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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blue-only Florida shuls raise red flags

Adam Kredo reports that some Jewish South Floridians - including Democrats - are concerned about the way that the region's synagogues are being used for partisan politics.
“I see a trend here in South Florida where some synagogues of late are only presenting prominent speakers who represent partisan policy perspectives, and other points of view are silenced,” Florida Rabbi Sam Intrada, a self-described lifelong Democrat, told the Free Beacon. “The liberal idea of pluralism is grossly lacking in these situations.”

“This trend to keep out centrist, moderate, mainstream concerns about Israel and stifling discussion about them is very painful to me,” he added, pointing out that “many people in these synagogues are troubled about the situation.”

“I do not know who is applying pressure to prohibit such discussion, but it is a travesty,” Intrada said.

...

Wasserman Schultz gave a speech to Reform Congregation Kol Ami Emanu-El in Plantation, Fla., during Rosh Hashana last year, according to a temple representative. She made an appearance at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in mid-April.

Sources present at the Aventura religious service say that it featured pro-Obama talking points and failed to offer an opposing viewpoint.

Wasserman Schultz “spent time talking about the Obama-Israel relationship,” said Eytan Laor, a Miami resident who attends services at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. “This is an effort to reassure these [Jews] who are on the fence, who have concerns that [the president] is not a friend to Israel.”

Wasserman Schultz told the crowd, “Behind closed doors, Israel has had no better friend then Barack Obama,” Laor recalled.

The event prompted concerns that “the alternative side is not being given a chance to talk,” Laor said. “There’s not really any debate allowed. The only ones allowed to speak are members of the administration.”

Laor cited his unsuccessful months-long attempt to bring Rep. Allen West to the religious center for a discussion with Holocaust survivors.

The B’nai Torah debacle from earlier this month, however, is perhaps the most notable comingling of religion and politics.

During an event featuring Ambassador Susan Rice, a delegation of Jews, some of them elderly, were removed from the synagogue for balking at Rice’s pro-Obama politicking.

The senior leadership of B’nai Torah has long been tied to the upper echelons of team Obama and the Democratic Party.

The synagogue’s senior rabbi, David Steinhardt, is said to be an Obama booster and defender of his policies towards Israel.

B’nai Torah is also the spiritual home of Mark and Nancy Gilbert, who are closely tied to the White House and Wasserman Shultz and whose daughter is a Democratic National Committee staffer who posted a provocative photograph captioned “Jewbags” and “Jew Cash Money Team” on Facebook.

The Gilberts and the synagogue’s executive director did not respond to requests for comment.
Read the whole thing. My own hope is that these strong arm tactics will result in a backlash against the Democrats. Comments - particularly from those on the ground in South Florida (I know there are some of you) are welcome.

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