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Washington - Rabbi Levi Shemtov Discusses Influence and Yiddishkeit On Capitol Hill

Published on: March 6, 2011 02:23 PM
By: Inyan Magazine By Hamodia
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Vice President Joe Biden(C) with Rabbi LeviShemtov (R) and his father,Rabbi Abraham Shemtov.Washington - ‘Jewish power is a complicated term. There is this notion that when the two words are used together, it’s essentially an anti-Semitic slur. To some, the very idea of Jewish power invokes lurid stereotypes of influential Jewish bankers and greedy, controlling Jews who are clearly to blame for the world’s economic woes.

In an effort to ascertain the extent of Jewish power today, Hamodia spoke to Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of the AFL and a Chabad shaliach. Rabbi Shemtov’s father, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the current chairman of Agudath Chasidei Chabad, is noted for being the first shaliach to Washington, D.C., sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy”a.

Like his father, Rabbi Levi Shemtov came to Washington as a shaliach and the leader of the AFL. In these roles, he brings Yiddishkeit to the area; only here some of his clients just happen to be noted and powerful individuals.

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Rabbi Shemtov recalls, “The Rebbe sent my father to Washington to direct the efforts of Lubavitch in the area. It got to the point where he was spending a lot of time in D.C., and it became too [big a job] to be done part time. … [And when] I moved to D.C., I discovered there was no real Jewish outreach operation on Capitol Hill.

“One of the people who helped me start the Capitol Jewish Forum [a group organized to reach out to Jewish legislators] turned out to be a pretty famous person — Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. … We started with about a dozen people and now have a network of about four to five hundred members.”

Rabbi Shemtov is well known in the halls of Congress, and Sue Fishkoff, author of The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch, writes: “It’s not enough that Chabad’s man in D.C. knows the name and phone number of just about every congressman, senator and foreign ambassador in the nation’s capital — he also knows their legislative assistants, their secretaries and the people who clean their offices. ... He lunches with prime ministers and navigates political jungles with firm good humor.”

Officials and staff members from all walks of life affirm that Rabbi Shemtov is exceptionally well liked and that he has amazing rapport with a wide range of political leaders.

Because Rabbi Shemtov has such a vast network, his finger is on the pulse of the state of Jewish power today.

The article appeared this past week in ‘Inyan’ Magazine a Hamodia publication.

To read the full story click here PDF



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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 06, 2011 at 02:29 PM Chaya Lipschutz Says:

I read this in Inyan Magazine, Hamodia. It was a great article! I am so happy that you published this on your website, so now I can easily forward to others, without having to scan the article on my computer. Thanks so much!

2

 Mar 06, 2011 at 02:37 PM opinion Says:

Indeed Rabbi Levi Shemtov is one of a kind! A true leader for our people--if only we had such access during WW2---history would be.........
Much continued success to CHABAD ANDTO THE GREAT SHEMTOV FAMILY!!!

3

 Mar 06, 2011 at 02:55 PM anonymous Says:

I would be more happy if the so called "power" would be wielded in MIT, Harvard, NIH than on Capitol Hill. It is a political roulette and like boomerang hopefully it wll miss the target of political misfiring. Funny the vituperative language used against Barak "Hussein"Obama and the snuggling up to his vice-president, what you call this hypocrisy?

4

 Mar 06, 2011 at 04:17 PM Leon N. Says:

Thanks for posting this, nice article!

5

 Mar 06, 2011 at 05:27 PM esther Says:

Reply to #3  
anonymous Says:

I would be more happy if the so called "power" would be wielded in MIT, Harvard, NIH than on Capitol Hill. It is a political roulette and like boomerang hopefully it wll miss the target of political misfiring. Funny the vituperative language used against Barak "Hussein"Obama and the snuggling up to his vice-president, what you call this hypocrisy?

don't worry,chabad is at mit and harvard too!

6

 Mar 06, 2011 at 07:18 PM Anonymous Says:

I enjoyed reading this article, along with the one about the glassblower in Baltimore (fascinating.) As a collector of glass (I once nursed a beautiful bowl all the way from Venice to NY) I found it very interesting. A good Shabbos read this week!

7

 Mar 06, 2011 at 07:36 PM Anonymous Says:

This was a terrific article. I still remember seeing an old tape which showed a large group of Orthodox Rabbis who came to Washington, D.C., in 1943, in a vain effort to get F.D.R. to save the doomed Jews of Europe. F.D.R. would not meet with them, and at that time, they had no access to Congress, as is the case today.

8

 Mar 06, 2011 at 10:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

This was a terrific article. I still remember seeing an old tape which showed a large group of Orthodox Rabbis who came to Washington, D.C., in 1943, in a vain effort to get F.D.R. to save the doomed Jews of Europe. F.D.R. would not meet with them, and at that time, they had no access to Congress, as is the case today.

Yes, if Chabad had a presence at that time in Washington, millions of lives could have possibly been saved.

9

 Mar 07, 2011 at 11:14 AM marcia Says:

The picture looks like it has been doctored, Biden's face looks like a cut and paste job....and the background seems to be superimposed......no disrespect meant.

10

 Mar 07, 2011 at 12:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Yes, if Chabad had a presence at that time in Washington, millions of lives could have possibly been saved.

Hashem is the final decision maker. Having had Chabad in Washington at that terrible time is no guarantee at all that the Shoah would not have happened. Roosevelt did not like Jews and it is highly unlikely that he would have listened to anything that Chabad had to say.

11

 Mar 07, 2011 at 01:34 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #9  
marcia Says:

The picture looks like it has been doctored, Biden's face looks like a cut and paste job....and the background seems to be superimposed......no disrespect meant.

Right you are! I had the same thought at my first glance at this picture. Btw, Biden's picture is about 25 years old.

12

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