Well over one thousand people gathered at the New York Hilton this past Sunday for Agudath Israel of America’s annual dinner. Featuring a long list of speakers and presentations, the Dinner paid tribute to various individuals who have made an impact on the community, as well as powerful messages from political and rabbinical leaders.
For the political part of the evening, United States Senator Daniel Coats (R. Indiana), delivered an address describing how he has become familiar with the Orthodox community through its Washington offices. In his message, the senator, a Baptist Christian, drew parallels between his personal beliefs and those of the Orthodox community. “We are both religious, both concerned about the moral decay of society around us, and both care deeply for the security of the State of Israel.”
These sentiments were echoed by New York Senator Charles Schumer, who also stated that just as Israel has attacked Syria, they should also be able to attack Iran should it be necessary.
Video presentations were shown of the evening’s community service honorees, featuring an eclectic group of individuals from various communities including Chasidic, Sephardic and Ashkenazic.
The head of Agudath Israel, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, expressed his concern over the proposed draft of Yeshiva students in Israel to the army and announced that this Thursday will be a day of prayer in shuls and yeshivas to annul the decree.
Additional presentations were made to several individuals for their contribution to Agudah and the orthodox community, including a stirring video presentation to the legendary Rabbi Ronald Greenwald. In his message, Rabbi Greenwald, a long time advocate for kids at risk, urged parents and educators to “ be happy, and make Yiddishkiet happy and exciting”
Perhaps the evening’s most poignant moment came during the address of Agudah’s Executive Vice President, Rabbi David Zwiebel. He provided an overview of Agudah’s activities and stated that now, as in the past, the Orthodox community is under attack, and needs the advocacy of the Agudah. He proceeded to quote Mayor Bloomberg’s now infamous words, when discussing regulating Metzitza Bpeh, “ Who wants ten thousand black hats protesting outside your home?”
Imagine, he stated, “if we would leave out the word ‘hats’ from that statement? What would the public reaction be?” He then proceeded to don his own black hat, and stated that now, as in the past, the Orthodox community is under attack, and urged members of the community to join the ranks of the Agudah.
The evening concluded with a video presentation of highlights of the recent Siyum Hashas.