It raises the question: Why the sudden interest from hasidic rabbis?
From tomorrow's New York Times:
…At the start of the 2008 presidential primary season, [Rabbi Capers] Funnye [Michelle Obama's cousin and the leader of the largest Black Jewish synagogue in America] contributed a few hundred dollars to the Obama campaign but didn’t publicly endorse Obama, and he avoided mentioning the family connection. “I was afraid it might do him harm in the Orthodox community,” he told me. “I believe they were the ones putting out stories about Barack being a secret Muslim and so on. They could have made me out to be a friend of Farrakhan’s or a cult leader or who knows what.”
Obama apparently wasn’t worried by the association. During the Democratic primaries, as he came under repeated attack for being insufficiently pro-Israel, Obama reached out to Funnye, by way of Mary’s brother Frank White, the Obama fund-raiser. White told me that Obama encouraged him to “tell Capers to get the word out that I’ve got a rabbi in my family.” Funnye acknowledges getting the message. Before long, The Forward, the Jewish weekly, ran an article on Obama’s rabbi, and the news spread like low-fat cream cheese from Boca Raton to Brooklyn.
Funnye’s association with Obama probably didn’t reassure fervent Zionists — the rabbi is considerably to the left of Obama on Middle East policy — but it didn’t seem to hurt either. The connection to Obama certainly didn’t hurt Funnye. “I got no blowback from the Orthodox at all,” he said. “In fact, I started getting phone calls from a couple Hasidic rabbis in Israel who want to get together.”
It's amazing what connections to power and money can do.