Orthodox Union Leaders Meet With Obama Administration and Congressional Leaders on Key Issues
OU-IPA hosts its annual Leadership Mission to Washington, DC
National lay and rabbinical leaders of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (the “Orthodox Union” or “OU”) traveled to the nation’s capital on June 14th and 15th for the Union’s annual Leadership Mission to Washington. The two-day mission was organized by the OU’s Institute for Public Affairs.
The Mission’s events kicked off with a gala dinner on Tuesday which featured Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren who spoke about the opportunities and challenges facing Israel.
On Wednesday, the delegation began its meetings with America’s policymakers at the White House for briefings with senior Obama Administration officials. The Orthodox leaders were greeted by Danielle Borrin of the Office of the Vice President. The OU delegation had extensive and candid discussion about Obama Administration policies toward Israel and the Middle East with Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Adviser of the National Security Council. Jack Lew, Director, Office of Management and Budget spoke to the OU group about the Administration’s overall work on the budget with a specific focus on programmatic funding which is important to our schools and synagogues. Critical domestic policy issues – including the security of Jewish community institutions, energy efficiency proposals, and K-12 education initiatives – were discussed with David Kamin, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Jon Carson, Director, Office of Public Engagement.
From the White House, the OU leaders proceeded to Capitol Hill for the Leadership Mission’s annual Senate Luncheon. In a formidable demonstration of their high regard for the OU and its influence, many senators attended and addressed the luncheon. The group of lawmakers that spoke to the Mission participants included Senators Joe Lieberman(CT), Ben Cardin (MD), Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Begich (D-AK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Boozman (R-AR), Orin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), David Vitter (R-LA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR). As at the White House briefings, the key issues of the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons, the U.S.–Israel relationship, and key domestic policy issues were discussed.
Some key quotes:
“The United Nations is not the body that will bring peace between Israel & the Palestinians” – Senator Cardin
“The 1967 borders aren’t real. And they’re indefensible.” – Senator Lieberman
“I’m with you on Jerusalem 100%” – Senator Boozman
“The 1967 & 1948 boundaries aren’t the places to start negotiations” – Senator Hatch
Following the Senate luncheon, the leadership received “a freshman’s outlook” from two rising stars in the House of Representatives, Congressmen Tim Scott (R-SC) and Ted Deutch (D-FL).
At the Mission’s conclusion, Yehuda Neuberger, chairman of the Union’s Institute for Public Affairs stated:
The Union’s work on behalf of the Orthodox Jewish community’s values and interests in the arena of public policy is one of many critical roles the organization plays in its work to serve American Orthodox Jewry.
Nathan Diament, Director of the Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, added:
As representatives of the Orthodox Jewish community, we are very appreciative of the time the White House officials, Senators and Representatives spent with us discussing critical issues. We cherish the fact that this country affords us the opportunity to engage with them, as Orthodox Jews, on policy matters.