Ilhan Omar’s Former Deputy Comms Director Mocks Convert and Laughs at Judas Joke
Conversion is a central theme of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot when the biblical story of Ruth the Moabite – widely considered the first convert to Judaism – is traditionally read. And in Judaism, the convert occupies a high place.
The convert to Judaism must be treated with respect and love. This rule is supported by the verse, “You shall love the stranger (‘ger’), for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut.10:19).
The word “ger” in this verse was originally meant to refer to an outsider, an alien, who lives in our midst, but by a logical extension, it has come to mean a convert too.
Whatever their original background, they have come – sometimes by means of a long and lonely path – to be one of us and have left behind much that they were accustomed to. They must be treated properly and, as the Mishnah Bava Metzi’a reminds us, must not be reminded of where they came from.
The great Talmudic sage Resh Lakish tells us that the convert “is even more precious than Israel when they stood at Mount Sinai. Had they not seen the thunder and lightning, the mountain quaking and the shofar being sounded, they might not have accepted the Torah, but a convert, who has seen none of these things willingly comes forward to God and accepts upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven” (Tanchuma, Lech L’cha 6d).
There is a theory that the souls of all later converts were potentially there at Mount Sinai and when they subsequently find their way to Judaism they are renewing an ancient spark of identity that was awaiting its moment.
Why am I mentioning all of this? Well, Isaiah Baehr-Breen, the former Deputy Communications Director for Ilhan Omar, had this to say to a Jewish convert who happens to call out the haters:
Despite being a vile thing to say, it is rich coming from an “as-a-Jew” whose Judaism seems to me to only be significant as a way to defend antisemites like Ilhan Omar.
Not surprisingly, he finds this “joke” to be funny:
The ‘silver’ quip seems to be an allusion to the thirty pieces of silver for which Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, according to an account in the Gospel of Matthew 26:15 in the Christian New Testament.
Remember, this is the same guy who made light of Kanye West’s antisemitism:
so it is par for the course.
What I don’t know is whether Ilhan fired him or he left on his accord. I assume the latter, because his problematic behavior towards proud Jews would seem to be more of a feature than a bug to Ilhan.