By Larry Gordon

Thankfully, Election Day and the long electoral process are now over. Actually, on second thought, that is not the case. As the polls closed on Tuesday night it signaled the next phase of what has become endless campaigning for elected office in this country. On Wednesday, even though some of the final vote counts were not in yet, the march toward the next big election—for president of the United States—unofficially began.

At about 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday it was announced that, based on voter patterns, it was clear that the Democrats would assume control of the House of Representatives. While that is not very good news for the country, out of a combination of winners and losers, the real winners on election night were the news outlets and cable channels.

Look at it this way: It’s been two years of reporting on the Trump effect and the president’s promise to “win, win, win.” Now the nature of the coverage shifts to a new dynamic and vantage point. We have an extremely successful president who now has to work with—or face off against—a Democrat majority in the House that has been working tirelessly to undermine him.

So in the aftermath of this widely reported Election Day, there are essentially two new things to watch and report upon. One is the choice the new Democratic leadership has to make about whether to investigate, as they have grown accustomed to, or to legislate, as per the will of the people.

The second matter of importance is what the Trump reaction will be. Can the president be presidential, or will he choose to continue to use his street-fighting skills for the next two years?

Most importantly, the result of the election is a manifestation of the vision of the Founding Fathers and the will of the people. Structuring government in this way, so that government should operate with checks and balances, was the idea vested in the very formation of the United States.

On the local level, Maury Litwack of TEACH NYS says that some of education’s best friends and advocates in dealing with the yeshiva tuition crisis have moved up and are in more powerful and influential positions in New York State government.

In addition to Andrew Cuomo being resoundingly reelected to a third term as governor, friends of the community, like Letitia James, moved into the attorney general’s office, and Senator Todd Kaminsky is now a senior member of the new Democratic majority in the State Senate, so things are indeed looking good.

The other good news is that some of Israel’s best friends in Congress have not just prevailed, but all the new senators are close allies of the president and of the state of Israel as well. Senator Ted Cruz prevailed in Texas by a small but definitive margin. Rick Scott, former governor of Florida, is now Senator Scott. The Republican margin in the Senate might grow to as much as 56–44, which is a great accomplishment for Mr. Trump.

In the House, despite a small margin of Democratic victory, important friends like Peter King and Lee Zeldin, both of Long Island, won their races and will continue to be important voices in Congress who support issues and ideas close to the Jewish community. More importantly, there was no blue wave; some are now calling it a blue puddle and little more than that.

For now, it is the nature of the story in the media that will experience the most drastic changes—not the nature of the government or the Trump agenda.

{IMG Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, rabbi of YI of North Woodmere and kidney donor.jpg

{Caption: Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, rabbi of Beis HaKnesses of North Woodmere and kidney donor

{Photo credit Tzvi Simcha Cohen

Two Great Events, Two Nights

Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, rabbi of Beis HaKnesses of North Woodmere and kidney donor Photo credit Tzvi Simcha Cohen

It was an unusual outpouring of support from a cross-section of the community. But how can you disagree or argue with an organization that saves people’s lives? You have those whose lives were turned around and indeed saved present at the same podium with those who saved their lives.

It is not a mystery that this event, which took place Saturday night at Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, was about the extraordinary work of Renewal.

Renewal, as we have recounted in these pages over the years, was founded by Boro Park resident Mendy Reiner about 12 years ago. Since then, the organization has presided over more than 500 kidney transplants — all on an altruistic and chesed basis that is the zenith of what it means to be giving when it comes to your fellow man or woman.

It was a dozen years ago when a person Mr. Reiner knew called him to say hello. When Mendy asked the man how he was doing, he responded that he was not doing well. Reflexively, Mendy Reiner thought that the individual was having financial difficulties. So he asked the man how much he needed in order to deal with the matter. To that Reiner was told that no, it was not an economic issue but rather that the man needed a kidney.

Mendy Reiner will tell you this story as often as you would like to hear it. The fact is that after advertising in a local Brooklyn Jewish newspaper he found a donor for his friend. Unbeknownst to him, that was the early stage of what would become Renewal.

As mentioned, that was 500 kidney transplants ago. At the event on Saturday night, the overflow crowd essentially paid tribute to those who selflessly donate one of their two kidneys, most of the time to a person they do not know and do not even meet until many months  — or even longer — after the transplant takes place.

Last weekend, Renewal representatives fanned out across the Five Towns, speaking in shuls about their very special and holy work. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak with kidney donors and their recipients and have consistently come to the conclusion that both recipients and donors are some of the most special people you will ever meet.

The guest of honor for the evening was Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz of Beis HaKnesses of North Woodmere. Rabbi Lebowitz donated a kidney almost a year ago to a person he did not know or meet. In introducing the rabbi, Josh Sturm, the executive director of Renewal, said that it took some convincing to get Rabbi Lebowitz to come forward and acknowledge this great act.

High-profile people like Rabbi Lebowitz serve as a catalyst and inspiration for others to become kidney donors. Today there are over 400 people on the Renewal list waiting for a kidney donor and match. While there is no cost involved for the donor or the recipient in these lifesaving surgical procedures, each transplant costs Renewal about $19,000.

So there is a broad gamut of opportunities here to help people in need, and they all involve giving in one fashion or another.

ZOA Gala Dinner

The Zionist Organization of America dinner is always a high point in the annual schedule of tribute dinners on the New York scene at this juncture of the year.

This year’s dinner did not disappoint. The change in venue from the Grand Hyatt to the Marriott Marquis was refreshing and afforded the event a new look and dimension. For whatever reason, it just seems that the Marriott is more dinner-friendly than some of the other ballrooms in the city.

The VIP reception prior to the dinner afforded us an opportunity to exchange ideas with some of the leading political personalities of the day. Some of those present included Trump administration National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton, Israel UN Ambassador Danny Danon, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, noted attorney Alan Dershowitz, and radio and TV personalities Mark Levin and Kimberly Guilfoyle.

With over 1,000 guests at the dinner, the event was wall-to-wall support for the Trump agenda and in particular the president’s support for Israel.

The man who’s been keeping it all together for ZOA over the last quarter of a century is the inimitable Mort Klein. His intellect, honesty, and outspokenness on the U.S.–Israel relationship is respected and listened to far and wide. It was indeed a great and important night for Israel and the U.S.–Israel connection going forward. 

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