Just days before Pesach, dozens of Jewish community leaders from across the United States converged upon the White House for a special meeting with high ranking administration officials – which was arranged upon the White House’s initiative.
On Tuesday evening, the leaders – who are affiliated with a spectrum of organizations and institutions – discussed various pertinent issues on the minds of members of their respective communities. The Pesach atmosphere was palpable, with guests given Matzah and other Yom Tov related gifts.
One of the attendees, Duvi Honig, Founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, relates that the hottest topic of discussion was anti-Semitism. Elan Carr, Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Anti-Semitism and other high ranking officials addressed the gathering and listened intently to the community’s concerns. They vowed to do everything they could to combat anti-Semitism.
In an extensive one-on-one discussion, Mr. Honig and Mr. Carr delved into the threat of the BDS movement. Mr. Carr spoke of how nefarious this contemporary form of anti-Semitism is, relating that he recently faced an avalanche of criticism after publicly calling the movement anti-Semitic. The BDS threat is a particular concern for Mr. Honig and the Chamber, as it threatens businesses around the world owned by or targeted to Jews. Other developments of concern include the haters who are using the recent measles outbreaks to spread anti-Semitism; anti-Semitism in Ocean County and other regions with growing Jewish communities; as well the waves of anti-Semitism in countries around the world.
Following the event, several media outlets reported that the majority of Jewish leaders invited to this meeting were Orthodox – something unprecedented in the annals of US government. Mr. Honig clarifies that the White House did not exclude any denomination; there were guests from non-Orthodox denominations as well. Still, the White House’s close relationship with the American Orthodox community is indeed there and it is borne of shared values on a host of major issues, including religious freedom, family values and support for Israel. Of particular note are the various Orthodox Jews who hold major positions of power in the administration, including Jared and Ivanka Kushner, Special Advisor Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman.