I learned Ted Cruz was speaking at the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills and I went to hear him. But in the process I had a more fascinating experience than I expected. Being a Christian I know very little about the Jewish faith. I have been to Jewish weddings and Bar Mitzvah’s but they were reform Jewish ceremonies. I’ve never been to an Orthodox Jewish service.
We were told to arrive at 10:00am. Because I like to be early, I arrived at 9:00am and the service was already in progress. Men were sitting on one side wearing yarmulkes and prayer shawls. Women sat on the other side with strollers and small children. There was a pulpit on a platform in the center of the room as well as a stage at the front of the room. The room was about 15% full when I arrived and a man was standing with the congregation holding a prayer book in his hands and chanting the prayers. I took a seat as close to the stage as possible and watched the proceedings in wonder. During the next several hours more and more people arrived. If men didn’t have a yarmulke or prayer shall, one was provided for them. I saw members of the congregation help visitors properly put on their shawls. There is a proper way to wear them that covers their backs and chests while leaving their arms free.
During the service, men would get up and go over to greet or talk to others. A lot of hugging and hand shaking went on. Various men would go up on the pulpit either in groups or by themselves and Chant or read something. I didn’t understand any of the service as it was in Hebrew. At some point a group of men went up on the stage and opened the doors at the back to reveal dozens of Torahs. They were all sizes, some covered in silver filigree, some covered in velvet. The men removed three large Torahs and paraded them around the room as people touched and kissed them. They carried a large silver filigreed Torah up on to the pulpit and opened it. There were five or six men, one or all of them Cantors. One of them sang most of the time but the others joined in at various times. Men would step down from the pulpit and pick up a small child and carry them back to the pulpit and read or sing from the Torah while holding the child. There were children walking around all through the service but I noticed how well behaved they were. At various times women would throw handfuls of candy on to the pulpit and children would gather the candy up and pass it out to the congregation.
Another group of men went up on the stage and turned their backs to the congregation and as they prayed, they pulled their prayer shawls over their heads, completely covering their heads and faces and then turned to the congregation with their arms out stretched. I had no idea what this meant.
People kept arriving and by 11:00am the room was full and they started bringing in chairs. By the time Senator Cruz spoke there were people standing against the walls and sitting on stairs. About noon, the doors opened and a group of men, that included Senator Cruz and Rabbi Boteach, entered. Mrs. Cruz and her assistant came and sat next to me (hmmm, I wonder how that happened). She greeted those of us around her warmly.
The Senator greeted people as he moved to a seat among the men’s side of the congregation. Rabbi Boteach took the stage. He is a short man with a big personality. He did what I wish Christian pastors would do, he made it clear that religious leaders needed to address these political issues. He spoke about the need to reach out to others and speak the truth. The Nessah Synagogue is the largest Iranian Jewish synagogue in the country and many of it’s members fled Iran and all they owned when the Ayatollah took over. If anyone understands the dangers of the Iran Nuclear deal, they do.
The Rabbi reminded the congregation of when Iran appointed Hamid Aboutalebi as ambassador to the United Nations. Aboutalebi was involved in the take over of the American Embassy in Iran and one of the captors of the hostages they held for more than a year. Senator Cruz sponsored a bill to prevent Aboutalebi or any terrorist from being ambassador to the UN or any diplomatic position on American soil. The bill passed the Senate 100 to 0. It passed the House 435 to 0. (I don’t recall any bill passing 100%, but I could be wrong). When Obama signed the bill into law, he joked that he if there was ANY bill sponsored by Senator Cruz that he would sign, hell must have frozen over.
The Rabbi also spoke about the Senator doing many things behind the scenes to help Israel including being involved in getting a hostage released. The Rabbi said the Senator was the first to call him to tell him the hostage had been released but took no credit for it.
Rabbi Boteach introduced Senator Cruz by saying they all know what is right and Ted Cruz is standing for what is right and standing for Israel.
Senator Cruz spoke for more than thirty minutes without notes. He opened by saying how important it was to speak the truth. He spoke about how we need to call things what they are. This administration refuses to call Islamic terrorism by name and if they won’t how can we trust them to deal with the Iranians as the terrorists they are. Iran has been considered the #1 sponsor of terrorism for decades and if the Iranian deal is passed, America will be the #1 provider of terrorism. The deal calls for America to release sanctioned money and protect Iran from Israel.
Cruz, to a standing ovation, addressed the President’s remarks against Republican “rhetoric” against the Iran deal. Cruz said the truth is not rhetoric. He said this deal would release more than $100 billion to Iran and end up in the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah and Hamas. He said when you don’t acknowledge the truth, THAT is rhetoric, Mr. President.