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Would Chuck Schumer Make a Good Gentile?

One Iowa Republican wants to find out

Adam Chandler
July 17, 2013
Senator Chuck Schumer (right).(Politico)
Senator Chuck Schumer (right).(Politico)

The subject of New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s Jewish faith is something the non-Jewish world never seems to tire of. One example: In 2009, a candidate in the Arkansas senatorial race got into hot water after he referred to Schumer as “that Jew” on the campaign trail. Kim Hendren’s explanation for the gaffe left something to be desired:

“I don’t use a Teleprompter, and occasionally I put my foot in my month. I was attempting to explain that unlike Senator Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’”

If only Hendren knew that the executive producer on The Andy Griffith Show was another New York Jew named Sheldon Leonard.

Of course, Schumer’s Jewishness cuts both ways. As opposition moaned following the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary earlier this year, Schumer–as the highest ranking Jewish Democrat–was called upon to meet with (and sanitize) Hagel after many seized upon Hagel’s infamous 2006 statement about “the Jewish Lobby.” Schumer left the 90-minute meeting and delivered this sermon.

And I told him [Hagel] what a double standard is. That Jewish people throughout the centuries have suffered a double standard. Everyone could be a farmer except Jewish people. Everyone could live in Moscow except Jewish people. I said, ‘When everyone else can lobby but all of a sudden when those of us who are pro-Israel lobby, it’s a negative, that’s a double standard. And I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but it harkens to the old days.’ And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.

Take this grasp of Jewish history and to it add a residence on Prospect Park West, membership at Beth Elohim, and a now legendary series of photobombs and tourism plugs during President Obama’s second inauguration leading Rachel Shukert to christen the Mighty Schoom this:

On Jan. 21, 2013, Chuck Schumer proved himself to be America’s Uncle Leo, Jerry’s avuncular relative on Seinfeld. Barry! Hello!

Do you think Chuck Schumer (despite having once helped kick off a NASCAR race in upstate New York) could be converted to Christianity? As Ben C. Jacobs reports today, Iowa Republican (and Senate hopeful) David Young wants to give it a serious shot.

At a forum for Republican primary hopefuls sponsored by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition on Monday night in Cedar Rapids, Young said what Washington DC really needs is ‘a change of hearts and minds.’ According to Craig Robinson at the Iowa Republican, Young would accomplish this as a Senator by ‘inviting New York Senator Chuck Schumer to lunch so that he could share the good news of Jesus Christ.’

What’s the bad news?

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.