WASHINGTON (JTA) – U.S. President Barack Obama reflected on the “great privilege” of working with the Jewish community in his final Rosh Hashanah message as president.
In a video address, Obama referred to Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist and Nobel Peace laureate, and Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and prime minister, both who died this year. He had sought advice during his two terms from both men. He also referred to his trip to Israel in 2013, where he prayed at the Western Wall, and the tradition he instituted of holding Passover seders at the White House.
“My last Rosh Hashanah in the White House is a chance to reflect on the great privilege I’ve had as president to work closely with the Jewish community,” Obama said.
“To speak at synagogues here in the United States and abroad,” he said. “To place a private prayer in the ancient cracks of the Kotel [the Western Wall]. To retell the timeless story of the Exodus at our annual White House Seders. And to walk through Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel, meet with young Israelis in Jerusalem, and present the Medal of Freedom to Shimon Peres.”
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, also delivered Rosh Hashanah greetings last week.
“All Americans should question whether we’re doing all that we can to work on ‘Tikkun Olam’ – repairing the world,” Clinton said in her message on Friday.
“That means asking ourselves if we could be doing more to help those who are hungry or in need of shelter,” she said. “If we could be doing more to make sure everyone has access to health care. And if we could be doing more to build a brighter future where no one is left out or left behind.”
Donald Trump, Clinton’s Republican rival for the presidency, in a tweet in his name and in his wife Melania’s name, extended “warmest greetings to those observing Rosh Hashanah here in the United States, in Israel, and around the world.”