The childhood rabbi to Stephen Miller, special adviser to Donald Trump and a key architect of his “zero-tolerance” immigration policies, criticized his former charge on Monday as a purveyor of “negativity, violence, malice and brutality” who had learned nothing from his Jewish spiritual education.
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom, a progressive reform synagogue in the beachside city of Santa Monica where Miller grew up, devoted his sermon marking the Jewish New Year to a striking denunciation of Miller and the now-abandoned policy he championed of separating immigrant families at the border.
“Honestly, Mr Miller, you’ve set back the Jewish contribution to making the world spiritually whole through your arbitrary division of these desperate people,” the rabbi said. “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.
“This is the season of apology, and to get to an apology, shame over past actions is necessary. Some shout at others when they are self-righteous enough: you should be ashamed of yourself! That’s not something I would ever shout or demand.” But Comess-Daniels went on to say it was up to Miller to acknowledge his wrongdoing.
The service for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, was held on the campus of Santa Monica high school, which Miller attended from 1999 to 2003, and broadcast live on Facebook. Rabbi Comess-Daniels found a receptive audience, which greeted his words with rapturous applause.
Comess-Daniels’ denunciation follows on the heels of a similar repudiation by Miller’s uncle, David Glosser, who described his “dismay and increasing horror” at the behavior of his nephew in an essay for Politico last month. “In the face of the virtual kidnapping of thousands of innocent children, I didn’t feel I had the ethical standing to remain silent,” Glosser later explained to the Guardian.