President Bush & The Jews

Jay D. Homnick writes:

In this spirit, it is appropriate for us to take a moment to publicize the outstanding respect shown by the President and Laura Bush to traditional Jews and their practices throughout his administration. One historic example of this is the startling fact that, for the first time ever, a regular Torah class has been given in the White House to Jewish staffers who wish to attend. It is more or less a weekly affair, offered by an old classmate of mine, Rabbi Tzvi Teitelbaum of Silver Spring, Maryland. He is a co-principal at Yeshiva of Greater Washington and has been active for many years helping Jewish students at Georgetown University with adult education programs.

Once Rabbi Teitelbaum was heading out of the White House when the President came through with his aides. “Rabbi,” he said. “I’m on my way to deliver a speech at a synagogue. Will you be there?” “I have no way to get there,” Teitelbaum replied. “Then come with me,” the President answered. Teitelbaum was swept along and became part of the entourage.

Hannukah itself has been granted extraordinary primacy in the Bush White House. Each year a major dinner is hosted by the President, inviting rabbis and Jewish lay leaders from all across the country. Amazingly, in 2002, in a special session after the dinner with a few of the most influential leaders, he entrusted them with the knowledge of the forthcoming invasion of Iraq.

In the early days of the administration, the dinners were divided into kosher and non-kosher food sections. The White House chefs made the non-kosher food on premises for the non-Jewish attendees and the kosher food was brought in by an outside caterer. However, in the third or fourth year, one of the kosher eaters accidentally ended up at the wrong buffet and consumed some of the other food. When Laura Bush heard about the mishap, she insisted that this must be prevented from ever recurring. The only solution was to make the White House cooking equipment kosher and have the entire dinner made that way.

What does this entail? Well, the theory is that the ovens and stoves absorb some secretions of the food cooked and baked in them and on them. That spillage will then work its way back into the next set of food prepared. This would have the moisture from last night’s pork soaking into tonight’s kosher chicken, making it impermissible. The solution is to painstakingly run a blowtorch across all the surfaces of the cooking areas to eliminate this problematic material.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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