By Yonit Tanenbaum
It might seem to the onlooker that Jon Corzine, Governor of New Jersey, is looking to renew his faith in local politicians—and in rabbis.
On July 29th, Michael Wildes, the Mayor of Englewood, NJ, invited both the Governor and Rabbi Chaim Miller of Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic sect of Orthodox Judaism, to join him for a brief lunch in his Madison Avenue offices. Between bites of salad and sandwich wraps, the three mused about how the recent arrests of prominent politicians and rabbis both affected and portrayed the Jewish community.
Miller presented Corzine with a Kol Menachem Chumash, a Biblical text with scholarly commentaries of Rabbi Menachem M. Scheerson, the late Lubavitcher Rabbe, translated and compiled by Miller himself. Corzine was most grateful for the meaningful gift that portrayed the upstanding values of Orthodox Jews. The governor also expressed his appreciation of the impact that Kol Menachem has on Jewish communities worldwide.
While discussing the Chabad perspective, which Schneerson embodied in his teachings, Wildes quoted a Chassidic thought that Miller had shared with him via email the previous week. The reason why Joseph’s brothers failed to recognize him when they were finally reunited in Pharaoh’s Palace—Wildes imparted to his guests—was because they were disbelieving of the fact that a devout Jew could hold a governmental position. How could a Jew possibly be so engaged in society while maintaining his integrity? The politicians drew parallels from the Biblical story to the recent events.
While they consoled one another for the allegedly corrupt actions of a few of their brethren, they also noted the positive: the tremendous contribution of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries toward reversing the tides of Jewish insularity.