This week's portion: Justice Shall You Pursue
Susannah Dainow's "Fallow"

Why I'm a Rabbi For Obama

Four years ago I spent the summer in Jerusalem. When I got home, my shiny new ברק אובמה ("Barack Obama") sticker was waiting for me in my mailbox; it went on my car post haste. I've sported it proudly ever since. Of course, four years ago I wasn't yet a rabbi. Now I am, and I'm delighted to be able to say that I'm part of the renewed Rabbis For Obama. Here's a taste of the press release:

This group of over 613 rabbis - more than double the number of when Rabbis for Obama launched in 2008 – from across the country and across all Jewish denominations recognize that the President has been and will continue to be an advocate and ally on issues important to the American Jewish community...

Why am I a Rabbi for Obama? Because while we don't agree on everything, there's a lot that he's done -- and a lot that he's said -- which is in alignment with who I am and what I believe.

There's the Affordable Care Act, for starters (which OHALAH, my rabbinic association, formally supports.) And he gave a speech in Cairo a few years ago -- about America and Islam, about our responsibilities in an interconnected world, and about the need to move beyond the Palestinian/Israeli stalemate -- which moved me then and still inspires me now. (Here's what I wrote about it then.) He signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He recently denounced Representative Todd Akin's offensive and patently spurious claim that women who suffer "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant, and spoke out in favor of women being able to make decisions about our own health care and our own bodies. ("Obama: Rape is Rape," Huffington Post.) He signed the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which provides health care to 11 million kids -- 4 million of whom were previously uninsured. (see Children's Health Insurance Program info.) He supports stem cell research. (see Obama on Stem Cell Research.) He established the Credit Card Bill of Rights, preventing credit card companies from imposing arbitrary rate increases on customers (see Your Credit Card Bill of Rights Now in Full Effect), and he's making it easier for people to pay back their student loans without bankrupting themselves. (see How President Obama is Helping Lower Monthly Student Loan Payments.) He's got an admirable record on civil rights (see Equal Rights -- President Obama), repealed "Don't Ask Don't Tell" making it possible for GLBT American servicemen and servicewomen to serve our country openly and honestly without fear, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, and came out earlier this year in favor of marriage equality. (see Obama Embraces Marriage Equality.) (For more, see WTF Has Obama Done So Far?)

There are things he hasn't managed to accomplish which I had hoped he would do. Actually closing Guantanamo Bay, for instance. (see Guantanamo Bay: How the White House Lost the Fight to Close It, Washington Post.) Brokering a real and lasting two-state peace in Israel/Palestine. (Though the Jewish Journal reports that David Hale, Obama's envoy to the Middle East, continues to pressure Israel, Palestine in peace talks.) But I continue to believe that he is good for this country and that he's working to make the United States, and the world, a better place.