ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This could get awkward.
Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple, where Monica Lewinsky and her family were congregation members for decades and where Lewinsky attended religious school, is scheduled to deliver the benediction at the Democratic National Convention tonight — not long after Bill Clinton speaks.
Not only was Wolpe the Lewinsky family’s rabbi, he also sharply condemned President Clinton at the time his sexual relationship with Lewinsky, then a 24-year-old White House intern, was dominating national headlines.
“He was a brilliant, talented, extraordinary child, and for the leader of the United States we need an adult,” Rabbi Wolpe told his temple, according to a 1998 Associated Press account. He said Clinton needed to “cleanse his soul.”
And other news reports from the time noted that Wolpe accused Clinton of hiding behind a “flinty legalistic apology,” for his romantic dalliances with the young intern.
President Clinton will deliver a much-anticipated speech on Wednesday to close out the convention’s second night.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “Wolpe said his prayer on Wednesday evening will focus on the ideals animating the United States. … This year, Wolpe was named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post. He is the author of seven books, and is widely known as a newspaper columnist and radio and television commentator.”
In 2009, Wolpe wrote a commentary in the Washington Post reflecting on the episode, which resulted in Clinton’s impeachment but not his removal from office: “During the Lewinsky scandal, it was the lying and smearing of Monica Lewinsky that marked the low point of the event, not the sex, which was primarily an issue for the individuals and families involved.”