Hollywood Jew has learned that two of L.A.‘s most influential and innovative rabbis—Sinai Temple’s David Wolpe and IKAR’s Sharon Brous—will head to the White House next week for the first ever Jewish Heritage Month reception with the Obamas. Other members of the L.A. Jewish community said to be invited include: Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, Jumpstart co-founder Shawn Landres, JDub records CEO Aaron Bisman as well as Eli Winkelman, the founder of Challah for Hunger and Mindy Finkelstein, the young woman who was wounded during the 1999 shooting at the JCC.
According to the White House press release, “The reception serves as an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the range and depth of Jewish American heritage and contributions to American culture.”
Timing, of course, is everything: The “first ever” celebration of its kind comes during one of the tensest periods in the America-Israel relationship, with the Obama Administration reaching out to a polarized and, in some cases, disillusioned Jewish community.
The full guest list has not been released, though it’s likely there will be more L.A. community leaders and an entertainment exec or two in attendance as well. The administration has promised to include “a range of community leaders and prominent Jewish Americans from Olympians and professional athletes to members of Congress, business leaders, scholars, military veterans, and astronauts.” Because, you know, Jews do it all.
President Obama said as much in his statement about the event: “The Jewish American story is an essential chapter of the American narrative. It is one of refuge from persecution; of commitment to service, faith, democracy, and peace; and of tireless work to achieve success. As leaders in every facet of American life—from athletics, entertainment, and the arts to academia, business, government, and our Armed Forces – Jewish Americans have shaped our Nation and helped steer the course of our history. We are a stronger and more hopeful country because so many Jews from around the world have made America their home.”
Now if only he had such kind words for Israel.
Check back next week for Rabbi Wolpe’s and Rabbi Brous’ thoughts on the reception.