Blog Posts Related to the American Jewish Community

  • Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks at the Munich Olympic Games

    Friends below please find a statement by the President as read by United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom Lou Sussman at a memorial ceremony held for the victims of the terrorist attacks forty years ago at the Munich Olympic Games. The ceremony was hosted by the Israeli Olympic Committee at the Israeli Embassy in London.

    Today, the United States is proud to stand in solemn remembrance with the Israeli people to remember the eleven Israeli athletes who were killed forty years ago. The passage of time cannot dim the memory of the hope and promise that those members of the Israeli Olympic team embodied, just as time does not dull the horror at the brutal terrorist attack that took their lives.
    The Israeli citizens who were lost stood for what is best about their nation, and the Olympic movement. They excelled at wrestling and weightlifting, fencing and running.  They were citizens of a young democracy in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. And let us always remember that they were fathers and sons, husbands and brothers, and their loss left an empty space in families, communities, and a country that will never forget them.
    While the United States supported a moment of silence in their honor, we welcome any effort to recall the terrible loss that was suffered in Munich, and the lives of those who were lost. Let us rededicate ourselves to a world that represents the hopes of those athletes, and not the hate of those who took their lives. Let us support the families who have endured forty years without their loved ones. And let us reaffirm the bonds between the United States, Israel, and all those around the world who strive for a world of peace and justice. 
    Jarrod Bernstein is the Director of Jewish Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement.

  • Community Conversation: New York Style

    Jack Lew Meeting with JCRC

    White House Chief of Staff meets with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) on July 31, 2012. Pictured from left to right: Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement Jarrod Bernstein, Executive Vice President of JCRC of New York Michael Miller, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew and Past Chair of the JCRC of New York Janice Shorenstein. July 31, 2012. (by Office of Public Engagement)

    Monday, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew visited the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC), the latest in a series of community forums. While at JCRC he engaged in a dialogue with a cross section of Jewish community leaders in the New York metropolitan area. The wide ranging conversation covered topics in the areas of domestic and foreign policy.

    Chief of Staff Lew spoke of President Obama’s unwavering commitment to the security of Israel. Lewhighlighted this Administration's most recent actions, including the provision of an additional $70 million to ensure that Israel can maximize its production of the Iron Dome system,and the signing of theStates-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012last Friday. The bill conveyed bipartisan Congressional support for Administration initiatives that deepen U.S. defense and security cooperation with Israel.

  • At First Meeting, President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Takes Up Issue of Human Trafficking

    President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

    The President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships meets in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 31, 2012. From left: The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church; Council Chair Susan K. Stern, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Federations of North America; and Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. July 31, 2012. (by Millicent Cripe)

    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.”

  • Remembering and Honoring Courage: Raoul Wallenberg Receives the Congressional Gold Medal

    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:

  • President Obama Signs the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act

    President Barack Obama signs the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act (July 27, 2012)

    President Barack Obama signs S. 2165, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act in the Oval Office, July 27, 2012. With the President from left are: Richard Stone, Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Howard Friedman, past Chair of the Board, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC);, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and Lee Rosenberg, Chairman of the Board, AIPAC. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    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.

  • Moving Forward Together

    Moving Forward Together

    Reform and Reconstructionist Leaders meet with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, July 19, 2012. (Photo by the White House Office of Public Engagement)

    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.

  • President Obama Again Pushes Congress to Act on Student Loans

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement on college affordability (June 21, 2012)

    President Barack Obama, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, delivers a statement on college affordability and interest rates on student loans, in the East Room of the White House, June 21, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    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.

    Learn More

  • Talking Tachlis

    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.”