Rahm "Hava Nagila" Emanuel Turns Springsteen Jewish

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Further investigation by Goldblog reveals that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel played a key role in prompting Bruce Springsteen to play forty-five seconds of "Hava Nagila" at last week's Verizon Center concert. This news will undoubtedly fuel more conspiracy theories about Jewish domination not only of the White House and Wall Street but of the E Street Band as well (Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan counting, obviously, as the Semitic leading edge).

Goldblog reader Clifford Mendelson, who made the now-famous "Hava Nagila" sign, was seated two rows behind Emanuel (and near David Brooks and Andrea Mitchell and other such luminaries in an apparently all-Jewish section of the Verizon Center), courtesy of Bruce himself, who met Mendelson at the Arizona Biltmore hotel a few weeks back (I'm omitting some of the shaggy-dog qualities of Mendelson's story in order to get to the heart of the matter). In any case, Mendelson, a Springsteen fanatic, knew that Bruce would probably play Stump the Band, and, like many other concert-goers, he decided to bring a sign with him. "Hava Nagila" was chosen in deference to his daughter, a 14-year-old student at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md.

"My daughter didn't want to go because of homework, so I figured she needed a Jewish excuse to go to the concert. I made the 'Hava Nagila' sign - I'm in the mortgage credit market, so there's not a hell of a lot for me to do these days - and we brought it to the concert," he said. "I made it like the Torah, two sticks on each side."

 He went on with his tale: "I didn't have the sign up when Bruce came to our side of the stage, but I held it up and Patti (Bruce's wife) sees it, and Roy Bittan sees it - he's Jewish - and he gives me a fist pump. But I've got to get it up to the stage.  Bruce then looked our way and saw it and he points at me. Rahm Emanuel turns around and sees it and he loves it and grabs the sign. He hands it to a Secret Service agent who handed it up to Bruce and then they played it."

He continued, "I turned to Rahm Emanuel and I said, `The least I can do for you as a great public servant is buy you a beer,' and he said `I'll take a light beer.' I mean, what a night."

There are those in Israel who say that Rahm is insufficiently zealous in his Jewishness. I think Mendelson's story is an appropriate response to such a charge.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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