Mike Pence and the 'rabbi'

With the midterm election almost here and President Donald Trump piling one outrageous act on another, contr...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 9:20 AM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 9:20 AM

With the midterm election almost here and President Donald Trump piling one outrageous act on another, controversies that might otherwise blaze for days are being forgotten. One that should remain in our minds is the appearance of a make-believe rabbi at a campaign event Mike Pence headlined in Michigan. It was, in the words of a real rabbi, Jason Miller, "an insulting political stunt." That it occurred days after an anti-Semite allegedly killed 11 worshipers at a synagogue made it far worse.

At the rally, the vice president announced that he was "privileged to be joined today by a leader in the Jewish Community here in Michigan." The "rabbi," Loren Jacobs, donned a Jewish prayer shawl and invoked Jesus, with a reference to his Hebrew name -- Yeshua. As if this signal wasn't enough, he noted that Yeshua is "Jesus the messiah," but failed to mention the 11 victims of the massacre by name.

Belief, religion and spirituality

Christianity

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Israel

Jewish people

Michigan

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Midwestern United States

Mike Pence

Minority and ethnic groups

North America

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Politics

Religious groups

Religious leaders and clergy

Society

The Americas

United States

US federal government

White House

Evangelical Christians

With little effort, anyone can go to the Internet and discover that Jacobs is not a rabbi but an evangelical Christian whose main religious education was obtained at the Moody Bible Institute, a Christian school that trains people to spread the faith around the world.

However, as an evangelical Christian well-versed in the culture of his faith, Pence would not have needed to do any research. All he had to do was listen to Jacobs in order to grasp what was going on.

Pence surely knew that a "rabbi" who worships Jesus as the messiah is actually impersonating a rabbi, and that, when Jacobs took the stage and began speaking at the rally, he was offending many Jewish Americans. Pence aides deflected responsibility for this by noting that a local Jewish politician, Lena Epstein, had actually invited Jacobs to participate. But on a night so close to the tragedy in Pittsburgh, at the very least, Pence would have earned high marks by saying a corrective word. He did not.

Real Jewish leaders were outraged by Pence's legitimization of Jacobs, who calls himself a Messianic (or Christian) Jew and who believes that real Jews, who don't accept Christ, are doomed to hell.

Among devoted conservative Christians like Pence, so-called Messianic Jews are valued as evangelists for Jesus whose special interest lies in converting Jewish people to Christianity. This mission fulfills the New Testament's command that believers convert the people of the world to save souls from the eternal agony.

Evangelists like Jacobs are extreme in their methods and many regard them as manipulative at best and deceptive at worst. However they are not alone when it comes to using questionable methods to bring their religious message to Jews.

Earlier this year Pence himself used the occasion of a speech at the Israeli Knesset to mix Christianity with Judaism in a way that was controversial to say the least. While quoting the Bible, he replaced the very Jewish concept of "good works" in the world with the word "faith."

It is a key distinction: Jewish thought views religion as requiring positive action in the world—faith alone, without observing Biblical commandments, is not enough; "faith," in the view of Pence and other right-wing Christian evangelicals, is an end unto itself.

This deviation put Pence's speech in a Christian context few noticed. One who did was Amit Gvaryahu, a Bible scholar at Hebrew University, who wrote in the Israeli paper Haaretz; "It takes a special kind of chutzpah to stand in front of a Jewish audience and explain their own tradition to them using language and texts that historically have rendered actual Jews pathologically redundant to the world, and still today cast us as a tool."

Did Pence pull a fast one in Michigan, as he did then in Israel? It's possible he did not know about Jacobs--and merely stood by as this fake rabbi prayed to "God and father of my lord and savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah."

But if he did know what Jacobs was about, then this would surely represent Pence's version of a dog whistle—one that he may have believed only conservative Christians could notice. He was wrong.

West Lafayette
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 71°
Kokomo
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Rensselaer
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 63°
Fowler
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 67°
Crawfordsville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Delphi
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 71°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 71°
Logansport
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Very warm to hot & increasingly humid weekend...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events