerusalem.
This week you can add Trump’s elimination of Soleimani, a true monster of terrorism whose bloodthirsty threats against Israel never stopped dripping from his mouth. And we now hear that your hero Obama nixed Israel’s own assassination plans five years earlier.
So good people of New York and Lovers of Zion, if you really, truly, care about the safety and security of your six and a half million brothers and sisters in Israel, be good enough to put their welfare above political correctness or the imperatives of your own social climbing.
You don’t have to tell anyone how you voted; you can even lie. But for heaven’s sake, do the right thing come November.
Or find something else to sing.