Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), was uninvited last week, after having been scheduled to speak Friday night at Temple Israel of Greater Miami. Wasserman Schultz, who is also the chair of the Democratic National Committee, was going to discuss topics including Israel, social justice and religious freedom.
The invitation was withdrawn Thursday, according to the Sun Sentinel, as Joan Schaeffer, vice president for administration at Temple Israel, announced that Wasserman Schultz’s engagement was “postponed” for security reasons.
But if there were any security threats, they all seemed to emanate from Stanley G. Tate, 85, a major donor and former president of the synagogue.
Tate, a member of Temple Israel for 72 years, is co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in Miami-Dade County. He told the Sun Sentinel: “You can’t talk about the U.S. and Israel without talking politics. Republicans like myself feel the president has thrown Israel under the bus.”
Millionaire Stanley G. Tate was instrumental in the early development of the Florida Prepaid College Board and served tirelessly as Chairman of the Board during the program’s first 18 years, from 1987 to 2005.
To provide Florida families with an affordable means to save for their children’s future college education, the Florida Legislature created the Florida Prepaid College Program in 1987, and the first Florida Prepaid College Plans were sold in 1988.
In recognition of Mr. Tate’s service, Governor Jeb Bush signed House Bill 263 into law in 2006, renaming the program the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz avoided a comment on the temple infighting. “I believe strongly that in a democracy people should be able to hear from and interact with their elected officials,” she said. “To say the least, this is a very unusual situation because of this temple’s internal politics.
She added that “it is unfortunate that some would allow politics to stand in the way of citizens’ ability to interact with their representative.”
“She’s the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee,” Tate told the Miami Herald. “The topic is the U.S.-Israel relationship. There cannot be any conversation on that topic, none, unless it has to do with the politics.”
Tate told the Sun Sentinel that it was “wrenching” for him to leave a synagogue where he was married 63 years ago, and where a preschool bears his name. “But I could see this was becoming an issue, so I called last week to say I was resigning.”
The Miami Herald sought out the one person who was deeply affected from the incident: Lauren Trushin, the 16-year-old girl who was confirmed Friday night and was looking forward to having the congresswoman speak.
The Reform movement instituted the ceremony of confirmation in 1830s Germany, believing that a 16-year-old is better qualified than a 13-year-old to affirm his Jewish identity.
“What I learned from the member who made the threats is that… people who engage in bullying get their way when people don’t stand up to them,” Lauren Trushin said in her speech Friday.
“I have learned some hard lessons recently, and I can’t help but be disappointed that I was not able to hear Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz speak tonight. I find it upsetting that anyone would take a stand against a prominent Jewish politician making a speech about the State of Israel, and make threats and misstatements.”