People have criticized Donald Trump’s Christian supporters because Trump doesn’t live or govern by Christian values. Now, me, I’m Jewish, and a recent Gallup poll says that about a quarter of my tribe supports Mr. Trump.
A quarter is a small minority but significant one. So I ask my people: Does Mr. Trump live and govern according to our values?
Problem: “Jewish values” are hard to define, as a poll of rabbis reveals.
But a few common ideas shine through.
Judaism values the individual mind, soul, and conscience. No matter how often or harshly other cultures have pressured us to give up our beliefs and customs, we’ve (generally) refused. We have a long tradition of arguing for our ideas, all the way back to Abraham opposing God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.
But Donald Trump can’t tolerate people disagreeing with him. If you oppose him, he’ll attack you online and in speeches. In his view, people who see things differently aren’t just wrong, they’re traitors, fools, and liars.
Another Jewish value is protecting and defending minorities, particularly immigrants. It started in the Bible: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” And it carried through the millennia when Jews didn’t have their own nation and were often immigrants. Even when they had lived in a country for generations, their beliefs and customs were strange to the majority.
But Mr. Trump hates immigration and abuses immigrants. He doesn’t respect minorities even when their families have been in this country longer than his.
Judaism, both religion and tradition, also values law and justice. Moses, speaking for God, told the Jews, “Justice, justice shall you pursue“ — not just respect or obey, but actively pursue. Observant Jews live by Halakhah, the body of Jewish law going back centuries.
But Donald Trump has little respect for the rule of law. He recently told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he would break U.S. election law in taking political help from foreign powers in the next election. He’s resisted and denounced his own Justice Department’s investigations. And on and on.
Jews and Judaism also value wisdom and knowledge. Many of the heroes in Jewish history are sages like Hillel and Akiva. Study of Jewish scripture and commentary is supposed to be what every Jew yearns to do.
But Donald Trump has said over and over that he trusts his gut rather than knowledge and study. Advisors have tried to cure his willful ignorance, and he’s ignored them.
Donald Trump lives and works in opposition to key Jewish values. It distresses me that a large percentage of my brother and sister Jews support him.