Rabbinic exchange

Obama endorsed this candidate after reading his response to a rabbi

cory torpie

Jamaal Bowman

Jamaal Bowman, the Bronx principal who defeated Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) in the June 23 primary in New York’s 16th congressional district, touted the endorsement of former President Barack Obama on Monday and explained that the former president’s stamp of approval came as a result of a public correspondence he had with a local rabbi. 

Earlier Monday, Obama announced his endorsement of Bowman as part of a list of 118 candidates from 17 states running for office in the November elections. “We got the big dog… Barack Obama, I’m not even playing. This is crazy,” Bowman said in a video clip he posted on Twitter. 

Bowman attributed Obama’s endorsement to his response to an open letter from Rabbi Avi Weiss, the founding rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, who in June asked Bowman to clarify his position on Israel. The weekend before primary day, Bowman responded to Weiss’s letter with a letter of his own.

Bowman said in the video posted Monday that Obama “read our response to Rabbi Weiss’s letter… He loved it. He wanted to meet me. He called me, we talked, [and] we got the endorsement.” 

Rabbi Avi Weiss told Jewish Insider on Monday that “perhaps” Obama didn’t read the original letter he sent to Bowman.

“Is President Obama aware that Mr. Bowman says aid to Israel should be conditional, is soft on his opposition to BDS (as his letter implies he would have voted against a bill in Congress entitled ‘Opposing Efforts to Delegitimize the State of Israel and the Local Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement Targeting Israel’) and has not indicated his support for the  Taylor Force Act?” Weiss asked rhetorically in an email to JI.

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