Last Wednesday night, Jan. 25, the Israel Heritage Foundation’s executive vice president Dr. Joseph Frager and its executive director Rabbi David Katz were honored to host many important rabbis, community leaders and Knesset member Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party) at Prime Bistro in Lawrence, N.Y.
Katz introduced Rothman and passionately spoke about the need to uplift people with Torah and Yiddishkeit, and how the biggest supporters of Torah in the world are in fact those in the Israeli government. Katz gave Rothman a bracha (“blessing”) that he should be able to continue bringing kavod (“honor”) to the world and continue the good work he is doing as a member of the Israeli Knesset.
We were blessed to hear from Frager, who spoke about how the Jewish people are one. He gave an example by pointing out that within the new coalition in Israel, there are religious Zionists and Haredim who work together as one team to serve Israel. Frager also noted that Rothman is going to work hard on maintaining control over Area C in Israel. Area C covers roughly 60% of the West Bank and is home to nearly 300,000 Palestinians and 400,000 Israelis. Many of the Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank feel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is continuing the left-wing policies of the former government by allowing for forced evacuations and the demolishing of outposts even though Minister Gallant was elected to advance right-wing policies. Frager said it is “mind-boggling” that we have allowed the construction of countless villages, structures, schools and recreational facilities to be built in Judea and Samaria by the Palestinians, essentially surrounding the Jewish communities and posing a grave threat.

Among those in attendance, we were honored to hear from Rabbi Pesach Lerner, president emeritus of the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV). He is also the founder and chairman of the Eretz HaKodesh party in the World Zionist Organization within Israel’s national Institutions. Lerner discussed that in Parshas Toldot, it says: “When Yaakov brought the food to Yitzchak in order to receive his blessings, Yitzchak said, ‘Come near me so that I may feel you.’ Yitzchak said, Hakol kol Yaakov, v’ha’yadayim y’day Esav’ (the voice is the voice of Yaakov, and the hands are the hands of Esav).”

Lerner asked: “How could it be the voice of Yaakov and the hands of Esav?” The Torah spells Kol two ways. The first being kuf lamed and the second kuf vav lamed. In the first spelling, it’s missing the vav, meaning it’s missing its voice. If we are missing our voice and don’t stand up for ourselves, then the hands of Esav are strong. If we stand up for ourselves, and we say who we are, which the Israel Heritage Foundation does, then we are the full spelling of kol and it takes away the hands of Esav. The rabbi thanked the Israel Heritage Foundation for embodying kol. We unapologetically make a lot of noise on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

Rabbi Elie Weinstock, senior rabbi of the Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach on Long Island, a former member of the Judaics-studies faculty at the Ramaz School and rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, joined the dinner and spoke very highly of the great work of the new Knesset coalition, praising Rothman in particular.

Mr. Scott M. Feltman, executive vice president of the One Israel Fund, was in attendance at Prime Bistro and welcomed Rothman. One Israel Fund is an American philanthropic organization committed to the safety and well-being of the nearly 500,000 residents of Judea and Samaria (Yehudah and Shomron). One Israel Fund provides security and humanitarian aid for residents and communities impacted by the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

Also in attendance was Zev Brenner, Orthodox Jewish radio host and founder of Talkline Communications, who held a brief Q&A with Rothman. Brenner and Rothman discussed how the media, even under right-wing leadership, leans heavily to the left—and they wondered if the tide will start to turn. They also spoke about how some people worry this strong right-wing coalition may galvanize the left by pushing too far.

We are grateful to all those who joined us last Wednesday evening. It was a truly special night hearing from so many people whose efforts and tireless dedication to the State of Israel do not go unnoticed. We want to thank Reize and Howard Sipzner, who were instrumental in bringing Rothman to the United States. We look forward to continued engagement and partnership between the Israel Heritage Foundation and Rothman, and wish him hatzlacha (“success”) in his post.

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