Jewish Federations leaders meet with Obama


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Leaders of The Jewish Federations of North America met with President Obama and other top administration officials at the White House.

Monday afternoon’s hourlong reception, scheduled after Obama had to cancel his Tuesday speech to the group’s General Assembly because he will be attending a memorial service for those killed at Fort Hood last week, featured short remarks from Obama. Mostly, though, attendees had a chance to talk one on one with the president and White House senior staff.

Obama, who dropped by for about 30 minutes, said that The Jewish Federations of North America "perform every day of every week selfless acts of tzedakah," according to a person present at the meeting, and spoke about his experience with Chicago’s Jewish federation. He also made a pitch for health-care reform, talking about the importance of passing it and stating that he could "see the light at the end of the tunnel." He also said he looked forward to meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Monday evening.

White House staff at the meeting included Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who will speak at the GA on Tuesday instead of Obama; top advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett; Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag; National Security Council staffer Dan Shapiro; Office of White House Public Engagement director Tina Tchen; and White House Jewish outreach officials Susan Sher, who is also chief of staff to Michelle Obama and Danielle Borrin.

"We were thankful to have an opportunity to directly discuss a number of our concerns with the administration’s senior team and look forward to continuing to reach out to them in the future to ensure the voice of the Jewish community is heard loud and far in Washington," said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America, in a statement.

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