ZOA Honorees Stress Historical Legacy, Historic Opportunity
Obligation to continue the legacy of the Jewish community and responsibility for conveying Judaism to future generations were the key themes of Harley Lippman’s emotionally charged remarks as he received the Louis Brandeis Memorial Prize at the 113th Annual Dinner of the Zionist Organization of America.
The well attended dinner began with an invocation by Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald who called upon the Jewish people to follow G-d’s admonition to “love the land.” Buchwald’s words very much set the tone for the evening. Danny Danon, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, updated the strongly pro Israel audience with a brief analysis of the current geo political situation. He was preceded by Senator Jeane Pierre Plancade of France whose statement of commitment by members of the French Christian community was warmly received.
Harley Lippman, the Brandeis Honoree, introduced himself with a brief family history, related stories which deeply resonated with so many gathered to honor him and the Zionist Organization of America. A tale of a young Jewish girl’s harrowing experiences in Poland, his own growing awareness of his Jewish heritage and community understanding, coupled with the obligation to “not break the chain of Jewish Heritage” unto the generations. He revealed a great depth of emotion, responsibility and awareness of tikun olam, so integral to the Jewish journey of understanding.
“It means I must educate my children to be committed to Israel,” said the Honoree, making them “a part of what is …the story of the Jewish people.”
In pursuit of those aims, Lippman spoke of the Torah he had presented to the Warsaw Jewish community. The nineteenth century scroll, created in Austria, was returned to Europe as part of the celebration of his daughter Juliet’s Bat Mitzvah celebration. He and his family continue the enhancement of their children’s legacy through participation in an ongoing memorial project, locating and marking the mass graves of Jews killed during the Holocaust.
Education, said Lippman, is a precursor to awareness. Let the lessons of history be a warning, he extolled. “When the Mullahs of Iran say they’re going to wipe Israel off the map, believe them.” The ZOA he continued “understand(s) that a treat to Israel is in itself a threat to the security of the Jewish people…threats that must be recognized as real.”
Noting the 1915 speech of Justice Louis Brandeis calling for the creation of a Jewish Homeland in Israel, a dream fulfilled in 1948, Lippman cautioned that there is an ongoing need for vigilance to preserve its integrity. “The collective memory” of the sons and daughters of immigrants “gives us the passion required …to guard our homeland and keep it safe for our children and our children’s children.” “Grandma,” he called almost prayerfully “I’m trying. I’m trying.”
The overall tone of the evening expressed the deep emotions Israel engenders. Gary Bauer was presented with “The Defender of Israel Award.” The founder of American Values and member of the Board of Christians United for Israel acknowledged that though history was not perfect, Christians who accept the teachings “a Jewish carpenter” as savior must embraced the people from which he had come.
The evening’s final award, named in honor of Ben Hecht the journalist and author who alerted America of the Nazi genocide, was presented to William Kristol, author, professor editor of The Weekly Standard, commentator for Fox News and multifaceted political personality. As he accepted the award, an extraordinary shofar, Kristol spoke of the moral force that enables Western politics “to attempt to restore the dignity of people who remember their heritage” traits he noted were “part of the resolution and strength of the Jewish people.” With a range of references to some of history’s greatest characters, including Winston Churchill and legendary New York Times editor A. M. Rosenthal, the former professor urged “one has an obligation to do as much as possible to educate the young.” “A strong United States,” he summarized, “must stand with a strong Israel.”