Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Breaking Tradition, While Breaking Bread

Obama invites Jews to Muslim meal at the White House

Print Email

Last night, Barack Obama hosted an iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan. It’s actually not a new White House tradition—Bill Clinton started it, and George Bush continued it, as an event for the diplomatic corps along the lines of a state dinner. Obama, as is his wont, broke precedent by adding Muslim community leaders to the guest list, and by expanding it to include Jewish dignitaries, including Israel’s recently installed ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren. Spokesman Thomas Vietor told the Washington Post that Obama “thought it was an opportunity to reach out to ambassadors of nations with sizable Muslim populations, including the ambassadors of France, the [United Kingdom], India, and Israel.”

Also in attendance were Rabbi David Saperstein (of the progressive Religious Action Center) and Nathan Diament (of the Orthodox Union), both of whom are members of Obama’s ecumenical Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Diament was seated with the Pakistani ambassador, Husain Haqqani; Muslim congressman Andre Carson; White House legislative assistant Phil Schiliro; and Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s Secretary for Health and Human Services. “We were joking ahead of time about whether there would be one table for the Jews,” Diament told Tablet. “There was not.” That said, Oren wound up seated with Jewish White House staffers David Axelrod and Susan Sher (who handled Jewish outreach before being named Michelle Obama’s chief of staff). “It’s part of a normative statement that Israel is part of the Middle East landscape,” explained David Harris, head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, who was not on the guest list. “It’s another nod from the president to the Arab world that Israel is a fact on the ground that they have to deal with.”

Ramadan Dinner at the White House: The Guest List [WaPo]
List of Expected Attendees [Whitehouse.gov]

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Breaking Tradition, While Breaking Bread

Obama invites Jews to Muslim meal at the White House

More on Tablet:

The Tony Nominations Are Out!

By Gabriela Geselowitz — Are they good for the Jews?