Sen. Blunt meets with Jewish community leaders

Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, at right, met with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on Sept. 14 at the nonprofit’s headquarters near Creve Coeur.   

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., met with Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, on Sept. 14 to “discuss policy issues of concern to both him and our community,” Rehfeld wrote on Facebook.

The leader of the Jewish nonprofit told the Jewish Light that the three primary topics were immigration issues, senior services and the “state of bipartisanship in the national discourse.”

The meeting was not scheduled, but Blunt reached out to Federation because he had an unexpected gap in his schedule.

Rehfeld is a representative of an American Jewish community that leans Democrat. In 2016, 71 percent of Jews voted for Hillary Clinton, according to the Pew Research Center. Blunt defeated Jason Kander, a Democrat, in 2016 and has since largely supported President Donald Trump. He is the ninth-most conservative member of the Senate, according to, a website that monitors legislative actions. 

“Many of his views are significantly at odds with the community,” said Rehfeld, who posted a photo of the two on Facebook. “I know that. He knows that. The community knows that. Putting a picture of me with him I think is an important reminder that he values the Jewish community.”

Blunt, who has identified as a Southern Baptist, is married to a Jewish woman, Last year, his son became a bar mitzvah at a Reform synagogue in Washington D.C., according to the congregation’s website.  

On Facebook, a number of people commented on the photo with questions such as, “Did you talk to him about family separation?” “Did you tell him that he is wrong on every issue other than Israel?” and “What a great opportunity. Did you ask him about the Supreme Court nomination?”

The Trump administration received significant criticism — even from some members of the president’s own party — in June for its policy of separating children and parents in families entering the United States from Mexico to seek asylum. 

In response, Blunt said that “separating families does not meet the standard of who we are as a country.”

Rehfeld said he and the senator “talked about coming up with a coherent, bipartisan strategy to deal with a set of issues in the face of …. inhumane tactics being deployed sometimes for what appear to be explicitly partisan and political reasons that are creating innocent victims who happen to be in the way.”

Rehfeld declined to provide specifics on how Blunt responded to the issues he raised but said that he was “candid, honest and forthright.”

Blunt could not be reached for comment. 

On bipartisanship, Rehfeld said the two discussed “what it would take to move to a more civil and collaborative approach to the public good.”

Blunt also met with leaders of Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, a Federation-sponsored nonprofit that focuses on public affairs, and toured the newly-renovated Federation building.