Vice President Mike Pence and GOP congressional candidate Lena Epstein face backlash after appearing on stage Monday with a "rabbi" who called Jesus the “Messiah."
At a campaign event in Detroit, Loren Jacobs led a prayer for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which left 11 people dead. "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God and father of my lord and savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and my God and father, too," Jacobs said as he prayed.
Jacobs is a "senior rabbi" for an organization that considers itself a "Messianic synagogue" and believes Jesus is the Messiah.
Bend the Arc, a Jewish Action group, condemned Pence, calling the display "another attack" from the Trump administration.
"11 Jews were killed while praying, and this is how the Vice President responds???” Bend the Arc said in a tweet. “Another attack on us from this administration. NO. You will not erase us. You do not get to take our pain away from us.”
[Also read: Pittsburgh mayor: Trump visit will be a distraction]
11Jews were killed while praying, and this is how the Vice President responds???— JewishAction (@jewishaction) October 30, 2018
Another attack on us from this administration.
NO. You will not erase us. You do not get to take our pain away from us. #WeWillIOutliveThem https://t.co/IlDwp3J8Ou
Detroit-area rabbi Jason Miller called it “pathetic” that a rabbi wasn't chosen from the directory of the Michigan Board of Rabbis.
“Yesterday I received the directory of Michigan Board of Rabbis,” Miller said in a Facebook post. “There are over 60 rabbis on this list and yet the only rabbi they could find to offer a prayer for the 11 Jewish victims in Pittsburgh at the Mike Pence rally was a local Jews for Jesus rabbi? That's pathetic!”
Pence’s team said that Epstein had invited Jacobs, and Epstein said that the prayer was intended for unity and to “embrace our religious differences.” She said criticisms lodged against her and Pence are “nothing short of religious intolerance.”
“My family’s history as Jews and my commitment to my Jewish faith are beyond question,” Epstein said in a statement Monday evening.
“Any media or political competitor who is attacking me or the Vice President is guilty of nothing short of religious intolerance and should be ashamed,” Epstein said. “This was an effort of unity, yet some are trying to create needless division to suit their political goals.”
Epstein is running against Democrat Haley Stevens in the 2018 midterm elections on Nov. 6.
Statement on Jewish Faith and Religious Tolerance: pic.twitter.com/QUxYG3ZIh5— Lena Epstein (@LenaEpstein) October 30, 2018