New York Times White House Correspondent Slammed for Saying ‘Jews Don’t Believe in Heaven’

“The very first line of Genesis is when God began creating the heavens and the earth,” Rabbi Philip Weintraub tells TheWrap

New York Times White House Correspondent Annie Karni came in for criticism on Tuesday after tweeting that Jewish people didn’t believe in heaven as part of a critique of President Trump’s State of the Union address.

“Trump just ad-libbed ‘they came down from heaven’ when quoting a Holocaust survivor watching American soldiers liberate Dachau. Jews don’t believe in heaven,” Karni said. 

Moments later — as the comments began to rack up — Karni offered a clarification of the line, sharing a comment from a reader.

“This was sent to me by a reader,” Kanri said. “‘While it’s true that the Hebrew Bible does not mention an afterlife, there is a complex eschatology that includes a very detailed map of the Jewish afterlife contained in rabbinic, kabbalistic and Hasidic literature.'”

“The very first line of Genesis is when God began creating the heavens and the earth. It’s the very first line,” Philip Weintraub, a rabbi in St. Petersburg, Florida, told TheWrap. “I would not want be a part of publicly shaming someone because one of the most important principles of Torah is not publicly embarrassing people, however promoting ignorance is not helpful either.”

“There are a wide variety of views on the afterlife, but the concept of an afterlife is throughout Jewish history,” he said. 

 Critics online, however, were considerably less charitable than Weintraub, with the broad consensus forming that Karni — a White House correspondent — should have stayed in her lane.

“This was largely corrected in a follow-up tweet, but the original tweet remains and is misinformation about traditional Jewish theology (which very much does believe in an afterlife) that should be deleted,” Tablet Magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg said. “We Jews deal with enough misconceptions about our faith as it is.”

“Fascinatingly bad take,” offered Daily Wire editor in chief Ben Shapiro.

“False! Jews don’t believe in hell, as in, eternal damnation, Jews do believe in an afterlife that includes paradise, commonly known in English as heaven,” said Lahav Harkov, senior contributing editor to the Jerusalem Post. “Also, if the Holocaust survivor used ‘heaven’ as a figure of speech, what exactly is the point of nitpicking?”

A rep for Karni at the New York Times did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

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