A New York rabbi was among about 20 faith and “pro-family” leaders who spoke at a press conference in support of U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama as he battles allegations of sexual impropriety toward minors in the late 1970s.
Rabbi Noson Shmuel Leiter, who heads Torah Jews for Decency and is executive director of Help Rescue Our Children, praised Moore’s “proven track record of fighting for public policy based on Biblical values and not perversion, and that is why he is a target.”
The press conference was hosted by Faith2Action President Janet Porter and Dr. Steven Hotze, CEO of Restore Our Godly Heritage PAC. It came a week after the Washington Post reported on four women who stated they were pursued by Moore when he was in his early 30s and they were in their teens.
One of the four, Leigh Corfman, stated she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he brought her to his home, undressed, touched her over her underwear and guided her hand to his underwear. The others described a dating relationship when they were ages 16 to 18, with nothing beyond kissing.
A second woman, Beverly Young Nelson, accused Moore of attacking her in his car after he offered to drive her home from the restaurant where she worked, shortly after she had turned 16. Since then, three other women have spoken of their encounters with Moore.
Porter dismissed the stories as “unsubstantiated claims that have no evidence,” while Hotze referred to it as a “media assassination.” The speakers repeatedly dismissed the veracity of the allegations, questioning the timing and motives of the women, or of whoever they thought was behind the allegations coming out.
Moore, speaking after the supporters, stated the charges were “scurrilous, false allegations which I have emphatically denied time and time again.”
The speakers issued a joint statement, with over 200 signatories, standing with Moore. “We are confident the voters of Alabama will not be fooled by suspiciously-times accusations without evidence, and will reject the politics of personal destruction led by the Washington Post,” it said.
Among the speakers was Alan Keyes, who stated Moore was being stripped of his personhood through these allegations, and those behind it are trying to strip the American people of their personhood.
If Moore is not elected, Keyes warned, “the republic will fall with him.”
Many of the speakers focused on abortion and homosexuality, stating that Moore’s outspoken views against both have made him a target. For them, an unthinkable act would be electing a Democrat who, in the words of blogger “The Activist Mommy” Elizabeth Johnston, “stands for the destruction of human life through abortion and the destruction of the natural family” through same-sex marriage. For many speakers, the term “Democrat” was always paired with “Communist.”
Leiter said Moore combats “those who seek to victimize children and adults through transgender bathroom bills, LGBT indoctrination in schools and much more.”
Leiter cited a midrash that states “the great flood that annihilated civilization in the days of Noah was triggered by societal recognition of same-sex so-called marriage.”
Leiter also spoke of the “open rebellion” of so many Americans, “murdering tens of millions of babies.”
He said “we all — and especially those of us in Orthodox Jewish communities nationwide — need Judge Moore in the Senate, now more than ever.”
He condemned the Republican leadership for not pushing a bill to protect photographers or bakers from “homosexualist gay terrorism of blackmail.”
After telling Moore “you never know how many people you inspire by standing strong,” he concluded with “May the ultimate judge speedily pour out his heavenly wrath against our enemies and mercifully save us all.”
Leiter’s group, Help Save Our Children, advocates for victims of child molestation.
In 2013, after two members of the Orthodox community in Rockland pleaded guilty to charges of sexually abusing children, Leiter told the Journal News that “The epidemic of child-molestation threatens an entire generation of children… Many of these molesters are arrogant, narcissistic, deceptive, and downright evil. Even though some of them appear unable to control themselves, that is because of choices they repeatedly and intentionally made.”
Leiter added that he hoped other families will find the strength to come forward and fight off community pressure not to report sexual abuse.
Also in 2013, he stated that the ban on homosexuals in the Boy Scouts must remain because allowing them in will “expose children to grave danger” and the idea of admitting them “is not being liberal — it’s being barbaric.”
After Hurricane Sandy, Leiter stated that Sandy’s flooding was an allusion to the Biblical flood and was a divine warning about the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York. “The good people have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do. And If we don’t shape up, he will deliver divine justice,” he said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo condemned Leiter’s remarks, saying they “are as offensive as they are ignorant… This kind of hateful rhetoric has no place in our public discourse, and is particularly distasteful in times of tragedy.”
In January, Leiter signed a “Coalition Letter on the Pledge for a Pro-Life Nomination for Justice Scalia’s Seat on the U.S. Supreme Court” to President Donald Trump, co-signing with groups like the Christian Coalition, Operation Rescue and the Eagle Forum.
In the hallway after the press conference, he told a Moore supporter that based on his work with victims of molestation, “this is the lowest quality of evidence.”
Rabbi Moshe Rube, who heads Alabama’s only Orthodox congregation, Knesseth Israel in Birmingham, said he had never heard of Leiter.
In his remarks, Moore expressed the hope that he could “get back to the issues which some want to avoid addressing,” such as cutting taxes, rebuilding the military, repealing Obamacare and putting good judges on Federal courts and the Supreme Court. “We’ve got to stop judicial supremacy.”
He charged that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying to steal the election from Alabama voters by asking Moore to step aside. Instead, Moore demanded McConnell step down.
Porter told the reporters in the room that there would be no questions about the allegations, only about issues. When the first question was for a simple yes or no as to whether Moore had touched any of the women, Porter began to argue with the reporter, and some Moore supporters shouted at the reporter.
Going to a second reporter, Porter reiterated the rule about sticking to issues, and was told that this was the biggest issue. As both reporters were frustrated that Porter and not Moore tried to tamp down the questions, Moore and his wife left the room, followed by many of the faith leaders, and numerous reporters rushed out to follow.
Several of the speakers castigated the national news media for going after Moore, and a shouting match broke out in the hallway afterward as several of the Moore supporters lambasted the reporters, likening them to a mob.
During the event, the Republican leadership nationally was also the target of rage, for trying to get Moore to step aside, with figures like McConnell, John McCain and Mitt Romney referred to as RINOS or godless.
Click here for background on Roy Moore’s career
Rabbi at the 2003 Ten Commandments rally
This is not the first time a New York rabbi has come to Alabama to stand with Moore. In 2003, Rabbi Yehuda Levin spoke at a rally when Moore was Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and was defying a court order to remove his 5,280-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court building.
The Aug. 16 rally was on Shabbat, and Levin noted he could not travel or speak into a microphone but felt the need to be there. He further explained his personal sacrifice by stating Montgomery, which has one Reform and one Conservative congregation, was a place where he could not properly observe Shabbat or find kosher food, nor hear a Torah reading.
Levin spoke on behalf of the Rabbinical Alliance of America and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, which he stated represented three-quarters of a million Orthodox Jews.
Alabama’s sole Orthodox rabbi at the time, Rabbi Avraham Shmidman of Knesseth Israel in Birmingham, said no mainstream Orthodox group shared Levin’s position and he “speaks for himself alone.”
Levin advised Pat Buchanan during his 1996 presidential bid to help him counter charges of anti-Semitism, and in 2000 defended a beit din that “excommunicated” Joe Lieberman.
In 1997, Levin urged Congress to withhold funds for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum because it included information about homosexuals who were victims of the Nazis.
In 2015, he wrote an appeal to Pope Francis to help fight the “spiritual Holocaust of gay unions.”
Three weeks before Levin attended the Montgomery rally, the New York Jewish Week reported that Levin was involved in a racial dispute.
The Jewish Week reported Levin had opened his congregation to Young Israel of Vandeveer Park in Brooklyn during the summer on the “strict” condition that three of their members — all of whom were black — not attend, supposedly because the “presence of ‘weird-looking Jews’” in “Afro-centric” clothing would not be tolerated by some members.