Major Jewish religious leaders not invited to White House community briefing

Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, and America and Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) — confirmed their leaders had been invited to the meeting, which is to take place Tuesday.

April 16, 2019 05:24
2 minute read.
The White House in Washington

The White House in Washington. (photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)


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The leaders of three of the four major Jewish religious streams were not invited to a White House briefing on issues “impacting the community,” nor was the Jewish community’s leading civil rights advocacy group.

Officials of three Orthodox umbrella groups — Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, and America and Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) — confirmed their leaders had been invited to the meeting, which is to take place Tuesday.

Officials of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, meantime, said the movements were not invited. A Washington D.C.-area Conservative rabbi, Stuart Weinblatt, was invited.

A request to the White House for comment went unanswered by press time. The more liberal streams have clashed with the White House on a range of policies, including immigration and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, seen as fueling bias. The Orthodox movements have been more welcoming of White House policies, particularly relating to Israel, including Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Previous administrations have engaged with the broad range of the community, whatever differences they might have had with individual organizations.

“It’s clear the Trump White House invited a subset of the Jewish community and intentionally excluded others,” Halie Soifer, the director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in an email. “As with everything this president does, this meeting appears to be defined by narrow political calculation as opposed to genuine outreach to the Jewish community.”

Also not invited was the Anti-Defamation League, the country’s leading Jewish civil rights group. Nor was J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, or the Israel Policy Forum, a group dedicated to a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, another anti-defamation group, also was not invited, although its founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, delivered a blessing at Trump’s inauguration.

Among the groups which did make the cut were the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Zionist Organization of America, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, the Coalition for Jewish Values, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“Gathering with Jewish leaders,” an invitation viewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency says. “You are invited to a discussion with key Administration officials on pertinent issues impacting the community.”

It did not specify what the issues are.

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