Mostly Jewish golf club in Maryland invites Obama to join following contentious debate


(JTA) — The Woodmont Country Club, an exclusive, mostly Jewish golf club in Maryland, has invited former President Barack Obama to join following a contentious debate.

In an email to members Monday, Woodmont President Barry Forman said that after “many hours in recent weeks considering this matter and the views of our members,” the club’s executive committee decided to invite Obama to join, the Washington Post reported Monday evening.

The rather public debate at the Rockville club over whether to admit Obama for membership stemmed from the U.S. decision to abstain from a U.N. vote against Israeli settlements, as well as other actions perceived as hostile to Israel. The New York Post was the first to report the dispute.

“Political views have never been part of our membership criteria, and our members have always reflected a range of opinions on issues of the day,” Forman wrote in his email. “In the current, deeply polarized political environment, it is all the more important that Woodmont be a place where people of varying views and beliefs can enjoy fellowship and recreation in a relaxed environment.”

Obama played at the club four times during his presidency. He has not indicated whether he will seek a Woodmont membership.

The club charges members an $80,000 initiation fee and $9,673 in annual dues.

Obama would be invited to join under the “special membership” provision to “welcome” senior government officials, which waives the initiation fee, according to the Washington Post.

The Obamas are planning to remain in Washington, D.C., for at least the next couple of years, according to reports.

Woodmont was founded by D.C.-area Jews in 1913 because Jews were banned from joining other clubs.

“We are proud of our Jewish heritage, and we are also proud that our membership is now more diverse, which reflects significant changes in our society in recent years,” Forman also wrote in his email to members. “Given our legacy, it is regrettable that we have now been widely portrayed as unwelcoming and intolerant, because that is not who we are.”

At least one member, Jeffrey Slavin, a Democratic activist and mayor of the Montgomery County town of Somerset, resigned over the debate.

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