Sabbath Fundraiser Draws Obama Backers

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 11, 2008, issue of February 15, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Washington — With the campaign season in full swing, politics is infusing every element of life in the nation’s capital — even the Jewish Sabbath.

Last Saturday, only days before primary votes in Washington, Maryland and Virginia, supporters of Barack Obama harnessed the Havdalah ceremony, marking the end of Sabbath, to raise money for the Illinois senator’s presidential bid.

More than 100 Jewish Obama backers crammed into Stars Bistro in Dupont Circle for a Saturday night fundraiser and rally, where the minimum entrance fee was $18. Organizers made every effort to find Jewish meaning for their support of Obama, many of them referring to the candidate as an agent of social justice.

“He represents values of tikkun olam,” said Rob Levy, a local Obama supporter who is also the Capitol Hill representative of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom: The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace. Levy also pointed out that Obama’s message of “hope” is “Hatikva” in Hebrew — the name of the Israeli national anthem.

For Fred Scherlinder Dobb, the 38-year-old Reconstructionist rabbi who performed the Havdalah ceremony, there was a no shortage of symbolism to share with the crowd. Each sense invoked by the ceremony was used to make the point that Obama should win the race.

“I can taste what it is going to feel like when Obama will be president,” said Jess Champagne as she sipped from the glass of wine held by the rabbi. “Obama will bring a fresh scent to us all,” added Harriet Sugerman while sniffing the traditional spice box.

The walls were covered with posters, made especially for the event, showing the candidate with the Hebrew words “Ken Anachnu Yecholim” — a Hebrew translation of Obama’s campaign slogan, “Yes, we can.”

Participants, among them Obama’s Jewish liaison, Eric Lynn, stressed their confidence that Jews in the Washington area will be on their side in Tuesday’s primaries.

“We’ve won the Jewish vote in every state outside Hillary’s home turf,” one Obama campaign official, who requested anonymity, told the Forward, referring to Clinton’s success in her home state of New York and neighboring New Jersey.

In recent months, Obama has been the target of hostile e-mails that have circulated in the Jewish community, falsely accusing him of being a secret Muslim. Obama campaign officials said that their analysis of the Jewish vote from Super Tuesday exit polls gives them confidence that such e-mails did not hurt Obama among Jews.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.