Jarrod Bernstein made his first public speech as President Obama’s liaison to the Jewish community Monday, at the second annual Agudath Israel legislative breakfast, in New York . As might be expected, he did his best to remind the members of the pro-Israel Haredi organization of what the administration is doing both for Israel and for the Jews at home.
Addressing an audience made up of people not generally known to be Obama fans, Bernstein pointed out that the Obama administration has allocated a record number of Pell grants, which benefit rabbinical and yeshiva students. He also highlighted the fact that Obama’s requests to Congress for aid to Israel have been the highest in history ($3 billion this year), and that this funding has been integral to the deployment of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been saving Israeli lives. Bernstein also spoke of Obama’s efforts to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat.
Prior to becoming director of Jewish outreach at the White House, Bernstein was principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at United States Department of Homeland Security. Earlier in his career, he worked for seven years for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bernstein was far from the only person from the political sphere in attendance at the Agudath Israel breakfast. Among those who also made a point of showing up to either speak or simply shmooze at the event, which took place in the highly Jewish 9th Congressional District (that’s the one Anthony Weiner represented until his disgraceful departure, and the one that subsequently went to the Republican Bob Turner in a special election last September), were U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, and Manhattan Borough President (and NYC mayoral candidate) Scott Stringer.