Dear Senator Cruz,
In 1943 my great grandfather stood with another 400 rabbis and clergymen at the gates of the White House, begging to meet with President Roosevelt-and the President refused. They were there to ask him to help European Jewry at the most difficult time of all, and to see what can be done to save European Jewry during the Holocaust. Upon the advice of his close advisors, Roosevelt refused to see them. Roosevelt was told that those rabbis were “orthodox” -just like I am- who are “primitive” and “belong to the past”, and that he should therefore not bother seeing them.
Today the Rabbis’ March of 1943, is seen as a historical example of a sliver of moral clarity and light, in the mist of the moral darkness of the holocaust.
The lesson this carries for me- his great-grandson- is twofold: one is that we should never remain silent no matter how small we are; and two is that moral clarity matters.
Senator, I have seen you attacked by some of my own fellow Jews, whom I love and cherish, and am nothing but saddened when I see those attacks. I see you standing up time and again for what is right, for religious values and religious minorities, standing up against tyranny and totalitarianism, fighting the multi-tentacled Iranian octopus of terror, and fighting for Israel’s right to exist. When I see this I am filled by nothing other than pride and admiration. Admiration to the moral compass that guides you in this direction, and your willingness to take the stand for what is right, even when it might not be a popular position.
Recently, your detractors have criticized your use of the term “Judeo-Christian values.” I ask those critics: If you are so devoted to the Jewish people and Judaism, where were you this summer when a deal that endangers the very existence of the Jewish people? I know where Ted was-Ted was fighting for Israel. Where were you when Israel was attacked in the summer of 2014 and the Obama administration used the FAA to put a siege on Israel? I know where Ted was-Ted was fighting for the only Jewish state. Where were you when three Jewish teens were kidnapped? I know where Ted was-Ted was on the Senate floor fighting for their return.
What has come to be known as the Judeo-Christian ethic, is theshared belief in the need for a more moral and ethical society. It was the belief that America could-and should- be a moral exemplar to the world. It was the belief that family and community are the foundation of a healthy society and that we should do our best to protect that. Sadly, some of those who believe in moral relativism, find this hard to believe. Does this mean we will all agree on matters of theology at all times? Probably not. But it does mean that this world is a better place when we work together than when we give up any hope and do not try.
And finally Israel. After 2000 years of traveling and wandering, Jews have found a homeland in the state of Israel. Anyone familiar with the history of modern Zionism and the state of Israel, is well aware of the fact some of Israel’s best friends and allies-including Winston Churchill and Harry Truman– supported the establishment of the Jewish state because of those Judeo-Christian values that you stand for. It is therefore no surprise that you are such a friend of Israel; it is no surprise that you are so dedicated to the well-being of America’s closest ally in the region. Time and again I see you stand up for Israel, and wish that members of the current administration, be inspired by your moral clarity. Sadly, more often than not, this does not end up happening.
Senator, may God bless you with many more years of continued success health and happiness. May you continue to stand by what is right and shine the light of moral clarity at times when it is most needed.
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko
Published March 2nd in the Jewish Press