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Bachmann Should Not Have Been Focus of Yom Kippur, Chicago Rabbi Says

The Lake View rabbi shares his feelings after Michele Bachmann made a controversial splash at an area synagogue on Yom Kippur.

A week after Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) made a controversial appearance at a Chicago synagogue on Yom Kippur, the congregation’s senior rabbi, and the man who introduced Bachmann during the service, speaks up about her appearance.

Rabbi Michael Siegel of Lake View’s Anshe Emet Synagogue on North Broadway made a customary greeting to the polarizing politician, a standard act to public officials who attend services. However, it wasn’t long before people lashed out, not only at Bachmann, but at Rabbi Siegel, as well.

But according to Siegel, while he knew the politician’s appearance might ruffle some feathers, he was hoping Yom Kippur would still be the focus of the night’s gathering.

 “I think you have to be living under a rock to not know that Congresswoman Bachmann is in the news rather often, and she is seen by many to be a polarizing figure in the country,” Siegel said. “For those who are concerned about LGBT issues, abortion rights, things of that nature, certainly she is on many peoples’ radar screens.

“So when I heard that she was coming, I knew that it was going to be a topic of discussion on Yom Kippur… (However,) the focus of the day should not have been on Michele Bachmann.”

"...to see some of the comments regarding Congresswoman Bachmann’s visit, it pains me more that others were really marred by her visit.”

Siegel said he’s been reaching out to community members in person as much as possible to have a face-to-face conversation about why the politician was acknowledged. He’s also hoping to send out a correspondence to the Lake View congregation in the future to address the issue.

But that hasn’t stopped some from already voicing their concerns. On the night of Bachmann’s visit to Anshe Emet, some simply walked out of the synagogue, according to the Chicago Tribune, saying the representative’s attendance was enough reason for them to donate to her Minnesotan opponent Jim Graves. Others took to the congregation’s Facebook page to criticize the rabbi for making the introduction.

 “We received a call earlier in the day saying that she would like to come to the service that evening. She didn’t give an explanation as to why she wanted to come, but just that she wanted to,” Siegel said. “We have a policy in our congregation that we welcome elected officials to the synagogue if they want to join us. We acknowledge them from the pulpit, and we do not take a political stance… So to see some of the comments regarding Congresswoman Bachmann’s visit, it pains me more that others were really marred by her visit.”

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Siegel says the congregation takes a “formulaic stance to the greeting,” with an acknowledgement and a prayer for peace in the world. And while he feels badly about the uproar, Siegel says it’s his job as a rabbi to create communities that feel inclusive.

“The fact is that Congresswoman Bachmann asked to attend the service. She didn’t ask to speak,” said Siegel. “I don’t think it would have been appropriate for me to challenge or chastise her from the pulpit as some have suggested."

Rabbi Michael Siegel celebrates his 30th anniversary with the Lake View synagogue in November. 

