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What happens when your Gemara teacher is also the honorary president of the Rabbinical Council of America? Just ask the girls in the seniors’ honors shiur with Rabbi Matanky. They spent Monday’s class in Rabbi Matanky’s office to hear him introduce President Obama on a conference call with 614 North American rabbis from across the Jewish spectrum and then joined a Q&A. The President annually speaks to rabbis prior to Rosh Hashana.

Following is Rabbi Matanky’s introduction of the President:

As the honorary president of the Rabbinical Council of America and as a fellow Chicagoan, it is my great honor to open this call and to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to share with our Jewish community some thoughts as we are about to enter our New Year.

Mr. President, we are now in the midst of a season of great introspection and assessment, not only of the year past, but more importantly of the year to come.

We share with you a great concern for the rise in gun violence in America, a tragic reality that is ever so painful in our own city of Chicago; for the harsh and divisive rhetoric that has become all too common in the public square; and of course, the issue so close to our hearts, the continued safety and security of the State of Israel.

We thank you for your continued friendship, and yet we also recall that as we sound the shofar in our synagogues on Rosh Hashana we will hear two sounds – a single solid blast that represents safety and tranquility, but also a series of shorter sounds that recall the wailing of a mother for her child in danger.

Mr. President, those two sounds motivate our lives – because they represent the dialectic of trust and concern – the need to recognize the greatness of this land and yet look towards our leadership to remain ever vigilant in the fight against evil while supporting those who share in our dreams and ideals for a better future. Trust and concern, trust and concern. Mr. President, those are our guiding words as we are about to enter this New Year.

On behalf of our entire community we wish you, Mr. President, and your family a shana tova.

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