Every Friday this summer, the White House has been opening its doors to community leaders from around the country to take part in our Community Leaders Briefing Series. The briefing series is a unique opportunity for grassroots leaders to start a two way dialogue with the White House about issues that are affecting their communities and to ensure that they are well-informed about government policies and programs and how they can use or maximize these resources. Leaders participate in interactive briefings, hear directly from White House officials about the issues that are affecting communities across the country, and learn more about the President’s priorities and initiatives from the people that work on them every day.
On July 29th, the White House hosted 170 members of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, who are making great strides in Jewish communities across the nation. The Roundtable is a collaboration of 20 organizations working to elevate the role of social justice in the Jewish community and to affect societal change that cuts across lines of race and faith. During the day’s activities, these leaders heard from Valerie Jarrett and other administration officials about the importance of grassroots leadership, and shared their concerns in a listening session with Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson. Below, you can read the reactions and feedback from a few of these extraordinary leaders, who are committed to continuing Friday’s conversation in their own communities.
Simon Greer is the President and CEO of the Progressive Jewish Alliance & Jewish Funds for Justice:
We came to Washington to show the breadth and diversity of Jews and Jewish organizations that share many of the same concerns about the future of our nation. We came to the White House to build relationships that would be the basis upon which we can advance our common values and to find such an open and committed White House on what was anything but an ordinary day, with the debt ceiling negotiations taking place, was amazing. To be able to engage in a productive and thoughtful exchange of ideas with members of the Administration was extremely gratifying for the 170 members of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable organizations who attended. I, for one, went home more committed than ever to working together to achieve important goals and I’m taking that message back to my organization and our community.
Nancy K. Kaufman is the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women:
The National Council of Jewish Women is delighted to join the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable members to meet with the Obama Administration to have a meaningful dialogue about how best to ensure that all people have access to high-quality, comprehensive healthcare. We hope the Administration continues to work to ensure that the benefits of healthcare reform are realized, rather than undermined, and to protect women’s health by preserving women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health services.
Rachel Scharfman is a teen leader for the Jewish Community Relations Council-Great Boston’s TELEM program and an organizer for the Youth of Massachusetts Organizing for a Reformed Economy. She is a recent graduate of Belmont High School:
I want to make political change, and this is a chance for me to go to Washington and to represent my community, to share stories about what is happening in Greater Boston. It speaks to my identity as a Jew, and as a teenager. For as long as I can remember, I've believed that there's something Jewish about the pursuit of justice. It's a message that I've gotten from my parents, my grandparents, my rabbi, the Torah: to notice injustice and to have the courage to do something about it. And my experience is that teens have even fewer opportunities to speak up and have their voices heard. I'm so excited!
To learn more about the Community Leaders Briefing Series and ways to connect your community to the resources and tools of the federal government, please visit www.whitehouse.gov/engage.
Danielle Borrin is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement & a Special Assistant in the Office of the Vice President.