With the primaries coming upon April 19th, Republican candidate Ted Cruz has upped his Jewish game by taking time from campaign speeches to bake matzot (matzahs) in Brooklyn and donning a kippah for a speech.
Cruz toured the Chabad Model Matzo Bakery in Brighton Beach while a group of three-year old children were learning the ancient art of baking unleavened bread for Passover. Cruz jumped in and tried his hand at rolling out the dough, announcing that he was familiar with the story of the Exodus and that he had been privileged to attend several Seders in the past.
To prove his point, he quoted, “Next year in Jerusalem”, the phrase that is recited at the conclusion of the Passover Seder. A bystander corrected him, pointing out that since Passover had not yet arrived, the appropriate phrase would be “this year in Jerusalem.”
Cruz remained adamant. “Next year in Jerusalem,” he said, “but hopefully I’ll need a bigger plane to get there.”
It seemed especially poignant that a candidate with aspirations to sit in the Oval Office in Washington would choose that quote.
Speaking at an event of the Russian American Jewish Experience on Thursday, Cruz donned a bright red kippah with his name emblazoned in gold. He explained his personal connection to Israel and the Jews.
“Sometimes people ask why did this Texas Cuban Southern Baptist become one of the leading defenders of Israel in the Senate? And I think a lot of it has to do with being the son of an immigrant who fled Cuba, who was imprisoned, who was tortured.”
Cruz’s father, an evangelical pastor, is also an outspoken supporter of Israel.
“We are fortunate to enjoy tremendous support in the Jewish community here in New York and across the country,” Cruz told Jewish Insider. “I think that’s the result of having built a long record – fighting to strengthen our relationship with the nation of Israel and fighting to defend religious liberty.”
Cruz told the religious crowd that he would support Israel regardless of any political payoff. “It the right thing to do so, regardless, but I would be grateful if it also earned the support of many people in New York and elsewhere.”
According to a new Monmouth poll, Trump is in the lead in New York with the support of 52 percent of Republican voters. 25 percent support Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Cruz is in third place with 17 percent.
Cruz always been a strong ally of Israel and should attract the Jewish vote, but New York’s large Jewish population has traditionally played a major role in keeping the state majority Democrat. However, Orthodox Jews are more strongly conservative, Republican, and pro-Israel than their secular counterparts.