Obama Has Visited Indonesian Mosque But No Synagogue Anywhere Since Taking Office
(CNSNews.com) – President and Mrs. Obama visited a controversial mosque in Indonesia on Wednesday, but there is no indication the president has visited a synagogue anywhere since becoming president, according to a review of the White House Web site and news reports.
When directly asked by telephone and email whether the president had ever visited a synagogue since taking office, the White House press office did not respond.
Obama has met with leaders of the American Jewish community as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. However, a search of the White House website and a review of Associated Press stories going back to Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009, indicate he has not stepped into a synagogue or other Jewish facility.
In July 2009, Obama met with 16 Jewish leaders and assured them the U.S. remains steadfastly committed to Israel. In May of this year, Obama made remarks at a White House reception honoring Jewish American Heritage Month.
While he comfortably carried the Jewish vote in the 2008 election, some Jewish voters have questioned the administration’s demand that Israel halt construction in eastern Jerusalem, a part of the city that Israel considers to be its eternal and indivisible capital.
As CNSNews.com previously has reported, signs of strain have been evident in the U.S.-Israel relationship since Obama took office.
On Wednesday, Obama and his wife were photographed outside the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended a Friday prayer service at the same mosque during a trip to Indonesia four years ago. Before his visit to the mosque, Ahmadinejad had given speeches in Indonesia in which he predicted that Israel would be destroyed, cast doubt on the historical fact of the Holocaust and said that every young Muslim man is an "atomic bomb." At the mosque, the congregation greeted Ahmadinejad with a chant of: "God is great."
Obama has yet to visit an American mosque.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero, president of Caucus for America, said he is unaware of Obama making any visits to a synagogue since taking office.
“During his presidency, I don’t remember him going to a synagogue,” Sperro told CNSNews.com. “Had he done so, it would have been written up in one of the various Jewish weeklies. But he certainly hasn’t gone to any synagogue, for example, that is prominent--nothing on the scale of the mosque that he’s going to in Indonesia.”
Spero believes a goal of Obama’s presidency is to “mainstream Islam,” and visiting the mosque fits that agenda, while visiting a synagogue would not.
“I don’t think that portrays that he’s anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish,” Spero said. But visiting a synagogue “doesn’t fit his agenda.”