For Orthodox Jews, Election Day caps season of partisan activity
This summer, a haredi Orthodox rabbi endorsed Trump, saying the president had “done a good job.”
By SHIRA HANAU/JTA
NOVEMBER 3, 2020
Rayne Lunger had known for some time that many in her community supported Donald Trump for president. But it was just in the last few weeks when “Trump 2020” and “Blue Lives Matter” flags were hung from street lamps on a main avenue in her community in Borough Park that it became crystal clear.
“The dominant narrative is that Trump is the greatest president in American history and Jews never had a greater ally in the White House,” Lunger said.
Lunger isn’t a fan of the president. But in the Orthodox community, she’s in the minority. The majority of Orthodox Jews are expected to vote to give him a second term.
And in contrast with 2016, when Trump garnered a slight majority of the Orthodox vote but less open enthusiasm for his candidacy, Orthodox rabbis have endorsed Trump and his Orthodox supporters have rallied in support of him.
“A big part of the increase in enthusiasm is how President Trump…went from an unknown commodity to a known commodity,” said Eli Steinberg, an Orthodox writer and consultant in Lakewood, New Jersey. “He definitely has a stronger, more robust base of support in the community now.” Steinberg is among that increased base of support, having gone from writing in “anybody else” in the 2016 election to supporting Trump in this year’s election.
This summer, a haredi Orthodox rabbi endorsed Trump, saying the president had “done a good job.” A well-known Orthodox pop singer rewrote one of his hit songs in the president’s honor and performed it at a Jewish summer camp. And 13 leading Orthodox rabbis thanked the president for his executive order declaring religious services “essential” in a letter that was released last week in what looked like an endorsement in the presidential race. “Thank you Rabbis!” the president tweeted in response.
Over the past two Sundays, Orthodox Jews have organized rallies in support of Trump with supporters joining in from Orthodox communities across the New York City area.
And in recent days, new endorsements of the president have come out of a number of Hasidic communities.
In New Square, a town in upstate New York that is home to a large community of Skverer Hasidim, the village board endorsed Trump in fliers posted around the town, according to a tweet from Jake Turx, a reporter for Ami Magazine. The flier encouraged everyone in the town, which voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, to vote for Trump.
For some Orthodox Jews supporting Trump, Israel is an important selling point for the president. In addition to moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, in the last several months, Trump has brokered multiple agreements between Israel and Arab countries.
But for many Orthodox Jews, support for Trump doesn’t come down to Israel alone.
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