President Biden Hosts First-Ever Rosh Hashana Gathering at White House
By Yehudit Garmaise
When President Joe Biden hosted the first Rosh Hashana gathering ever at the White House on Sept. 30, three Boro Park residents had the honor of attending the event at which a glatt kosher feast was served, and the great violinist Yitzchak Perlman played a moving rendition of “Avinu Malkanu.”
“Of course, everyone hummed along this beautiful song,” said Rabbi Duvid Katz, the director of the Israel Heritage Foundation, who attended the event along with Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, and Ezra Friedlander, the CEO of the Friedlander Group.
“Although, when he was vice president, Biden previously held a Rosh Hashana gathering at the US Naval Observatory, this is the first time the White House hosted a reception in honor of Rosh Hashana, and that in itself is a very important, nice gesture,” said Friedlander.
“The bottom line is: Biden’s connection to the Jewish people is a 50-plus year relationship since he first became a senator for Delaware in 1972.
"You can obviously disagree with his policies and have a different perspective and that is legitimate, however, the feelings that he has for the Jewish community and for the US-Israel relationship are real,” Friedlander added.
“The president said, ‘I will stand against anti-Semitism,” said Rabbi Katz. “’I won’t be quiet.’”
“The president, who recently visited Israel, spoke of the two women Holocaust survivors with whom he spoke at Yad Vashem, and he spoke about his love for Israel."
After First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, also spoke, the guests were treated to a beautiful, glatt kosher buffet table l’kevod Rosh Hashana with challah rolls, brisket, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, sweet carrots, honey cake, chicken, different kinds of fish, and beautiful drinks, reported Rabbi Katz, who said he found the atmosphere of Biden’s White House to be heimish in the sense that Biden and other officials were friendly, warm, and welcoming.
In a nod to “the American tradition,” Rabbi Katz said with a laugh, “sushi was also served."
Assemblyman Eichenstein, who said it was “an honor and a privilege to meeting the president and the first lady, said he "got the chance to discuss pressing issues with Garland and Emhoff, who grew up right here in Midwood.”
“He was thrilled when I invited him back here to visit our district.”
Friedlander, who has previously visited the White House when Donald Trump and Barak Obama were president said, “They went out of their way.
“It is a good feeling when we can go to the White House: the residence of the most important leader on Planet Earth.
Such events at the White House should be supported by both parties, said Friedlander.
“I always view these social interactions as preludes to more meaningful interactions later on,” said Friedlander, who added for him, the highlight was getting to meet and schmooze with “significant players in both the Jewish world and in government. This is the foundational work required."
Also seizing the opportunity to connect with Attorney General Garland, who is Jewish, when shaking his hand, Friedlander, in the name of the Munkatcher Rebbe, shared that we learn the care with which we must consider how to mete how justice from the repetition of word, "justice," in Parshas Shoftim, when the Torah says, “Justice, justice you shall pursue.”
As the afternoon’s participants were leaving to rush back to the road to get back to Boro Park for Shabbos, Rabbi Katz told BoroPark24, they received “a beautiful envelope that had in it a Rosh Hashana card wishing a us a happy new year.”