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Yes, I Talked About the Rebbe with Sarah Palin

Yes, I Talked About the Rebbe with Sarah Palin

A perceptive viewer noticed something of interest in my dinner conversation with Gov. Sarah Palin about my new book, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party. On the table was a copy of Joseph Teluskin’s recent biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe: Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History–a gift that I had brought to the Palins’ that evening.

I had originally thought to bring a cookbook of Israeli dishes. Yet the night before I left for Anchorage, I was at a Talmud class at my synagogue and saw copies of Rebbe on the shelf. It struck me that the biography was a much more appropriate gift. Not only did many religious Jews take an instant liking to Palin when she was introduced as John McCain’s running mate in 2008, but her style of leadership by example is exactly what he exemplified.

So we talked about the Rebbe–about his constant emphasis on the positive, about his love for the United States, about his warnings that the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80 would encourage the enemies of freedom all over the world. Those predictions were, sadly, on target. We are still living with the consequences today–and, I told the governor, still in need of leaders who will step forward to offer examples of faith, strength, love and true hope.

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