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Libertarian Meets Lakewood

Shimmy Blum

The buffet luncheon may have been glatt kosher, but for most people Rand Paul was the main course. TheUSsenator fromKentucky, and early front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in the next presidential election, gave his audience a strong taste of what Republican primary voters — and perhaps the general electorate — will hear from him in 2016.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

senator rand paulIf there is one impression that Senator Rand Paul may take with him back to Washingtonfrom his two-hour visit to Lakewood, it might well be the admiration he expressed for the chavrusa system he saw in action on a quick tour of Beth Medrash Govoha.

The idea that advanced learning can take place without the need for a lecturer or a formal classroom structure was a revelation to the senator fromKentucky, who perhaps also observed that argumentation can be conducted in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

Paul was given an impromptu lesson in the halachos of basar v’chalav from a yungerman he encountered in the hallway and was probably not too surprised to hear from the BMG leadership that none of its 6,000-plus talmidim hail from his home state ofKentucky.

It is doubtful that the attendees at the luncheon that followed his tour ever visitedKentucky— let alone have roots there — yet Paul seemed at home. His physical stature is unimposing and his voice soft; a contrast to the often intimidating persona of his father Ron who ran in last year’s Republican presidential primaries. Reserved and respectful, Rand Paul spent more time inLakewoodlistening than talking, and put more effort into learning about his surroundings than promulgating his views.

Following introductory remarks that included some history of the Jewish People in general and theLakewoodcommunity in particular, Paul’s host for lunch, philanthropist and GOP mega-donor Dr. Richard Roberts, drew laughs when he presented Paul with a gift-wrapped $15 toy drone. The memento was a reference to Paul’s famous 13-hour filibuster in March in which he criticized the Obama administration’s use of drones to hunt down suspected terrorists onUSsoil.

Dr. Roberts told the crowd — which included Lakewood mayor Isaac Akerman, yeshivah and Bais Yaakov deans, community activists, and kollel yungeleit — that the senator’s unique style is precisely what endeared him when the two met at last summer’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Dr. Roberts spent some more time with Paul and nearly 100 Jewish and evangelical leaders on a trip toIsraelthat he sponsored in January. “President Obama tells every group what they want to hear; Rand Paul is the polar opposite,” says Dr. Roberts. “We disagree on some issues, but the number one thing we need is authenticity and integrity.”

 

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