Lena Epstein, 37, is a third-generation co-owner of Southfield-based Vesco Oil Corp., one of the largest distributors of automotive and industrial lubricants and supporting services in the country — and is a huge Trump fan. Lena Epstein, a Christian convert (formerly Jewish) Republican nominee for Congress in Michigan, has defended inviting a Messianic ” rabbi” to honor the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre at a campaign event that featured Vice President Mike Pence, saying that inviting the fake Rabbi was meant to “unite” people.
The Rabbi is not a real “Rabbi” and attended a Christian Evangelical Seminary to be a Minister.
Here’s the problem: She has been denounced by the Jewish community effectively for being a hate peddler. Her own friends penned a letter, below, claiming she has left the community and is no longer involved with Jewish values.
They noted, among other things, she is a follower of KKK Grand Wizard Dude and has spread his tweets.
Epstein co-chaired Trump’s campaign in Michigan in 2016 and is seeking the GOP nomination in the 11th District, where Republican Rep. Dave Trott is retiring.
We the undersigned grew up with Lena Epstein and have been shocked by the divergence between her divisive and xenophobic campaign for U.S. Congress and the Jewish values we were taught as young people. In Jewish youth group retreats, religious school, and synagogue programs with Lena throughout Metro-Detroit, we grew our Jewish identities; we were shaped by the same values, the same cultural norms, and the same moral lessons. Our Jewish education has shaped the adults we have become, the ways that we interact with the world, and the world we hope to make. The foundations of our faith, forged side-by-side with Lena in our formative years, compel us to reject Lena’s campaign.
Lena has unequivocally embraced and promoted Donald Trump’s message of hate, us-over-them, and xenophobia. For example, Lena supports Trump’s cruel and unethical immigration policies. In response to policies that tore children from their parents, Lena ran ads promising that “In Congress, I’ll stand with President Trump to build the wall, deport the criminals and put America first.” She has embraced anti-Semites and enemies of equality and justice, claiming “Ted Nugent is a great American!” and “liking” tweets by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. We believe that our country is made stronger by the collective experiences, viewpoints, and wisdom of all within our borders, regardless of ethnicity, religious background, or immigration status. We are descendants of immigrants, and we are proud to be a part of an America that welcomes, rather than excludes.
There is space for reasonable people to disagree about the contours of public policy, and we do not condemn her for her political views. We, as a group, hold a diverse set of political beliefs and opinions on policy issues. Rather, it is Lena’s position of embracing hate that requires us to speak loudly and together. Respect for individual autonomy, faith in the rule of law, and a belief that our government is charged with protecting everyone in our society are values that should be embraced by Democrats and Republicans, on the right and on the left. They are values that all people who recognize their roles in a global, equal, and peaceful society hold dear, and they represent the foundation of any free democracy. Lena’s campaign rhetoric rejects these values.
Lena’s campaign has been one fueled by xenophobia, exclusivity, and hate. Whatever her intent, her message has become a full-throated attack on the very foundations of our Judaism. We implore Michigan’s voters to instead turn to positions informed by acceptance, diversity, and love. As the Torah commands us, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:34) We believe that those elected to represent us must follow that command; our government must be a place of inclusion, acceptance, and love. Lena’s bigotry is directly at odds with this declaration.
For all these reasons, we oppose Lena’s candidacy as harmful and dangerous for Michigan and the United States. We believe strongly in democracy, and in the power and wisdom of the people to elect candidates who represent their values and deeply-held beliefs. We encourage everyone eligible to vote in November’s election to do so, and we urge voters to consider another candidate.
Michelle Hutton Bass
Heather Pianko Bershas
Lauren Baker Blanford
Jessica De Young Kander
J. Jacob Krause
Sarah Kruman Mountain
Sarah Littman Olitzky
Minda L. Patt
Robin Weber Pollak
Tanya Shaye Silverstein
Jennifer Nathan Simoneaux
Heather Pearson Statfield
Elissa Lindow Sternberg
Jessica Jacobs Steinhart
Erin Pearlman Weiner
Amelia Patt Zamir
We the undersigned grew up with Lena Epstein and have been shocked by the divergence between her extremist campaign for U.S. Congress and the Jewish values we were taught as young people raised in Detroit’s Jewish community.
