WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama in an election year where the Jewish vote is important–increased the number of attendees to a reception Wednesday afternoon for Jewish American Heritage Month–which is May. The White House said some 400 Jewish leaders from across the nation–and Jewish members of Congress–are expected. Last year, the White House said approximately 300 guests were expected.
BELOW, FROM THE WHITE HOUSE….
BACKGROUND ON THE JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH RECEPTION
President Obama will speak to approximately 400 guests including grassroots Jewish community leaders from across the country, rabbis, Members of Congress, and a broad range of leaders engaged in business, the arts, education, and public and community service.
Guests will be greeted by a performance by University of Maryland a cappella group Rak Shalom.
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS EXPECTED TO ATTEND
Sen. Ben Cardin
Rep. Shelley Berkley
Rep. Howard Berman
Rep. David Cicilline
Rep. Steve Cohen
Rep. Susan Davis
Rep. Ted Deutch
Rep. Eliot Engel
Rep. Sander Levin
Rep. Nita Lowey
Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Rep. Jarrod Polis
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Allyson Schwartz
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Rep. Henry Waxman
WHITE HOUSE DISPLAY
General Order Number 11 – Documents from the Library of Congress
150 years ago, General Ulysses Grant issued an order – known as General Orders Number 11 – that would have expelled Jews, “as a class,” from what was then known as the military department of the Tennessee. On display during the reception are four documents from that time that demonstrate how the American Jewish community stood up against that order and fought for their piece of the American Dream and how General Grant came to recognize his mistake.
Background courtesy of the Library of Congress:
Board of Delegates of American Israelites
“Resolutions” to Abraham Lincoln
The outrage of American Jewry against General U.S. Grant’s Order No. 11, which expels the “Jews as a class” from territories of Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee under the Thirteenth Army Corps, is conveyed to President Abraham Lincoln by this set of calligraphically inscribed resolutions, adopted January 8, 1863.
St. Louis Bn B’rith to Abraham Lincoln
Manuscript letter, January 5, 1863
The first Jewish organization to formally protest against Order No. 11 “expelling and ostracizing all Jews, as a class . . . issued by Maj. Genl. U.S. Grant” was the United Order “Bn B’rith” Missouri Lodge. It protests “in the name of hundreds who have been driven from their homes, deprived of their liberty, and injured in their property without having violated any law or regulation. . . . In the name of religious liberty and humanity [we ask you] to annul that Order and protect the liberties even of your humblest constituents.”
Note rescinding Order No. 11
On the envelope in which the Bn B’rith protest came, Lincoln wrote, “I have today, Jan. 5, 1863, written Gen. Curtis about this. A.L.” The order was forthwith rescinded.
Receipt for President Ulysses Grant’s contribution to Washington Synagogue Adas Israel
Receipt, July 10, 1876
Adas Israel was the first synagogue built in the District of Columbia and is closely linked with the beginnings of Jewish life in Washington. President Ulysses S. Grant and other federal and civic officials attended the dedication ceremony on June 9, 1876. Displayed is an official receipt from the Adas Israel “Hebrew” Congregation to the president acknowledging his ten-dollar contribution.
Collection of Maxwell House Haggadahs
The Maxwell House Haggadah has been part of Passover in America for 80 years, including at the Seder President Obama has hosted at the White House each year since taking office. For today’s reception, the company has provided an original collection of the Hagaddahs from the 1930’s through 2012 along with a brief history of their development.