Campaigning in Iowa, Doug Emhoff stops by kosher deli as statement against antisemitism


(JTA) — With antisemitism on his mind this weekend, Doug Emhoff, Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband, took a detour to the nearest Jewish deli.

The Second Gentleman was in Iowa to campaign for Deidre DeJear, the Democrat who is lagging in her effort to unseat the state’s Republican governor. The closest — and only — kosher establishment nearby was Maccabee’s Kosher Deli in Iowa City, where he spoke with the proprietor, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi named Yossi Jacobson.

“We talked about how much it means to us to live proudly and openly as Jewish Americans,” Emhoff tweeted Sunday afternoon, alongside a picture of the two men in conversation. “It’s imperative that we come together as a nation to fight against antisemitism and hate of all kinds.”

The deli visit came amid broad attention to Jews and the hatred they face. Last month, after the rapper Kanye West  made antisemitic comments, white supremacist hate groups, including the Goyim Defense League, adopted his remarks as a rallying cry and accelerated their activity across the United States. Meanwhile, a change of leadership at Twitter has spurred antisemites to target Jews and other minorities online, and NBA star Kyrie Irving has faced consequences after endorsing an antisemitic movie. On Thursday, the FBI warned about a “broad threat” to synagogues in New Jersey before taking a man into custody and lifting the threat. The cumulative effect has been a growing unease for many American Jews.

Since opening Iowa’s first kosher store in 1992, Jacobson has seen Maccabee’s act as a magnet for candidates and campaign volunteers who flood into the state when it hosts the country’s first caucus in presidential election years. “The deli has become a lot more than just pastrami and corn beef and matzah-ball soup,” he told the Jewish News Syndicate in 2019.