Joe Sestak, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat, wasn’t President Obama’s first choice for the job. The White House and Democratic leadership backed Arlen Specter for another term, in appreciation of his decision last year to cross party lines and join the Democratic side. But things didn’t work out that way. Sestak went on to win the Democratic nomination, and now he’s facing a tough race against Republican, Tea Party-endorsed Pat Toomey.
On Tuesday, President Obama demonstrated his full support for Specter’s usurper when he appeared at a Sestak fundraiser in Philadelphia that included a surprising dash of yiddishkeit.
Speaking to a hall that was, according to reports only a third-full, Sestak chose to introduce Obama by telling an ancient Jewish tale about two friends from the land of Israel who get in trouble in a foreign land and are saved thanks to their friendship. He then referred to Obama as a “warrior, who is truly a leader in that mission of Tikkun Olam,” using the Hebrew term meaning “repairing the world.” What was it that led the Catholic candidate to draw on Jewish traditions when introducing a Christian president to a mixed crowd?
Maybe it was the High Holiday spirit, or perhaps it was all the time Sestak has been spending lately with the Pennsylvania Jewish community trying to fend off attacks against him from Jewish right-wing groups.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Sestak (Catholic) Offers Obama (Protestant) A Jewish Embrace