Donald Trump excludes progressive Jewish leaders from phone call

Some groups opted not to accept call over the President's Charlottesville stance


President Donald Trump has invited representatives from three major Orthodox groups to join an annual pre-Rosh Hashanah phone call – but excluded progressive denominations that had earlier said they would boycott the conversation.

The customary phone call to rabbis on the eve of the High Holidays was a tradition instituted by President Barack Obama. But in the wake of Mr Trump’s perceived failure to condemn violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, representatives from Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements said they would not accept an invitation if it was offered.

Spokesmen for the Reform and Reconstructionist denominations said they had not been invited to join the call, but Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the chief executive of the Conservative movement’s rabbinical assembly, was. She declined the invitation.

In addition to the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of America and the Chabad Lubavitch movement will all take part, while four more organisations confirmed to JTA they would also accept Mr Trump’s invitation. They are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Zionist Organisation of America.

Natalie Strom, a White House spokeswoman, told JTA: “The Trump Administration will be commemorating the upcoming High Holidays in several ways. Tomorrow, President Donald J. Trump will hold a conference call with Jewish leaders and staff to send well wishes for the upcoming holidays and discuss his Administration’s progress on issues of interest to the Jewish community.”

Graham Roth, of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Centre, said the Mr Trump’s “lack of moral leadership” was the reason for the position taken by the progressive denominations, and that it had not changed since last month.

He said: “We hope that the president will use the call as an opportunity to condemn white supremacy.”

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