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600 Rabbis Show Support for Obama
More than 600 rabbis nationwide, including 37 from Pennsylvania, signed on to a Rabbis for Obama list released Aug. 21 by President Barack Obama's campaign.
The list, available at www.barackobama.com/rabbis, has been in the works for at least a year. The number of signers this year exceeds the 400-some rabbis who lent their names to the effort in 2008.
In a statement, Ira Forman, director of Jewish outreach for the Obama campaign, said the rabbis' "ringing endorsement of President Obama speaks volumes about the president's deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel and his dedication to a policy agenda that represents the values of the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community."
A majority of the Pennsylvania rabbis hail from the Philadelphia area.
One of them, Rabbi Eli Freedman of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, didn't have the chance to lend his name last time since he hadn't yet graduated from rabbinical school.
"I'm a big Obama supporter personally," Freedman said, adding: "I wish he could have gotten more done in his first term," such as closing the Guantanamo Bay prison and overhauling the immigration system.
Freedman stressed that it was a personal endorsement and that his synagogue was in no way involved. Freedman said he'd received more flack from congregants for his public endorsement of J Street -- he's a member of the organization's rabbinic cabinet -- than by siding with Obama.
Both the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Committee for Israel took issue with the list. The RJC called for the removal of Lynn Gottlieb, a native of Bethelehem, Pa., from the list, citing her involvement in the Jewish Voice for Peace group and her attendance at a New York event featuring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Emergency committee didn't cite anyone by name but claimed the group was full of "rabbis who have no commitment to Israel's security."
Representatives of the Obama campaign did not respond to requests for comment.