Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar 5761 - March 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Jewish Leaders Meet With President Bush
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

On March 7, approximately 15 American Jewish leaders, including Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel Executive Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, met at the White House with President George W. Bush and discussed a number of issues at the top of the President's agenda and of special concern to many American Jews.

Although the main focus of the meeting was domestic policy, the President did devote considerable attention to the situation in the Middle East. Rabbi Zwiebel characterized the President's approach to both the conflict in Israel and broader Middle East security issues as "hardheaded and realistic."

Domestic issues addressed by President Bush, the Agudath Israel leader reported, included education, federal tax policy and the President's "faith-based" initiative. The Jewish leaders brought up a number of issues of particular concern to the Jewish community as well, Mr. Zwiebel said, including federal support of community social services, empowering volunteerism and "religious freedom" protections, in particular in the nation's workplaces.

In a letter to the President shortly after his inauguration, the Agudath Israel leader lauded Mr. Bush for having "championed the notion that religious communities have a vital role to play in helping meet the needs of America's needy, and that our national public policy should encourage and support the involvement of faith-based groups in the provision of social services." In the same missive, Mr. Zwiebel echoed Agudath Israel's longstanding endorsement of the concept of "charitable choice": allowing religious groups to be on an equal footing with nonsectarian providers in administration of social services, without forcing them to compromise their religious beliefs or mission, and the President's proposal to use the tax code to encourage increased charitable giving from the private sector.

Reflecting on the March 7 meeting, Mr. Zwiebel averred that "more than anything else, it gave the President an opportunity personally to introduce himself and be introduced to the leadership of organized Jewry in the United States. The `vibes' were positive, and there is reason to hope the relationship will further develop in a productive direction."


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