My wife Suri and I moved to the ‘Big D’ four years ago with our children and joined the growing Dallas Jewish community. But our family connection to the big D is older than four years and more than geographic. I am the son of a Democrat, grandson of a Democrat, and great-grandson of a Democrat.

I am a Jew from Brooklyn. When I first registered to vote at the post office on Coney Island Avenue and Avenue H, I registered as a Democrat. It was not a question. When I first voted in the cavernous lunchroom of PS 99 on East 9 Street, I voted Democratic. It was not a question.

The first time I voted, I asked my mom whom to support in minor races, where I didn’t know either candidate. She suggested that I vote right down the Democratic ticket. A stronger party is able to field better candidates, she said.

Today I do the same. If I do not know the better candidate in an election, I vote straight down the ticket. But I vote Republican. 

Strange, some say, for a Jew. Untraditional. Yet, ironically, it is because of Jewish tradition that I vote the way I do.

Driving down Dallas streets in September and October, I saw lawn signs supporting the Jewish Democrat Martin Frost in the yards of people I know and respect. Yet if we lived in the 32nd District, I know I would have voted for his non-Jewish opponent, Congressman Pete Sessions, who, in my opinion, supports traditional Jewish values more than Congressman Frost. 

Most people agree that religion and politics aught not mix. And surely not rabbis and politics. Yet as time goes on, I wonder why that should be. If religion affords you a value system, should you not want to see those values expressed in society? If one party supports your values more than the other, should you not support that party in the spirit of your religious beliefs? What is religion if not a guide to help us make decisions that affect the society in a positive way?

True, religious institutions must stay clear of politics. The law mandates it. But lay leaders? Non-pulpit rabbis?

There are good Jewish people who support the Democratic Party (my dear grandmother in Philadelphia among them). But this non-pulpit rabbi sees the Republican Party as the one that promotes core traditional Jewish values and supports Israel, both in platform and deed.


A) Israel. America’s support of Israel is rooted in Waco and Waxahachie, not Boston and Bethesda. The Christian Right is Israel’s most ardent supporter and does so when the chips are down, too. This is not theory but fact. Take the Religious Right away and you have a swath of population that blames ‘both sides equally’ for the violence or is indifferent – and an intellectual elite who see Israel’s separation barrier as equally evil as the suicide bombers. The Republican Party is supported by those who love Israel the most.

B) Defense of Marriage. The Torah is clear in its position on homosexuality. Though it validates it as a potential innate desire, it judges its behavior as wrong. Legalizing gay marriage is not a mitzvah, to say the least. The Defense of Marriage Amendment is supported only by the Republican Party.

C) Anti-Semitism. In today’s world, anti-Semitism is couched as anti-Israelism and spouts from the left faucet, not the right. A few mountaineer gunslingers may host anti-Israel websites, but educated leftists carrying ‘Zionism = Nazism’ signs at anti-war protest rallies in Manhattan are much more worrisome then a confederate flag on the back of a rusted pickup truck in Montana.

D) School Vouchers. Judaism is threatened in America today not by anti-Semitism but by secularism. Numerous studies have shown that a full Jewish education is the single most effective way to keep Jews in the fold. But at $10,000 a year it is too much for most Jewish families to afford. Federal school vouchers, used to support general studies training in religious schools, would help Jewish parents tremendously. Only the Republican Party is open to that initiative. 

There is one more reason why I support the Republican Party. It is a more personal reason, but one that led me to not just vote Republican but to become a Republican.

I have a speech impediment. I have stuttered all my life. It is an ongoing challenge for me. As a teen I felt sorry for myself. I saw a weak future ahead. But self-pity did me no good. Nor did the unnatural hand-holding some well-meaning people offered me. It was only when I accepted my limitation and realized that I would have to work harder and be more creative then others, that I was able to achieve. It was only when I recognized the soul within me, granted by God, that I was empowered to use my other strengths and make a difference.

Many people start their lives with challenges and disadvantages. Goodness is not telling the challenged that they are victims – whether or not it may happen to be true. The celebration of victimization is a sad whiskey party and leads nowhere. 

Goodness is when you tell an inner-city or immigrant child that things may be tough for her but that she can overcome the challenges by working harder than other kids and producing better results. Goodness is a government that provides loan applications, not grants. And it is a society that expresses the belief – in its pledge and on its currency – that there is something valuable, something spiritual, something Godly in every human being, and that freedom is the unalienable right of all mankind.

This feeling, this spirit, I find in Judaism. And this feeling, this spirit, I find only in the Republican Party. That is why it is the party I support. That is why I have become a Republican rabbi.


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A rabbi and businessman, Yaakov Rosenblatt serves as director of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.