Haaretz reported that in a private meeting with Jewish leaders earlier this week, President Obama said (in the Israeli paper's words) he "probably knows about Judaism more than any other president." Now, Ron Kampeas has more details of the meeting "based on detailed notes by a person in attendance and confirmed by broader descriptions by others in attendance":
Rabbi Steven Wernick, the executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, then asked the president how the rabbis could push back against perceptions that he was hiding his true feelings about Israel.“Jack always tells me I’ll get asked the kishkes question,” he said, referring to Lew, who is an Orthodox Jew, and using the Yiddish term for “guts.”Obama said the question dated back to 2008 and for him was a bizarre reversal: Until then, he said, during his rise as a state politician in Illinois and then as US senator, he had been depicted by some on the left as a “stooge” for Israel because of his close friendship with Jews and others in the pro-Israel community.The president blamed several elements for the reversal: The reluctance among some Jews to credit someone with the middle name Hussein, and the son of a Muslim, with being pro-Israel; the quirk of history of a center-left government in the US overlapping with a center-right government in Israel, and the resulting perception that Obama was pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu too hard to shut down settlement expansion; and the fact that the Republicans seized these elements to advance a narrative that he was unfavorable to Israel. ...
Obama in his talk with the Conservative leaders also said that he had read deeply about Judaism, saying he probably knew more about the topic than any other president. Brooks derided the assertion as “narcissistic.”
Read the boss's reaction to Obama's private comments here.