Culture, Global, Identity

Diverse Oklahoma: Judaism in the Bible Belt

“The Jewish community is in a very awkward situation because many of them are very liberal Democrats, but at the same time, they’re very pro-Israel, so how do you walk that line with a Republican President that is pro-Israel? How do you remain true to your political beliefs and at the same time, act for a safe and secure Israel? How can you be against Bush, but pro-war? There were many people in the Jewish community who were in favor of the war against Iraq simply for the safety of Israel, but as we’ve found out more about the reasons for going to war and the way it’s been handled, there’s been a huge sense of confusion and dismay about it. We’re in a huge mess now. Every single reason up to this point has fallen to the wayside, including the democracy argument.”
–Barry Cohen, 36, Rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel, a Reform Jewish Congregation Founded in 1903 in Oklahoma City

…From a great weblog called “Stories in America.”

32 thoughts on “Diverse Oklahoma: Judaism in the Bible Belt

  1. I am getting really tired of people thinking the Jews should be Reublicans on the basis of Israel. That is crap. I am a huge zionist, and have a great love for eretz israel. But i will not negate the fact that I am a citizen of the USA. No matter how crappy it gets here, I cant let it get worse.
    Republicans stand for so many things that are not Jewish values. I had an argument about this very thing with a Blogger called “nice jewish boy”.
    Its called Neo Con- and can be found at

  2. i don’t know if i’d call a desire for all jews to return to eretz yisrael for the purposes of bringing on the second coming of jesus so that we can all burn in the battle of armageddon “pro-israel”.

  3. The Jenius should be called The Idiot. Like the Kurasawa film by the same name, The Idiot is aptly named. “Republicans stand for so many things that are not Jewish values.” Really? Like what? I’m waiting to read about your version of Judaism, it should be quite entertaining. Do Democrats stand for so many things that ARE Jewish values??? Not really. Affirmative Action: not a Jewish value. Abortion: nope. Against the Death Penalty: no way.

  4. “Mr. Right” maybe you should have read the blog post ‘The Jenius’ mentioned
    His main point – as far as I can tell – is that “Jewish values are socialistic – we take care of one another- we believe in a health system for everyone, we take care of our sick and our poor”
    Therefore one could presume that the GOP party platform elements that he thinks are “un-Jewish” are things like
    -attacking social security
    -attacking welfare programs
    -opposition to having healthcare for all citizens, even all children

  5. “John Brown”, I’d prefer the “Jenius” to answer my questions, since I’m positive he knows his mind better than you. However, the statement that “Jewish values are socialistic” couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are talking about Tzedakah, you are obsolutely wrong in characterizing it as “socialism”. Throughout the Torah, personal responsiblity is a permanent theme.

  6. lets examine Browns last post, it is a typical democratic theological statement, and determine its truth:
    repubs “attack social security” – really? Repubs are the ones trying to save it before it goes bankrupt by introducing an element of personal investment to an insolvent system
    repubs “attack welfare programs” -really? didnt Clinton, under repub pressure attack “welfare programs” by signing the greatest welfare reform act of the 90’s which incentivized welfare recipients to go back to work, and doesn’t Clinton boast of its success
    oppose “healthcare for all citizens” – really, have you seen any repubs asking that county hospitals (the “healthcare for all system”) be shut down – and who, repubs or dems, are more likely to resist illegal aliens entering this country (in my state, California, the entire overcrowding of the free health care service system results from its use by illegal aliens)

  7. Mr. “Right” – I was not referring to Tzedakah – I was referring more to Jewish values such as
    1) “Love thy neighbor as thyself”
    2) “share thy bread with the hungry”
    3) “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat. If your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink”
    4) the idea that people are to be co-workers with God in efforts to improve the world

  8. somehow I had a “brain fart” and typed “Mr. Right” into the name field instead of my own DUH
    1) “Love thy neighbor as thyself”
    2) “share thy bread with the hungry”
    3) “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat. If your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink”
    4) the idea that people are to be co-workers with God in efforts to improve the world

