Manny Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images
President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton watch as children from B’nai Tzedek temple in Potomac, MD, sing and light the menorah as part of Hanukkah festivities at the White House on December 21, 2000. Manny Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images
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An Unforgettable Video History of Jewish Political Pandering

It’s uncertain whether Ted Cruz’s matzo-making will earn him votes, but it sure does make us laugh. Which other politicians make our list?

by
Yair Rosenberg
April 08, 2016
Manny Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images
President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton watch as children from B'nai Tzedek temple in Potomac, MD, sing and light the menorah as part of Hanukkah festivities at the White House on December 21, 2000. Manny Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, with the New York Republican presidential primary looming on the horizon, Texas Senator Ted Cruz visited a local matzo factory to reach out to the state’s many Jews. Surrounded by children and bakers, Cruz, the son of an evangelical pastor, attentively rolled the dough for the Passover flatbread, and joined the assembled in festive song. At the close, Cruz consumed his prize:

.@tedcruz pretending to enjoy matzah in Brooklyn today. pic.twitter.com/WCn7LGE9Ul



— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 7, 2016

Some onlookers enjoyed the spectacle, others dubbed it “the 11th plague.” But whatever one’s opinion of the event, it was far from unprecedented. In fact, political pandering to Jews is a long-standing tradition, if not quite as long-standing as most other Jewish traditions. In 1992, Governor Bill Clinton even promised hasidim that he’d keep a “glatt kosher kitchen” in the White House if elected.

Happy #Hanukkah! President Reagan receives a menorah from the Friends of Lubavitch, 12/15/87 @Reagan_Library pic.twitter.com/5arfznD0hz



— OurPresidents (@OurPresidents) December 8, 2015

To ensure that those gentile politicians who embarrassed themselves attempting Jewish rituals are never forgotten, here is a short video history of some of our favorite such moments from the last decade:

#6: Marco Rubio Wishes Iowa’s Voters a “Boot Shabbos”

Cornered by a traveling yarmulke salesman and asked to don one and wish Jews a “Gut Shabbos,” the Florida Senator gamely attempted the Yiddish Sabbath greeting. He got it right on the second try:

‘Gut’ Shabbos or ‘Boot’ Shabbos? You decide. #2016 #Iowa @mikiebarb pic.twitter.com/7Z3W6s12RB



— Lauren Selsky (@LJSelsky) January 31, 2016

#5: President Obama Sings “Shabbat Shalom” with Small Children

This one is actually quite adorable, especially the little blonde kid who upstages the president during the song.

.@rebsteve really enjoyed stopping by today. I had fun singing Shabbat Shalom with the PreK class downstairs, too! pic.twitter.com/6b8CrXSgMt



— President Obama (@POTUS) May 22, 2015

#4: Ted Cruz Makes Matza and Sings Dayenu at Brooklyn Matza Factory

If he had only made the traditional unleavened bread and not also broken out into song, it would have been enough.

#3: Rick Perry Lights the Menorah

This may be the only Menorah-lighting ceremony that also doubled as a hostage video.

#2: Arnold Schwarzenegger Dances the Hora

The California Governator missed this annual Hanukkah celebration in Sacramento so much, he found a way to do it again in France last year.

#1: London Mayor Boris Johnson Tries and Fails to Blow the Shofar

Standing alongside then-U.K. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the famously flamboyant mayor of London made the mistake of attempting to blow the traditional ram’s horn used by Jews on the High Holidays. His abortive efforts were so comical that they even cracked up the preternaturally dignified Chief Rabbi, who finally had pity on Johnson and showed him how it was done.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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