Op-Ed: Can David Weprin Serve As An Orthodox-Jewish Representative?

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Orthodox-Jews gain much when a fellow orthodox-Jew represents them in Congress. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) often came to the rescue of the Jewish community. Whether it was religious tolerance issues or Israel, Sen. Lieberman was a steadfast supporter of the community and served their needs. With his departure, the Jewish people will unquestionably experience a difference of representation in Congress; thus, it would be proper to replace him with another orthodox Jew in Congress. The 9th district of New York, which estimates to consist of thirty percent orthodox-Jewish voters, can serve as an opportunity to elect a person committed to the Jewish faith. The question remains, can David Weprin, a practicing orthodox-Jew, hold that post?

Sen. Lieberman is a man of faith. Many Jews serve on the Supreme Court, some held high-level positions in various administrations. Jews occupy 13 percent of the Senate, and they have 26 members in the House of Representatives. However, Sen. Lieberman is the only orthodox-Jewish representative in the Democratic caucus so far.

Yet, even Sen. Lieberman’s tenure has not been without controversy. Although he famously declared the Sabbath as a day of rest and even released a book about its beauty, he often did partake in sessions and votes on the sacred day, citing the cause of “saving lives.” He also raised eyebrows when he keenly pursued a bill that repealed DADT (which ironically passed on the Sabbath) and publicly announced that he does not say the traditional blessing “Shelo Asani Isha”. It undeniably caused the community much discomfort and humiliation.

Nevertheless, Sen. Lieberman was still a maverick, who more often than not put his faith before his career and party.

David Weprin deserves credit for his past commitment to the Jewish community; yet, the placing of his career and party before his faith is troubling and makes him the wrong contender for this position. His loyalty to the liberal stance of his party in place of his religion makes him a constant embarrassment for the constituents who ardently uphold the laws and customs of their belief. How can their conviction allow a person who practices Judaism, yet berated the core values in public, represent them and their values? How can they be at ease when a person rebukes his rabbi for upholding the Jewish values to the members of his community?

Yet, to his credit, it is not his faltering Jewish views that led to this rant and vote against his religious principles. He did not care to offend his Jewish brethren; it was rather a vote for “a civil-rights issue and not a religious issue,” as he explained later. His party-line vote is clearly in sync with his career. His naiveté is no less significant than his obliviousness to the peril of the rising national debt. His gullibility on this issue is equal to that of letting Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt. He is not anti-religious; he simply seems to be out-of-touch with the people and in-touch with the kingmakers in his party. Same-gender marriage is not a religious issue for a career politician that was hand-picked to walk toe-in-toe with the leaders in the party. He was simply chosen to reiterate and defend his party’s positions.

Sen. Lieberman understood that endorsing a Republican for president will not be popular among his peers in the Democratic caucus; yet, his faith was his priority. He understood that his career will end prematurely if he criticizes the President, but his religion took precedence over his occupation. David Weprin already said that he will support the President’s re-election; he supported the unpopular Affordable Healthcare Act which is not that affordable to business owners, because he is a Democrat. He was selected to represent the district because of his liberal positions. He will try to appease the community, but it will not happen at the expense of his party loyalty; after all, they hand-picked him to represent their views -– not those of the constituents.

It is for the same reason that Ezra Friedlander, the son of a distinguished rabbi in Boro Park (who perhaps opposes people who criticize the core values of Judaism), claims that Weprin “is better qualified to represent this community than probably anyone who has ever run for Congress.” He right in the eyes of a man who places his consulting firm before G-d, but for those who do not live off politicians and do take along religion into the voting booth, he is yet the worst to represent the community. Friedlander might lose money and a client if Weprin loses the race, but the community will win and gain a representative that is sensitive and compassionate to their values. David Weprin might be an orthodox-Jew, but he cannot and does not represent orthodox Jewry.

Dave Hirsch is a political analyst and columnist. He can be reached atdavehrsch@gmail.com

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make massive Kiddush Hashem. Imagine the headlines: “Orthodox Jews Vote Against Same-Sex Marriage”. Please do your utmost to bring it about and not chalila the opposite (“Orthodox Jews Sell their Souls for Liberal Handouts”).

  2. At this point, no Orthodox Jews hold high elected office other than as Democrats. Noach Dear and Joseph Lieberman are Orthodox, but as Democrats are largely bound to that party’s platform. Eric Cantor is very “frum” in terms of his political stands, but is basically “conservadox”. If we want an Orthodox Jew to represent us, we should start electing Orthodox Jewish Republicans – and that will have to start in Brooklyn. Given that most Orthodox Jewish are quite liberal on economic issues (i.e. addicted to government handouts, and not feeling any sense of responsibility for the economy as a whole), most Orthodox Jews are quite comfortable as Democrats (money speaking quite loudly).

    It should be noted that the United States does not have ethnic constituencies, and all persons are elected to represent geographic constituencies. We do not elect our own leaders, other than occasionally in some shuls. For the most part, our internal system is one of an aristocracy based on yihus and learning, and we should note that most of our leaders (i.e. the gedolei Torah) have consistently focused on the welfare of the community (which results in them tolerating, if not supporting, the Democrats) rather than on social issues that don’t directly impact on our daily lives.

