Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Parshablog endorses David Weprin For Congress

Today is the special election. You can read the Jewish Press's endorsement here. (Regardless of who you intend to vote for, you should go out and vote.) An excerpt of their endorsement of David Weprin:
He has a long record of standing up for the interests of his constituents in terms of child care, health care, senior care, etc., and has always impressed us with his understanding of the special needs of the Orthodox community's broad array of voluntary social service safety networks. And while he has had no direct responsibilities relating to the State of Israel (as a congressman he would), there are few public officials who have expressed themselves more forcefully on Israel's behalf.
So we have no hesitation in saying he would easily meet the checklist of most voters. This is especially true given the growing need to cut government spending - he argues for cuts over time and increasing taxes in the highest brackets - and the inevitable concomitant competition for ever-diminishing  resources. And given the mindset of President Obama when it comes to the Middle East, there has never been a greater need for people in Congress who fully appreciate the longstanding special relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
They address the reasons some people are saying to vote against him, which you can read there, but I will say it in my own words.

1) This will 'send Obama a message' about his Mideast policy? It is not going to do that. And besides, David Weprin is pro-Israel.

2) His support for the gay marriage bill? He is an Orthodox Jew. But he has said 'I am not running for Rosh Yeshiva', and he is absolutely right. Despite what one's own private religious moral compass may say, an elected official should be extremely careful and hesitant about imposing his own religious doctrine upon the community. Like it or not, gay marriage is something entirely acceptable in the general culture, and opposition stems from religious beliefs. How would you like it if a Christian Scientist were elected, and worked to close down doctors' offices and hospitals, because he believes that doctors are bad? How would you like it if a Christian were elected, and forced all stores to close on Sunday. (These were called blue laws.) How would you like it if a Muslim were elected, and made it illegal to sell and transport liquor, or to insult Muhammed?

There is a separation of church and state in the United States, and this is a very great thing. The end result is the allowing of different people to follow their religious beliefs unhindered -- even the religious, often-persecuted, minorities, such as the Jews -- while not allowing any group to impose their own religious beliefs on others. This should be something we should be grateful for, and a policy we should endorse, even if in any, or in many, particulars, the law is not in accord with halacha.

3) See what they have to say about the mosque. My thoughts on the matter is that once again, this has everything to do with not impinging on religious freedoms of other groups, even if it sticks in our craw.

Aside from all of the above, David Weprin has been quite helpful to the Jewish community in the past, functioning as a New York State Assemblymember. And, if I understand correctly, he would continue in this role if he is not elected to Congress. Do we really want to show lack of hakaras hatov to him? What message will this transmit to other politicians in office? And if he does not win, to we really want to alienate this ally?

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