Blog Posts Related to the American Jewish Community

  • Panetta Honors Holocaust Victims and Survivors at Pentagon

    Secretary Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Barak Light a Candle at Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony

    Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta assists Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, as they light candles during a Holocaust Remembrance Observance held in the Pentagon Auditorium Thursday, April 19, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Fawcett, Department of Defense)

    Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta joined Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak in commemorating the victims and survivors of the Holocaust at an event marking Yom HaShoah. The Secretary's remarks are below.


    Holocaust Remembrance Day Observance
    As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, The Pentagon Auditorium, Washington D.C., Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Thank you Secretary Mabus.

    Minister Barak, distinguished guests, members of the DoD family:  Thank you all for taking the time to come together on this day of remembrance of one of the most painful and horrific chapters in the history of the Jewish people and, more importantly, in the history of the world. 

    Today we pause to remember and honor six million souls who were murdered not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were.  They will always be in our memory, they will always be in our prayers, and they will always be in our hearts.

  • Remarks by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at the Annual Day of Remembrance Ceremony

    Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner delivered the following remarks today at the Days of Remembrance Ceremony at the US Capitol:

    Mr. Speaker, Ambassador Oren, Speaker Westerberg, Chairman Bernstein, Vice Chairman Bolten, Director Bloomfield, survivors of the Holocaust, and other distinguished guests.

    I am deeply honored to be here today.

    The Museum asked me to speak about Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. and to tell the story of his leadership and the courageous work of his staff on behalf of European Jews during World War II.

  • Jack Lew Honors Aung San Suu Kyi

    On Wednesday evening, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew offered remarks at the presentation of the Elie Wiesel Award to Aung San Suu Kyi at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Tribute Dinner. In the speech, Lew spoke about his own experience as a young man and the importance of the work that Aung San Suu Kyi and the Museum do.

    His full remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

    Good evening.

    It is an honor for me to join such a distinguished group of speakers and guests this evening.  I’d also like to add my thanks to all of the board members, contributors, and staff who support the mission of the Holocaust Museum. And I know how much President Obama is looking forward to visiting the museum on Monday. 

    My father was born in Poland, and his family left their small town at the end of World War I.

    Many of his neighbors and relatives were not so lucky. And he made it here to America, a country where he did not need to live in fear. A country where even the son of an Eastern European immigrant could become Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. 

    As a child, there were constant reminders of how lucky my family had been. I grew up in a neighborhood that was home to many Holocaust survivors, at a time when the Holocaust was something that just wasn’t talked about.  When peoples’ numbers showed on their arm, they would pull their sleeve down. 

    It is amazing how much has changed.  Today, thanks in no small part to your work at the Holocaust Museum, the Holocaust is something we do talk about.  A child born in America today may never meet a Holocaust survivor, or even a veteran of World War II. But they will always know what happened, and be able to remember and honor those who lost their lives.

  • Remembering and Honoring Courage

    In his video message, President Obama speaks for all Americans who remember the courageous and selfless acts of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. In 2012, Sweden is celebrating the 100thanniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat who chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling. We remember and revere this courageous man whose efforts saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.  Wallenberg paid with his life for his commitment to basic values. And we all have the obligation to ponder the full measure of Wallenberg’s personal sacrifice and tragedy. 

    Born into wealth, for Wallenberg turning a blind eye to the hardship and suffering of others would have been easy. Instead, as First Secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary during the darkest days of World War II, Wallenberg demonstrated a sense of self-sacrifice to the greater good of his fellow human beings that is a lesson for all of us.   

    Other diplomats chose to risk their careers and even their lives, and defied official protocols, rules and immigration “policies” to rescue Jews. Many of these diplomats were censured or punished for their acts of courage.  Some were fired or were stripped of their ranks and pensions. Their rescue efforts took many forms. Among other selfless acts, they issued visas, citizenship papers and other forms of documentation that allowed Jews to escape the Nazis.  

    Today at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, you will find not only Raoul Wallenberg's tree planted along the Avenue of the Righteous, but also 2,000 other trees and 18,000 other names engraved in the walls of The Garden of the Righteous in remembrance of those who risked their lives to save European Jews from the Holocaust.  

  • Celebrating Passover at the White House

    President Barack Obama And First Lady Michelle Obama Host A Passover Seder Dinner

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a Passover Seder Dinner for family, staff and friends, in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, April 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Friday night, the President and Mrs. Obama hosted the annual White House Seder in the Old Family Dining Room. Led by current and past members of the Obama Administration, this tradition dates from the 2008 campaign.  The menu brought together recipes submitted to the White House Chefs from attendees and consisted of the traditional Passover delights; matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish, kugel, brisket, and plenty of passover sweets. 

    In April of 2008, the President and his staff were on the trail in Pennsylvania in the midst of a long primary campaign. Weary from a long day of work and away from their families, a small group of staffers came together to hold an impromptu Seder. When then-Senator Obama got wind of the Seder, he gathered some other staff and friends and decided to join. At the end of the Seder, the President followed the traditional “Next year in Jerusalem” declaration with a pledge of his own - “Next year in the White House.” Each year since, he has followed through on that promise.

    The Seder was like millions of others around the globe, complete with four cups of wine, bitter herbs, and the story of the exodus from bondage into freedom.  In a tradition begun last year, the assembled took turns reading from the emancipation proclamation at the conclusion of the seder.  This reading reminded all those assembled of the universal message and timeless nature of the holiday.

    Jarrod Bernstein is the Director of Jewish Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement.

  • Recipe in Spotlight - Not-Chicken Matzoh Ball Soup

    Editor's note: This post is part of a series spotlighting different family recipes used by members of the Obama Administration for Passover.

    I’m helping to host a Seder this year – since it will be my first vegetarian Seder experience, I’m looking forward to making Not-Chicken Matzoh Ball Soup for the first time. Thanks to the Katch family for sharing their traditional recipe!

  • Recipe in Spotlight - Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Broit

    Editor's note: This post is part of a series spotlighting different family recipes used by members of the Obama Administration for Passover.

    This is my mother’s recipe, and it was given to her by my preschool teacher when I was two years old. She has been making them ever since. The best part is that you can make a number of variations on this recipe. I make it using either raisins or dried cranberries, instead of the chocolate chips.

  • Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat: A Food and Justice Seder at USDA

    Secretary Tom Vilsack Speaking at USDA Seder

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks at the Food and Justice Passover Seder at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., April 4, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Lance Cheung, USDA)

    This post originally appeared on the USDA blog.

    Just ahead of the official start of Passover this Friday at sunset, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosted its second Food and Justice Passover Seder. The traditional Jewish seder commemorates the Passover holiday and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. USDA’s symbolic seder, held in partnership with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, highlighted the intersection of food and justice issues in the modern world.  This year’s event centered on the themes of hunger, access to healthy food, sustainable food production, and fair treatment for farm workers.