Today, Nathan Diament – executive director for public policy of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, issued the following statement with regard to remarks made by U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky at this week’s J Street conference:
“Bias and prejudice have no place in our American political discourse. Many in the Orthodox Jewish community were troubled to see that U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky made remarks to the J Street conference which, at least implicitly, used the term ‘Orthodox’ Jew in a pejorative manner. In describing her 2010 election opponent to the liberal J Street audience, Representative Schakowsky described him as a ‘Jewish, Orthodox, Tea Party Republican.’
“In the context of her remarks and speaking to such an audience, the Congresswoman’s use of the term “Orthodox” was a negative term – as negative for that audience as Tea Party and Republican.
“This morning, upon learning about her remarks, we spoke with Rep. Schakowsky and conveyed how offended we were by the apparent intent of her remarks.
“We appreciate the unequivocal apology issued by Representative Schakowsky in response to our concerns. We hope such an incident will not occur again.
“American Orthodox Jews are a diverse community in the United States and hold many views on policy issues.
“We are grateful to be citizens of a nation that provides us, and people of all faith communities, with such great freedom of religion and political conscience.”