Forward Thinking

5 Jewish Things at the Inauguration

By Nathan Guttman

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Barack Obama

President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 was full of Jewish side events. There was a fancy ball at a downtown hotel co-sponsored by major Jewish groups and attended by Jewish politicos, activists and even Dr. Ruth Westhehimer, plus a string of private events hosted by Jewish Democratic donors and supporters.

WATCH President Obama’s inauguration LIVE:

This time around, the entire inauguration has been downsized as the president looks to send a message that he is taking into account the tough economic climate. And after all it’s his second term.

The Jewish community is also taking a low key approach. But here’s a few things to watch out for. And if you find a way into the inaugural lunch, Sen. Chuck Schumer is making apple pie for dessert.

Giving Back

Two Jewish groups, Repair the World and the D.C. Jewish Community Center, participated in the Day of Service volunteer fair on the National Mall on Saturday. The event aims highlighted volunteering opportunities, all part of the inauguration’s theme of community service.

The two groups shared the stage with 90 other organizations offering ways to help those in need.

“We hope to reach a part of the population we don’t usually reach,” said Erica Steen, director of community engagement at the DCJCC, which organizes throughout the years volunteers food drives for the homeless, house repairs for low income families and work with local schools.

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Chuck vs. Chuck?

By Nathan Guttman

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Chucjk Schumer

It could come down to a tale of two Chucks.

Chuck Hagel’s chances of getting confirmed as Pentagon chief could hinge on whether Sen. Chuck Schumer is satisfied with Hagel’s stance on Iran.

Schumer, perhaps the most influential Jewish senator, is not pleased with Obama’s choice of Hagel for Secretary of Defense and has yet to decide whether to vote in favor of the nomination, Politico reported. Supporting Hagel, Schumer reportedly said, would be “very hard.”

Schumer, according to the report, expressed his misgivings about Hagel in private conversations and in discussions with Jewish leaders. But the New York senator would not make any direct comments on the issue and has pointedly refused to commit to supporting Hagel.

Given his position as the third ranking Democrat in Senate and his standing in the Jewish community, a refusal by Schumer to back Hagel could set the tone for other Jewish and pro-Israel Democrats in the Senate and potentially derail the nomination.

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