It must have looked good on paper, as the plans crossed the desk of whoever it is who controls the vice president’s schedule.
Here it was, the day after the worst anti-Semitic attack on American history, and Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to speak at a rally on behalf of Lena Epstein, the Republican running for Congress in a district that includes the heavily Jewish Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills.
And Ms. Epstein, who is Jewish, said that Rabbi Loren Jacobs offered to deliver a prayer.
What could be more appropriate on what had become a day of Jewish mourning?
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,” he began.
“God and father of my lord and savior Yeshua, Jesus the messiah, and my god and father too,” he continued.
Yes, a certified Jew for Jesus on the campaign trail.
For Jews suspicious of the evangelical vice president and his religious motivations, this was taken as a sign that something was rotten.
As Rafi Schwartz explained in Splinter News, “short of, I dunno, offering a Nazi salute I guess, it’s probably the most offensive thing Pence could have possibly done in the days following the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.”
It didn’t take too long after the backlash hit for the Pence team to make it clear that it had been Epstein’s idea, not the vice president’s.
“I invited the prayer because we must unite as a nation — while embracing our religious differences — in the aftermath of Pennsylvania,” Epstein said in a statement she posted Monday on Twitter.
Epstein has served on the board of Temple Beth El, a Reform congregation in Bloomfield Hills, where she grew up.
She also has been the target of an open letter from the Jewish community, where dozens of people who said they grew up with her in synagogue and Jewish youth group chide her for her right-wing politics.
On a more positive note, she has been able to snap a selfie with rocker Ted Nugent, who has been criticized for making anti-Semitic pro-gun Facebook posts.
On the other hand, further reporting managed to make the story even worse for Epstein.
Did we say Jacobs was a certified Jew for Jesus? Actually, he has been defrocked by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations.
“Loren Jacobs was stripped of his rabbinic ordination by the UMJC in 2003, after our judicial board found him guilty of libel,” a Union spokesperson told NBC.
As to how Jacobs came to be on Epstein’s guest list — at press time, that remained unclear.