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Stephen Miller’s former rabbi berated him with fire and brimstone during his Rosh Hashanah address.

by Tod Perry

September 12, 2018

Rosh Hashanah, the two-day Jewish new year celebration, began on Sunday, September 9. Following the holiday, Jewish people observe the Days of Awe — 10 days of self-reflection and repentance — which culminate on Yom Kippur.

One member of the tribe who could use some serious self-reflection is Donald Trump’s immigration advisor, Stephen Miller. Miller is the architect of two of Trump’s cruelest policies, the Muslim ban and separation of migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Miller’s former rabbi, Neil Comess-Daniels, took time during his Rosh Hashanah address at Beth Shir Shalom in Santa Monica, California to chastise the Trump advisor for his “negativity, violence, malice and brutality.”

According to Rabbi Comess-Daniels, the Miller family were congregants at Beth Shir Shalom when Miller was about 9 or ten years old. Stephen Miller attended Hebrew school and his sister had her bat mitzvah at the temple. 

“The actions that you now encourage President Trump to take make it obvious to me that you didn’t get my or our Jewish message,” Comess-Daniels said. “That notion is completely antithetical to everything I know about Judaism, Jewish law and Jewish values.” 

“What is troublesome to me is that some of my colleagues and others are concerned what I might have taught you when you were a member of our community,” Comess-Daniels continued.

The rabbi also took a pointed stand against Miller’s child separation policy, calling it contrary to the values that Jews hold deepest. “From the Jewish perspective, the parent-child relationship is sacrosanct. Disrupting it is cruel,” Comess-Daniels said. “Mr. Miller, the policy that you helped to conceive and put into practice is cruel.”

“Honestly, Mr. Miller, you’ve set back the Jewish contribution to making the world spiritually whole through your arbitrary division of these desperate families at our southern border,” the rabbi added.

Rabbi Comess-Daniels later appeared on CNN where he discussed his people’s history of migration and why it’s important for Jews to call out members of their religion who refuse to uphold those values.
 
“I chose to speak out on it because it’s something that kind of sticks in the craw of the Jewish people, because we’ve been refugees under so many conditions during so many times in history,” he said. “And ultimately that we need to make clear to anyone that’s listening, certainly a senior adviser to the president, is what our values are, what our morals are, and when they’re transgressed, we need to say something about it.”

Preview image by ​Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images. 

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Stephen Miller’s former rabbi berated him with fire and brimstone during his Rosh Hashanah address.