I was disheartened to see a recent blog post on this site describing my criticism of the Republican Jewish Coalition holding a public live-streamed event on Shabbat as a self-serving cause.
My recent observation of the RJC holding a retreat in Vegas with the big guns of the Republican Party on Saturday was solely focused on the public event the organization announced it will be holding on the holy day of Shabbat. While the entire conference remains closed to the public and by invite-only, the Saturday event which will feature 2016 presidential hopefuls like Chris Christie, Scott Walker and John Kasich is open to press and will be live-streamed on Fox News.
Now, I am not against holding a shabbaton, accommodating the guests with meals, tefilot and zemirot. That’s something the RJC should be commended for. The RJC is also an organization that has had some significant impact on the inroads the Republican Party has made over the years among Jewish voters. However, as a national organization that claims to represent a diverse coalition of Republican Jews, the RJC should be reminded that Orthodox Jews, especially in the tri-state area of New York and New Jersey, are one of the strongest and fastest growing electorate in the Republican Party.
In today’s world of media and buzz, time is of the essence. As a journalist myself, live tweeting an event or filing a report immediately is core in my reporting. Despite my affiliation and upbringing in the community, I do not cater only to the Orthodox Jewry but to a wide range of followers interested in Jewish political news.
If as an Orthodox reporter I am refrained from covering a specific event that is expected to draw national interest and coverage, just due to the fact that an organization speaking out for Jews in America has decided to hold the event on Shabbat, it is a major concern and a disturbing moment.
The author’s claim that “Kornbluh attempts to make himself the self-appointed representative for all Republican Orthodox Jewry, but only criticizes the organization to serve his own agenda” is therefore inaccurate. I am not seeking to advocate for Republican Party politics but to provide my followers and readers with honest reporting about events that are of their interests.
The author also asserted that “prominent politicians, including current members of Congress are unavailable while Congress is in session during the week, and for the majority of attendees, taking off work is difficult or off the table altogether.” Hence, at the AIPAC and CPAC events that I have attended, politicians were slated to speak early on Thursday morning to Tuesday noon. And to my knowledge, the featured speakers at the Saturday session are acting Governors.
The fact is that the annual AIPAC policy conference is held every year from Sunday-Tuesday. And while a retreat away from home on the holy day of Shabbat is acceptable and sometimes needed, there’s no justification to hold a public event, which includes microphones, photos, video streaming and is open to national press, on Shabbat.