Anyone notice how recent press releases are disseminated to the public during election season, with endorsements on behalf of “Jewish Leaders?” What exactly is a “Jewish leader” and how does one apply for the job?
In my opinion, a Jewish leader is a leader of a particular group of people, such as an elected official or a prominent Rov, Rebbe, Rosh Yeshiva, or even a person directly responsible for running a large Jewish institution. But lately, the definition of leader is no longer the above, but rather self-proclaimed “Jewish leaders,” who either belong to no particular group, or do belong to a group, but won’t place that organizations name behind their personal name. The reason they won’t use their organizations name is because 1) not-for-profit organizations are not legally allowed to endorse a political candidate and 2) in many cases their organizations doesn’t agree with who they are endorsing.
Just reading through the recent press releases published here on YWN, have my eyes popping out of my head. There are names of very fine people. People who devote their time to doing community work, helping raise funds for Tzedakah, and of course having their names on the boards of organizations. But who elected THEM to representing US? Did someone wake up one day and tell them “you are now a Jewish leader, go issue press releases, hold fundraisers for political candidates, and most importantly, plaster your name all over it”? Were there community-wide elections to pick these self-proclaimed “Jewish leaders” to make statements and endorsements on our behalf?
A recent statement from some “Jewish leaders” endorsed a particular candidate for Congress. The endorsement was signed by a dozen individuals.
I would like to know if any of these these “Jewish leaders” spoke to a leading Posek, prior to making their fundraiser and issuing their statement to the masses. Have all those people gone to a Gadol, and placed all candidates names in front of him, and what their policies are, and asked him whom the community should endorse?If so, then they should add that information in their press releases.
I am not questioning if this candidate does or does not deserve our votes. I am just simply questioning who appointed these people to issue a public statement on behalf of the Jewish Community headlined “Jewish Community Leaders….Endorse….”?
In a more recent case, just today I saw in the paper an ad by Eric Schneiderman for New York Attorney General. The ad says: “Endorsed by Jewish Community Leaders, Rabbis, Rosh Yeshivas, Kehillos, Mosdos, Education Centers, Jewish Media and Organizations. Really? Which ones? I know that Sharpton has endorsed Schneiderman. I haven’t seen a single Rov do so but I guess if the ad says so it MUST be true.
I think it’s pretty obvious that the media is closely following all these visits by political candidates to the frum community. These endorsements by “Jewish leaders” will inevitably backfire on OUR community. In fact, the recent press obsession over Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino visiting the community proves that in many cases all these “Jewish leaders” do is create a chilul hashem.
It’s time for these “Jewish leaders” to put up or keep quiet. Either tell us why you are “Jewish leaders” or issue a press release, “A bunch of random Jews endorse…”
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
(Chaim Shapiro – YWN)