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Remarks: Joe Biden Meets Virtually With Rabbis Before the Jewish High Holidays - September 14, 2023

  • Joe Biden
    Person
Unknown

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:00:00-00:00:25 (26 sec)
Well, thank you, Rabbi Asch. Thank you very much. And thank you all, all the rabbis on this call, for being such a source of strength and wisdom to communities across America. Excuse me. I've long felt that strength and wisdom, I -- I might say, raised in the -- the synagogues in my state. You think I'm kidding? 1

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:00:25-00:01:00 (35 sec)
I'm not. But back in Wilmington, Delaware, Beth Shalom was the home of countless friends for me, Rabbi Kraft -- led by Rabbi Kraft; Rabbi Geffen; Rabbi Beals, who all became dear friends. We shared many deep conversations about faith and purpose. And there's always been -- you've always been there for my family in difficult times, as well as happy times, just like all of you are always there for your congregation and everyone in the neighborhood, Jewish or not. 2

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:01:00-00:01:24 (24 sec)
That's the power of Jewish communities across America and around the world. Like the Jewish proverb says, "What comes from the heart goes to the heart." We all feel it. I'm honored to speak with you before the High Holidays. I always believed the message of the High Holidays is universal. It's never too late to repent, to change, begin anew. 3

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:01:24-00:01:56 (33 sec)
As vice president and now as president, I've been honored to host many Jewish holidays and events that embody that message. Doug and Kamala have continued that tradition. Important to show the world that we celebrate and protect Jewish Americans whose values, cultures, and contributions shaped the very character of our nation, and I might add, from the very beginning, especially at a time when antisemitism has risen to record levels, echoing the worst chapter in human history. 4

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:01:56-00:02:32 (36 sec)
I decided to run for president. And after Charlottesville, my son Beau had just died and I had no intention of getting back into public life. But when I listened to what happened, I -- when I watched on television people marching out of the woods and fields with torches and carrying Nazi banners and singing the same God-awful -- God-awful antisemitic verses that were -- were all -- the bile that we heard through Europe -- throughout Europe in the '30s. And that's when I decided. 5

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:02:32-00:02:57 (25 sec)
As a matter of fact, that's when my grandchildren -- my grandchildren, actually, asked for a family meeting. And I'm not joking. One was a junior -- a senior at University of Pennsylvania. They worked their way down through seventh grade. And, you know, they said, you know, "Pops." They call me pop. They said, "Pop, you know, daddy wants you to run. 6

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:02:57-00:03:22 (26 sec)
He wants you to run because somebody's got to say something." And so, you know, I decided to run after Charlottesville, when the neo-Nazis marched. The shadow, spewing the same antisemitic bile we heard in the '30s. And what do we hear? They were -- when that young woman was killed, I spoke to her mother, and I asked -- I -- I was just devastated. 7

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:03:22-00:03:59 (37 sec)
Then the president -- well, the last occupant of this place was asked what did he think? He said, "There were very fine people on both sides." And that's when I decided, I knew I had to run. That's when I decided I had to stay engaged, instead of walking away, because hate never goes away. I thought that we could defeat it. I thought -- as I -- I got involved with civil rights movement, I mean, became a United States senator and got to the point where I convinced Strom Thurmond before he passed away to support the Voting Rights Act, I thought we could defeat it. But it just hides. 8

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:03:59-00:04:24 (25 sec)
It hides, hides, and when given oxygen, comes out from under the rocks. In the past several years, it's been given too much oxygen. Simply wrong. It's immoral. And as we all know, the expression I'd heard from my father all the time: Silence is complicity. And I will not be silent. But I know -- I know it's still hard. 9

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:04:24-00:04:49 (25 sec)
Next month marks the fifth anniversary of a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Deadliest act of antisemitism on our nation's history. This month, as you attend shul for the High Holidays, I know you're concerned about security. As your president, I want to make clear to you and to all of your congregations that I have your back, committed to the safety of the Jewish people. 10

