(September 26, 2019 / JNS) Amid the divide between the Trump administration and left-wing Jewish religious organizations, at least a few major ones will participate in the annual call ahead of Rosh Hashanah between rabbis and U.S. President Donald Trump, scheduled for Sept. 27.
This tension has stemmed from Trump’s controversial rhetoric, such as accusing Jews who support Democrats as “disloyal” to Israel and the Jewish community, policies on immigration, gun violence and what at times seemed like a soft response to white nationalism, despite being hailed by the pro-Israel community as the friendliest U.S. president yet towards the State of Israel.
Those actions include, but aren’t limited to, recognizing Jerusalem and moving the U.S. embassy there; withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacting new financial penalties against the regime; recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights; and designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group.
In 2017, leaders from the left-wing Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements boycotted the annual call over Trump blaming “both sides” in the violent scrimmage between alt-right and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, in which a white nationalist rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others.
The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, told JNS that it will participate in the call on Friday.
“The Rabbinical Assembly appreciates the outreach to the Jewish Community in honor of Rosh Hashanah, and, out of respect for the Office of the President, we will have a representative on the call,” said the organization’s chief executive, Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal.
T’ruah executive director Rabbi Jill Jacobs said that while she was able to register for the call (the link was provided by JNS), “I’m still left with the question of why nobody in the administration thought to invite the largest interdenominational rabbinic organization.”
She added that “it’s strange that the president would not be interested in being in touch with the organization that represents more than 2,000 rabbis and cantors of all denominations and one that is actively fighting anti-Semitism, despite his stated concern for Jews.”
However, Jacobs said there won’t be a T’ruah representative on the call, “given that we were not actually invited” (aside from being given the link to sign up) and “have not been told the purpose of the call.”
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, despite being provided a link to sign up, will again skip the annual call with the president.
“Given that it was without context or details, I assume I am not invited and will not sign up,” said its executive director, Rabbi Elyse Wechterman.
The Orthodox Union, the Coalition for Jewish Values, Chabad-Lubavitch, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce and the National Council of Young Israel will have representatives on the call, these organizations told JNS.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism did not reply to multiple requests for comment.
The White House did not respond to a request on Thursday as to which organizations will be on the call.
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