  9. ah, the liberal mind is a thing of beauty, this is what the san fran columnist gave as her mission statement for her series: “journalist Rose Aguilar leaves the liberal bubble of San Francisco to bring you personal stories from people living in states that overwhelmingly voted for George W. Bush for President”. and guess what the political slant of virtually every on the road interviewee embodied – you guessed it, a liberal pro dem anti bush viewpoint (the good make believe rabbi was typical). Why leave San Francisco if you want to find liberals, arent there enough leftists in the city by the bay? is it any wonder that this country (including its jews) tilts more conservative every election?

  10. John Brown: I don’t think you have a Torah or know Jewish values. Care to tell where in the Torah I can find each of those quotes you listed?

  11. I’m not going to say Jews should be Republicans or Democrats, but I wanted to throw out a question. I’m curious what people think. Why, for decades, were most Jews Democrats (according to polls)? And now, why are more turning Republican?

  12. Mr. Right wrote: “I don’t think you have a Torah or know Jewish values. Care to tell where in the Torah I can find each of those quotes you listed?
    Look at you.. You don’t even recognize your own religion? Are you incapable of going to google 🙂 Now you’re getting scripture lessons from a pork-eating secular jew. And you’re right, I don’t have a torah. Now it’s time for you to go to remedial school:
    “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18)
    “share thy bread with the hungry” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
    “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat. If your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Proverbs 25:21)

  13. to “A Jew” — Jews in America were for a while fairly poor. Now many have more cash… once democrat, now republican. hmmmm, just a thought.

  14. I’m a Jew who served in the U.S. Army. I’m proud to be American and I’m proud of Isreal, but I’m ashamed of liberal Jews. You want the goyem to make you safe in your cities and in this world while you stroke yourself at how insensitve Americans are to the poor and minorities. When the poor and minorities slit your throat, you still won’t get it. If the liberal policy feels good, then you must be for it, regardless of whether you end up losing your job to affimative action or your country to Islamofascists.

  15. Bill: When the poor and minorities slit your throat, you still won’t get it.
    Great point, let’s get back to being paranoid/hateful of the poor and minorities, and pretending that white privilege has never existed. Conservatives are SO much more sensible…
    Better a bleeding heart than none at all!! (Ahh, it’s great when a debate is so un-nuanced that a cliche actually becomes relevant again.)

  16. I don’t think there is any evidence Jews are becoming more republican. Over 80% still voted for Kerry. The Jewish media and many Jewish organizations are headed by republicans but they don’t appear to be a trend.

  17. To Flurry: You liberals are so simplictic. To you everything is either black and white. If someone doesn’t follow the party-line, then you “burn the books” with your hate speech, calling those with opposing views “paranoid” or “hateful.” You are so insensitive, you hurt my feelings.
    I love the poor and minorities. My father was one of them. He taught me to take care of my family first. You want to take care of Afro-Americans first, and they hate your guts.
    You choose to go giddy over the plight of the poor and minorities; I choose to care about American soldiers, rich or poor, who don’t have their hand out to pick the Jew’s pocket.

  18. Bill: You are poser. The republicans support American soldiers by sending them to die for corporations like Halburton and American Oil companies, and those “rich” corporations have their hands in the pockets of those soldiers and everyone elses.

  19. Demeocrat: Halburton and oil? I thought liberal Jews were happy because American soldiers were helping to defend Israel. You are good at slinging moronic slogans, even if they contradict your major premise.
    If you could only see how loony (and Marxist) you sound when you talk about “oil” and “American corporations,” you would know why very few Americans take liberals seriously. Your mindless one-liners demonstrate why liberals are good at teaching and tinkering with other people’s lives, but show why they shouldn’t be in change of grown-up things like national defense.

