Thousands of conservatives will be coming to Washington, D.C. this week for one of the biggest religious right conferences of the year: the annual Values Voter Summit, put on by the advocacy arm of the Family Research Council. While the event always attracts a large number of conservative luminaries, there may be one group of values voters missing: Jewish Americans. This year, the conference happens to be scheduled during Yom Kippur.
The 2010 gathering will feature appearances by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Senator Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former governor Mitt Romney, among others. There will even be a panel discussion on the important ties between members of the Jewish and Christian faiths:
WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD SUPPORT ISRAEL - Palladian Room
Victor Styrsky, Eastern Regional Director, Christians United for Israel; Kristi Hamrick (Moderator), President, Campaign for Working Families; Bishop Harry Jackson, Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church; Joel Rosenberg, New York Times Best-Selling Author and President, The Joshua Fund
Christians and Jews have been uniquely linked for more than 2,000 years. Sometimes working together; Sometimes in terrible conflict. But recently, Christians and Jews have explored the mystery of their union in unprecedented ways, achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. The historic roots of Christianity in Judaism are clear. But in modern times, Christians and Jews have found new reasons and new commitments to work together. Both face common adversaries in secular humanism and radical Muslim opposition. Both benefit from the framework of democracy with its freedom of religion. Today, more than ever, Christians and Jews must embrace their mutual need of each other, celebrate their common goals and heritage, and establish working relationships. Gary Bauer's American Values presents a panel of experts well versed in this unique relationship, who are able to address the political, historical and spiritual connections between Christians and Jews.
Yet it's unlikely observant Jews will be able to attend the event, since it's being held on Yom Kippur -- the holiest Jewish holiday -- which begins at sundown on Friday, Sept. 17 and ends at sundown on Saturday, Sept. 18 -- right when the majority of the action at the conference is happening (including the Israel panel). In 2009, the Values Voter Summit took place during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. "Does the FRC think Jews don't have values?" wondered Salon's Washington Correspondent Mike Madden last year. "Or was this just the only fall weekend they could get into the Omni Shoreham hotel?"
Anti-Defamation League spokesman Todd Gutnick said his organization didn't see much of a problem with the conflict in timing. "Since these are all Christian groups involved, Jews wouldn't be attending anyway," he told the Huffington Post. Some conservative groups, however, are trying to make inroads with the Jewish community, recognizing that although some on the right consistently accuse progressives of being anti-Israel or even "anti-Jew", Jews still overwhelmingly vote Democratic. On Monday, FreedomWorks, which helps organize many of the Tea Party gatherings around the country, told reporters that it was launching "a new initiative to reach out to racial, ethnic and religious minorities" -- beginning with Jews, to coincide with the High Holidays.
The Huffington Post contacted FRC Action for comment but did not receive a response.
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