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November 25, 2010 10:17 pm

Michael Oren Addresses Migdal Ohr Gathering

avatar by Natalie Braier

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Rav Grossman, center, is fondly known as the "disco Rabbi," visits and rehabilitates many prisoners, and has been awarded the Israel Prize and the Israel Tolerance Prize, among others accolades.

A hearty ‘shavua tov’ kicked off the honorable Michael Oren’s keynote address to the 400 guests at Saturday night’s 26th annual American Friends of Migdal Ohr gala.   Israel’s Ambassador to the United States lamented that 65 years after ‘The Nazis Quit’ poster that still hangs in his parents’ New Jersey living room, the state of Israel continues to face a host of existential threats particularly from Iran and its nuclear capabilities.   Never the less Israel continues to repel its enemies’ attempts to de-humanize the Jewish homeland by fighting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), securing its borders and ‘keeping all options on the table’ against Iran.

The Ivy League educated Ambassador confidently concluded that Migdal Ohr, with Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman at the helm, is a prime example of an organization that embodies our people’s power to meet challenges – through faith and resilience Israel ‘will not only survive but continue to thrive’.

To the uninitiated observer, Rabbi Grossman’s center stage figure casts an image of a saintly sage, uninhibited by mundane corporal existence.  However, in the wake of the Six Day War, this 6th generation Jerusalemite exchanged the city’s holy walls for barbed wire fences and discoteques.    Since 1972, Rabbi Grossman’s organization, Migdal Ohr has been providing education and social guidance to underprivileged children and prisoners with the goal of transforming them into proud and productive citizens.

Rabbi Grossman explained to the captivated audience that his solution to Israel’s clear and present danger is not political or confrontational.  Rabbi Grossman continued that his prescription involves an introspective approach that emphasizes a dedication and love for every single Jew.  Rabbi Grossman noted that ‘Yeshuas Hashem Ke’Eref Ayin’ and if Am Yisroel wants ‘nissim’, it has to step up to the plate.

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The highlight of the evening was a short film featuring Eli, a young orphaned Russian boy who had immigrated to Israel with his elderly grandfather.  Eli expressed how Migdal Ohr had given him hope and promised to ‘always remain a Jew’.  Fast forward to Saturday night and to the delight (and tears) of the crowd, a grown Eli, in full Israeli air force regalia and yarmulke, appeared on stage.  Eli enthusiastically reinforced that Migdal Ohr had given him the tools to help others, had imbued him with Torah values and played a key role in teaching him to be a productive citizen.

The gala concluded with an awards ceremony, decorating the guests of honor, Sandy and Jerry Seligsohn as well as Esther Miller.  The young leadership award went to Fabia Preminger for her enduring commitment to making dreams come true for Migdal Ohr’s brides.

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