Defrocked Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is also an Orthodox Jew from Beverly Hills, talks in the cover essay in tomorrow's Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. The piece is by a friend, David Klinghoffer, who says that Jews have been too hard on Abramoff. The Journal bills the essay as including Abramoff's first on-the-record comments on the morality of the Washington influence-brokering that will now send him to prison.
"I had lost a sense of proportion and judgment. God sent me 1,000 hints that He didn't want me to keep doing what I was doing. But I didn't listen, so He set off a nuclear bomb.
"What hurts the most is the way my co-religionists want to cut my head off," Abramoff says.
From an early age he was a religious rebel and an ardent idealist. His story is in many ways that of many other ba'alei teshuvah, Jews who returned to tradition. I, too, am in that group.
Now age 46, he was born in Atlantic City, N.J. His father, Frank Abramoff, a Diners Club executive, moved the family to Beverly Hills in 1969. The family's home was in the tree-lined flats north of Santa Monica Boulevard on Elm Drive. His early religious education was at Temple Emanuel, a Reform congregation in Beverly Hills. However by the time of his bar mitzvah he was fed up with what he felt was a Judaism devoid of meaning.
"I quickly came to the conclusion that what they were saying was gibberish," Jack Abramoff says.
Abramoff's father and an early rabbi in his life are quoted.