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:04:49-00:05:10 (22 sec)
My administration is going to continue to condemn and combat antisemitism at every turn. For example, I've secured the largest-ever increase in funding for the physical security of nonprofits, including synagogues, Jewish community centers, Jewish day schools. Nobody, nobody should ever have to fear walking down the street wearing a symbol of their faith. 11

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:05:10-00:05:36 (26 sec)
I hosted the first United We Stand Summit and convened leaders of all backgrounds and all faiths to declare that hate-fueled violence can have no safe harbor in America. The Justice Department -- the U.S. Justice Department had made combating hate crime a top priority. And in May, my administration released the first-ever National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, with input from many of you. 12

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:05:36-00:05:57 (21 sec)
This is the most ambitious, comprehensive effort to combat antisemitism in American history. My administration has already started aggressively implementing. We published security guidance for synagogues across the country. We've launched a national campaign to combat -- combat antisemitism in school, colleges, and universities. 13

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:05:57-00:06:23 (25 sec)
We've delivered trainings on religious workplace accommodations and so much more. The strategy -- the strategy also calls for Congress, state and local government, social media and other companies, civil society, and faith leaders to do their part to counter antisemitism. Speak up. Be seen. This is a challenge for our whole country, and we are charging forward on all fronts. 14

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:06:23-00:06:46 (23 sec)
At the same time, the books are being banned. Can you believe that? In the United States of America, books are being banned in our schools and history is being erased. We must also answer lies with truth. That's why I appointed Deborah Lipstadt, Holocaust expert, on our first ambassador-level special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. 15

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:06:46-00:07:10 (25 sec)
She's a special envoy to that. We also -- that's also why last Hanukkah, I marked a new tradition, lighting the first permanent White House menorah, to send the message that the story of the Jewish life in America is not just significant, it is permanent. It matters. My dad is what many people would call a righteous Christian. 16

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:07:10-00:07:33 (23 sec)
He -- he taught us about the horrors of the -- of the show on our -- at our family dinner table. Our dinner table was a place where we sat to have a conversation and incidentally eat. And he asked me, and I did. I passed that lesson down to my children and grandchildren. And each one of them, when they turned 14 years old, I put them on a plane and took them to Dachau. 17

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:07:33-00:07:54 (21 sec)
They could bear witness, and no one could pretend they didn't know what was happening. Forced people to face the reality of that. When I visited Israel again last year, I went to Yad Vashem, reaffirmed America's unshakable commitment to Israel's security and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state. 18

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:07:54-00:08:17 (23 sec)
My support for Israel's security remains long-standing and unwavering, including its right to defend itself against attacks. When I hosted President Herzog at the White House this summer, I told him how proud I was of our support of Israel's Iron Dome, which has intercepted thousands of rockets and saved countless lives in Israel. 19

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:08:17-00:08:52 (35 sec)
I'm so proud to continue our support by nominating Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, to serve as our ambassador to Israel. Jack has an incredibly distinguished career. He'll be an outstanding ambassador. Let me close with this. As you enter the High Holidays, thinking about my dear friend, the late Elie Wiesel, and other Holocaust survivors I've met over the years and come to know, thinking about their journey to find the light, their enduring message of resilience, hope, and faith. 20

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:08:52-00:09:15 (22 sec)
For thousands of years, it's been the message of the Jewish people. That's the message of Jewish Americans today, continue to enrich every part of American life. That's the message. That's the message of Rosh Hashana. And so, you know, I've always -- I'm always -- I just think we always have to stay hopeful. 21

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:09:15-00:09:44 (29 sec)
Always believe our actions have the power to shift the balance of our faith, our nation, and our world for the better. Thank you for all you do for our nation and Jill and me and our family. L'Shana Tov ah. May it be happy, healthy, sweet New Year for all of you. May all be described -- may we all be inscribed in the book of life. Thank you for including me. 22