Obama marks Jewish American Heritage Month (JERUSALEM POST) By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT 06/01/12)
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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama recalled one of the darker
chapters in the history of US Jewry at a ceremony marking Jewish
American Heritage Month Wednesday afternoon.
Before some 400 Jewish members of Congress, religious leaders and
community advocates who gathered at the annual White House reception,
Obama referred to the order that then- Union General Ulysses Grant
gave expelling the Jews from Tennessee on December 17, 1862.
But Obama used that story to illustrate Jewish resilience and
activism, as Jewish leaders protested the order and a Jewish merchant
met personally with President Abraham Lincoln to urge the order be
repealed. Lincoln revoked the order, and later Grant himself
apologized for it. He went on to visit and donate to Adas Israel
Synagogue in Washington when he himself was president.
“Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the
American dream,” Obama said. “But this country holds a special
promise: that if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and the
values we share, then our wrongs can be made right, our union can be
made more perfect and our world can be repaired.”
Just as Obama’s words echoed the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or
repairing the world, he also echoed his own political stump speech
when he told the crowd, “Here at home we have to rebuild an America
where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair
share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.”
This year’s crowd was heavy on members of Congress and Washington
Jewish leaders, in contrast to previous years when luminaries such as
former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Sandy Kofax and author Judy Blume
One political insider suggested that there would be more big names
from the American Jewish community at an event awarding President
Shimon Peres the presidential medal of freedom later in June.
The Jewish American Heritage Month reception came the day after Obama
dropped by an hour-long meeting Conservative rabbis held with White
House chief of staff Jack Lew on Tuesday.
The president discussed issues ranging from Iran and Israel’s
security to health care and the safety net, according to participants.
“He especially encouraged us to carry forward Judaism’s message of
communal responsibility and the religious mandate to seek the welfare
of all people in society,” said Julie Schonfeld, executive vice
president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international umbrella
organization for Conservative rabbis. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem
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