Haaretz: Hard-hitting ‘Kaddish’ Ad Features Trump Downplaying Coronavirus as Jews Mourn Victims

October 7, 2020

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

A haunting new political ad featuring the mourner’s Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead, and hitting at U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, is courting controversy.

In the 30-second spot, small stones are placed on a grave, in keeping with Jewish tradition, while a count of the coronavirus death toll, racing above 200,000 is displayed. As the mourner chants, Trump’s voice is heard making public statements downplaying, dismissing and expressing false optimism about COVID-19.

These include: “no, I don’t take responsibility at all;” “the numbers are getting very good;” and “they are dying, that’s true! It is what it is;” along with the tape from Trump’s interview with Bob Woodward in which he admitted, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.”

The video, released on Tuesday by the Jewish Democratic Council of America is part of a $500,000 ad buy, aimed at Jewish voters in battleground states like Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

“This ad highlights the recklessness and utter lack of leadership that has defined Donald Trump’s approach to the coronavirus. Even since he contracted the virus, the president has demonstrated a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life, which is a core Jewish value,” said JDCA Executive Director Halie Soifer.  “Jewish Americans mourn those lost due to COVID, and are committed to electing Joe Biden in order to restore empathy, compassion, and leadership to the White House.”

For JDCA Chair Rep. Ron Klein, the reciting of Kaddish in the ad was not merely performative. He noted that he, like thousands of other Jews around the country, was saying Kaddish right now for his loved ones who had fallen victim to COVID-19.