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Jewish Liberals Evaluate Obama—Does He Pass(over) Muster? Jewish Liberals Evaluate Obama—Does He Pass(over) Muster?

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Jewish Liberals Evaluate Obama—Does He Pass(over) Muster?


President Obama celebrates Passover with Jewish staffers every year. But have some of the liberal Jews who helped elect him lost faith?(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On Passover, Jews sing the song "Dayenu," which loosely translates into "that would have been enough." The song focuses on reasons for gratitude, saying that if God had done just one thing for the Jewish people it would have been sufficient.

Since some Jewish liberals who campaigned and raised money for President Obama have expressed disappointment with some of his political and policy decisions, National Journal decided to mark the first full day of Passover by asking a few of them: Does President Obama pass the "Dayenu test?" The responses where enthusiastic, seasonally appropriate, and widely varied—though just about everybody found at least one reason to kvetch, or complain:


Sammie Moshenberg, Director, The National Council of Jewish Women:

"Dayenu means he’d only have to do one thing and it would’ve been enough, and he clearly passes that test.... The expectation for me was never that we’d reached the promised land. There is some disappointment but at the same time there’s tremendous gratitude for some of the things he’s championed."

Adam Green, Progressive Change Campaign Committee Co-Founder:


"Last week’s budget speech is a big step in the right direction for making the case, and we’ll see if he follows that path and puts a line in the sand to fight for progressive values and do what’s right on the budget.

Why was this speech different from all other Obama speeches? He was actually willing to fight the Republicans and make the case for progressive government. Now, he needs to keep up that fight and draw firm lines in the sand instead of wandering the desert like this White House seemed to do so often during the public option, Wall Street, and tax-cut debates."

Lori Wallach, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch Director:

"There are certainly things they’ve done that are positive, but given all the places where they’ve squandered important opportunities and have chosen policies that make things worse, the way I think of it is not so much dayenu but oy vey-nu! Over and over, oy vey-nu, oy vey-nu, not again!


This is not one dayenu thing. He’s had many opportunities. There were 50 things we wanted him to do but there were 10 things he could’ve easily done, no problem, and he didn’t even do them."

Alice Cohan, Feminist Majority's Political Director:

"We always want more, but yes, dayenu.... He’s certainly not a pharaoh, but we knew he wasn’t going to be Moses. He’s the best we’ve got and the best [president] we could have. Look at the alternatives."

Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun Magazine Editor:

"If he had given one dollar to help unemployed people, people losing their homes ... for every dollar he gave to the criminal banks, then it would have been dayenu. If he had ended the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and explained to people why it was a huge mistake to go into Iraq, then dayenu. If he had put forward a comprehensive plan for saving the environment from destruction, then I could have said dayenu. If he had put forward a single-payer plan instead of the crazy health plan he put forward, that also would have been dayenu.

He didn't do a single one of the things I was hoping for, of what he promised."

What do you think? Does President Obama pass your "dayenu test?"

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