White House Jewish community briefing blackballs most major Jewish groups
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White House Jewish community briefing blackballs most major Jewish groups

Administration invites Orthodox leaders, AIPAC and Republican group, but leaves out Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, ADL and other organizations

An attendee wears a 'Make America Great Again' kippah before President Donald Trump speaks at an annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
An attendee wears a 'Make America Great Again' kippah before President Donald Trump speaks at an annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The leaders of three of the four major Jewish religious streams were not invited to a White House briefing on issues “impacting the community,” nor was the Jewish community’s leading civil rights advocacy group.

Officials of three Orthodox umbrella groups — Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, and America and Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) — confirmed their leaders had been invited to the meeting, which is to take place Tuesday.

Officials of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, meantime, said the movements were not invited. A Washington DC-area Conservative rabbi, Stuart Weinblatt, was invited.

A request to the White House for comment went unanswered by press time. The more liberal streams have clashed with the White House on a range of policies, including immigration and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, seen as fueling bias.

Illustrative: Demonstrators at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport protest US President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing a freeze on admitting refugees from certain countries into the United States, January 29, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images via JTA)

The Orthodox movements have been more welcoming of White House policies, particularly relating to Israel, including Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Previous administrations have engaged with the broad range of the community, whatever differences they might have had with individual organizations.

“It’s clear the Trump White House invited a subset of the Jewish community and intentionally excluded others,” Halie Soifer, the director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in an email. “As with everything this president does, this meeting appears to be defined by narrow political calculation as opposed to genuine outreach to the Jewish community.”

Also not invited was the Anti-Defamation League, the country’s leading Jewish civil rights group. Nor was J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, or the Israel Policy Forum, a group dedicated to a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, delivers a blessing at the inauguration of President Donald Trump, January 20, 2017. (YouTube screen capture)

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, another anti-defamation group, also was not invited, although its founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, delivered a blessing at Trump’s inauguration.

Among the groups which did make the cut were the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Zionist Organization of America, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, the Coalition for Jewish Values, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Donald Trump speaks at the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference at the Verizon Center, March 21, 2016, in Washington. (AP/Evan Vucci)

“Gathering with Jewish leaders,” an invitation viewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency says. “You are invited to a discussion with key Administration officials on pertinent issues impacting the community.”

It did not specify what the issues are.

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