Mike Pence causes controversy with 'Christian rabbi' at prayer for synagogue shooting victims

On social media, some called him a 'fake rabbi' and a 'Christian rabbi'

Kristin Hugo
New York
Tuesday 30 October 2018 16:16
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Vice president Mike Pence has been criticised for appearing at a campaign rally with a "Messianic rabbi" - who invoked Jesus while mourning the deaths of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Rabbi Loren Jacobs mixes Jewish traditions with the belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, however, mainstream Jewish movements don’t recognise Messianic Jews as truly Jewish, and instead as converts to Christianity.

Jacobs opened by invoking "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God and father of my lord and savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and my God and father, too."

On social media, some called him a "fake rabbi" and a "Christian rabbi".

Rafael Shimunov, who is on the board of directors for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, tweeted that a Jewish rabbi would typically start a prayer with a Kaddish, a prayer for the dead, and a list of names of the deceased. Jacobs did not mention the names of any victims by name, but he did mention “Jesus the Messiah,” and “my Lord and Savior Yeshua” (another name for Jesus.) He also read a list of republican candidates for whom he asked the audience to pray.

Shuminov continued to criticise the prayer in a Twitter thread, saying that the event “coopt[ed] our holiest traditions” and used it “to step on the dead.” He called Jacobs a "Christian rabbi."

But Lena Epstein, who is running for Congress, tweeted that she invited Jacobs “because we must unite as a nation - while embracing our religious differences - in the aftermath of Pennsylvania.”

Epstein says that she looks forward to serving as the only Jewish republican woman in congress. A spokesperson said that Mr Pence did not know who Jacobs was before the rally, and did not pick him to lead the prayer Times of Israel reported.

Jacobs earned a degree in Jewish studies from a Christian college in 1979. Jason Miller, a Jewish rabbi in the Detroit area, wrote on Facebook that there are 60 rabbis in the directory of the Michigan Board of Rabbis.

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