Courtesy of PowerLine, excerpts from a piece written by a rabbi on a rare meeting with the president in 2003:
During the 10-day period between the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement -- the "days of awe" that are the holiest on the Jewish calendar -- the president sought out 16 rabbis from around the country to meet with him in Washington. No member of the press was present. The photo below was provided to the rabbis by the White House photographer after the meeting. At our request, Rabbi Ginsburg emailed us his account of the meeting (the subject headings are Rabbi Ginsburg's) together with a digital copy of the photograph upon his return to St. Paul. We posted Rabbi Ginsburg's 2003 report as follows:
It started with a phone call from Senator Coleman the Monday night before Rosh Hashanah telling me that the President wanted to meet with a few rabbis right after Rosh Hashanah, and asking me if I could go to Washington to meet with him. Senator Coleman told me that I could expect a call from the White House.
He spoke about his need to stand firm, the need to support the forces for peace in the world, but that there are cold blooded murderers he has to deal with. He said he's not anti-Muslim, he's not anti-Palestinian. He does believe there should be a Palestinian state someday, but he's anti-Palestinians who are terrorists. He ended by saying, "This is not a political event. Keep your politics close to your vests. I just wanted to talk with rabbis during the ten days of awe" (or close to that).
When Bush woke up in the morning, he looked out of his hotel window, and it was Jerusalem in its golden hue. He talked about how humbling it is to know that millions of people pray for him every day, and the sacred responsibility that entails. We mentioned that in our synagogues every Shabbat, we offer a prayer for him and for the government of the United States. He said he prays every day that God blesses him with patience, wisdom and strength, and "I'm weak enough to know that I need God's strength and support."
I was just stunned to be sitting across the table from the most powerful person in the world, a man of true humility and belief in one God, who spent much of this hour and a quarter, speaking from the depth of his heart about his concern about anti-Semitism and his understanding of Israel's predicament. I know many disagree with policies of his. I'm sure every rabbi there had some disagreements. But there was no denying the moment, the genuineness, the power of the experience. It felt surreal.
Please read the entire piece.