Yesterday, the president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Harvey Blitz, joined with leaders of other leading American Jewish organizations in a meeting between Jewish communal leaders and President George W. Bush.
The meeting was President Bush’s first with a delegation of Jewish communal leaders. It was Mr. Blitz’s second visit to The White House, having attended the President’s launch of his “faith-based initiative.”
President Bush opened the meeting by informing the leaders that he had spoken with newly installed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the President made a strong statement of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. Among the domestic policy issues discussed with the President, were his education proposals and his initiative to include faith-based social service providers in federal grant programs. Mr. Blitz expressed the Union’s support for both of these presidential efforts.
Mr. Blitz also raised the issue of the need to strengthen federal laws protecting the ability of religious employees to have their religious needs – such as the observance of holidays or the wearing of religious clothing – accommodated by employers. A broad coalition of religious groups, led in part by the Orthodox Union, has worked in recent years to have this issue addressed through the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. Further discussions will be held with the Administration.
After The White House meeting, Mr. Blitz noted “our appreciation for President Bush’s reaching out to our community and promotion of policies we believe will benefit our community as well as all Americans.”