By Larry Gordon
The week that has passed was an eventful one, filled with an assortment of interesting and diverse events.
It started last Thursday night with dinner at Mike’s Bistro on East 54th Street with Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.
Erdan, who previously was also the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is living in New York. Danon, like many other dignitaries, was in New York to participate in the Celebrate Israel parade on Sunday under beautiful blue skies, with tens of thousands of celebrants filling 5th Avenue, marching, dancing, and singing in tribute to Israel.
Ambassador Danon, who is also the chairman of World Likud, was also in New York to promote his new book, In The Lion’s Den, which takes us through his five and a half years as Israel’s envoy to that international body and the usual hostility and difficulties that any Israeli representative there has to endure.
The fascinating aspect of Danny Danon’s tenure at the UN was that for his first 18 months as Israel’s representative, he had to deal with the Obama administration’s UN policies as they impact on Israel. And then the following four years, Danon had the distinct pleasure and benefit of serving Israel at the UN with Donald Trump in the White House and Ambassador Nikki Haley at his side as a very pro-Israel UN ambassador representing the U.S. Ambassador Haley wrote the foreword to the new volume.
Danon points out in his new book that a great deal of the U.S. policy at the UN at the end of the Obama administration was driven by the personal animus that existed between Barack Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obama’s disdain for Israel existed from the start but was exacerbated by Netanyahu’s emphatic campaign against the 44th president’s efforts to sign a deal with Iran that Obama imagined was going to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons. The agreement was signed, and then scuttled by President Trump, with Joe Biden currently trying to bring it back into existence.
The 200-page book is a great read that also explores the accomplishments that Danon achieved in striking up excellent relationships with ambassadors from countries that may have once been hostile to Israel but who, based on their personal contact with Ambassador Danon, saw those connections between their countries and Israel vastly improved.
This past Sunday, Arutz 7 hosted their first New York City Jerusalem Conference at the InterContinental Hotel in Times Square. It was a well-attended, important event, with participants and leaders from Israel and the U.S. exploring and discussing the U.S.–Israel relationship in what seems to always be difficult and trying times.
Perhaps we should refer to these times we live in as “challenging.” In any event, we heard remarkable insights from Israeli government officials as well as leaders of private industry, mostly testifying to the miracle that the thriving Jewish state is today.
Many of the Israeli officials were also in town to take part in the Sunday parade, so in a sense it was wall-to-wall Israel and celebration.
Amongst those who addressed the crowd were Israel’s MK and Minister of Jerusalem Zev Elkin. Also present was MK Pnina Tamano Shata, who is also minister of Aliyah and Integration; Former Trump administration Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt; Rabbi Yeshoshua Fass, founder and director of Nefesh B’Nefesh; Mayor of Bet Shemesh Aliza Block; former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon; and many more.
The event was a first for Arutz 7, an important source of news from Israel for many of us, and it was a great success. Next year’s Jerusalem Conference is already on the drawing board.
Closer to home, Monday evening featured the Teach NYS Long Island and Far Rockaway Dinner at the Woodmere Club. Over the last several years, TEACH has made extraordinary inroads in dealing with state governments and communicating to them the value of yeshiva education to our communities and why it is in the government’s interest to fund programs in our schools just as they do in public schools.
Maury Litwack, the founding executive director of TEACH, which has now merged with the Orthodox Union, has led the way in encouraging schools and parents of students in our schools to be proactive and lobby and petition our elected representatives to pass legislation that funds aspects of yeshiva education that exist outside of the religion–state educational divide.
The featured speaker at the Monday-evening event was Congressman Antonio Delgado of upstate New York. On Tuesday, Delgado was sworn in as lieutenant-governor, replacing the previous lieutenant-governor, Brian Benjamin, who resigned amidst a bribery charge.
Delgado spoke passionately and with conviction about the importance of education and how it changed his life, leading him to a seat in Congress and now into the lieutenant-governor’s office.
Delgado’s wife, Lacey Schwartz, is Jewish, and the congressman mentioned the other night that they are raising their twin 5-year-old boys as Jewish. Obviously, her story is both fascinating and challenging, and there is a documentary about her life experience that can be accessed online.
Antonio Delgado is ascending politically, and at age 41 he has a bright future ahead of him. For us, it is important to know that he understands our community and he is a close friend.
Tuesday night belonged to United Hatzalah of Israel at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. This was their third annual New York Gala, and the outpouring of support was record-breaking.
It was a spectacular evening, with the sushi bar and multiple minyanim for Minchah and Ma’ariv held on the veranda overlooking the Hudson River.
As one attendee commented to me, “United Hatzalah brings everyone together from all areas of Jewish life; it’s a beautiful and meaningful display.”
In addition to the large crowd, also present was one of Hatzalah’s trademark ambu-cycles that have revolutionized emergency medical care in Israel over the last two decades.
United Hatzalah is the brainchild of Eli Beer whose vision saw that a better way to do things is absolutely possible. In this case, it meant that if there is a medical emergency, there is no longer a need for large emergency vehicles to make their way through increasingly impossible traffic jams in densely populated cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
There are few projects that one can support that impact so entirely on all of Israel.
By the time the Yeshiva University graduation ceremony, followed by an Ishay Ribo concert at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, takes place, this issue of the 5TJT will already be in your hands.
So, I cannot tell you how outstanding an event this was, but I can tell you how this high point of the season was so greatly anticipated. The two or so times that I have already seen Ribo perform left me understanding that there are very few performers who can do what Ishay Ribo does.
Under the direction and with the inspiration of Rabbi Ari Berman, who spent last Shabbos as scholar-in-residence at the Young Israel of Woodmere, YU is reaching to higher levels than any time in the past. From their rabbinical ordination program at RIETS to the Maccabees on the basketball court, YU celebrates and impacts upon the full gamut of Jewish life, and for that we all need to be grateful and supportive.
And finally, this Sunday heading into Memorial Day, the Five Towns and specifically Lawrence and Cedarhurst will be observing the day with a salute to our heroes with a parade on Central Avenue to Andrew Parise Park in Cedarhurst.
The parade will feature fire department vehicles, Hatzalah ambulances, the Lawrence High School Marching Band, a mariachi band, and appearances by local elected officials. All are invited to line the streets and watch the parade. The event begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 29.
The Lawrence-Cedarhurst Memorial Day Parade is a great tribute to those who have made the supreme sacrifice in defense of the United States of America. There is simply not enough that can be said or done to express our appreciation. The annual parade was revitalized by Lawrence Trustee Paris Popack and her husband, Yossi, for which we express our gratitude.
In a sense, all the disparate events mentioned above impact and influence who we are in a variety of ways. From Israel to New York and even closer to home in the Five Towns, these events touch Jewish life from all kinds of directions. These events unify all of us and give us focus, direction, and meaning in our lives.
All this took place in just a week. There’s more to come in the week ahead.
Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.