Nearly 60 seventh-grade students from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School were treated to a tour of the White House’s East Wing as well as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is not open to the public, on Nov. 2.
Chanan Weissman, a BT alumnus who was appointed as the White House’s Jewish community liaison in the spring — the first modern Orthodox Jew in that role — showed the students around and spoke about his new role.
“It was inspiring to see the next generation of Beth Tfiloh students, in their kippot and BT hoodies, walking the halls of the White House and engaging in a great conversation about the history of the American Jewish experience,” Weissman said via email. “They were inquisitive, thoughtful, attentive. Afterward, I left with no doubt that these kids will contribute in deeply profound ways to the fabric of the American Jewish landscape and to the future of this great nation.”
The students found the visit equally inspiring, marveling at the many historic events that took place in the East Room and impressed that Weissman helped the president prepare for his Rosh Hashanah phone call to 300 rabbis.
“What I found interesting about Mr. Weissman’s presentation is how walking through the White House as a Jew is normal in the United Station, unlike many parts of the world,” said Sarah Bean.
Several students commented that they could see themselves working at the White House or on Capitol Hill one day.
“I think it would be amazing to work there because you get that type of job you can make a change in the country or at least suggest a change,” said Jonah Schneider.
“Overall, that was an experience of a lifetime!,” said Alexis Hariri.
John Stevens, Beth Tfiloh’s middle school government teacher, said the students had just finished their unit on the executive branch of government and were tested on the material the Monday prior to this trip.
“It’s important the students actually see and experience what they have studied about in the classroom to understand the significance of what they have learned,” he said. “It makes the learning experience real to them, and it sticks!”