When Miami’s Temple Israel canceled a scheduled Memorial Day talk by local Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, following a protest by a wealthy Republican donor, it did more than just insult an elected official. It laid down a significant new marker in the gradual silencing of American Jewry as a moral voice in the broader society.
The silencing has been so gradual, and so thorough, that few even notice it anymore. There was a time — for about a half-century after World War II — when the Jewish community’s main representative bodies played a leading role in national struggles for tolerance and equal rights, fighting for Jews and non-Jews alike. Combining organizational savvy, generous donors, a motivated base and the moral authority of history’s victims, the community gained a standing and clout beyond its numbers. And the nation was better for it.