In a letter sent today to Congresswoman Mary Miller of Illinois, the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in American public policy, rejected calls for Rep. Miller’s resignation after she quoted Hitler in a recent address. The rabbis expressed appreciation for her “underlying message” and said that “it is important that we learn from the counsel of our enemies,” although stating that the Biblical admonition, “and you shall teach them to your children,” would have provided a “better model for your lesson.”
Responding to Miller’s statement that “Hitler was right about one thing: ‘Whoever has the youth has the future,’” multiple Illinois and Congressional legislators called for her resignation. The rabbis wrote, “we respectfully disagree.”
“It’s easy to accuse someone of modeling Hitler, and very difficult to defend against such an accusation,” said Rabbi Moshe B. Parnes, Southern Regional Vice President of the CJV, who lost much of his extended family during the Holocaust. “It’s important for humanity to learn lessons from our enemies, even from beasts like Hitler, so that we understand how powerful the forces they employed truly are, and use them for good. The Talmud, the main source of Jewish law, philosophy and ethics, often does.”
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In their letter, the rabbis pointed out that in Jewish thought, the need to correctly educate children is so crucial that we must remind ourselves of it twice each day. The letter added that “while mentioning Hitler was distasteful,” Jews learn from the evil Haman of the Book of Esther, and the Roman general Titus who destroyed the Jews’ Holy Temple nearly 2000 years ago.
Rep. Miller issued a statement today, apologizing “for any harm my words caused.” Referring to the Holocaust, she said that “this dark history should never be repeated,” and added that “I will always be a strong advocate and ally of the Jewish community.”
“It is clear that Rep. Miller was concerned for the indoctrination of our youth, something we see played out on college campuses all across the country,” said Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, Midwestern Regional VP of the CJV. “We see every reason to take her apology at face value, and look forward to working with her and all of her colleagues in Congress.”
The Coalition for Jewish Values, the largest rabbinic public policy organization in America, articulates and advocates for public policy positions based upon traditional Jewish thought.