Blog Posts Related to the American Jewish Community
At First Meeting, President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Takes Up Issue of Human TraffickingPosted byon August 1, 2012 at 5:33 PM EST
Every year tens of millions of people around the world are victims of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where traffickers profit from the control and exploitation of other people. It fundamentally boils down to somebody held in compelled service for someone else’s profit-- from commercial sex to forced labor. Every year, human traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world – including right here in the United States.
The issue of trafficking in persons and modern day slavery will be the focus of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This year’s President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships held its first meeting Monday and Tuesday, July 30-31st at the White House. The Advisory Council is a group of diverse religious and non-profit leaders appointed to give recommendations to government on forming effective partnerships with faith-based and community groups.
“Here is what trafficking looks like in the real world,” Alison Friedman, Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, shared in opening remarks, “It’s a kid who was forced to dive for fish since he was five—beaten over the head with oars if he surfaces too quickly and when he makes it to the shelter and is taught to sing ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It,’ but he doesn’t know how to smile. It’s a woman in Texas forced into prostitution by a group of men who targeted single mothers through their children’s daycare. It’s the boy I met in Northern Thailand who became a child soldier because he could not come up with a $14 bribe to pay off the police, so they sold him.”
- Posted byon August 1, 2012 at 4:24 PM EST
On July 26th 2012 President Obama signed into law a Bill bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal upon Raoul Wallenberg. Mr. Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who, while living in Nazi-occupied Hungary, devoted himself to saving the lives Jews suffering at the hands of the Nazi regime. He, along with others, successfully protected as many as 100,000 Jews in Budapest during the Holocaust. As we celebrate Raoul Wallenberg’s upcoming centennial on August 4th we reflect on the heroic life of Mr. Wallenberg and commemorate his selfless dedication to human rights. This spring, the President recorded a video message marking the 100th Anniversary of Wallenberg’s birth. In a blog post accompanying the video United States Ambassador to Sweden, Mark F. Brzezinski, remarked:
- Posted byon July 27, 2012 at 2:38 PM EST
This morning, President Obama signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act with an eye toward helping to strengthen the military edge Israel currently enjoys.
"I have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues -- intelligence, military, technology," the President said. "And, in many ways, what this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel security."
The cooperation between the United States and Israel includes joint training exercises, offering access to U.S. military hardware, and direct foreign military financing.
To learn more, check out the fact sheet.
- Posted byon July 23, 2012 at 9:46 AM EST
Last week, I was fortunate to be a part of a meeting Jack Lew held with members of the Reform and Reconstructionist clergy and lay leaders to discuss issues and work collectively to find solutions to issues on the domestic and foreign policy agenda. Following the speech the President gave to the Union for Reform Judaism in December, the group engaged in a conversation on topics from the security for the State of Israel to civil rights to what the Affordable Care Act is doing for the American people.
- Posted byon June 21, 2012 at 3:29 PM EST
Time is running out for Congress to take actions to stop the rates on federal student loans from doubling on July 1.
That's why President Obama spoke today from the East Room of the White House about the importance of keeping college affordable.
"If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year," he said. "If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike. And that’s not something that you can afford right now."
In his remarks, the President also stressed the importance of taking this step for the broader economy. It's not just that those students will suddenly have less money to spend -- it's that we need to have the best educated workforce in the world, and keeping higher education affordable helps to make that possible.
After the event with the President, Mark Zuckerman, the deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council, took to Twitter to answer your questions about student loans and college affordability in a White House Office Hours.
You can see that discussion on Storify.
- Posted byon June 8, 2012 at 5:25 PM EST
In the last two weeks I have been fortunate to sit in on meetings President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew were holding with members of the Conservative and Orthodox communities to discuss issues of importance. Covering topics from education to foreign policy, the clergy and lay leadership outlined key concerns and together, we worked toward the goal of collectively finding solutions to our nation's and our world’s problems. These meetings are part of a continuing dialogue with various strands of the American Jewish community.
At the meeting with Conservative Jewish leaders, the President was given the traditional blessing for heads of state by Rabbinical Assembly Executive Vice President Julie Schonfeld. The role of faith leaders in communities across the country was discussed and celebrated, with the President speaking to the important role these clergy play in our everyday lives. From the social safety net to advocacy on issues around the globe, leaders of religious movements have helped to make this a “more perfect union.”
- Posted byon June 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM EST
For the third consecutive year, special items from the Library of Congress’ Jewish American collections have been put on display at the White House. In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, President Barack Obama hosted a reception at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Wednesday evening.
“Generations of Jewish Americans have brought to bear some of our country’s greatest achievements and forever enriched our national life,” he said in his official proclamation. “Our country is stronger for their contributions, and this month, we commemorate the myriad ways they have enriched the American experience.”
- Posted byon May 18, 2012 at 11:01 AM EST
Many of our US ambassadors have strong family connections to their host nations, and I am no exception. My mother, who passed away earlier this year, was born in then-Czechoslovakia, survived the Holocaust, and later fled Communism and immigrated to the US. She was very proud that I had returned to the Czech Republic representing the mightiest nation on earth. She liked to tell people that “the Nazis deported me and my family to Auschwitz in a cattle car, and my son flew back on Air Force One!” I am so glad that we shared a last adventure together in the form of my ambassadorship before she passed.
While it is a great honor to serve, returning to a place where my mom, the rest of my family, and so many other Czechs and Slovaks were oppressed by the Nazis and the Communists, was not without its challenges. I felt the weight of that history particularly during the first weeks of living in my residence – a home built by a Czech Jewish family that was commandeered by the Nazi General Staff before being purchased by the US after World War II. Not long after moving in I discovered a swastika and a Nazi inventory number affixed underneath a beautiful antique table in my foyer—-seeing that was a stab in the heart.