Washington – According to the JTA, A Jewish Democratic leader says he will decline invitations to future Chabad-Lubavitch events in the nation’s capital because of its “partisan activities.”
National Jewish Democratic Council executive director Ira Forman will skip the events because “certain Chabad associated individuals and institutions” have been “taking part in partisan activties” in the last three election cycles.
“I currently do not feel that it is proper for a NJDC representative to give a ‘bi-partisan hechsher’ to your events,” wrote Forman in an e-mailed letter to American Friends of Lubavitch Washington director Rabbi Levi Shemtov that was obtained by JTA.
Forman was upset most recently, according to the letter, by a conference call last month that about 40 Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim had with McCain, in which the Republican asked for the group’s endorsement.
“With this McCain event I do not believe you have adequately considered the issues we previously discussed – including making sure that if you invite the candidate of one party that you then proceed (before the first event takes place) and make a formal, written invitation to the candidate of the other party,” the letter said.
Shemtov said he had “several” discussions with the Obama campaign about a similar event and the only reason it hasn’t happened yet is because of “scheduling challenges.”
“If between one event and an an equivalent event there is a lapse of time beyond our control, that can hardly be considered partisanship,” said the rabbi. “Especially in this particular case, we were clear with both campaigns that whatever would be done with one we would be willing to do with the other.”
Forman would not comment further on the e-mail. “This letter was not intended to be public,” he said. Forman had blind-copied the e-mail to some mutual friends of the two men.
Shemtov said his organization does not take sides in elections. “Chabad-Lubavitch has never been nor cannot be nor will it ever be a partisan organization,” said Shemtov. “In fact, we are diligent in ensuring access and information both ways across the spectrum of public officials.”
Shemtov added that he does not rely on Forman for bipartisanship, pointing out that his annual dinner always includes members of Congress from both parties as honorees. “Many of our events attract more Democrats than his do, so frankly I’m not too concerned,” said Shemtov