Sterling Publishing Company and OU Press recently published Letters to President Clinton: Biblical Lessons on Faith and Leadership, by Rabbi Menachem Genack, Chief Executive Officer of OU Kosher.
When Bill Clinton was president, he engaged in a long-term friendship with Rabbi Genack, to the extent that in his forward to the book, the former president refers to Rabbi Genack as “Bill Clinton’s Rabbi.” During the Clinton administration, Rabbi Genack regularly sent the President essays highlighting spiritual insights from the Bible to help him navigate difficult decisions and issues. Rabbi Genack also invited distinguished associates – rabbis and non-rabbis, men and women, and at least one non-Jew, Martin Marty – to correspond with the President. Moshe Genack introduces Senator Lieberman during recent book signing event at Shearith Israel in New York City. In his foreword, Clinton writes, “This book reflects Rabbi Genack’s remarkable generosity – both of time and spirit – as well as the depth of his convictions. I’m delighted to see this collection published. I can only hope that its wisdom may enrich others’ lives just as it did mine.”
Rabbi Genack discusses his book with Rabbi Meir Soloveichik at the book signing event. Rabbi Simon Posner introduces them.
Topics discussed in the book include Leadership, Sin and Repentance, Creation, Community, Faith, Dreams and Vision, and Holidays. Other contributors recruited by Rabbi Genack include Rabbis Jonathan Sacks, Norman Lamm, Israel Meir Lau, Adin Steinsaltz, Immanuel Jakobovits, Bernard Lander, and Professor Nahum Sarna. Senator Joseph Lieberman is there, as well as Cynthia Ozick. But the star is Rabbi Genack. Barbara Berger, Editor at Sterling Publishing, introduces renowned Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer
President Clinton’s responses, on White House letterhead, are included in the book. They are addressed to “Rabbi Genack,” but are signed, “Bill.” In his memoir, My Life, President Clinton referred to these letters, which he called “mini-sermons.”
Clergymen are known to preach at political leaders – after all, every session of Congress opens with an invocation. Rabbi Genack didn’t preach at President Clinton – he educated him, uplifted him, praised him, criticized him. Above all, he left a lasting impression on the most powerful man in the world.
The book is available at bookstores and online at OUpress.org.