At this moment, there are over 600 rabbis signed on as “Rabbis for Obama.” But Rabbi David Wolpe, who will be delivering an invocation Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, isn’t one of them.
Sources close to the Obama campaign told me that Wolpe’s selection this past Thursday was approved by no less than Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and campaign senior strategist David Axelrod. But while the 54-year-old rabbi said he’s privileged to participate at the DNC—it will be his first political convention—he insists he’s not taking sides in the election by doing so. “I actually think that it is a mistake for a rabbi to endorse one candidate or another,” said Wolpe. “I really see my role as apolitical.” He notes that his congregation, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, is ideologically diverse and that he has a responsibility to ensure that none of them feel disenfranchised by his convictions.
“I’m honored to be chosen to offer a prayer, but not an endorsement one way or the other, because I don’t think that’s a rabbi’s job,” he explained. “My approach is that being a rabbi doesn’t give me special political insight. So, I don’t like to preach to people about exactly the political positions they should take, as though Judaism vests me with this approach as opposed to that approach.”
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