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Jews for Cruz

Republican candidate touts Bergen County endorsements

When Senator Ted Cruz rolled out a team of Jewish supporters this week, North Jersey residents were prominent on the list.

They include Englewood’s Dr. Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, the largest pro-Israel political action committee, and Rabbi Zev Reichman of the East End Synagogue in Englewood.

And while he is not formally a member of the Cruz campaign’s Jewish leadership coalition, another Englewood rabbi was prominent in the Cruz campaign’s announcement.

All three men are Orthodox.

“I have been privileged to speak at synagogue services from New York to California to Florida, to celebrate Passover Seders with my friends in Texas, and to participate in events with Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach,” the campaign’s press release quoted Mr. Cruz as saying.

Dr. Ben Chouake
Dr. Ben Chouake

The release continued: “My commitment to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people began long before my days as a senator or presidential candidate: it began with the experience my father had as a refugee fleeing oppression in Cuba to come to this country. As president, I will stand unapologetically with Israel, prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and cut off federal funding to any institution that adopts B.D.S. measures.”

Rabbi Zev Reichman of the East Hill Synagogue was quoted in the press release as saying: “Ted Cruz has impressed me with his deep respect for people of faith, his dedication to protecting the US homeland, and his unflinching support for America’s greatest ally in the Middle East, the nation of Israel. A few months ago I had the privilege of spending time with Ted. He displayed a deep regard for daily Talmud study and Jewish religious practice. His respect for the beliefs of others is inspiring. I feel confident that President Cruz will defend religious liberty and preserve our First Amendment rights.”

Dr. Chouake said he first met Mr. Cruz a couple of years ago, when NORPAC held a fundraising meeting for him.

“He seemed particularly interested in U.S.-Israel relations,” Dr. Chouake said. “He has a very solid record. He’s not only a good vote; he’s very pro-active.

“The guy is really talented. If you speak to Alan Dershowitz, who had him as a student at Harvard, Dershowitz will tell you that he’s off-the-charts brilliant. You have to admire him because you know what a guy of his talents could make in the private sector. But he’s devoted himself to the public. To me that’s very inspiring,” he said.

Although Dr. Chouake is in the Cruz camp, that is a personal decision. NORPAC does not take sides in presidential races. It has held fund raising meetings for Senator Marco Rubio and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And Dr. Chouake pointed to other NORPAC activists who are supporting competing presidential candidates.

“Rubio has a lot of people involved, Clinton has a lot of good people involved. Sanders we don’t have a relationship with — it just never happened,” he said.

Richard Dukas of Teaneck is among NORPAC’s Rubio supporters. He has helped raise money for the Florida senator, and been active on Facebook for him.

Mr. Dukas first heard Mr. Rubio speak at a NORPAC event in October. “His understanding of foreign affairs is superior to anybody else’s,” he said. “This combined with his knowledge of how Washington works, his youth and his crossover appeal — I thought that made him a very viable candidate.”

Speaking on Tuesday, however, Mr. Dukas no longer had faith in Rubio’s viability.

“The Republican base wants change and they want Mr. Trump,” he said. “What can I tell you?”

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