May 23, 2010

High profile bar mitzvah

I think the Issue of the Week for this week is going to be whether or not Rahm Emmanuel is actually coming for his son's bar mitzvah, and whether or not it will be held at the Kotel.

The whole event has become shrouded in secrecy, and to boot, extreme right-wingers Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir are threatening that if he shows up at the Kotel they will do everything they can to ruin his simcha.

This memorial break, I am taking my son, my nephew Noah with Ari my brother, so they can have their bar mitzva in Israel,” Emanuel boasted in the November 10 speech, winning cheers from the crowd. “Not to add humor to this moment, but that’s cheap applause. I’ll take an $18 check on behalf of him if you like. That’s obviously illegal as a public servant. That was a joke.”

But as the bar mitzva date approaches, the White House, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry have declined to give any details whatsoever about the event. A White House representative said Emanuel’s visit to Israel was “a private trip” and diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said they also didn’t provide details when National Security Council official Dennis Ross came for his son’s wedding.

The lack of information has led to speculation in the Hebrew press, with Haaretz reporting incorrectly that Emanuel would arrive in Israel this week and Ma’ariv suggesting that he had moved the bar mitzva away from the Western Wall, either because of threats from right-wingers or because the Obama administration considered the wall in the territory of a future Palestinian capital.

Neither Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz nor Rabbi Jay Karzen, who has conducted more than 2,000 bar mitzvas at the site, was contacted by Emanuel’s family or his office.

“We would have known about it if they inquired about it, so I don’t think they canceled a bar mitzva at the Wall or planned one,” Rabinovitz’s spokesman said.

But an official close to the Emanuel family insisted that the bar mitzva would indeed take place at the Western Wall, while another family friend hinted it was scheduled for Saturday, May 29.

He may have turned out to be a jerk of a court Jew in the White House, but if he is coming to the Kotel for a family simcha maybe there is room for him to get closer to Judaism and change his ways. On the one hand he wants us to give East Jerusalem, possibly including the Kotel and what is on the other side of it, to the Palestinians in an eventual peace agreement, on the other hand he wants to come pray there as if the Jews are the rightful owners. Maybe he will come and have his affair and change his opinion on how things should play out. Maybe people could be instrumental in changing his opinion rather than chasing him away and fortifying that opinion in his head.

I don't know what the right approach is - tell him to get lost because of what he has done, or try to let him be affected by an experience at the Kotel? What do you think?




  3. Middah k'neged middah. He wants to give away the Kotel... but only after he can use it as a photo background prop for his son's bar mitzvah. but now he might not be able to because he helped make the policy that will keep him away from the Kotel.
    What a freakin' hypocrite.

  4. "court jew"

    This isn't the 12th cent. and Rahm doesn't need to get "closer" to Judaism. He is a proud Jew and happens to have a different point of view on the policies and politics regarding Israel vs. Palestinians than you.

    Just because he believes in land for peace does not make him a bad jew or a sell out jew. But to call him a court jew is a massive misunderstanding of what was a court jew and who is Rahm Emmanuel.

  5. there is a difference between supporting land for peace and working to reach an agreement between the parties, and between the aggressiveness and the mostly anti-Israeli approach (there are indications this has eased up a bit in recent weeks, but until now this was the case) the Obama administration has mostly been pushing under Rahm Emmanuel's direct influence.

  6. Why do you think it is under Rahm's influence? Obama is the president and rahm his chief of staff, not the other way around.

    Further, Rahm's interests and job is to further his president's cause and do what is best for the USA not for Israel.

  7. really Danny,

    Thank God Nixon followed his brain, even as an open anti-semite, and not henry kissinger.

    Same here, the advisor has more sway than you are willing to admit.

  8. so nixon not listening to his advisor proves how powerful the advisor is?

  9. Rahm Emmanuel is the very essence of the court Jew. He's the fig leaf to legitimize Obama's hatred of Israel. After all, if such a staunch Jew has Emmanuel agrees with him, he can't really be an anti-Semite, can he?
    Fine, you don't want to call him a court Jew? Howsabout a Judenrat Jew then?

  10. Garnel,

    it is an insult to the shoah to call rahm a judenrat. Emotions can get high during a conversation, but try to retain a sense of balance.

