CBS/AP October 30, 2018, 12:03 PM Pence honors synagogue victims with rabbi praying to "Jesus the Messiah"
At a Michigan campaign stop Monday, Vice President Mike Pence honored victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting in a prayer with a rabbi who referenced "Jesus the Messiah." The vice president called for Jacobs to come to the stage, saying, "I'm privileged to be joined today by a leader in the Jewish Community here in Michigan who's kind enough to join us today. I thought it might be appropriate if Rabbi Loren Jacobs would come out from Shema Yisrael Synagogue and offer a word of prayer for the fallen, for their families, and for our nation."
Jacobs, of Messianic congregation Shema Yisrael, offered prayers for the victims of the synagogue massacre. Messianic Jews follow Jewish law but believe that Jesus is the Messiah. The major denominations of Judaism reject Messianic Judaism as a form of Judaism, and Jacobs' participation was condemned by Jews on social media.
According to an aide to the vice president, Jacobs was invited by Lena Epstein, the candidate Pence was supporting at the event. The aide said that there are often "ecumenical prayers at the beginning of events that aren't an endorsement of any particular faith." A Pence aide told the Associated Press that the vice president did not know who he was when he invited Jacobs back onstage to offer another a prayer for the victims, their families and the nation.
The Washington Post noted that in his prayer, Jacobs named four Republican candidates, including Epstein, and prayed that they win in November. "I pray for them and for the Republican Party and its candidates so that they would honor you and your ways, that you might grant them victory in this election," he said from the stage.
As Pence stood next to him, Jacobs ended his prayer by saying, "in the name of Jesus."
The aide was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"He was not invited by the VP's office to speak on behalf of the Jewish community," the aide said.
Epstein, who is Jewish, explained in a statement that she invited Jacobs' prayer "because we must unite as a nation — while embracing our religious differences — in the aftermath of Pennsylvania." She said anyone attacking her or Pence over the prayer is "guilty of nothing short of religious intolerance and should be ashamed. This was an effort at unity, yet some are trying to create needless division to suit their political goals."
Detroit-area Rabbi Jason Miller said on Facebook that there are at least 60 rabbis on a directory of Michigan rabbis and "yet the only rabbi they could find to offer a prayer for the 11 Jewish victims in Pittsburgh at the Mike Pence rally was a local Jews for Jesus rabbi? That's pathetic!"
Jordan Acker, a Jewish lawyer who is running for the University of Michigan Board of Regents as a Democrat, criticized Epstein on Twitter. He said she was "deeply insensitive for bringing a group on stage whose entire mission is to convert Jews," days after the worst instance of anti-Semitic violence in American history.
Epstein is running against Democrat Haley Stevens for a House seat opening with the retirement of Republican Rep. Dave Trott. CBS News rates this race "Edge Democrat."