May 29, 2010
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
U.S. President Barack Obama launched Jewish Heritage Month on Thursday as he hosted some 200 guests at the White House to honor the contribution of Jewish Americans. In his address, Obama said that Jewish people’s belief that a better future is always possible should be a lesson for all Americans.
Obama honored the contributions American Jews have made in the arts, music, sports and other fields at the first-ever White House reception of this kind. Obama also took the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the safety and security of Israel.
Among those in attendance were former baseball great Sandy Koufax. Obama joked that while Koufax said he could not pitch on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, the president himself simply could not pitch – a reference to his rocky appearances on the mound when he has been asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at baseball games.
“Yes, Jewish Americans have garnered success in industry and in government – as we can see by the guests gathered here today,” Obama told the audience. “Yes, Jews have helped to pioneer incredible advances in science and medicine, across countless fields. But the contributions of the Jewish community to America run deeper. As a product of history and faith, Jewish Americans have helped to open our eyes to injustice, to people in need, and to the simple idea that we ought to recognize ourselves in the struggles of our fellow men and women.”
“That’s what has led Jewish advocates to fight for women’s equality and workers’ rights,” the American president continued. “That’s what led rabbis to preach against racism from the bimah – and to lead congregants on marches and protests to stop segregation.”
“So what we are called upon to do now is to continue to live up to those values as a nation – to continue to uphold the principle of “tikkun olam” – our obligation to repair the world,” Obama went on to say.
“That is why,” he continued, “even as we never waver in pursuing peace between Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs, our bond with Israel is unbreakable. It is the bond of two peoples that share a commitment to a common set of ideals: opportunity, democracy and freedom.”