Categorized | Cohen_Joel_H., Lighter Side, USA

‘Just Kidding’: Trump conducts a presidential round table with synagogue leaders

By Joel H. Cohen

Joel H. Cohen

NEW YORK — President Trump, often criticized for failing to act “presidential,” has reluctantly taken the advice of his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner and convened a telephone conference of five shul presidents for their suggestions.

The presidents, four men and a woman, are from various parts of the nation and represent different denominations. The woman president was added at Ivanka’s urging to show the President’s “gender-neutrality.”

President Trump at first resisted the idea of a woman president, saying it was unprecedented and unnecessary. “Everyone knows I love women. They’re some of my favorite people, I so  respect them, even crooked you-know-who. My ambassador to that failing UN is a woman, and I have female cabinet members.” But he relented

(A transcript of the highlights of the first conference follows. The synagogue presidents, identified only by the first initial of their first names are Dave, Max, Abe, Hy and Leah. President Trump, most of whose comments were not transmitted to the callers, is identified as DT.)


D– Our president had moved to another town and no one really wanted the job. I was in the men’s room during the discussion. When I came out, they told me I’d been elected. I’ve held the position for 15 years.  [DT – An outsider like myself. Not mainstream. Not part of the crooked establishment. Great.”]

M – I really wanted the position, but my election was very hard-fought. My opponents were trying to get as many people down to the meeting as possible to vote for him, and were making calls. In desperation, my people cut the phone wires, and we squeaked through. [DT: — Strong leadership, believe me,]

L– I worked my way up to the position, serving on committees, chairing events, working behind the scenes. [DT – Borrrring.]



A– It’s important once you’ve won that you don’t gloat or insult your opponents, but try to get them to join your team. [DT – That’s for losers. Very low-energy president.]

H- The same thing applies to when you’ve won on an issue. Like a lot of shuls, we had longtime disagreement on whether only mourners or everyone stands during the Kaddish memorial prayer. Once it was resolved the way I had hoped, I was careful not to insult them as something like “pathetic losers.”

D – Public insults irritate even the strongest. In our town’s Council of Synagogues, several of the institutions weren’t paying their fair share. But I made it a point not to mention it at the annual public meeting. In private I did bring it up, and two of the institutions increased their contributions. [DT –It’s easier when they’re embarrassed.]

A–There will always be congregants or board members you don’t like, there are plenty on the board. But, as president, you have to deal with them as politely as possible. No disparaging nicknames, no slander, as tempting as that may be.

[DT – Is this guy for real?]



A — Don’t limit appointments or honors on High Holy Days or other times to just the big givers. Split them between the major contributors and the good workers, who many not have the means.

And don’t offer to name something like a memorial wall for someone, when you really don’t know you’ll be able to build it. [DT – Weak, very weak.]

Also, being your relative doesn’t necessarily qualify somebody to be on the board . [DT – What planet does this guy come from?]



H -If your synagogue has made big strides, adding members, running successful events, strengthening your bottom line, it’s tempting to take personal credit for the progress. But, even if you’re the one responsible, avoid the “I-problem

Don’t brag that “I” did it, but say “we did it.” You’ll still get the glory and it doesn’t sound so self-serving.  [DT– Give me a break.]

M — Don’t exaggerate your accomplishments, and certainly don’t lie

If something hasn’t improved, don’t say it has. And, for sure, don’t use your presidency to help your business profit. [DT— Is this guy for real?]



A –Its important to welcome newcomers to your community. We had a large influx of Russians, and it’s been very gratifying reaching out to them and including them. [DT — Until they take American jobs.]
L  — For the newcomers and others, we try to make belonging as painless as possible. We’ve offered free-tuition Hebrew School and considered free first-year membership.  Some families who can’t afford it, don’t have to pay. (DT – A recipe for disaster. I know about bankruptcy without you telling me.]

M — We make it a point to be active in interfaith groups, with reps of other major religions. (DT —You better make sure they’re intensely vetted.]

PRESIDENT TRUMP TO THE CALLERS: Thank you so much, you’ve taught me a lot. Believe me, an incredible lot. Thanks so much..

(Then, to Ivanka and Jared: “I could have taught these pathetic clowns everything anybody needs to know about being presidential.”)

San Diego Jewish World reminds readers who are new to this column that it is all in fun, and nothing above should be taken seriously.  Cohen is a freelance writer based in New York.

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