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On the Campaign Trail: at the Democratic Convention; Davening, Gore and Hillary, Too


Until Sunday night, the Chicago Jewish community was competing with John F. Kennedy Jr. for the designation of the “hottest ticket in town” at this week’s Democratic National Convention.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was scheduled to speak at a reception Thursday morning hosted by the local Jewish community. Space was so limited that only a pool of national television reporters were on the guest list and Jewish delegates from across the country were being turned away.

In the end, Kennedy’s George magazine won the hot ticket award for its gathering, when the local Jews moved the Clinton reception to a 2,500-seat auditorium, allowing them to almost double the guest list.

Praying for Victory

New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver davened the first-known formal daily minyan held at a convention’s headquarters.

About 15 people joined in the Minchah services in the Clinton-Gore campaign Jewish hospitality suite.

After services, worshipers, onlookers and anyone who wandered in snacked on refreshments, which the Orthodox Union had gotten its customers to donate.

And in a Jewish prayer before the whole convention, Rabbi Moshe Faskowitz of Queens, N.Y., president of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis, was scheduled to offer the invocation at Tuesday evening’s convention gathering.

Christian Coalition Goes Home Empty-Handed

In case there were any lingering doubts that the Christian Coalition has more influence in the Republican Party than in the Democratic Party, a reception here drew a couple of hundred pro-life activists and no party leaders. Unlike San Diego, where Pat Robertson’s group had to turn away speakers from its outdoor, thousands-strong rally, the gathering here came and went with little attention or coverage.

Kosher Catering for Gore

Not to be outdone by their Republican colleagues, Jewish Democrats staged an all out kickoff with Vice President Al Gore at a renovated dance club in the Windy City’s heart.

Kosher caters fed the flock of more than 1,200 Jewish delegates, elected officials and guests as they anxiously awaited the vice president’s arrival. Another 300 or so guests who crowded the street outside the Park West were treated to an impromptu rally with Gore and Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler.

Amid chants of “four more years,” Gore called the Democratic foot soldiers into action.

Those gathered split on the highlight of the evening, according to an unscientific sampling. While some touted the donkey-shaped sugar cookies with hand-dipped chocolate hooves, others focused on the giant disco ball overhead – – which remained still during the two- hour reception.

The First Jewish President

Gore revised a favorite joke for the kickoff rally, which was co-sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The first Jewish president-elect calls his mother to invite her to his inauguration and the mother — here Gore attempts to sound like the stereotypical Jewish mother — tells her son that Washington is too far, too cold and she has no place to stay.

After assuring her that he will send Air Force One and that she can stay at the White House, the mother finally agrees to come if she can sit next to the vice president.

And for the punch line …

“In the middle of the oath of office, his mother taps the vice president on the shoulder and says, `You see that man with his hand in the air — his brother’s a doctor,'” Gore said to a round of belly laughs from many in the crowd.

One especially astute guest pointed out that Gore’s joke is “fatally flawed.”

“The president doesn’t get to move into the White House until after the swearing-in ceremony,” she said.

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