  20. I don’t presume to speak for Jews or anyone else, and you don’t speak for the American people, most of whom now oppose the war.
    You say it is a slogan. So is the golden rule and love they neighbor and all that. It is much preferable to illogic of stating “Blacks will slit your throats.” and “Blacks hate you” not to mention the idea that you can’t support minority rights and support the troops and the same time. WTF? Complete BS unlogic. Face it you are a blowhard.
    As for my being a Marxist, because I don’t like big business, well I guess so was Eisenhauer, who warned of the military industial complex.

  21. Dameocrat: Sorry for the delay in answering; I was practicing shooting at the gun club.
    You call me a “blowhard.” That’s mean. You hurt my feelings. But I guess I always knew I wasn’t perfect.
    You say you don’t like big business, so I assume you like small business. But I think all business people are, ipso facto, evil. They are cruel people who take advantage of the poor and ignorant.
    If you believe that there should be some businesses, then you are a right-wing wacko compared to me. I don’t think there should be any businesses. We should all hunt and fish and build our own dwellings. We don’t need businesses. They are all corrupt and immoral.
    What we need is more love for our neighbors and even for our enemies. Why can’t we all live in peace? Let’s vow that there will never be any more wars. If we all say it over and over again, it will come true. You’ll see.
    My final words to you are don’t be afraid of people who are of different backgrounds and religions. Defend their rights to destroy you. You will be a better person for it. Good luck.

  22. Bill — forgive me but I think you need to go find your definitions for left and right. If you support the army and the U.S. soldiers that doesn’t make you a right wing conservative; the fact that I don’t support them 100% does not make me a liberal.
    One of the major text book definitions that defines left and right are that the left supports large gov. and small corporations, right supports small gov. and big corps. Take a look at your stand on business… Also, understand that most minorities vote democrat. Dont take my word for it, look at the facts.

  23. Reuben: Of course, I agree with everything you said, except I’m not sure that conservatives favor large corporations over small businesses. But maybe I’m wrong.
    Some of what I say in these posts is just my attempt to show how absurd fanantical right and left positions really are. If, for example, you take some liberal concepts to their logical extremes, you wind up with absurdities. I was trying to play up some of them.
    Anyway, thanks for the political science lesson, and I mean it.

  24. Dameocrat: It’s funny that you now call me an idiotarian. The reason is that, as you know, I am a blowhard, but I always wanted to be idiotarian.
    You know, I’m really getting to like you.

  25. Always amusing to have two secular political parties, the Republicans and Democrats, both claiming to embody the central virtues of Judaism.
    Heaven help us all: its enough to make me an anarchist. (Did I really just say that?) Saying Judaism is Liberal? Democrat? Hunh? saying its conservative? Republican? Hunh? Judaism is Jewish.

  26. if anyone thinks any of the two poli parties in the u.s. represent judaism and its values better than the other, you’re just kidding yourself. this discussion b/w dameo and bill is ridiculous at its core. liberals and cons come in so many shades you can’t generalize. the leaders of both parties are beholden to corporations that see the bottom dollar as the ultimate value. both parties have wacko anti-semites/zionists flittering about like poison butterflies, and both parties have the opposite and everything in between. the biggest problem is that there is no leader bringing an ideology to the dems, and our pres, the “leader” of the repubs, is plainly a moron puppet… sorry, a tangent. so bringing judaism and torah into the argument will simply be another way to argue about your own values and definitions. there are religious (read: orthodox) democrats and there are religious (read:orthodox) republicans. there are obervant jews who may be dem/lib in u.s., but see politics differently for Israel… it’s a shame that it seems people fix an intractable position for themselves based on personal beliefs that have little or nothing to do with religion and then use religion to defend and define and convince and/or harass others (did i just define our illustrious president? nah, not him)…

  27. Dk, your last sentence provides the main reason for a Jew to be a Democrat. The Republic party has become so connected to the Christian religious right that it poses a severe threat to the separation of church and state that allows us the freedom of religion we as Jews should see as one of our primary political concerns.

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