Only in America

Guest blogger Simcha Weinstein is the rabbi of the Pratt Institute. His latest book, Shtick Shift: Jewish Humor in the 21st Century, was just released by Barricade Books. His website is

shtick shift, by simcha weinsteinIf the polls are any indication, only an act of God can prevent Barack Obama from becoming the next President of the United States. Given Barack’s meteoric rise from obscurity to worldwide fame, it certainly looks like Somebody up there likes him.

There’s something very Jewish about this man’s rise from poverty and mediocrity to fame and fortune. Millions of Jews came to America with nothing and achieved the American dream. As Obama himself said during his star-making speech, only in America is his story possible. One of Obama’s, and America’s, heroes is Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who famously reminded the world of how Moses led the Jews to the Promised Land. Today, that Promised Land is America, and millions dream that Obama will usher the nation into a new age of hope and change.

When George Bush was being sworn in back in 2000, hardly anyone knew Barack Obama’s name, let alone how to pronounce it. Yet after one stirring speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, two bestselling autobiographies (written by the tender age of 47), and a short, undistinguished stint as a U.S. senator, he is now poised to take that oath of office himself.

As my overbearing bubbe often reminds me: with a bit of mazel, you can accomplish anything.

Speaking of bubbes, Obama is a big favorite among many Jewish voters, who have literally schlepped across the country, pushing his punim to the masses. Then again, a vocal minority believes the Democratic nominee to be some kind of Muslim “Manchurian Candidate� with secret anti-Israel leanings.

Personally, I don’t dig the notion of schmoozing — “without preconditions� —with Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That said, I find Obama an inspirational candidate. Being an Englishman in New York, I’m not eligible to vote, but I would seriously consider casting my ballot for Obama if I could.

Posted on November 4, 2008

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