eileen October 08, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Using a very holy day of prayer for political gain is inexcusable. And shame on any Rabbi for acknowledging any individual over another during these holy days except in the form of an alliyah - a formal invitation for members of a congregation to participate in the services through a reading, an ark opening or prayer.
scgloe October 08, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Perfectly said! You are very courteous! OK. I think M Bach enrages people. She seems to seethe with anger. I feel badly if she ambushed this poor Rabbi & his congregation! If she barged in on this group of worshippers with her 'agenda', she was tactless & disrespectful.
labman57 October 08, 2012 at 12:44 AM
As Michele would say, she had a lot of "CHootspuh" to show up at a synagogue on Yom Kippur expecting to be welcomed with open arms.
Audrey Myers October 08, 2012 at 01:27 AM
You can't blame Michelle Bachman. She has no limits. But the rabbi. People go to Yom Kippur services to face Hashem and ourselves. Having to deal with Bachmann to is asking too much. The rabbi cheapened the meaning of Yom Kippur for everyone. And particularly from a politician who openly states that this should be a Christian nation. Where would Rabbi Siegel fit into that reality. He allowed himself to be used by a person who is not a friend of the Jewish people. And he cheapened the holiday for his congregation. this event can be explained in one word "Shandra"
jillygirl October 08, 2012 at 02:07 AM
she shamelessly goes for attention at any cost. she thinks not of others only michelle. i imagine the people of minnesota are paying for this too. please minnesotans,vote her out.
nestici October 08, 2012 at 02:11 AM
lots of questions: if Bachman wanted to attend a service, why didn't she go to one in her district? Why did she pick the most important day to make a political stand in a congregation full of people, gays, who she doesn't approve of? Why did the Rabbi feel he "had" to send a special acknowledgement to ANYONE on Kol Nidre, when the focus of the holiday is not politics? Even if she came to the service, when she was pointed out, she became the focus of the service, and the Rabbi knew this. Why couldn't she just sit quietly and observe if she insisted upon attending? She was there to make a political statement and she certainly did. She talks about respect for religion; for her to inset herself into this congregation on this holiday is an absolute lack of respect for the people there.
William Eib October 08, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Bachmann is a person suffering with self loathing. She is self centered, paranoid and prone to lying in the worst way, by not knowing of which she speaks. She parrots anything that registers in her strange would view as important to repeat. She has developed a controversial act, she's become a one trick pony, with sagging appeal. She has a fight on her hands. One of her classic blunders could sink her ship. Here's hoping.
William Eib October 08, 2012 at 02:53 AM
The bigger danger is she wants something she does not thoroughly understand. If an American Taliban would rise up, she would be the last to recognize it. But, the first to defend the behavior. Very dangerous.
William Eib October 08, 2012 at 02:54 AM
And she is not none for her inclusive view of the World.
Kay Jason Wright October 08, 2012 at 03:17 AM
MB is a shame for America. Low in knowledge/education, false at heart, seemingly dumb, continuously attention seeking and nothing particularly good and specific to offer to our country. Hard to believe that the likes of her get elected ! What has happened to us ? If Willard is a habitual liar a con guy and a snake oil salesman ? What is this relious bigot all about ? How will we describe her ? Rather not, just ignore her knowing all kinds of creatures roam this planet, we don't have to pay attention to every nonsensical type. BTW, which denomination of Christians is she referring to when she proclaims in all emptiness that we are supposed to be a christian nation. Jews are definitely not part of that nation she is proclaiming. Soon the shia -sunni type self destructing strife will start as soon as the likes of her get wind on their sails. She is just out to profit herself at the cost of our nation.
seealaska October 08, 2012 at 03:42 AM
The Tea Party movement seems to have more than a handful of ignorants women trying to get into the political lime light. What does political whores like Palin, Bachmann and Malkin know about politics or religions ? Being English educated I know a fair bit of Christianity Leaving among 200 millions muslims, I understand too a fair bit of their religion and culture. I am a heart beat away of being an atheist because I admire Joel Osteen. Pastor Mike Huckerbee failed many times trying to draw Joel in the Rep madness . Its all about greed and commercializm and the evengelical platform is the best product for good or for bad to market.
William Eib October 08, 2012 at 04:38 AM
There's a human underbelly. Our emotions. The historic Right Wing view centers on lessons learned from 1930s Europe. TWith psychoanalysis, the European Right Wing, saw a deeper aspect tot Human Behavior. The emotions of the human personality were the easiest to stir. A common enemy, a scape goat, an outlet for anger and frustration. The U.S. Right Wing has, over the years, introduced this tactic to the USA.. They have for many decades perfected it to the point, they can easily stir up shameless behavior ala Bachmann. Lying is okay, slander is okay, contemptuous behavior is okay. They turned Liberal, Poor, Female, Contraception, Medicaid, Food Stamps into evil things.. They have unleashed the Beast. Now the Beast is calling the shots. The Teahadist Party is an up shoot of this new found liberty of saying what you wish, with no responsibility for the harm it does. Romney is a perfect example of this new freedom. So blithely casting aside half the population of the USA as useless to him and his. A nuisance to his world view. An encumbrance to their peace of mind. And a Negro in the White House made them apoplectic. Something had to be done. Unleash the Beast. Let the deep dark secrets come out with out fear of reprisal. You can always lie your way out of it. The Blame Stream Media is always there to throw gasoline on the fire. It's a sad depression we are in. I sense the public at large is getting tired of this hackneyed routine.
