Saturday, November 29, 2008
From "The Race Is on for Hot Job as Obama's Liaison to Nation's Jews":
Speculation about the members of President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet and other senior staff has drawn headlines -- but there's also no shortage of interest in who will be the next presidential representative to the American Jewish community, or in how much influence that person will have in a White House chock-full of well-known Jews. ...Jews, you may recall, make up less than 2% of the United States' population and with Jews so greatly overrepresented in politics already one wonders why Obama also needs a "presidential representative to the American Jewish community."
How influential the position will be remains a key question, particularly with such prominent Jews working in the White House: incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel; David Axelrod, an Obama strategist, and Ron Klain, Vice President-elect Joe Biden's chief of staff.
From "New Congress Has Record Number of Jews":
When the new Congress debuts in January 2009, a record 45 Jews will take the oath of office: 32 in the House of Representatives and -- regardless of the outcome in the still-contested Minnesota election — 13 Jews in the Senate.Jews will, thus, be overrepresented in the House by factor of 4.1 and by 7.3 in the Senate. By contrast, women will be underrepresented in the 111th Congress by factors of 3 in both houses. Similarly, Blacks were underrepresented in the 110th Congress by factors of 1.2 and 12.4 in the House and Senate, respectively.
The "regardless of the outcome" in Minnesota bit is a reference to the fact that both Al Franken and Norm Coleman are Jews and Zionists to boot. This is not unlike the fact that all of the major party nominees for president and and vice president were Zionists or close facsimiles thereof.
From "Chicago Temple Takes New Security in Stride":
On a recent Sunday afternoon at a historic Chicago synagogue, the sanctuary was packed but the mood was restrained: A longtime congregant had died, and about 300 people had turned out for his funeral service. But amid the solemnity, the occasional mourner discreetly pulled loved ones out to the synagogue's front steps to snap cell phone pictures of a large brick house, mostly obscured by shrubs, across the street.
Such scenes have become commonplace in recent months at KAM-Isaiah Israel, a Reform congregation in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The dome of the historic Byzantine-style synagogue looms over the red-brick house where Barack Obama has lived for the past three years, and from which he made the short trip across the street to deliver an early political speech to a Jewish crowd. ...
Inside KAM-II, the two communities are living side by side. On the morning of the funeral, a crowd of mostly older Jewish congregants gathered in the sunny social hall to hear a professor from the nearby University of Chicago speak about Martin Buber and the Arab-Israeli conflict. At the same time, the domed sanctuary was occupied by a small black Christian congregation called City of Faith ... This sort of cross-pollination has touched Obama's life in the neighborhood, as well: His daughters went to preschool at the nearby Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School.
Several of KAM-II’s congregants and leaders, including the synagogue's emeritus rabbi, Arnold Jacob Wolf, and current president, Larry Bloom, know Obama personally and have supported him from the outset of his political career. ...
Bloom, a former city alderman, said that he used to introduce the candidate to locals on commuter train platforms when he was running for state senate. ...
"This is a congregation where the question wasn't, 'Are you going to vote for Obama?' The question was, 'What state are you going to help canvass?' " said Darryl Crystal, the synagogue's interim rabbi. ...
"When Sarah Palin said she knew about Russia because you could see it from Alaska, I wanted to say, 'Obama can see a synagogue from his house; he obviously knows Jews,' " Bloom said.