Where does it state in the Torah “Thou shall vote for Barack Obama”? (NJ’s ‘Rabbis for Obama’ invoke shared ‘values,’” Aug. 30), I believe that when a rabbi of a congregation publicly declares himself or herself a “rabbi for Obama,” it is shortsighted and misguided. Although the rabbi may view the act as that of a private citizen, being on that list links a political belief system to his or her role as the leader of a congregation. Of course, if the rabbi chooses to support a candidate in a manner that is not associated with the role of “rabbi,” he or she, like any other American, is certainly free to do that.
At this moment in history, we live in a supercharged political environment. The stakes are very high. Each congregation has members with differing viewpoints and strong beliefs. A rabbi, as a spiritual and moral leader of the entire congregation, should take that into serious consideration. When a rabbi chooses to be listed as a “Rabbi for Obama,” it can cause dissension and unforeseen consequences within the congregation. After 30 years of membership in my synagogue, this issue has caused me to withdraw my membership. This is a sad consequence. I know that others also have the same misgivings. I am hoping that in the future all rabbis will think carefully before taking public political positions on either side.