Lena Epstein, a GOP congressional candidate from Oakland County, lashes out at critics a day after causing a stir.
Responding to an outcry over a guest speaker she invited, Epstein says "any media or political competitor who is attacking me" shows "religious intolerance"and "should be ashamed."
Here's the backstory:
Epstein, who is Jewish and running for an open 11th Congressional District seat against Haley Stevens, asked Rabbi Loren Jacobs to pray at a Waterford Township campaign stop with Vice President Mike Pence on Monday, where Jacobs referenced "Jesus the Messiah."
Jacobs, of the Messianic congregation Shema Yisrael in Bloomfield Hills, offered a prayer for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. Messianic Jews combine Christianity and the belief that Jesus is the Messiah along with elements of Judaism and Jewish tradition. Major Jewish denominations do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah or as a central figure in Judaism.
"In calling themselves Jews and seeking to convert Jews, they deeply offend the vast majority of actual Jews," writes Washington Post columnnist Jennifer Rubin.
A Pence aide tells the Associated Press that the vice president didn't know who the guest speaker was. “He was not invited by the VP’s office to speak on behalf of the Jewish community,” the aide said.
Epstrein issues a four-paragraph statement and tweets it:
Statement on Jewish Faith and Religious Tolerance: pic.twitter.com/QUxYG3ZIh5— Lena Epstein (@LenaEpstein) October 30, 2018
Epstein is the target of rebukes and ridicule as a result of the rabbi's comments and presence:
For the record, Messianic "Judaism" is a branch of Christianity & offensive to the Jewish community. Lena Epstein knew this & so did Pence & his team. This wasn't ecumenical; it was an insulting political stunt.https://t.co/081JfPg24c #Jewish #pence #Michigan— Rabbi Jason Miller (@RabbiJason) October 30, 2018
HOLY SHIT.— Charles Ghoul-ba (@charles_gaba) October 29, 2018
Pence got someone from JEWS FOR JESUS to pretend to be a rabbi.
Not only did @SchuetteOnDuty just lose the rest of the Jewish vote in Michigan, I’m pretty sure so did @LenaEpstein, @knollenberg and every other Bloomfield/West Bloomfield GOP candidate. https://t.co/be7zLffeGj
It's like getting a gay-conversion therapist to speak after a homophobic killing spree. These guys can believe as they please, but they don't represent the victims.— Rob Salkowitz (@robsalk) October 29, 2018