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More than 300 rabbis formed a group to support the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. “The support of rabbis nationwide is a testament to Barack Obama’s strong support in the Jewish Community, and demonstrates that he shares the values and principles so important to the American Jewish Community,” said a statement released Wednesday about the group founded by Sam Gordon and Steven Bob, two rabbis from the Chicago area, the Illinois senator’s base. The rabbis attached to the release spans the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox streams.

“When 300 rabbis agree on anything, you know something is going on,” says a headline on the group’s Web site, rabbisforobama.com. An open letter on the site says of Obama, “We recognize that he has been inspired by Jewish values such as Tikkun Olam and the pursuit of justice, and he is deeply committed as well to a civil discourse between opposing arguments.”

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign launched a major Jewish outreach campaign in Florida. Jewish outreach groups are being established in six cities and a full-time statewide Jewish vote director has been hired, according to a news release Monday from the Florida office of the Obama campaign. Top Jewish surrogates, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) will tour the state along with Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Obama’s vice presidential pick. The announcement comes following an outburst during the Democratic Party convention in Denver two weeks ago in which two Jewish legislators in Florida, state Sens. Nan Rich and Steve Geller, contradicted claims by party officials that Obama was doing well among Jews.

Adam Hasner, a state representative and a prominent Jewish Republican, responded by saying that the state’s Jews would not be “scared” by Democratic attacks on the GOP’s vice-presidential choice, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has strongly conservative social views.

“The Obama campaign’s recent move acknowledges that they have ongoing problems in the Jewish community, and just going around Florida to scare voters about Governor Palin won’t work,” Hasner told Politico.com. “Jewish voters are more thoughtful than just being one-issue voters, and they won’t react well to attacks against her because of her religion.”

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