The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
A Philadelphia-area Reform temple will feature a Republican speaker to balance an appearance by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is set to speak Monday at the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, Pa., on behalf of President Obama.
The synagogue’s senior rabbi, Lance Sussman, told JTA that he is now working with the Republican Jewish Coalition to set up an alternative event.
Sussman said the synagogue had reached out to multiple Republican officials, including at the Romney campaign, at the office of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the Jewish U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, and Republican state lawmakers before announcing the Wasserman Schulz event.
In the absence of a speaker, and with Wasserman Schultz’s appearance approaching, Sussman said the temple had no choice but to go ahead with her event, while noting in the literature that a Republican speaker would also appear at another date.
The RJC’s Philadelphia-area chapter then objected through social media to what it called a one-sided program.
“The RJC presumed – and didn’t check with us – that we are not having another evening with a Republican speaker, which is something we are committed to and announced in our publicity,” Sussman told JTA.
Sussman ackowledged that the RJC had not been “on my radar,” although it has a high profile among political Jewish groups. But he also noted that his other Republican interlocutors had not referred him to the group. He said he would now establish a relationship with the group.
JTA left a message late Sunday with Matthew Brooks, the national RJC director, seeking further comment.
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