Letters to President Clinton: Biblical Lessons on Faith and Leadership

by | in New Books from OU Press

clintonLetters to President Clinton: Biblical Lessons on Faith and Leadership
Edited by Rabbi Menachem Genack
OU Press/Sterling Publishing

Letters to President Clinton celebrates a unique chapter in the annals of American political and religious history: a written dialogue between Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, and former President Bill Clinton, which spanned more than fifteen years. The two men first met in 1992 when then-Governor Clinton was just beginning his journey to the White House. Rabbi Genack was asked to introduce Governor Clinton as a presidential candidate at a fundraising event. In his presentation, Rabbi Genack emphasized that a leader must have vision and quoted a verse from the Book of Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Governor Clinton enjoyed the remarks, and told Rabbi Genack that he would refer to the verse in his speech accepting the nomination—which he did. So began a friendship which evolved into Rabbi Genack sending President Clinton brief essays containing insights from the Torah that Rabbi Genack thought would help the president navigate the national issues he was facing.

During his second term, the president asked Rabbi Genack to write these pieces more regularly and formally, and Rabbi Genack invited many of his distinguished acquaintances—Bible scholars, political leaders, scientists, clergy members and laypeople—to contribute and share, in their own unique ways, the contemporary messages found in the wisdom of Tanach.

Letters to President Clinton is a selection of these essays, and copies of many of the former president’s handwritten notes on the essays are included in the book.

Organized according to a variety of themes—leadership, creation, community, sin and repentance, faith, holidays, dreams and vision—the essays plumb the depths of Tanach for messages that are relevant to the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

With a foreword by President Clinton, Letters to President Clinton is both a testament to the vitality of spirituality in our country and an engaging collection of thoughtful perspectives on Torah and Jewish thought.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Fall 2013.

Leave a Comment