Nov 17, 2008

Barak Obama: before and after

Prior to the US elections, the frum leadership took an active role in, while not officially endorsing John McCain, making it clear that Barak Obama would be dangerous to Israel and to frum Jews.

I understand that liberal policy is one that is often at odds with frum ideology. That is why in the past 15 years or so the frum community has moved to voting mostly republican rather than the historical trend of Jews to vote Democrat previously (and still overwhelmingly, but no longer in the frum community). I have no problem with that.

This is not going to be saying Obama yes or Obama no, he is good or he is bad or whatever. It is nothing specific about Obama. I also understand that now that he won, the reality is different - perhaps even call it b'dieved in the sense that those who opposed him now have to figure out how to accept him or work with him or whatever.

Yet still, from the frum community and leadership, all we heard about Obama, from the frum perspective, was how bad he would be and how much of anti-semite he is.

Suddenly, post-election, we have an interview in the Hamodia with Rav Kalish, the director of Agudas Yisrael of the Midwest based on Chicago.

This week's Hamodia had this really great interview in which Rabbi Kalish praised Obama and said he expects to have a good working relationship with him. He said over many good things about Obama, describing how friendly he was and had great working relationships with the Orthodox community. He described him as a friend, a hard worker, intelligent, and more.

How come we did not hear these descriptions of him prior to the elections? Then he was an anti-semite and suddenly now he has spent his years in office helping the general Jewish and the specifically Orthodox community with no problems, despite sometimes disagreeing...


  1. It's called shtadlanut, or hanfanut, or simply kissing up to the ruler. It has nothing to do with taking a real stand, and everything with getting (and staying) in graces with the power to whom you turn for favors and favour. It is an attitude and behaviour driven by 'what will they say, and what will they do to us?' It isn't anything new. Jews in exile have been doing it for a long time. It is the same attitude that makes them keep their heads down rather than confront the reigning power, such as happened with most American Jewish leaders during the Holocaust. 'Sha, shtil.' Such as many of us were told when we started demonstrating for Soviet Jews. Such as probably is happening concerning the horrible injustice to Jonathan Pollard and, by extension, the tremendous insult to Jews in America.

    Agudah in Amerca does great things, but they have always been shtadlanim when dealing with gov't, not leaders who will protest loudly and fight for rights.

  2. This is not accurate. I suppose what you describe happened at the grass roots level. Maybe individual Rabbis also were outspoken about President-elect Obama and his associates. And yes, I think it was accurate.

    On an organizational level I did not get that sense at all.

    Mishpacha, for example, had an article about how the OU and the Agudah were positioning themselves to work with whomever would be elected. It really was impossible to tell from the quotes which candidate either organization preferred.


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