By COLlive reporter
This past Friday, the charismatic Democratic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey announced that he will be running for president. “I’m Cory Booker and I’m running for president of the United States of America,” he says in a video.
Booker is one of several senators running for president or seriously considering it. At 49, he is the youngest among his Senate colleagues in the race, CNN reported.
His announcement comes nearly a year to the day from the Iowa caucuses and the start of the primary calendar, CNN said. Booker plans to head to Iowa February 8-9 and then to South Carolina on February 10. He also intends to visit New Hampshire over Presidents Day weekend.
What wasn’t reported is that on the night before his announcement, Booker was seen at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights, Queens, New York.
A photo showed Booker wearing a black yarmulka and seated with another 5 men in a tent in preparation to visit and pray at the Ohel – the holy gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.
A person present confirmed to COLlive.com that Booker was there last week.
This isn’t the first visit Booker is paying to the Ohel. When he was running for Senate as the Mayor of Newark, COLlive.com reported that he lit a memorial candle for the Rebbe and then prayed at the holy site.
Booker is African American, yet his knowledge of Judaism, Chassidus and Jewish life can arguably surpass many secular American Jews. In public speeches he has given, Booker never hesitated to share his keen interest and knowledge in Torah and Jewish ethics.
“Booker at points seemed to know more about my Jewish culture than I did,” Jonathan Tepperman wrote in a 2002 profile in The New York Times Magazine.
Booker, a Baptist, once commented that his favorite Jewish holiday was Sukkos and Simchas Torah, remembering the joyous celebrations at Chabad of Oxford.
In speeches to Jewish groups – among them the Colel Chabad dinner in Manhattan, and Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, NJ – Booker evoked Yiddish words, the parsha and Rambam.
His favorite opening line is stating that the Dvar Torah will be delivered “by the large goy from Newark.” Having met Chabad at the age of 23, he once said: “Lubavitch is one of these organizations that once they have you, they never let you go.”
His 13-minute speech at a gala of Chabad of Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2001, was titled “Cory Booker’s Dvar Torah” and was the second most viewed article on COLlive.com in the Jewish year of 5771.
Despite his intimate knowledge and warm friendships in the Jewish community, his connection soured when he voted for the Iran Nuclear Deal which was peddled by the administration of President Barack Obama and opposed by the Israeli government.
Since being elected to the Senate in 2012 after serving as mayor of Newark, his record on Israel has been mixed at best, and sometimes going back and forth on certain issues, the Jewish Press reported.
Booker was against the United States officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, yet later signed a letter to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres calling for the end of the world body’s animosity towards the Jewish State.