When Kayla Moore said that she and husband Roy Moore, lately defeated but un-conceded in Alabama’s special senate election, had a Jewish lawyer, I was intrigued. As a Jewish New Jersey transplant who graduated from high school and college in Alabama, and who still lives here, I found myself surprisingly eager to suspend my disbelief.
“Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews,” Kayla Moore said the day before the election. “And I tell you all this because I’ve seen it and I just want to set the record straight while they’re here. One of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Now here was a Hanukkah miracle. Had Jews risen so high even in the South as to serve the exalted Roy Moore? Was he a kind of court Jew, a consigliere? Can we ever relive the glory days of Judah P. Benjamin? Moore did, after all, say the country was greatest when he was practicing law. Was there a Michael Cohen to Roy’s Donald Trump amongst us? Or somewhere in the neighborhood?
The Jewish world is small. It’s even smaller in Alabama. There’s 200,022 people in Montgomery, the state’s capital. Recent census data says 70.15% identify with a religious group. Of that 70.15%, 0.01% identified as Jewish. How hard could it be to identify this one very special Jewish attorney?
Hard enough to warrant several hearty “oy gevalts.”
Roy Moore’s primary counsel are Trent Garmon and Phillip L. Jauregui. I searched their websites. All of the partners at their firms were described in their bios as active church goers, if they didn’t just say straight out they were Christians. Other lawyers in the Moore orbit were also all Christian. Or their surnames couldn’t be found when I Googled the name with “Jewish cemetery.” Nor did the names pop up in local obituaries.
I couldn’t find signs of Jewish life in Gallant, where the Moores live, or in all of Etowah County. There was a synagogue in Gadsden, Etowah’s biggest town, that was fire-bombed by some self-identified Nazis in 1960, and later closed. No more Jews. Yes, Gadsdsen is the site of the mall that banned Moore.
I called The Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law, considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center a hate group. They did not answer the phone, or respond to my six messages over three days.
But the Foundation for Moral Law’s website has a page with links to the PDFs of all of the case documents associated with the Foundation. It took 2 hours, but I searched through each one to find the names provided for anyone working with the Foundation. I searched those names. No Jews.
Interestingly, plenty of Jews opposing the Foundation. That probably wasn’t who Kayla Moore meant.
Maybe this alleged Jewish Attorney lived in Birmingham, where I also live? I knew some of the lawyers, and knew they didn’t work for Moore. Or I didn’t know them, but they prosecute hate crimes. Roy Moore is certainly not “fellowshipping” with them, or with any legal eagle proudly in a same-sex marriage.
The father of a friend of mine who knows GOP politics but sat out the recent election, because of Moore, said he didn’t know any Jewish lawyers in Montgomery who would “go within 300 feet of the Moores.”
But I did my due diligence. I found three promising leads. They had Jewish surnames and they did not claim to be Christian or a church member.
And yet. Two dealt with bankruptcy, and the Moores haven’t needed those services. One handled environmental law for clients looking to protecting the environment, which does not sound like something the Roy Moore I know would be doing.
Then I realized I had to broaden my search — or maybe my definition of that beloved, vexing question: “Who is a Jew?” One Montgomery attorney could be our match. His name — first, middle, and last names included — was certainly very Jewish. The Old Testament names of his children were spelled in ways more typically Jewish than Christian. His specialty is business law.
He’s also an active church member and a Sunday school teacher. I’m a Sunday school teacher, in a synagogue. He’s a Sunday school teacher in his church.
This could be our — their — Jewish Attorney.
His office has not returned my calls. It’s been two days. But what if Roy Moore’s definition of Jewish is different than mine? What if he’s friends with Jews once they become Christians? Is he friends with Messianics, who believe in the Jewish Jesus? What does all of this mean for my search? Can I ask a Moore myself?
Roy Moore’s website has no phone numbers listed. I filled out the contact page, which was inappropriately titled “Get in Touch With Roy Moore,” and I am still waiting to hear back. I tried the Foundation for Moral Law, again.
Maybe this Jewish Attorney is hiding in plain sight. I could have overlooked him (or her) due to my own understanding of who is and who isn’t a Jew. In that case, shame on me. Maybe my understanding of Jewish identity is not as nuanced as this Attorney’s. Or the Moores’. The Attorney could be a Christian convert, or belong to a Messianic congregation, of which I counted 8 in Alabama.
Whoever this Jew is, I want you to know: I’m on Facebook, I’m ready to talk, and there’s a place for you at my Shabbos table. Let’s fellowship soon.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story suggested that the Gadsden synagogue closed in 1960. It actually closed in 2011.