Daily Israel Report

Leading Conservative Rabbi to Pray for Democrats

Conservative Jewish leader David Wolpe, voted in Newsweek as the most influential American rabbi, will pray at the Democratic convention.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 9/3/2012, 10:31 AM

A local artist shows off his lithograph  of Obama for sale at the site of the Democratic Convention
A local artist shows off his lithograph of Obama for sale at the site of the Democratic Convention
Reuters

Conservative Jewish leader David Wolpe, voted in Newsweek as the most influential American rabbi, will pray at the Democratic convention.

Wolpe is the Obama campaign’s answer to modern Orthodox Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik, who gave the invocation at the opening of the Republican party convention last week.

“For me, offering a benediction is an act not of partisanship, but of prayer. I am grateful to have the zechut [merit] to represent our tradition at a pivotal moment before such a large and diverse audience. Because I believe Judaism speaks a universal language, I hope to pray in a way that will be both inspiring and embracing,” he told Tablet online magazine.

Wolpe, a “modern Conservative” Jew, recently wrote an article condemning Peter Beinart's diatribe against Israel, but noted in it: “I am no fan of the settler movement. I agree that two states is the only just and workable solution.”

President Barack Obama’s campaign has signed up 600 leading Jewish leaders, “rabbis” who are almost entirely made up of those who do not have traditional ordination and almost none who are Orthodox.

Wolpe, leader of the Sinai Temple in the wealthy Westwood district in Los Angeles, told his congregation 11 years ago that he is not sure if there was an Exodus of Jews from bondage in Egypt.

“The way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all," Wolpe said.

Wolpe defended his stand, which included an attack on the Oral Torah of the Talmud, saying that there is no archaeological proof of the Jews’ wandering in the desert for 40 years. He suggested two years that perhaps a small number of Jews left Egypt and arrived in the Land of Israel, at that time called Canaan and influenced by idol worshipers.

His revisionist views would be welcome in the White House, where this year’s Passover Seder ceremony featured a revision of the “Four Questions," which ask why Jews eat matza and carry out other customs on the holiday.

Instead, all of the White House Seder’s Four Questions focused on President Obama’s attitude towards Israel.

“Why has President Obama provided record amounts of military aid to Israel?; Why has President Obama worked so hard and succeeded at uniting the world against Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program?; Why has President Obama achieved the historic passage of ‘Obamacare’; and, “Why has President Obama fought to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid?” were the questions asked.

The answer to most of the questions was, “President Obama cares deeply about the safety and security of the Jewish state.”

The claim that Obama is pro-Israel is increasingly becoming an issue in the presidential campaign, with Israel openly questioning Iran’s commitment to stop Iran from acquiring capability to manufacture and deliver a nuclear warhead aimed at Israel.