Thursday, September 22, 2005


A Terrific Speech

Guess who said this yesterday?
At Tulane University, the Director of the Chabad, Rabbi Rivkin, brought teams of students to New Orleans, and southern Mississippi, and other communities hit by the storm. He called in folks to help. He didn't say, head away from the storm; he said, let's take it right to the middle of the storm area to help people. They helped rescue stranded people; they distributed bottled water and self-heating kosher meals; they cleaned up and helped salvage homes; they provided spiritual support for those who lost loved ones. And one of those rescued from New Orleans put it this way: In the days after Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives." (Applause.)

Rabbi Stanton Zamek of the Temple Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, helped an African American couple displaced by the storm track down their daughter in Maryland. When Rabbi Zamek called the daughter, he told her, "We have your parents." She screamed out, "Thank you, Jesus!" (Laughter.) He didn't have the heart to tell her she was thanking the wrong rabbi. (Laughter and applause.)

Well, who was it? Do you give up yet?

For the record, I certainly wouldn't have guessed who the speaker was:

Yup, him. He was speaking at the 20th anniversary dinner of the Republican Jewish Coalition. (Hat tip: Power Line.)

And yes, no doubt the script was written for him. One can even imagine him asking his aides -- damn few of whom are Jewish, by the way -- for an appropriate anecdote to tell.

Never mind all that. "He didn't have the heart to tell her she was thanking the wrong rabbi." For any born-again Christian to say that shows a lot of tolerance and understanding. Coming from the President of the United States, that is simply amazing.

By all means, read the whole thing. It's a great speech, with some really nice tidbits in it --
I've been thinking a lot about how America has responded, and it's clear to me that Americans value human life, and value every person as important. And that stands in stark contrast, by the way, to the terrorists we have to deal with. You see, we look at the destruction caused by Katrina, and our hearts break. They're the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it. We're in a war against these people.
Has this guy been reading Bill Whittle, or what?

UPDATE: Thanks to Galit, for pointing out that the second sentence in my fifth paragraph was missing a verb. (I know what you're thinking, and no, actually, she teaches math, not English. She's a talented lady.)

UPDATE II: Thanks also to Daniel T. for correcting my correction. (Where would I be without my legions of proofreaders?)

UPDATE III: On December 6, 2005, President Bush held a Chanukah party at the White House. Scott Johnson of Power Line was there, and he blogged about it. (More details on the party can be found here.)

Apparently, the Marines on hand to maintain protocol were briefed about Orthodox Jewish customs; the West Point Jewish Cadet Choir was there to sing Chanukah songs; and the White House kitchen, for the first time ever, was certified kosher for the evening.

In short: was the President's respect for Jews and Jewish traditions a one-time deal? No, apparently, it was not!


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