The Orthodox Union took two days to put out a statement in response to the weekend’s events. And when they finally got around to it, the statement danced around any mention of the Trump administration itself, calling instead on “ local, state and federal officials” to ensure justice is served. The Rabbinical Council of America mourned “violence and bigotry”, but not our leader’s failure to condemn it. Agudath Israel, the organization that represents America’s ultra-Orthodox community, has been totally silent on Charlottesville. Asked for comment, spokesperson Rabbi Avi Shafran wrote that the fact that the Agudah doesn’t issue official statements about hate crimes should itself be seen as “a function of the tragic frequency of hate crimes in our country.”
Then there are the smaller, politically conservative Orthodox rabbinic coalitions. Both TORA, which found time to welcome the appointment of Ambassador David Friedman, and Coalition for Jewish Values, which “advocates for classical Jewish ideas and standards in matters of American public policy,” ignored the weekend’s events entirely.
All of these groups have weighed in on controversies over the last year – just not this one.
You may not be as shocked as I was. After all, many Orthodox Jews voted for Trump. Still, you’d think the whole point of voting for someone is because you think they will represent you. So when the president you helped elect fails to condemn American Nazis, you would think it would be an obvious time for the Orthodox and right wing leadership to step up and make their voices heard.
Not so, it seems. The very organizations that have previously rushed with heady smiles to applaud administration policies and to pose for photo-ops with the White House’s court Jews are now speechless.
According to a poll conducted in August 2016 by the AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion, Orthodox Jews favored Trump at 50% and Clinton at 21%.
Perhaps most tellingly, Borough Park, a largely Hasidic neighborhood, voted for Trump with an overwhelming 69%. In the ultra-Orthodox burgeoning metropolis of Lakewood, New Jersey, Trump won by a margin of 50.1%, one of the ‘reddest’ townships in all of blue state New Jersey.