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GOP Jews parley, party over inaugural weekend
Some Jews serious at inaugural; most of them just want to have fun
By Matthew E. Berger
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
January 24, 2001
WASHINGTON, They may be small in numbers, but Jewish
Republicans were out in full
force during Inauguration weekend, partying as George W. Bush was sworn in
the 43rd president of the United
The Republican Jewish Coalition and the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee co-sponsored a
reception Friday at L'Etoile, a kosher French restaurant in downtown
Washington. RJC Executive Director Matt
Brooks called the event an ``insiders' briefing."
New White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and the editor of the Weekly
Standard, William Kristol,
addressed the audience, mostly donors to the RJC and similar organizations,
as well as influential Jews in the
Brooks said it was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions
about issues of concern to them: how
active a role Bush would play in the Middle East peace process and how much
interaction he would have with the
The atmosphere was light and jovial, as the speakers -- including
Republican National Committee
chair Haley Barbour and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) -- joked with the
Outside the reception hall, Bruce Bialosky sat on a couch and spoke to
old friends. A contributor to
Republican causes, he said Republican Jews may be relatively few, but they
still wield power.
``There's enough people in there with enough money to assert their
influence over George W. Bush, if
that's what they wanted," Bialosky said, motioning to the ballroom. ``Jews
have a big influence on Republicans.
Bush knows all of them."
An accountant and real estate broker from Los Angeles, Bialosky said he
hopes the younger generations of
Jews realize they don't have to be Democrats.
``The values of the Democratic Party have moved away from traditional
Jewish values," he said.
``Individual responsibility is a basic precept of Judaism."
Noah Doyle walked over to Bialosky with a plate full of food, and the
two ate together.
Doyle, a 20-year-old Cornell University student from Long Island, said
that too many people simply
assume Jews will vote Democratic.
``Most Jews are bipartisan," Doyle said. ``But they're afraid of the
That sentiment was repeated throughout the event. Republican Jews
seem weary of the Christian
Coalition and its perceived grip on the GOP, but they also want to bring the
Republican Party to the Jewish
community and emphasize the party's inclusiveness.
Steven Some, a lobbyist and chairman of the New Jersey Commission on
Holocaust Education, said many
things about the Republican Party should appeal to Jews, such as the party's
economic views, stance on national
defense and support for Israel. But the Jewish community is turned off by
Republican positions on domestic issues
like abortion, he acknowledged.
``The perception that the religious right has some hold on the
Republican Party concerns me," Some said.
Despite the political discussions, the focus of the weekend was on
celebration. Guests rattled off long lists
of receptions, events and balls they were attending.
Dale Robinowitz, a Dallas dentist who had come up from Texas for the
weekend, called Bush ``an old
friend" and said she had high hopes for the next administration.
``I think he's going to listen and he's going to care,'' she said.