Nothing anti-Semitic was meant when KDKA morning talk-show radio host Marty Griffin said that the economic bailout vote was being delayed due to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana, a station executive said.
While many Jews were at synagogue when the comment was made on Tuesday, Sept. 30, the first day of Rosh Hashana, some did have their dials tuned to 1020-AM.
Ron Rubenstein was getting ready to attend services at Temple Emanuel of South Hills when he heard Griffin’s comments and believed them to be in poor taste.
Rubenstein recalls Griffin saying that if not for Rosh Hashana, lawmakers in Congress would have been able to vote on Tuesday, instead of being delayed until Thursday. He continued to say that had the debate fallen on Christmas, lawmakers would have still voted.
“The fact that he even said it,” Rubenstein said, “that he indicated that this would have been done if it wasn’t for the Jewish holidays, is the problem.”
Griffin spoke with The Chronicle on Wednesday morning and said that he never said anything about Christmas vs. Rosh Hashana and certainly never meant to offend the Jewish people.
“I never said that,” Griffin said. “I just wouldn’t have. I understand the interest and the concern. Religion is a very important subject. It really is the most significant thing we have to get back to in our lives today.”
KDKA Station Manager Michael Young said Griffin didn’t mean anything anti-Semitic with his comments.
“What Marty was doing was raising the question,” Young said. “He didn’t make a comparison, or at least I didn’t hear a comparison to the Christmas holiday.”
Griffin explained that in what is a very troubling financial situation, everyone who is responsible for helping fix the problem, should be working.
“If this is the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, all bets are off,” Griffin said. “Whether it’s Christmas, Rosh Hashana, Easter or a wedding.”
Young said Griffin was very respectful of other religions. When a Jewish caller phoned in to the show, Griffin explained that he meant nothing offensive by his comment.
“Marty stated he believes religions are important,” Young said. “He said on the air he wasn’t criticizing the Jewish faith, nor was he criticizing those who chose to observe the holidays.”
“It’s certainly not the radio stations intent to offend anyone’s religion,” Young continued. “I was fine with the context they (the comments) were in. I don’t feel that they were anti-Semitic or suggested that this was Christmas vs. Rosh Hashana.”
Griffin wanted to let all of KDKA’s listeners know that he didn’t mean anything anti-semitic.
“In no way shape or form did I mean to offend the Jewish people,” he said. “It was no attack on Jews.”
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)