A rabbi and Black Lives Matter activist used her speech at last week’s official White House Hanukkah reception to promote the Black Lives Matter movement, gun control, open immigration for “all” and “justice for Palestinians.”
Susan Talve, a Reform rabbi, also altered one of the Hebrew blessings traditionally said before lighting the candles of the menorah, adding the female equivalent to the word “forefathers.”
Following short speeches by President Barack Obama and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Talve opened her remarks by pushing for allowing in “all immigrants and refugees,” then added other social justice calls to action.
“I stand here today with my fierce family of clergy and Black Lives Matter activists who took to the streets of Ferguson to stand firm until all members of the community would see God in the face of the other,” Talve said.
“I stand here for two groups of St. Louis moms, one working to get guns off our streets and the other working to help clean up the fires of toxic nuclear waste that are threatening our lives in St. Louis and across the country,” the rabbi said.
“I stand here to light these lights to say no to the darkness of Islamophobia, and homophobia and transphobia and racism and anti-Semitism and all the other isms that dare to dim our hope,” she added.
After appealing for “justice for Palestinians,” Talve chanted the Arabic phrase which means “Allah willing,” apparently encouraged by the Israeli president.
“We stand with the President of the United States and the President of Israel who today stand together at this critical moment in history when we must do everything to ensure security for Israelis and justice for Palestinians as allies committed to a lasting peace for all people,” she said.
Rivlin, who was standing behind her, could be seen mouthing the word “insh’Allah,” or “Allah willing.” Rivlin, an Arabic speaker, holds a largely ceremonial role in Israel which he has used to promote Arab-Jewish coexistence in Israel.
Talve apparently heard him say the Arabic phrase to Obama, and she responded with her own, “Insh’allah, insh’allah, insh’allah.”
Talve noted that her son is named after a fallen Israeli soldier and that her daughter lives in Israel.
While singing the blessings for the Hanukkah candles, Talve added a word to the second prayer which states that God “performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.” She added the Hebrew word which would translate as the feminine “foremothers” following the recitation of that word in the prayer.
In Reform prayers, female equivalents to male words are often added to the liturgy.
Some conservative commentators expressed outrage at the introduction of politics to the reception.
“Yet again, Obama disrespects Jewish people, this time on Hanukkah,” radio personality Mark Levin Saturday posted on Facebook,
Levin linked to an American Thinker article where Thomas Lifson wrote, “Does anyone remember a White House Iftar dinner calling for an end to Islamic persecution of Jews? I didn’t think so.”
“Her behavior was deeply insulting to the religious Jewish community and made it clear that the White House was determined to hijack even a Chanukah party to promote an anti-Jewish agenda,” Daniel Greenfield wrote in FrontPage Magazine.
Talve’s remarks begin at 8:50: