Thursday, October 14, 2010


I've always felt like Rabbi Yehuda Levin -- the Orthodox Rabbi behind NY Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paldino's anti=gay remarks at a synagogue -- was part of a particularly obnoxious branch of Jews who seem to desperately want to be Christian. Sometimes, when we talk about "marginal figures" within a religious group, we mean those whose views are more extreme manifestations of the general norm. For example, there are preachers whose homophobia and hatred towards gays is so extreme that embarrasses Christians as a whole, but it's perfectly fair to say that anti-gay prejudice is mainstream in political Christianity. Levin, by contrast, doesn't even seem like an "extreme Jew", so much as a Republican operative/Jerry Falwell wannabe who likes to play dress up. I mean, look at this:
“I was in the middle of eating a kosher pastrami sandwich,” Rabbi Levin said. "While I was eating it, they come running and they say, ‘Paladino became gay!’ I said, ‘What?’ And then they showed me the statement. I almost choked on the kosher salami.”

Something about the way he's repeating "kosher" here seems awfully defensive -- like he himself feels the need to defend his Jewish bona fides. Which, in a way, he does -- since his views are so far out of the Jewish mainstream as to make him a laughable figure. Laughable, that is, if he weren't professionally devoted to tying the holy name to hatred of others.

UPDATE: Assuming I understand the meaning of "cooning" (unlikely), Ta-Nehisi Coates agrees.

1 comment:

N. Friedman said...


Your points are all fair points. I would, however, note that Jews have mostly walked away from views such as the noted Rabbi. He, however, speaks not so far from the language of tradition when he condemns homosexuality, if we mean by that pre-Reform, pre-Conservative and pre-modern Orthodox Judaism. And, so far as I know, modern Orthodoxy is not all that fond of homosexuality either.