At the One Israel Fund Dinner, the Message Was the Jewish Tradition of Bravery and the Need to Help Israel’s Most Vulnerable Communities

Jun 16, 2015 by

Clipart_Israel Fund DinnerSupporters of those who reside in Judea and Samaria must stop begging the UN and other world leaders to protect the Jewish nation, according to a Jewish spiritual leader who has gained a world-wide reputation in the Jewish, Christian, and secular world as an author, speaker, and media host.

“We proclaim that our Creator protects us. We are a nation of destiny. We have to tell the world of our danger. Waiting for permission to speak weakens us,” said Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

Often referred to as “America’s Rabbi,” Rabbi Boteach made his remarks as the keynote speaker at last month’s One Israel Fund’s 21st anniversary Gala Dinner, held in Manhattan.

Supporting Yesha

Since 1994, One Israel Fund has been dedicated to supporting the welfare and safety of the men, women, and children of Judea and Samaria—Yehuda and Shomron—as well as those who have been adversely impacted by the Gaza evacuation in 2005.

“These nearly 400,000 citizens of Israel are the vanguard of Israel’s security and sovereignty as a Jewish State,” said One Israel Fund president Steven Orlow.

During the summer of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, One Israel Fund expanded its scope to provide support and security to those Israelis living in the Gaza border communities and other vulnerable regions.

The mission of the 50-day Israeli operation was to put an end to the incessant rocket fire from Hamas terrorists based in Gaza onto Israeli civilian targets.

Joseph’s Tomb

An ardent Zionist who is no stranger to taking on critics of the Jewish State, Rabbi Boteach shared with the One Israel Fund’s supporters his recent experience during a visit to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus), located in territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

Jews regained access to the site in the 1967 Six-Day War and, in the 1980s, established a yeshiva, Od Yosef Chai, there, with a contingent of IDF troops necessary to protect the students.

In 1995, as a result of the Oslo Accords, Israel relinquished Shechem to the PA, which was charged with protecting the site and allowing Jewish access to it. One year later, however, Palestinian rioters attacked the tomb and six Israeli soldiers were killed.

In 2000, during the Intifada War, Palestinian police stood by as an Arab mob burned Jewish books and desecrated the yeshiva’s Beit Medrash. The Israeli Army outpost was also destroyed, and the IDF withdrew completely from the site, leaving it in the hands of the Palestinians.

Since then, Jews no longer enjoy ready access to the site, although pilgrims are, at times, allowed to enter under IDF armed escort.

Like Thieves

The group with whom Rabbi Boteach visited the site had 1,000 Israeli soldiers to protect them while they prayed. Nevertheless, Rabbi Boteach described the Jewish entrance into Shechem as “sneaking in as though we were thieves.”

“This is unbelievable in our time.  I am a Jew. I have occupied no man’s land,” he said.

He urged the One Israel Fund supporters not to be fearful, especially in light of the history of Jewish bravery. He pointed, as an example, to the current Jewish residents of Hebron, whom he also recently visited. The young people there regularly combine Torah study with service in fighting units of the IDF.

Tradition of Bravery

A follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, z”tl, Rabbi Boteach recalled the bravery of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer, the 18th-century founder of Chassidic Judaism. The Baal Shem Tov often ventured into dangerous woodland, training himself to fear no one.

Rabbi Boteach also mentioned Martin Luther King, Jr, who often praised Jewish efforts to establish and maintain Israel, despite the dangers, calling the Jewish state “one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.”

Rabbi Boteach maintained that the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, and their supporters, follow in that tradition of Jewish bravery.

“We Jews inspire fearlessness in others. No others have inspired us more than those in Judea and Samaria, those who live under the threat of complete attack day and night. It would be an incalculable loss if we didn’t have Jews of Judea and Samaria and the New York Jewish community that supports them,” he said.

Continue the Visits

The One Israel Fund dinner at which Rabbi Boteach spoke was the organization’s 21st annual Gala. It featured a lavish buffet catered by Mauzone and an art exhibition by Avi Polinsky of Your Arts Desire. The dinner was held in Tribeca, against the breathtaking backdrop of the city skyline with the Freedom Tower standing tall.

The program was opened by Eve Harow, host of the Rejuvenation program on Voice of Israel Radio and a long-time community activist in the Judean Hills. She praised the essential partnership between the people of the Yehuda and Shomron region and the people gathered that evening in support.

As the One Israel Fund’s director of tourism, Ms. Harow urged its supporters to continue visiting and touring the land of Israel.

“Participate and take the trips and see the people of the communities and how they are doing there. They are doing it for all of us,” she said, adding that her youngest child had recently entered the Israeli army, a fact that made the communal recitation of prayers for the welfare of the IDF and its soldiers even more heartfelt than usual.

Local Security Chiefs

The need for prayers and funds was made clear by a video tribute honoring Zeevik Etzion, z”l, who served as a RavShatz (security chief) of Kibbutz  Nirim, located in the Negev, near the Gaza border. He had devoted his life to the safety and security of his community and its 620 residents. On August 26, 2014, just hours before the final ceasefire that ended Operation Protective Edge, a mortar shell from Gaza killed Mr. Etzion and his deputy officer, Shachar Melamed, z”l.

As explained by One Israel Fund Executive Vice-President Scott Feltman and the fund’s director of security projects, Marc Provisor, the RavShatz is the community’s first responder and must be equipped to protect himself in order to carry out that critical job.

“Providing these brave men with proper protective gear and life-saving equipment and supplies is crucial in preventing future casualties,” said Mr. Feltman.

“Vests 4 Israel”

At the dinner, a new One Israel Fund project was introduced: “Vests 4 Israel,” an initiative, in partnership with the IDF, to supply new protective vests to the RavShatzim in southern Israel, near the Gaza border, as well as in Judea and Samaria and along Israel’s northern border.

The new project is being conducted in memory of Mr. Etzion, and is expected to save lives among his fellow RavShatzim in his merit.

Mr. Orlow stressed that support for the fund truly makes the difference between life and death for many of its beneficiaries.


At the dinner, those honored with the One Israel’s Fund’s Community Service Award were: David Berman, Alex Cerrano, Charles Dantone, Michael Page, and Carol Szumski of Signature Bank.

Elisha Aryeh of Far Rockaway and Josh Hoffman of Staten Island were given Manhigut Tze’erim Awards for Young Professional Leadership, and One Israel Fund board member, Suzie Schwartzstein, of Woodmere, received the fund’s Aishet Chayil Award.

Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon, the founder of JobKatif, was given the One Israel Fund’s Hakarat HaTov Award for his efforts to help the almost 10,000 Jews expelled from their homes, communities, schools, and businesses in the 2005 “Disengagement” from Gush Katif, Gaza.

JobKatif assumed the responsibility of assisting the newly homeless Jews in the task of finding jobs, an effort which often required helping them receive extensive training in order to enter new fields.

At the dinner, Rav Rimon, a leading Israeli educator and authority on halacha, explained that the Jewish people have a mission in the world. Not only do they help their own, he said, but they also assist people throughout the world in aid missions, such as the recent one in Nepal. He called the IDF “the world’s most compassionate army.”


For more information on “Vests 4 Israel” and other One Israel Fund programs, including its tours, the fund can be reached at 1175 W Broadway # 10, Hewlett, NY 11557, or by calling 516-239-9203.

Mr. Feltman closed the program by encouraging supporters of the One Israel Fund to participate in the organization’s upcoming tours this summer in Israel with Ms. Harow.

“Join us; see the land and the people that need the support. We need your support always. We can’t do it alone,” he said.


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