The comedian Sarah Silverman drew chuckles four years ago with her video urging young Jews to convince their grandparents in Florida to vote for Barack Obama. But a Dallas rabbi is not laughing about her latest pro-Obama video.
In an open letter to Silverman that has generated a firestorm of criticism on the Internet, Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt, who is Orthodox, gives Silverman a verbal whip lashing for her video, “Let My People Vote.”
“I wouldn’t be writing these words had your most recent video not been framed in biblical language,” the rabbi wrote in a letter published by the Jewish Press.
Rabbi Rosenblatt, who is described as a Dallas youth rabbi and CEO of a kosher meat business, doesn’t address the content of the video, which is about states where Republican-majority legislatures are requiring voters to have ID cards, ostensibly to prevent voter fraud. Instead, he attacks Silverman personally, saying her humor “tears down” and makes “sex a public thing that loses its potency.” In the only political reference, Rabbi Rosenblatt criticized an earlier video.
“Nothing you say or stand for, Sarah, from your sickening sexual proposal to a Republican donor [Sheldon Adelson] to your equally vulgar tweet to Mitt Romney, has the slightest thing to do with the most basic tenets which Judaism has taught the world — that the monogamous relationship is the most meaningful one and that a happy marriage is the key to wholesomeness.”
He goes on to say that Silverman has “had trouble forging a permanent relationship,” getting married and having children.
“Marriage, in Judaism, is holy,” he wrote. “Family, in Judaism, is celebrated. But for you, nothing is holy.”
Someone believed to be Silverman’s father, Donald, wrote a scathing retort to Rabbi Rosenblatt — the first of more than 267 online responses. He wrote that the rabbi could “take your false god” and “shove” it. His remarks, replete with insults and curses, also boast about another daughter, Susan, a Reform rabbi in Israel. He ends by declaring: “You don’t f*** with my family.”
Katie J.M. Baker on the website Jezebel summed up Rabbi Rosenblatt’s letter this way: “He wants Sarah to know that her proven (and effective) interest in politics is nothing more substantial than a consequence of her barren womb. …
“Why is Rabbi Rosenblatt so threatened by Sarah Silverman? He’s clearly threatened by the fact that a 42-year-old childless (gasp!), unmarried (double gasp!) woman (TRIPLE GASP!) wields so much power and influence – and that she actually seems fulfilled by her unorthodox life choices.”
Allison Kaplan Sommer wrote in a blog in the online edition of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “If anyone — rabbi or not — wrote something like that about me, I’d definitely have some choice prayers for his future. And they’d be pretty unholy.”
She said the rabbi “hit way below the belt” by advancing “the nasty and sexist theory that Silverman’s political passion stems from misdirected maternal urges.”