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February 6, 2005
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from page 27
"If he really wanted to find
Conservative rabbinical leadership, it
would not have been hard," Rabbi
Epstein said. "I assume they made a
conscious decision not to invite lead-
ers from the Conservative move-
ment." White House officials would-
n't say how rabbis were selected to
Rabbi Syme said the most poignant
moment "was when a rabbi said, 'In
1943, a group of rabbis asked for 15
minutes with President Roosevelt and
were denied. Today is like a miracle,
when 12 of us come and talk so
openly with you.'"
Rabbi Syme agreed. "This may be
the only country in the world —
with the exception of Israel — where
the president of the nation will meet
with a small group of rabbis and talk
about issues, forthrightly honestly
The meeting was part of a day of
Chanukah celebrations at the White
House. That afternoon, President
Bush helped the children of the sen-
ior Jewish chaplain in Iraq light the
White House menorah.
"The Talmud teaches that the
menorah lights should perform no
function other than to proclaim the
miracle of a just and loving God,"
Bush said at the candlelighting.
"Every generation since Judah
Maccabee has looked on these candles
and recalled the sacrifices that are
made for freedom. And in every gen-
eration, these lights have warmed the
hearts of those not yet free."
The White House also threw its
annual Chanukah party that day,
which included Rabbi Syme as well as
Rabbi E.B. "Bunny" Freedman of
Oak Park and their wives. The event
included an exuberant Jewish a capel-
la group, Kol Zimra, with Avy
Schreiber of Southfield, and spurred
attendees to start dancing the hora on
the floor of the State Room.
Schreiber, a graduate of Yeshivat
Akiva in Southfield, said he could tell
the president and Mrs. Bush were in
step with the beat.
"At one point," said Schreiber, a
freelance musician, "Mrs. Bush
turned to a woman at her side and
said softly, 'They're really good.' And
we could see she and the president
tapping their feet a little bit, bopping
a little bit." LJ
StaffWriter Harry Kirsbaum
contributed to this report.