Trump to Hold Phone Call With Jewish Leaders Ahead of High Holy Days

Continuing an Obama-era tradition, Trump will hold a Jewish High Holy Day greetings phone call despite the boycott by Reform and Conservative leaders

President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall accompanied by Shmuel Rabinovitch, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Mordechai "Suli" Elias, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation during Trump's trip to Israel on May 22, 2017.
Evan Vucci/AP

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a call with leading Jewish-American rabbis on Friday to commemorate the Jewish High Holidays, continuing an eight-year tradition started under former President Barack Obama.

The call will take place despite a pledge by leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements - the two largest Jewish denominations in the United States - to boycott the conversation in protest of Trump's comments following violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last month.

The White House's decision to go ahead with the call was first reported on Thursday by the New York Times, and was later confirmed to Haaretz by three Jewish leaders who had received an invitation to the call. 

The invitation said that Trump wishes to extend his greetings to the Jewish community ahead of the holidays. While the Reform and Conservative movements have anounced they will boycott the call, Orthodox rabbis and public leaders plan to participate.

Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union, told Haaretz that "It's important and significant that the President is having this call and continuing the practice that President Obama started." Diament added that "He's the president of the Untied States, and we have to engage with him on issues that are important to the Jewish community and to the broader American public, and this is part of that process." 

It should be noted that the calls during Obama's presidency were initiated by the leading Rabbinical organizations, while this year's call is being initiated by the White House. The call will include not only rabbis, but community leaders as well.

The White House has sent invitations to some Reform and Conservative rabbis and leaders, in the hope that they might choose to participate individually, despite the movements' position.