WASHINGTON -- Rep. Michele Bachmann may have sparked a a furor by deciding to attend Yom Kippur services last week at a Chicago temple that espouses tolerance for gay and lesbian members, but the synagogue's Rabbi says the fiery Minnesota Republican is still welcome there.
Some members of the Anshe Emet congregation were outraged by her presence on the holiest day of the Jewish year and the acknowledgement she received from Rabbi Michael Siegel, in spite of her opposition to gay rights. At least one stormed out, and started raising money for Bachmann's Democratic challenger, Jim Graves.
But Siegel told The Huffington Post in a phone interview that most of his flock was less offended. "I've also heard a great deal of support from the congregation," he said.
The reason is that even though some members may not like Bachmann or her views, they do believe in the synagogue's mission of openness.
"It's a very diverse, inclusive community," Siegel said, noting that the inscription on the lintel outside the sanctuary declares, "My house shall be a house of prayer for all people."
The rabbi stands by his explanation that he noted Bachmann's presence because it is the synagogue's policy to recognize elected officials.
"At the end of the day, you have to honor the position, not the person," he said, adding that unless the congregation were to decide to change its policy, he would welcome Bachmann back, even if her own outlook on the world is less inclusive than the that of Anshe Emet.
"Once you start making those sorts of distinctions about who you acknowledge, it gets difficult. Do you start saying you're going to exclude someone because of their vote on the farm bill?" Siegel said. "It's a terrible slippery slope."