    As for court jew, the USA is not a dictatorship or a kingdom. The USA is a democracy and Obama received more than 50% of the "jewish" vote. Furthermore, while we may disagree with Obama's Israeli policies, to go down the road of comparing him to a jewish advisor to a pasha or tzar trying to save their people from a pogrom or worse is foolish and at best. The fact is Obama has been no worse for israel than BushII or BushI or Regan. He has a number of jewish advisors who are proud and capable Jews. He just nominated a Proud Jew to the US Supreme court. He is clearly not an anti-semite because he has the power to make life difficult for Jews and Israel in ways significantly worse than getting angry when embarrassed over settlements.
    He has a different point of view than you and I regarding how Israel can make peace with their neighbors. It might be a niaive point of view, or maybe he is right and we are wrong, but Judenrat and court jew and anti-semitism are cheap ways to avoid dealing with real issues.
    Has he cut of aid? trading? weaponry? has he even really forced the settlement issue other than when embarrassed by Israel?
    Name calling is just name calling.

  11. Way - I am not sure where all of this comes from. "Court Jew" is not a derogatory term necessarily.
    I just looked it up to get the specific meaning and it was usually a money lender who lent money to a king and therefore had influence on his decisions and was given special rights, such as being able to live outside the ghetto. Clearly much of that does not apply in Emannuels situation as he is not a money lender 9that I know of) but he does hold a lot of influence on the "king".

    "Court Jew" does not mean anti-semite. If you look at Wikipedia list of some of history's more famous court Jews, you will see in the list some chief rabbis, community elders, and even the most famous of which was Don Isaac Abarbanel who was one of the great scholars in Jewish history. The wiki list can be found at

    Mordechai (from Megillat Esther) was a court jew, many consider the Rambam to have been a court Jew and many other great Jews throughout history. I did not mean Rahm is an anti-semite nor that he is self-hating or a general shmuck (though many say he is).
    He is a court jew though and he does hold a lot of influence in directing Obama's Middle East policy (along with other issues that I care less about), and while he has the right to do whatever he wants, I have the right to disapprove of the way he is handling the situation and disagree with his policy which is an about face from the way many administrations have dealt with it until now. Again, he has that right, but that does not take away the right of me or anyone else to criticize the way he has been dealing with his allies relative to the way he has been dealing with hostile states.

  12. I did not mean to say that the term court jew is in itself anti-semitic. What I mean is that the term court jew was used to describe a jew (usually no more than 1 jew per king) who advised the king who was anti-semitic. The court jew would loan money, true, but his job was also to protect the jewish citizens who lived in the ghetto from the whims of an anti-semetic king. That is not the case here. Obama is not a king. Plain and simple. He is the president of a western democracy with limited powers and term limits. There are members of congress and senate who are jews, and that branch has equal power with executive branch. He appointed a jew to be one of seven who control the even more powerful judicial branch.

    So no, court jew is not itself an anti-semetic term, unless it is being used as one to describe an "uncle tom" who has sold out to an anti-semetic "king".

    Sorry guys, but not every metaphor is a good one. And the term judenrat is highly venomous.

  13. The Way,
    Stop being so defensive. It's making me sick.

  14. Ahem, and now back to Rafi's question. Do we tell him to get lost or do we try to give him a positive experience which might change his stance? I'll answer in true Jewish form: It depends.

    If RE is a true enemy of Israel and a self-hating Jew and no positive experience would change his opinion, don't welcome him. If you believe there's some spark left in him that might be ignited by a positive experience, get the yeshiva boys out there to dance for this bar mitzvah boy, show him the joy of Torah and the importance of living in our G d given land with all its holy sites.

    I don't know enough about RE and his background, but short of the former, I think a kiddush Hashem would be THE WAY to go.

  15. Frum,

    Have you stopped beating your wife? just because you say I'm defensive doesn't make it so. I know that when people choose to live a life frozen in time, often it is hard to accept other people's position with dignity, especially when you disagree. All I was saying is you can disagree without being disagreeable.

    Wanna, I was lucky enough to know RE's dad, a brilliant and lovely man, (rafi can back me up on this), and I can assure you that he was raised in an extremely proud jewish conservative family. Why else would he have his kids bar mitzvah at the kotel?

  16. Rahm chased himself away. His stance just like the damage done by his report is irreversable, as I'm sure he is aware.


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