Scarlet Rose October 08, 2012 at 05:19 AM
and would the good Rabbi welcome Hitler if he wanted to come?
mark@bestcpe.com October 08, 2012 at 02:34 PM
“We received a call earlier in the day saying that she would like to come to the service that evening. She didn’t give an explanation as to why she wanted to come, but just that she wanted to,” Siegel said. Give me a break...she came because she thought it would help her politically. She thought that since she hates Muslims and condemns them on a regular basis that the Jewish people would welcome her with open arms. Well guess what? There are many issues that concern Jews, and they will not be used by a hateful politician like Bachmann. The Rabbi erred in not recommending she come another time, and I support those who walked out. Now they need to make sure they vote her out of office in November.
William Eib October 08, 2012 at 03:06 PM
She is a Republican. It is part of their play book. Show concern for Israel and be friendly with Jews. They have money and influence. And Israel is their #1 concern. And they love lower taxes. Don't forget Jesus is coming back to Jerusalem for the Tribulation. Which will not include the Jews. But, don't let them know that. A shanda fur die goy
Advisarial October 08, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I hear Charles Manson might be a get for Rosh Hashanah!
Meredith October 08, 2012 at 07:54 PM
"Rustle some feathers"? Outlaw cowboys here? I am sad that agro-related idioms aren't making the transition intact. Michele Bachmann: please go away.
William Eib October 08, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Turn up the volume, so Bachmann can hear Roy Rogers sing: "Happy Trails to You..."
MTinMO October 09, 2012 at 12:09 AM
I don't pretend to know the tenets of the Jewish faith or the Jewish religious holidays, but at such a time and place, isn't it better to be the example of what people should be- completely opposite to what Bachmann is? I despise everything Bachmann stands for, but wasn't the rabbi being the better person by example? That said, I would not have wanted to be in the room with her either, so I could understand those who found it so distasteful they left, but then they let her ruin their religious experience. That means she wins in some way.
Susan Benedetti October 09, 2012 at 12:20 AM
How appropriate - Michele Bachmann has much to atone for.
Old Democrat October 09, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Maybe if Michele had married a straight man instead of the closeted Bachman, she get "a little" now and then and maybe she wouldn't be so hateful and resentful?? I know it always puts me in a better mood!!
William Eib October 09, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Problem is Republicans do not make a connection between sex and love. Good Christian people do not need sex as part of their expression of love. They follow the scriptures and place their emotions in the hands of God. Sex is the Devil's domain. They have this knack of visualizing sex in the most repulsive ways, they get apoplectic re: visualizing gay sex, and don't recover much when visualizing straight sex. Michelle would probably be an animal if she let her self go,and have some real emotional moments. I often suspect she has a fully charged vibrating dildo in her luggage. Nah. Visualizing that gets me ill.
William Eib October 09, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I don't think she knows what atone means. Republicans do not apologize, empathize or compromise. Absolutely no atoning.
William Eib October 09, 2012 at 01:32 AM
I see where you are coming from. But, a person has to be able to recognize when someone is being "the better person" to make it meaningful. That type of sacrifice is completely lost on people like Bachmann. She sat in the temple thinking; "I am in a Jewish Church with a bunch of Jews, this should score me some points with the Jewish voters." She has no respect for any Religion other than Christianity, to her the Jews are Christ killers. It was a photo op and a political stunt. And she can make something of the anger her appearance caused with the Temple goers. Those Jews treated me, a good Christian women, like a piece of garbage. F**k the Jews.
William Eib October 09, 2012 at 01:39 AM
She must have been praying up a storm to prevent any Jew rubbing off on her, or the devil creeping into her soul while in the room with a bunch of Christ killers. Her brain had to be on over drive. She probably when through the Lord's Prayer a Guinness Book of Records times. Her terror was probably palpable.
D.w. Skinner October 09, 2012 at 07:08 AM
obviously God got her orifices mixed up.
John Crampton October 09, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Michelle Bachmann is not worthy of the common courtesies normally extended to other people--- she is a leader of the Christian fascist trailer trash movement that is trying to destroy our country. She is never around to worship..... she is always around to stir things up.
Steve Jonsen October 09, 2012 at 04:41 PM
And in the end the Rabbi did what Bachman never would which is to show incredible tolerance and true respect. I wonder if Bachman and her "church" would show the same respect to someone of similar hate based beliefs should they happen upon her place of worship during a valued and sacred day. You should support such a tolerant leader as this Rabbi who walks the walk. Imagine the hatred and backlash the Bachman campaign would wage should she have been turned down?
William Eib October 10, 2012 at 12:19 AM
I support a tolerant human being, but his respect for her is lost on Bachmann. First off he's a Jewish Leader, that is about all she respects, because it makes her think she is hitting it off with the Jews. That's where it all begins and ends with Bachmann. It was a photo op to show the Jews she is good to go with all things Jewish.
William Eib October 10, 2012 at 12:26 AM
A smiling Bible thumping pseudo Christian. All talk, no reverence. God is the plastic statue on her dash board in the figure of Jesus Christ. She is a one trick pony exploiting the faith of the faithful. The worst type of Christian.

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