Wendeen reconnected with a remarkably relaxed and refreshed President Barack Obama, outside Washington (which is where they first met in 2008). The president was the starring attraction at the Streicker Center/Temple Emanu-El, in New York.
After sampling chef Daniel Boulud’s signature short ribs (which Wendeen highly recommends), the President made his way to a reception at the Temple. He arrived in time to warm up with the fat cats and serious VIPs.
As the event photographer approached him, the President caught Wendeen’s eye. He waved and called her to his side, using her childhood nickname that survived until she turned six.
Wendeen joined the president, noting to everyone within earshot that the only people who call her “Wendy” are stubborn family members, her longtime friend, Wayne Newton, who sings Danke Schoen, in return for the privilege, and the good president—also known as Tease-in-Chief.
The photographer clicked, catching an impish grin, not intended for the camera. The President chuckled and then signaled he was ready to rock and roll for his eager and enthusiastic audience. Wendeen dashed off to her appointed seat.
President Obama’s arrival in the main sanctuary of the Temple was greeted with thunderous applause. And so began his interview, conducted by Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi, Joshua Davidson.
The president navigated delicately on the subject of Israeli American relations during his administrations, lightened up describing Passover Seders at the White House, and took on the issue of fake news all around us, boldly.
The nation’s first black president resonated deeply with the diverse audience. His simple and sage advice on what to tell our children, in this complicated world, was potent: “I tell my girls, “be kind and be useful.”
How about that for some sanity!