Obama appeals to rabbis to help pass health care reform


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama appealed to a group of rabbis to help him pass health care reform legislation.

"I am going to need your help in accomplishing necessary reform," Obama said on the conference call on Wednesday, according to Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim congregation in Alexandria, Va. Moline was  quoted by the Washington Jewish Week, which was tracking the rabbi’s posts from the social networking Web site Twitter.

"We are God’s partners in matters of life and death," Obama said. The president concluded by wishing the rabbis a "Shanah tovah."

Moline later deleted the Twitter feed, saying that it was a "huge mistake." The conference call, organized by the Reform movement but including about 1,000 rabbis of all denominations, was supposed to have been off the record.

It was a day that the White House devoted to outreach to faith groups to pass a plan for universal health care. The plan has been beset by questions about cost and unsubstantiated rumors that it will make the government an arbiter in life-and-death decisions. On Wednesday evening, the president and senior White House officials spoke to clerics across the nation in a call that was available to the public through the Faith for Health coalition. Speakers included Jewish, Christian and Muslim clerics and lay leaders.

"This debate over health crae goes to the heart of who we are as a people," Obama said on that call. "Time and again men and women of faith have been able to show us what’s possible when we’re guided by our hopes and not our fears."

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