Rabbi Marvin Hier: Trump’s Court Jew?
The dawning of the Donald Trump era has been very good for Rabbi Marvin Hier.
The founder and leader of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, Hier has been a public figure since the 1970s; an often-noisy voice on anti-Semitism and Holocaust remembrance. But since January, there’s been a change: Now, the whole country is listening.
In the seven months since he delivered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration, Hier has ascended to the A-list of unofficial spokesmen for the Jews.
“I will say that I get a lot of calls,” Hier told the Forward in June. “What can I do? I’m not going to deny that.”
Since the beginning of the year, Hier has had more press mentions that he did in the previous two and a half years put together — more mentions than all but one other Jewish leader, according to the media database Nexis.
In May, he was one of only two Americans invited to light a torch at Israel’s official Independence Day ceremony on Mt. Herzl. Days later, he showed up in the Rose Garden to deliver another prayer, this time at a signing ceremony for an executive order.
Hier has even earned a new sobriquet, used in newspaper headlines and in the subject lines of his press releases: “Trump’s Inauguration Rabbi.”
The Trump era arrived at a moment of flux in the top ranks of Jewish communal leadership. The position of American Jewry’s communal figurehead had been vacant since 2015, when Anti-Defamation League National President Abraham Foxman retired. Hier seemed like a long-shot for that unofficial post. His relationship with the Jewish establishment has never been warm. And his own organization was suffering from some public relations issues.
But Trump’s victory changed everything, and Hier was waiting in the wings, ready to sweep in and became official Jewry’s main connection to the White House.
Hier is the only prominent American Jewish leader ready to stand next to the American president. That willingness has vaulted him into a leadership position over a community whose ladder he refused to climb.
“They see their jobs as saving the Jewish people by projecting strength,” said one veteran Jewish professional at a major national Jewish organization, who asked not to be named to preserve relationships. “For the Simon Wiesenthal Center, it’s, ‘We’re not going back into the ovens. You’re not going to push us back into the ovens.’”
Rabbi Marvin Hier is the founder and leader of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. LET ME BRING YOU HIER: