Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Congratulations Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel

The next mayor of Chicago will have a Menorah in his window on Chanukah. Last night the people of Chicago elected the first Jewish mayor in its long and glorious history. He won against 5 other opponents with a commanding 55% of the vote.

Much has been said about Rahm Emanuel both pro and con. But no one can doubt the abilities that got him here. I think it is fair to say whether or not one likes his abrasive behind the scenes style - the force of his powerful personality and his intense determination will serve him well in the challenges he faces - which are considerable.

To Chicago’s credit, his Jewish religion was not an issue. He was elected by significant portions of Chicago’s racial, religious, and ethnic vote of which there is a wide array. They looked past candidates of their own ethnicity, religion, and race to vote for the man they believed will best serve the interests of the city.

I just want to take a moment to focus on the mayor elect’s Jewishness. Rahm Emanuel is not an Orthodox Jew. But he is a proud Jew who does not hide his Yiddishkeit. He is religious enough to belong to an Orthodox Shul - Rabbi Asher Lopatin’s Anshei Shalom. (Rabbi Lopatin is a Talmid of Rav Ahron Soloveichik.) He loves Israel enough to have run to Israel during the first Gulf War and volunteer for the IDF as Iraqi scud missiles were being fired into it. His Judaism is meaningful enough to have had his son’s Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel.

That some Jews despise him because of his association with the Obama administration is wrong-headed, irrational, and counterproductive no matter how one feels about the President’s policies on Israel.

I think the Jewish citizens of Chicago can take pride in the fact that one of our own has made it to the top and will continue the greatness that is Chicago… following in the very large footsteps of Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Congratulations to Rahm Emanuel, his wife Amy, and his children, Zachariah, Ilana and Leah. I join Gery Chico who in a most gracious concession speech wishes him great success as Chicago’s next mayor.