On Friday, the White House hosted a reception for the Jewish high holidays. At the reception, President Joe Biden quipped “I probably went to shul more than many of you did.”
Story on the WH Rosh Hashanah event:
Biden to Jewish audience: “I probably went to shul more than many of you did.” https://t.co/OJBaGnKAsV
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) September 30, 2022
Biden began his address with a cryptic statement that was an attempt at self-effacing humor, referring to Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman, i.e. the spouse of the vice president.
“You’re the first, but — Kamala often says — you won’t be the last,” Biden said. “Kamala won’t be the last woman to be Vice President — or President.”
Biden described his connection with Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, Delaware where he used to live.
“I probably went to shul [synagogue] more than many of you did,” Biden said. “You all think I’m kidding. [The rabbi] can tell you I’m not. I’m not.”
“That’s where I received my education. You all think I’m kidding.”
“And that’s the tradition I got raised,” Biden continued. “I spent a lot of time — I’m a practicing Catholic, but I — I’d go to services on Saturday and on Sunday. (Laughter.) You all think I’m kidding. I’m not.”
This is not the first time Biden has claimed to frequent synagogues. One year ago, during the official White House High Holy Days online call, President Biden claimed to have visited the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh after the October 2018 mass murder of 11 people there. But the NY Post spoke to members of the synagogue and they all said, “Nope, never happened!”
Biden also attributed ti Jews an idiomatic expression favored by his Irish Catholic father.
“You know, the Jewish people know better than any what my father, who was not Jewish but would constantly use the phrase, ‘silence is complicity.’ ‘Silence is complicity.’”
This expression does not have its roots in Jewish sources. It is an axiom in business claiming that corporations have moral obligations that reach beyond the negative realm of doing no harm. Biden has used this precise expression on multiple occasions, most recently when addressing Asian Americans last year.
Silence is complicity — and we cannot be complicit.
We have to speak out. We have to act. pic.twitter.com/zJXEoKXOMm
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 20, 2021
Biden claimed he had built “an economy that works for everyone”, addressed climate issues, and rallied support for Ukraine. He also promised to enact gun control, support veterans, and will be “ending cancer as we know it”.
The president’s address was followed by Itzhak Perlman, the legendary Israeli-American violinist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, playing Avinu Malkeinu.
Here’s Itzhak Perlman, the legendary Israeli-American violinist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, playing Avinu Malkeinu at the @WhiteHouse.
You can hear people singing along to the High Holiday prayer. pic.twitter.com/ImicYiyv0t
— Gabby Deutch (@GSDeutch) September 30, 2022