Mike Pence invited a “Christian rabbi” to deliver a prayer to Jesus for the victims of Saturday’s synagogue shooting at a campaign event yesterday, and outrage ensued.
On Saturday, 11 people were killed at a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh allegedly by a man who had a history of anti-Semitism. Holding a campaign rally so soon after a national tragedy would be unthinkable under any other presidency.
On Monday, Pence introduced Loren Jacobs of the Messianic Jewish Synagogue Shema Yisrael to the stage at a campaign event.
Instead of starting with Kaddish, a prayer for the dead, and reading the names of the victims and giving a blessing to the community at risk, Pence’s faux-rabbi read a list of Republican candidates running for office and blessed Pence.
During his prayer, Jacobs referred to “Jesus the Messiah.”
In response to antisemitic white nationalist attack, Vice President Mike Pence opens campaign event with a Christian Rabbi. pic.twitter.com/5iMLx1V3NH
— rafael shimunov (@rafaelshimunov) October 30, 2018
On Twitter, many found Pence’s choice offensive.
Dear Pence, please give up the pretense of Jewish presence. You are a Christian supremacist. We know that, you know that.
Also we will defeat you.
But in the meantime, just stop pretending and appropriating my people. https://t.co/dJGc62DmBM
— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@TheRaDR) October 30, 2018
That’s a Christian prayer at what was claimed to be a Jewish Service. Would it have killed them to have a Jewish rabbi recite a Jewish prayer to memorialize an attack on Jewish people at Sabbath services?
— Bada$$ Broad (@bailedireachmom) October 29, 2018
Others were offended with how Epstein read a list of names of Republicans to pray for, but didn’t read the names of the victims of the shooting.
this gentleman also prayed for the success of republican candidates by name, but did not mention the names of those slain in pittsburgh. needless to say, this weird, blasphemous burlesque of judaism is beyond insulting to those murdered for their faith https://t.co/Mq5ZfZJYYJ
— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) October 30, 2018
Pence’s office was quick to say that he did not invite Jacobs. He was instead invited by GOP congressional candidate Lena Epstein, who is the Republican running in Michigan’s 11th District.
“My family’s history as Jews and my commitment to my Jewish faith are beyond question,” Epstein said in a statement, calling on people to avoid “needless division.”
Statement on Jewish Faith and Religious Tolerance: pic.twitter.com/QUxYG3ZIh5
— Lena Epstein (@LenaEpstein) October 30, 2018
But not everyone accepted that explanation.
Nobody thinks you’re not Jewish. They think that you’re deeply insensitive for bringing a group on stage who’s entire mission is to convert Jews 3 days after the worst anti-Semitic attack in American Jewish history. Instead of apologizing, you do this. It’s disgusting. https://t.co/NajxDOhE9E
— Jordan Acker (@JordanAckerMI) October 30, 2018
Messianic Judaism is a religious movement that combines elements of Jewish culture with Christian theology – including belief that Jesus is the Messiah. It was started in the 1960’s in America and its practitioners come from Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds.
The Supreme Court of Israel ruled in 1989 that the movement constitutes a religion separate from Judaism.