Andra Stone Reports: The founder of Rabbis for Romney says he won’t divulge the names of its members because he fears they will be criticized for breaking with the majority of Jews who support President Barack Obama.
“I don’t want to happen to them what happened to me,” said Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison, N.J. “I’ve been attacked like you’ve never heard — by rabbis, Democrats. I am a registered Democrat. I voted twice for Clinton. I’ve also been a Republican. This has nothing to do with party politics.”
Perhaps, but Rosenberg was among a certain segment of right-leaning Jews put into a bit of panic this summer upon the launch of Rabbis for Obama, a campaign-sponsored alliance that claimed at its inception “over 613 members.” That’s the number of commandments, or mitzvot, derived from the Torah and, the Obama campaign says, more than double the number of rabbis who signed on in 2008.
Conservatives have pounced on the group — which is made up of mostly Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and other non-Orthodox clergy — and have called on the Obama campaign to disown at least one “radical rabbi” on the list. Progressive Jewish groups have protested the attacks as an “unethical smear campaign” designed “to sow divisions in the Jewish community for short-term political gain.”
Rosenberg said at first he didn’t think there should be “rabbis for anybody” but felt compelled to form a “counterweight” to the Obama group. Indeed, some Jewish and other religious leaders have echoed the sentiment of Rabbi David Wolkenfeld, director of the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Princeton University, who wrote in The Huffington Post that such partisan positioning is “unsettling.”