White House Chanukah Party, Jewish Leaders, Tikkun Olam


Thanks, But No Thanks

I would welcome an invitation to the White House for a substantive conversation on matters of public policy and American values (“Embracing Humanity, On and Off the Field,” Dec. 7). I participated in such conversations with members of the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama (and with the presidents themselves) and was honored to be included in invitations to social events during their time in office, all of which I attended.

However, I had no expectation of being invited to this year’s Chanukah party.

When I was approached by a reporter and asked two questions — were you invited, and would you attend? — I answered, “No and no.” I volunteered, “However, I did accept an invitation from President George W. Bush” for a White House social event.

My decision about this year had nothing to do with party affiliation. The symbolism of the event as a time of unity and celebration struck me then, as now, as being false. I did not wish to be a prop in one of President Trump’s self-serving political rallies.

I sought to cause no harm, and my enthusiasm for the current occupant of the Oval Office could not be bought with a lamb chop.

Jack Moline | President, Interfaith Alliance

Reform Leader in ‘Good’ Company

I am unclear as to why the Reform movement is singled out in a recent editorial (“Responsibility of Jewish Leaders,” Dec. 7). There is a need for accountability across the Jewish community.

When former Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar calls liberal Jews worse than Holocaust deniers in reference to their desire to pray at the wall, the editorial board’s decision to focus on Rick Jacobs’ behavior appears misguided. Unfortunately Amar’s sentiments are not unique.

Counterproductive behavior exhibited by all denominations needs to be addressed. Perhaps when it is we will move beyond finger pointing to reconciliation, and may be able to join together and reflect, in the words of Psalm 133, “how pleasing it is when brothers can be together.”

Geoff Neimark | Philadelphia

True Tikkun Olam

While we appreciate mention in Joshua Runyan’s column, it appears he has, in theory, confused spurious references to tikkun olam with the genuine article (“In Defense of Tikkun Olam,” Nov. 21).

It is not hard to tell the difference, as our prayer books include this term in the Aleinu prayer said thrice daily: l’taken olam b’Malchut Shakai — to fix the world under the Kingdom of God. What constitutes tikkun olam is not personal whim, but limited to that which realizes Jewish values found in Torah and traditional sources.

Not only do we regard having a positive impact on the world as a Jewish and moral calling, but it is the raison d’etre of our organization.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken | Managing Director, Coalition for Jewish Values



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