Lena has warmly embraced and exploited Donald Trump’s message of hate and xenophobia. In response to Trump’s cruel policies that tore children from their parents, Lena ran TV ads promising that “In Congress, I’ll stand with President Trump to build the wall, deport the criminals and put America first.” She has embraced anti-Semites and enemies of equality, claiming “Ted Nugent is a great American!” and “liking” tweets by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.
We, as a group, hold a diverse set of political beliefs — we are Republicans, Democrats and independents. We believe there is space for reasonable people to disagree about public policy, and we do not question her choice of political party. We are compelled, however, to forcefully condemn her embrace of extremist ideology and outright racism for political gain.
As the Torah commands us, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:34) The bigotry of Lena’s toxic campaign is directly at odds with this declaration.
For all these reasons, we vociferously oppose Lena’s candidacy. We have carefully watched her campaign, and are compelled to speak up. We have known her her since we were children. Were Lena Epstein to hold public office, it would be harmful to our country and our Jewish community. We encourage those eligible to vote in November’s election to do so, and to consider any
FBI to Investigate Gilroy as Misogynistic Domestic Terrorism
Federal authorities announced Tuesday that they have launched a domestic terrorism investigation into the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Northern California, which left three people, including two children, dead.
Mass shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a Walmart in El Paso, and a night club in Dayton, Ohio in the past week have broken our collective hearts here in the United States. While mass shooters typically share some of the same individual traits—rage, suicidal urges, and in some cases, serious behavioral disorders—we must name toxic masculinity as a factor that is often overlooked in many public discussions about these events. In this post, we unpack the role of toxic masculinity in mass shootings. As prominent feminist Jessica Valenti puts it, “The longer we ignore the toxic masculinity that underlies so many of these crimes, the more violence we’re enabling.”
By nature, men are not more prone than women to commit mass shootings, yet virtually all mass shootings are perpetrated by men, which is a major indicator that masculinity is playing some role. Mass shooters have other common characteristics as well. Almost all have a history of domestic violence and misogyny. According to a systematic analysis of 22 mass shootings by Mother Jones, there is “a strong overlap between toxic masculinity and public mass shootings.” As the chart below indicates, nearly all mass shooters have some history of violence toward women.
Virtually all mass shooters suffer some form of aggrieved entitlement—“an existential state of fear about having my ‘rightful place’ as a male questioned…challenged…deconstructed.” According to the Good Men Project, “Aggrieved entitlement is being told ‘no’ when the prevailing mythos of the culture has taught that I have a ‘right’ to something because of my birth (as male, as white, straight, educated, able-bodied … the list goes on).”
A society drenched in patriarchy teaches boys that their “rightful place” is above women. And racist and xenophobic rhetoric only serve to activate white men’s aggrieved entitlement toward people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized groups who are targeted by politicians.
The link between toxic masculinity and mass shootings is not new. Dr. Jackson Katz’s 2006 film, Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity, draws an explicit link between toxic masculinity and mass shootings. Dr. Katz cited the media’s role in ignoring this distinction. “In the many hours devoted to analyzing the recent school shootings, once again we see that as a society we seem constitutionally unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge a simple but disturbing fact: these shootings are an extreme manifestation of one of contemporary American society’s biggest problems—the ongoing crisis of men’s violence against women [or any group that activates aggrieved entitlement for men].”
How You Can Combat Sex Traffickers
It’s important to understand there are patterns and signs that can help identify the perpetrators and help the victims receive help. Victims of sex trafficking are often vulnerable because of homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental or physical disability or lack of legal immigration status.
These are all contributing factors when identifying those who may be most vulnerable to domestic sex trafficking.
