Beth El Synagogue has announced that former Pres. George W. Bush will speak at the St. Louis Park shul on the evening of Sept. 21.
The event is being billed as “An Intimate Evening with the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush.” The audience will be limited to 250 people; and ticket prices start at $1,250.
- Former Pres. George W. Bush will be the featured speaker at a Sept. 21 fundraising event at Beth El Synagogue. Bush (right) is shown arriving in Israel on Jan. 9, 2008, and being greeted by then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (left) and President Shimon Peres. (Photo: Brian Hendler/JTA)
In an Aug. 22 letter sent to congregants, Gil Mann, the Beth El president, notes that Bush’s appearance is the result of “extraordinary efforts” by congregants Elliott and Marlys Badzin. Mann’s letter states:
[Bush’s] appearance coincides with the 10th anniversary of 9-11, a time when our country came together with a singular purpose. This national tragedy defined much of his presidency, and the lessons of that time should prove illuminating and provide important perspective today as our country strives to be more united.
His appearance, like those of other world leaders who have spoken at Beth El, such as President Bill Clinton and Israel[i] Prime Minister Ehud Barak, is an important fundraiser for our synagogue.
The former president’s speaking fee is reported to be between $100,000 and $150,000. If Beth El can sell all of its tickets, it would gross a minimum of $312,500.
The letter from Mann notes a Sept. 1 deadline for ticket orders, “so that appropriate security measures can be taken.” No press will be allowed inside of the synagogue to cover the event.
The choice of Condoleezza Rice, who served as secretary of state in the Bush administration, to speak at Beth El, in Nov. 2009, engendered controversy within the congregation and in the larger community. Dozen of protesters decrying Rice’s support for the Iraq War and the use of torture against suspected terrorists picketed outside of the event. — Mordecai Specktor