History Matters: Jews, Politics, and the 2018 Elections

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president, his popularity with American Jews inspired this Yiddish quip from a Jewish Republican judge: The Jews now had three velten (worlds), he said. Di velt (this world), yene velt (the world to come), and Roosevelt. Historically, the majority of American Jews have continued to align themselves with the Democratic party. But like all voters, the critical issues that motivate Jewish voters reflect both a range of priorities and the current political terrain.

Today, as the country grows increasingly polarized, are Jewish voters becoming more starkly divided as well? Are ideological schisms, generational divisions, and a shifting political landscape shaking up the “Jewish vote?” How do historical voting trends help us understand where we are today? On October 25, 2018, on the eve of the much anticipated 2018 midterm elections, veteran journalist Clyde Haberman sat down with an all-star panel for a candid conversation and more than one opinion.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, columnist Jeff Jacoby, political historian Julian Zelizer, and Democratic strategist Halie Soifer joined Mr. Haberman for a spirited discussion about Jewish political involvement past and present, and how this year’s vote could shape the future.