WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden pointed to the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us,” as an impetus for declaring a presidential run in 2020.
He has spoken about taking his grandchildren to see Dachau, an infamous concentration camp where tens of thousands of Jews drew their last breaths.
In May, the Biden administration released a national strategy to counter antisemitism following a spike in reported antisemitic incidents last year.
American Jews have taken note, according to several leaders who say they have observed a shift, particularly among groups that did not previously support Biden.
After Hamas’ attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, many American Jews are rallying around Biden’s handling of the war, referring to his response as a show of “moral clarity.” Thousands are expected to descend upon Washington on Tuesday to push for continued assistance to Israel.
Biden “feels it in his kishkes,” said Halie Soifer, the CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, using a Yiddish word that can translate to “gut.” “He feels the connection to our community.”
She added, “He’s a man of clear moral clarity.”
Sarah Hurwitz, a White House speechwriter for the Obama administration, said in an email, “To have a president who is so steady, with such a strong moral core, and such deep wisdom and experience — it’s really heartening right now.”
American Jews overwhelmingly align themselves with Democrats. Before the 2020 election, a Pew Research Center survey found that 71% of Jews surveyed consider themselves Democrats or lean Democratic. But amid the war, Biden is also attracting praise from more religious Jews, a constituency that often identifies as Republican.
Ariella Gordon, 28, an Orthodox Jew living in Maryland, said it was “pleasantly shocking” to see Biden’s strength in his “moral clarity.”
“It’s becoming increasingly apparent as a Jew in America that our friends really are few and far between,” said Gordon, who identifies as politically conservative.
“I would consider Biden to be a friend of Israel and Jews in America,” she said when she was asked whether Biden is among those friends.
The shifting support for Biden among Orthodox Jews may not translate to additional votes in 2024. Only about 2.4% of U.S. adults are Jewish, according to a Pew report released in 2021, and just a small fraction of American Jews are Orthodox. On the other side, Biden has faced increasing criticism from pro-Palestinian factions of the Democratic Party, including some Arab American leaders who are threatening to withhold support for his re-election bid in critical swing states like Michigan and Minnesota. The lack of political impact from swinging Jewish voters has largely meant less attention has been paid since the war broke out.
“I can tell you, at least anecdotally, that many, many people in the…