President Barack Obama met with a group of Conservative Jewish leaders Tuesday, a surprise appearance at the gathering.
Seventeen rabbis and Jewish leaders were in the middle of a White House meeting with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, when Obama decided to pop in and express his thanks for the group’s efforts in their communities.
During his appearance, Obama reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security and spoke about strengthening sanctions against Iran.
"The meeting spoke to the president and administration's deep appreciation of the values that motivate Jewish communities around the world," Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, told JTA. "It was a values-driven conversation and represented the great potential for the Jewish community to make its views heard."
“Going into this upcoming election, the role of the Conservative Jewish community is critical; it quite literally constitutes the swing vote," said Rabbi Steven Wernick, chief executive officer with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. "While the Orthodox community can be counted on to vote predominantly Republican and the Reform community largely Democratic, Conservative Judaism –- as the central address of contemporary Judaism — represents the epicenter of our people’s political allegiances."
The hour-long meeting was originally arranged by Rabbi Jack Moline from Alexandria, VA, and a director with the Rabbinical Assembly.
Moline told Ynet, “The opportunity to speak with candor and depth to the president was a privilege especially at a time when we are usually limited to (sound bites) and media selectivity."