  3. This is absurd. What type of seasoned political observer can write a headline like that. David Weprin will represent the 9th CD of NY. Not a branch of Judisiam. No member of Congress represents a religion. Pathetic. Oh, while I’m at it, Ezra Friedlanders father is the Liska Rebbe.

  4. To Coffee Addict. It’s Flatbush Abba;). In reality he will represent the 9th CD which while it does have a Jewish population is not a Jewish Majority and for that matter isn’t even the highest concentration of Jews per district. People are more sophisticated. The world doesn’t begin and end with the Jewish population. There is also a real world in the 9th CD.

  5. #6 makes the most sense of all the comments posted here. “To the Goyim he represents Jews”. That is the Chillul Hashem we want to avoid. We are not seeking to elect a “frum” candidate…but rather one will will represent us and our core values. Weprin believes party first and values later. That is why Weprin CANNOT represent us.

  6. An Open Letter to Ezra Friedalnder
    BS’D
    Wednesday, August 31, 2011
    Dear Ezra n’y,
    It has been a while since we last spoke. Having learned that you’re actively and unabashedly supporting Weprin’s congressional campaign, I wasn’t quite sure how to express my heartfelt disappointment. The pain was overwhelming and doing or saying nothing wasn’t an option. First, I’d like to share with you how this disclosure of your political prostitution came about.
    Your father, the rebbe shlita, helped me with his sought-after signature for a Torah Declaration that has been signed by many rabbonim which proclaims the universally accepted daas Torah that anyone afflicted with a same sex attraction can and should repent and seek proper therapy so that he/she can proceed with a meaningful and productive life.
    Recently, I was asked to once again approach your father, the rebbe shlita, to ask of him to please sign a more recent declaration. Like the earlier mentioned declaration, this one is also signed by Harav Shmuel Kamenetzky shlita and other Torah leaders, and it clearly forbids anyone from voting for the pro-gay marriage candidate, David Weprin.
    I chose not to contact your father a second time since I felt that he must be quite hurt by your backing of a perfect specimen of a living, breathing desecration of God’s name. Instead, I decided to voice my grievances to you directly in a candid manner rather than act behind your back. It is incumbent upon me and all who can to share with you their disapproval of your poor choice of political bedfellows openly so that you not fool yourself that there is any excuse for what you are doing. Be it earning a livelihood or any other consideration – you are aiding and abetting the enemies of Hashem and that cannot be easily forgiven.
    During the years that I prayed alongside you at your father’s shul I greatly admired your brave and honorable disregard to the intimidation projected by the sinful ones who would brazenly speak during prayers and the reading of the Torah. Instead, you would protest, as the Halacha admonishes us to do, a holy job that no one else had the temerity to execute. Which was, in effect, to tell these mockers of Divine Authority to cease talking or else… What one can expect from a scion of the holy Liska dynasty.
    It is precisely due to your consistent noble behavior in shul, that I was so deeply hurt by your outspoken support for a man who is responsible for besmirching the name of our holy Torah like few others ever have. The Yerushalmi,,Brachos 9:2, states clearly that homosexuality brings about earthquakes. That and many other vivid signs from Above ought to awaken you and other socialist Jews from your government-spending induced slumber, and tear you away from the endless feast on federal and state pork dollars that have caused your political views to become akin to those of the Hellenists during the Hashmoniac period. Consorting with the enemies of God is a grave transgression and our society’s spiraling into the abyss of immorality is due in great part to the politics of the heretic left.
    You have been associated with spiritually inferior political elements before. In fact that may even be your well- deserved reputation. However, this particular case is different. We are at a crossroads in our holy nation’s long and painful history. By all accounts the diaspora is gasping for air and its demise is about to be proclaimed by the arrival of Moshaich, our redeemer. What will you respond, Ezra, when he asks you, “What have you done to stymie the tide of God’s name being publicly profaned, hmmm?”

    Joseph Lieberman

  7. Editor, you know better than that. If this person wants to voice his grievance to somebody, suggest they use email. YWN is not Facebook nor a public email site. You know better.

  8. Clearly Mr. Hirsch is absolutely correct. Weprin represents party and politics first and then his religion. Weprin’s vote against his own orthodox Jewish values was a tremendous chilul Hashem. He should be voted down. I hope Turner wins!

  9. #8- it is for the Gedolei Torah in our community to object to Jews supporting politicians, including but not limited to Shomer Shabbos ones, who support social positions that are clearly objectionable even for Bnei Noach (e.g. abortion, homosexuality). While rabbanim should not make partisan endorsements, they can refuse to accept money from tainted government sources. They can turn down the frequent grants that the politically liberal Jews who control local politics frequently give to our community (free medical care, school transportation, subsidized food and housing, community development grants, Pell grants for yeshivos, etc.). Indeed, if the frum community not only started turning down such money, and let it be known we won’t associate with the perverts with blood on their hands, it would be a radical event.

    But our community is not a democracy. It is up for the Gedoleim to make the decision.

  10. The fact that he has the label of an “orthodox jew” means that to the world he may be a representation of orthodox judaism which is certainly not the case. He will never put religion first when it comes to complyying with whatever his party wants so let’s do him a favor by not voting him in so we spare him from making chilul Ha-shems Gd forbid.