Ezra Friedlander, Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, Munkatcher Rebbe, shlita, U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Reb Avrohom Pinchas Berkowitz, and Rabbi Chesky Blau Photo Credit: Lenchevsky Images

By Larry Gordon

The idea was to reach out to Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and, as you have seen on the news over the last couple of years, an arch-nemesis of President Trump. Though most of Nadler’s district is located in Manhattan, he also represents Boro Park and Bay Ridge.

By Larry Gordon

It was no surprise to me when I received several photos of Congressman Nadler meeting with the Munkatcher Rebbe and some of his chassidim recently. Mr. Nadler is a left-leaning liberal who supports abortion, gay rights, is for open borders between the U.S. and Mexico, and was awarded with an Oval Office sit-down with President Obama, who successfully won Nadler over and gained his vote on the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. It was Nadler’s vote in favor of the Iran deal that sent a signal to other Jews in Congress that it was OK to vote in favor even though Israel saw the vote as endangering the Jewish state.

So when I saw the  photos of Congressman Nadler and the Munkatcher Rebbe, I reached out to my dear friend and chassidic political macher Ezra Friedlander — a confidant of Nadler’s — to arrange an interview for the 5TJT with the congressman. After all, Nadler is up for reelection in 2020, as are all members of the House of Representatives. He is dealing with primary competition in the NY 10th District from socialist leftist Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Ms. Boylan has so far raised more money than Mr. Nadler. She has called out Rep. Nadler for not pursuing impeachment against the president quickly enough. She has a lot of support on this position, in particular on the West Side of Manhattan, the core of the district.

Considering Nadler’s meeting with the Rebbe, it occurred that this would be a good time to request a schmooze or an interview with the congressman.

So I reached out to Ezra. After the first two emails it seemed promising, and I was looking forward to talking with the congressman. Then the next morning after Ezra spoke with a Nadler representative a condition was set down that there could be no questions about President Trump.

I thought that was just a bit stunning, as Nadler is often on TV talking about how awful and bad Mr. Trump is for this country. I thought about it for a few minutes and then wrote back that I would agree to no questions about the president, as ridiculous as that is.

A few hours later there was another request that the questions I wanted to ask Congressman Nadler should be submitted in advance. Wow, I thought, talk about hiding behind whatever it is that you need to hide behind. At this point I figured that whoever was doing the research looked up some recent 5TJT issues online and developed a sense for where we usually stand on the issues of the day.

At this point I was not feeling too positive about the prospects, but still I crafted eight questions that I would have liked to ask Congressman Nadler.

Here they are:

  1. Have you ever seen such a divide in the country in the course of all your decades in elected office?
  2. Have the Democrats in Congress been too slow in reacting to extreme hostility toward Israel and Jews being demonstrated by the so-called Squad?
  3. Can you talk about your relationship with them as legislators?
  4. Has Israel’s refusal to allow Omar into the country impacted Democratic support for Israel?
  5. There seems to be across-the-board criticism of Israel by the declared candidates for president. Is that how you see it?
  6. Do you believe that if Reps. Omar and Tlaib had been allowed into Israel their positions or attitudes may have been transformed?
  7. Which of the candidates for president would you be most comfortable supporting?
  8. As a child, you attended yeshiva. Can you talk about that experience?

The next day, after I sent Nadler’s office these questions, Ezra sent me an email saying that the congressman would not be doing the interview. At first I was quite disappointed, but then I thought that the reasons why he wouldn’t do the interview might make for a better story than if the session actually materialized.

I was planning to stick to the questions, and as you can see they stayed away from discussing his feelings about the president. We have seen him either during formal hearings or at a news conference, and the nature of the way he and the others speak about the president as well as the presidency is unbecoming of elected officials of that kind of stature. This is the 2020 Democratic playbook on display. The feeling is that there is no other conceivable way to beat Donald Trump unless he is rendered a criminal, mentally unfit, or unsuitable to continue as president. Mr. Nadler and other leading Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for pursuing this course.

Of course, I was not going to raise these issues or even mention them if I had the opportunity to interview the congressman.

Mr. Nadler is the only member of Congress to have attended yeshiva, which might be of interest to our readers. He went to Crown Heights Yeshiva elementary school in the 1950s. We don’t have too much in common, though I can say that I attended the Mesivta of Crown Heights in the 1970s until it closed down and was absorbed by Yeshiva Chaim Berlin. So we went to yeshiva in the same building about 15 or so years apart.

That is something I would have liked to discuss with Congressman Nadler had I been given the opportunity. By the way, if you look at his congressional website it does not say that he attended yeshiva. And even Wikipedia makes no reference to his receiving a Torah education until he was 14 years old. But if you dig a little deeper online you will find out that he was in fact a student at Crown Heights Yeshiva.

Actually, Mr. Nadler is a very pro-Israel Democrat, and you can rest assured that regardless of the fact that the Democrats as a unit are drifting away from Israel, Mr. Nadler’s support will remain rock solid. Interestingly, it is Mr. Nadler and Congressman Eliot Engel who have led the fight to loosen the restrictions on Jonathan Pollard whom the U.S. government refuses to allow to live in Israel as he wishes.

Let’s put it this way: If Congressman Nadler can support Mr. Pollard in that fashion then he is certainly not blinded by the current errant ways of the Democratic Party. He obviously knows right from wrong and understands that Mr. Trump is great for Israel and is doing a good job for the country. But he just cannot articulate those positions because of the extreme shift in the party. You can rest assured that it is not a good or happy position to be in.

All this said, I do not believe I will be able to secure an interview with Congressman Nadler anytime soon. But if he or his staff changes their minds, one thing is certain — they already have the questions. 

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