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Biden Fundraising Letter Features Rabbi’s Story About Senator Making Shiva Call

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Delaware rabbi wrote a fundraising endorsement for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign citing his appearance at the shiva for a constituent of modest means.

Rabbi Michael Beals was leading a minyan in 2006 for Sylvia Greenhouse, who lived in a senior living facility in Claymont, a town at the northern tip of Delaware. The minyan was taking place in the laundry room because Greenhouse’s apartment was too small to accommodate the 10 supplicants required for prayers during the period of mourning, or shiva.

Beals was surprised to see Biden, then the state’s senior senator, entering the laundry room. Afterward Beals, of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, asked Biden why he had come.

Biden explained that Greenhouse had sent his campaign $18 every Senate election since his first in 1972. Eighteen is the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for “life,” “chai.”

“There were no news outlets at our service that day — no Jewish reporters or important dignitaries,” Beals wrote in the appeal distributed by the campaign of the former vice president. “Just a few elderly mourners in a basement laundry room.”

A photo of Biden posing with Beals is attached to the appeal.


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