Dear John Kasich,
I’ve got four questions for you: Will you come to my Passover seder? Please? Pretty please? For real?
Hear my plea, governor: I’m Jewish, and I’m supposed to lead a seder on April 22nd, the first night of Passover. Sure, I’ve spent years of my life in Hebrew School (as both student and teacher), attended dozens of seders, passed countless hours in synagogue, and even read The Chosen from cover to cover—some parts twice!
But I’m totally at a loss when it comes to the story of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and return to the Promised Land. With Passover coming so soon, I’m in the market for a Jewish ritual expert. A wise child, if you will.
And apparently you’ve got it covered. I very much enjoyed the video of you explaining the story of Joseph to a group of Talmudic scholars.
I keep coming back to this one statement of yours about Joseph: “They threw him in that ditch, and then his brothers saved him, and that’s how the Jews got to Egypt. Right? Did you know that?”
When I watched you ask a a group of full-time Jewish scholars if they had heard the story of Joseph, I thought, “Here’s my man. He knows his stuff. And he’s not afraid to teach it.”
Sure, some critics have taken their shots at you. Over at New York magazine, Jonathan Chait compared your question to “visiting MIT, wandering into a physics lab, and asking people if they ever heard of this guy named Isaac Newton.”
Why is Chait being so harsh? Interfaith dialogue is hard. (Really, it is!). I’ll admit that when I watch the video, I get the sense that you’re not so much lecturing the Jewish scholars as performing for people who may watch the video later. You’re letting them know that John Kasich reads the Bible, and not only that—he can swap stories about the Hebrew Scriptures with real-live Hebrews.
If that’s the case, then you’re basically using a group of Jews as a campaign prop. But that’s okay! Every politician does it. Plus, Jews love nothing more than to be props in Christian stories. Which is why I’m offering you the best photo-op of all: a leadership role in the Schulson seder.
There will be yarmulkes. There will be soup. There will be photogenic Jews, and there will be matzah baked by Ted Cruz. I hope you’ll join us. Please bring a bottle of wine, a willingness to sing, and a camera crew.