Orthodox Jews

I’m back from a weekend trip to Rochester, New York for a family event. At a dinner on Friday night, I had an encounter with a New York Jew that is similar to several I have had with liberal Jews here in the Washington, D.C. area — a total stranger with whom I was talking assumed that I was politically liberal before I had said anything about politics. We were talking about my wife, who is French, and the conversation went something like this:
Stranger: Is your wife an American citizen?
Me : She’s about to become one.
St : I assume she’s going to vote the way you are. I mean we don’t
want any new Bush voters next year.
Me : I’m hopeful that she will vote with me.
As the weekend continued the Stranger turned out to be one of the nicest people I met. This is consistent with my other experiences with this phenomenon, all involving women. In a way, it makes sense. Nice people, I suppose, tend to be those who assume the best about others. For a certain type of liberal, “the best” means being a liberal like them, instead of a mean-spirited Republican.
Obviously, the phenomenon also means that, for well-off, big-city eastern Jews, liberalism has long been an orthodoxy. Wasn’t it a New York Jew who famously wondered in 1972, “how did Nixon win; no one I know voted for him?” However, by now the eastern Jewish establishment is well aware that a number of its comrades have defected. Thus, it is no longer quite rational to assume that a Jewish stranger is a liberal Democrat. When people do, I think it may be a sign that the orthodoxy is in trouble, and knows it.


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