The Truth About Congressman Josh Gottheimer

Josh Gottheimer is my Congressperson. He is my friend. He is a loving son, doting father, loyal husband and a valued ally. He is smart, kind and indefatigable when it comes to working for his constituents and their shared future.

Sadly, Congressman Gottheimer has found himself in the crosshairs of extremists on both sides of the aisle. Like many others before him, he is being attacked for his strong support for the historic US-Israel relationship — an alliance with the only true democracy in the region, and one that is vital to America’s interests and national security.

Deploying age-old anti-Semitic tropes, these new detractors are questioning Gottheimer’s loyalty to our country and flogging him for his work against BDS and with AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups. They’ve even used anti-Semitic radical publications to fabricate character-assassinations about him for having the temerity to stand up to those espousing anti-Semitic statements and views in Congress and around the country. We have seen this movie before. We know that to make a different and better ending, we must stand strong, together, against haters wherever they are, on either side of the political spectrum.

I believe that facts matter, especially in the face of propaganda and unsubstantiated claims. We are compelled to use our voices to stand up against the oppressed and the innocent, just as our Torah teaches.

Thus, allow me to share some unchallenged facts about my Congressman, Josh Gottheimer.

Josh is first and foremost a family person. Nothing comes before his wife of 12 years, Marla and their two children. Josh shares a near-perfect attendance record both for voting in Congress and for dance recitals and little league games. Shabbat and holiday dinners with his family are sacrosanct. He models for his loved ones and his district that family always comes first, and there is no substitute for love, support and presence.

Josh has set the bar incredibly high while only in his second term in Congress. He works tirelessly for the people of the 5th district of NJ. Let’s start with protecting his constituents: Under Gottheimer’s influence, protection for all places of worship has increased from $500,000 to $1.75 M. Josh has held many town halls and sessions with faith based leaders to solicit their opinions and share the pulse of their community with Washington.

Josh is a leader and rising star amongst his fellow Democrats who offer respect for his tireless approach and bipartisan, results-oriented style. While proud of his party, he will not hesitate to buck the leadership or the stripe if he believes it is in the best interest of his constituents and the country. Josh’s outspokenness on the Iran deal is but one of a few critical examples, not to mention his work to lower taxes, improve our health care, fix our infrastructure, and stand by our veterans, seniors, and first responders.

Josh always has an outstretched arm across the aisle to coordinate and collaborate with fellow congresspeople, regardless of affiliation. Josh co-chairs the bi-partisan Problem Solver Caucus that is founded on sharing common denominators and working together to further our country regardless of political affiliation. Because of his leadership, Gottheimer was ranked the 8th most bi-partisan member of the Congress. 8th out of 435 is an impressive showing.

Josh is proud of his heritage. Congressman Gottheimer has always embraced his Judaism, never running away from it. He, along with Ted Deutsch, co sponsored and spearheaded the charge against anti-Semitism raising its nasty head in Congress. He has spoken in a loud and full throated voice condemning all forms of hate speech. Josh has a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, while allowing criticism of Israel and its leadership when and where appropriate. Josh has been passionately opposed to BDS, a stalwart of the US-Israel relationship and the economic interests that union shares, and has been a frequent visitor to the State of Israel. While other of Gottheimer’s freshman colleagues are praising the likes of Hamas, (branded a terrorist organization by the United States, and like minded countries), Josh has been at the forefront of insuring Israel can defend herself with continued funding for Iron Dome, David Sling and Arrow, all defensive apparatuses to protect Israel from the multitude of foreign enemies on her border. While some turn a blind eye to terror, Josh takes it on at its core. He has sought to defund Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other terrorist entities that claim in its charter genocidal ambitions. Josh has his coordinates finely calibrated towards good against evil.

What I respect most about my Congressman, Josh Gottheimer, is that he does not come to Washington with a personal agenda. He supports, defends, promotes and fights for the rights of the people of his district and all Americans. He infuses his wisdom, thoughtfulness, deference, curiosity and loyalty to every bill he sponsors and every issue he takes on. Josh knows that when his constituents are represented properly, our future is bright. If any person spends even a small amount of time with Josh in any of his natural habitats, you will be captured by these characteristics, and many more.

If those seeking to do Congressman Josh Gottheimer harm by name calling and finger wagging would get to know him and work together, perhaps the change our country yearns for would be closer to realization.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis, President of the NJ Board of Rabbis and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel commission and is a member of the Chancellor's Rabbinic Cabinet at the Jewish Theological Seminary.