It’s easy to think human trafficking is limited to certain segments of society; however, it’s vital to remember that vulnerability to being trafficked knows no boundaries. Traffickers often prey on people who hope for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life or have a history of sexual abuse. These are characteristics that are present across age, socio-economic status, nationality and level of education.5
Age is one of the most significant factors in a child being vulnerable to sex trafficking. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception and manipulation tactics used by traffickers and pimps; however, no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics. Traffickers target locations youth frequent, such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes.6
If you — or perhaps your school-age child — are concerned about someone you know, consider these warning signs (compliments of Shared Hope International) that an individual is being trafficked:
- Signs of physical abuse, such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
- Unexplained absences from class
- Less appropriately dressed than before
- Sexualized behavior
- Overly tired in class
- Withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
- Brags about making or having lots of money
- Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
- New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
- Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
- Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
- Shows signs of gang affiliation (i.e., a preference for specific colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)
If you see any of these signs or suspect a young person is being trafficked, please don’t wait — use these phone numbers to report a tip or connect with anti-trafficking services in your area.
BREAKING: Michael Jackson Filmed Himself Raping Kids
James Safechuck, one of the men accusing Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in documentary film Leaving Neverland, has said that the singer once filmed one of the their encounters.
In an interview with USA Today, both men say that he would often ply them with alcohol and pornography before molesting them, and ‘never wore condoms’ during their sex acts.
They also say that he would try to turn them against their families and would describe women as being ‘evil’.
Speaking about the recording of one encounter, Safechuck said: “He immediately freaked out when he realised what he just did and taped over it.
“It was fun at the time, and when you’re having fun, (Jackson) isn’t thinking about it. But later, he’s like, ‘Wait a minute. I just documented this.’ He was very careful, but that was his one sort of slip.”
Wade Robson, who also appears in the the film, and was a nine-year-old aspiring dancer when he met Jackson, said that he felt as if he had to perform when he was invited to Jackson’s Neverland estate.
“There was an unsaid feeling to be impressive and make it worth his while – get back into that favourite position in his life,” Robson says. “So the sex became, in the craziest way, the safe zone, as the rest of the relationship really changed.”
Safechuck goes on to say that Jackson once overheard his mother making a phone call while at Neverland, and then used it to try to turn him against women.
“My mom was on a call with her sister talking trash about my dad, and then he was like, ‘Look how evil women are. Your dad is a sweet guy. Women are conniving,’” he says. “It was a consistent theme with him.”
In a separate interview with Vanity Fair, Robson claims that Jackson would instil fear in him that both he and the singer would both be jailed for the rest of their lives if details of the abuse came out.
“There was no repressed memory. I never forgot any of it,” Robson says.
“A lot of what was going on when I was 11, was the direct fear that Michael put into me that if anybody was to find out about this, both of us would go to jail for the rest of our lives.
“I absolutely believed that. I was terrified of that. And I was terrified for Michael. I loved Michael and I was trying to save him. So many things were going on at the same time: fear, shame, confusion, and love. I knew I was telling a lie but I knew I had to. I felt like I had no choice.”
The documentary, directed by BAFTA winning British filmmaker Dan Reed, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last month, and left viewers ‘shell-shocked’.
Safechuck has now said that the pair are ‘not used to people believing us’.
“My mother believes me – I’m used to that – but I’m not used to other people believing me,” he says.
“It’s still really hard for me. And I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t hear a song. You go out to have a drink with your friend, you’re trying to relax and let everything go, and he’ll come on. Every time. It’s hard. It gets easier, but it’s still hard.”
Robson adds that he also had visceral reactions when he heard Jackson’s songs.
“In the beginning, I was extremely sensitive to it,” he says. “I would be at a lunch or a dinner with my wife, my child, and something would come on, and it would take over my whole body and I would have to leave the place.
“It’s rarely that physically intense now, unless I’m in a place for children, a playground, an inside gym. In those types of situations, a Michael song will come on and it’s a place that is supposed to protect children. That’s really difficult.
“My son came home from school one day, a few years ago, and he said, check out this thing my friend taught me: and he did some version of the Moonwalk.
“It was extremely triggering to me but then, as a parent, I’m trying to stop myself, because I don’t want to put my issues on him. But Michael is everywhere. It’s challenging.”
In a statement, the Jackson estate called the film a ‘character assassination’ and a ‘lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson’.
The film will air in two parts on Channel 4 on March 6 and March 7 at 9pm.
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