“JEWISH HERITAGE CELEBRATED IN LOWER MANHATTAN” by Fern Sidman

John C. Liu

An overflow crowd gathered in the cavernous lobby of the stately New York Surrogate Courthouse in lower Manhattan on Monday evening December 20th for a moving evening dedicated to the majestic heritage of the Jewish nation. Sponsored by the Agudath Israel, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the Met Council on Jewish Poverty and the UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Heritage celebration was the brainchild of New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, a native of Taiwan, who was the chief organizer of the event.

Among the dignitaries, elected officials and celebrities present at the event were German born Jewish psychologist and sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer. radio personality Nachum Segal, Helen Freedman, Executive Director of Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI), New York State Assemblyman David Weprin, Consul General of Israel, Ido Aharoni, former New York City Councilman and current Deputy Comptroller for Budget and Accounting of the City of New York, Simcha Felder, Judith Shapiro of Jewish Heritage NY and NYS Assemblyman Michael Miller.

“I not only consider myself a friend to the Jewish community, but one who developed a true appreciation and understanding of the rich cultural and religious traditions of this timeless and eternal nation”, said Mr. Liu. In his introductory remarks, Mr. Liu mentioned that he had just returned from his second trip to Israel and found it to be “a most magnificent experience in every way” and extended his thanks to the Jewish Community Relations Council for sponsoring this trip and his previous trip which took place in 1999. “I was extremely honored to visit Israel for the first time, along with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who had lived in Israel after World War II.”

Mr. Liu made reference to his participation in Chanukah menorah lighting ceremonies and his introduction to eating Hamantaschen on Purim. “Being a part of these traditions is very important to me and I salute the Jewish people for not only representing a beacon of light and hope to the world but for teaching the world the true meaning of freedom, democracy and liberty.”

Quoting the late David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, said, “Being a realist in Israel means that you must believe in miracles. Our very existence as a people since the dawn of time has been solely dependent of the mercy and compassion of the G-d of Israel and tonight we celebrate the heritage that we clung to and sacrificed for throughout the millennium.” Mr. Aharoni praised John Liu as being “a courageous bridge between Israel and New York City.”

Helen Freedman of the Americans For A Safe Israel said in an interview that, “It is wonderful to see so many supporters of Israel and the Jewish people gathered here tonight. As the nation of Israel faces the most difficult and challenging times, we are deeply indebted to people like John Liu and other non-Jewish friends and allies.”

Among those honored at Jewish Heritage of New York were Anna Rachmansky, the president of the Shorefront YMHA of Brighton Beach. Ms. Rachmansky arrived in the United States 30 years ago from the former Soviet Union and has dedicated her efforts towards creating a wide variety of social service programs that assist the Russian-Jewish community. She is also the chairperson of the Russian leadership division of the UJA-Federation on New York and recently delivered remarks at “The Wall Street Dinner”, a premiere UJA fundraising event. She also works closely with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

“We must never forget that there are those out there who struggle with hunger and poverty on a daily basis”, declared Alexander Rapaport, who was honored for operating soup kitchens in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn. With the invaluable assistance of the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, Mr Rapaport serves over 500 meals every day to those in need.

Praised for his work of saving Jewish lives 365 days a year through his work with Hatzolah, was honoree Rabbi David Cohen. Hatzolah, as an organization, is the largest volunteer ambulance service in the world. Chevra Hatzolah in New York has more than a thousand volunteer EMTs and paramedics who answer more than 250,000 calls each year with private vehicles and a fleet of more than 70 ambulances. Hatzolah members were among the first responders to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and alongside other rescue workers, Hatzolah volunteers risked their lives to rescue, treat, and transport countless victims of the terrorist attack.In the process they earned great respect from their peers in the emergency service community.

Deborah Hes, the executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Washington Heights was honored for her diligent efforts in helping Russian Jews integrate into the complex network of the New York City community. Also being honored was Steven Goodman for his four decades of Jewish communal service through his work the YMHA system of programs that help the less fortunate.

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

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