This past Wednesday night, January 25, Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF), under the direction of Rabbi Dr. Joseph Frager, Executive Vice President, and Rabbi David Katz, Executive Director, hosted Simcha Rothman, member of the Knesset for the Religious Zionist Party, rabbis, and community leaders at Prime Bistro in Lawrence. Rabbi Katz introduced the minister and passionately spoke about the need to uplift others with Torah and Yiddishkeit, noting that the Israeli government is one of the biggest supporters of Torah today. Rabbi Katz blessed Rothman to continue bringing k’vod to the world. Dr. Frager spoke about the Jewish people being a united entity, giving the example that within the new coalition in Israel, there are religious Zionists working alongside Charedim as a solitary team in service to Eretz Yisrael. He also pointed out that the minister is going to work hard on maintaining control over Israel’s Area C that covers roughly sixty percent of the West Bank and is home to nearly 400,000 Israelis, and 300,000 Palestinians.

Many of the Israelis residing in the West Bank settlements feel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is continuing the former government’s left-wing policies like allowing for forced evacuations and demolishing outposts despite being elected to advance right-wing strategies. Dr. Frager added, “It is mind boggling that we have allowed the construction of countless villages, structures, schools, and recreational facilities to be built in the Yehudah and Shomron by the Palestinians that essentially surround the Jewish communities and pose a grave threat.”

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Founder and Chairman of Eretz HaKodesh – WZO, President Emeritus, Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), discussed that in Parshas Toldos it says, “When Yaakov brought the food to Yitzchak to receive his blessings, Yitzchak said ‘Come near me so that I may feel you, Hakol kol Yaakov, v’ha’yadayim Y’day Esav,’” where the voice is Yaakov’s, and the hands are Esav’s. Rabbi Lerner asked, “How could it be the voice of Yaakov and the hands of Esav?” The Torah spells kol two ways: kuf lamed, and kuf vav lamed. In the first spelling, it’s missing the vav, meaning it is 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 IHF does, then we are the full spelling of kol and it takes away the hands of Esav. Rabbi Lerner thanked the IHF 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, former member of the Judaic Studies faculty at the Ramaz School, and rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, spoke highly of the great work of the new Knesset coalition, including MK Rothman.

Mr. Scott M. Feltman, Executive Vice President of One Israel Fund, said, “One Israel Fund is an American philanthropic organization committed to the safety and wellbeing of the nearly 500,000 residents of Judea and Samaria providing security and humanitarian aid for residents and communities impacted by the Israeli Disengagement from Gaza in 2005.”

In a Q&A segment with MK Rothman, Zev Brenner, Orthodox Jewish radio host and founder of Talkline Communications, discussed how the media, even under right wing leadership, leans heavily to the left and wondered if the tide will start to turn. They pointed to a common worry that the strong right-wing coalition may galvanize the left by pushing too far.

The evening underlined efforts and tireless dedication of those gathered for the state of Israel, including Howard and Reize Sipzner who were instrumental in bringing the minister to New York.

By Hilary Goldstein, IHF Secretary