Seven-hundred supporters of the National Council of Young Israel heard an upbeat political message, along with a reaffirmation of the group’s religious mission, at the organization’s annual gala last Thursday night in Terrace on the Park in Flushing.
“We thank President Trump for his love of Israel,” dinner chairman and NCYI First Vice President Dr. Joseph Frager said in opening remarks. Frager also thanked the president for commuting the egregious 27-year-long prison sentence of former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Rubashkin.
The gala saluted several worthy honorees, marked the 70th anniversary of the modern state of Israel, and cheered the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci received The Friend of Zion Award and delivered the evening’s keynote speech.
Master of Ceremonies David Drucker, senior editor of the Washington Examiner, introduced Nivia Rosemary Arauz Monzon, consul general of Guatemala, who was warmly welcomed by the crowd. Guatemala’s president recently announced that his country also recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and will move its embassy there.
Sander Gerber, CEO of Hudson Bay Capital and architect of the Taylor Force Act, talked about his advocacy efforts to pass that landmark legislation. In a somber tone, he noted how the P.A. celebrated after Taylor Force was murdered by terrorists.
“For the Palestinian Authority, it was normal, but for the Force family, it was not normal,” he said.
When Stuart Force, father of Taylor Force, was introduced, he was greeted with a standing ovation. He stated that Taylor, who was the first person in their family to travel to Israel — the family is not Jewish — did so after being deeply affected by a tour he took of Auschwitz and being positively influenced by a close Jewish friend.
As he concluded his remarks, Force noted that his family was looking forward to watching President Trump sign the Taylor Force Act into law following its passage by the full Senate, which he hopes will happen soon.
ZOA President Morton Klein spoke about the historic significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish nation and its lack of such import to Muslims.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said “We cannot tolerate any increase in anti-Semitism” and “never should we allow our children to be a party to hate.”
Each of the honorees addressed the crowd in a tribute video, in which they expressed the tremendous impact that the NCYI has had on their lives and their communities.
The honorees included Kenneth S. Abramowitz, managing general partner and co-founder of NGN Capital; Morty and Rozi Davis, owner and chairman of D.H. Blair Investment Banking Corp. and Chairman of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce; Michael and Susan Gross, active members of the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst; Drs. Robert and Jennifer Lebovits, active members of the Young Israel of Greater Pittsburgh, Stanley Sved, former president of the Young Israel of Elkins Park and the Young Israel of the Main Line and former regional vice president of the NCYI; Rabbi Yosef Singer, spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Potomac and president of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington; Rabbi Duvi Honig, founder of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce and the non-profit Parnassah Network organization; Helen Freedman, co-executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel; and Cindy Grosz, a pro-Israel and education activist.
NCYI Executive Director Rabbi Marc Volk spoke about the NCYI’s historic and contemporary role, referencing its regional conferences which give Young Israel synagogues the unique opportunity to share ideas and experiences and collaborate on projects, as well as programs aimed at teaching college students how to properly address anti-Israel attitudes and anti-Semitism they may encounter at school.
As part of the tribute video, NCYI President Farley Weiss spoke about the NCYI’s illustrious past and how the 107-year-old organization played a pivotal role in the revival of American Jewry. Weiss also noted the numerous ways through which the NCYI empowers communities and their leadership through its enduring and enthusiastic Israel advocacy and the wide range of programs and services that it provides its more than 25,000 member families and approximately 135 branch synagogues throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel. Weiss specifically pointed to the fact that the NCYI was the only Jewish organization to organize a coordinated call-in campaign to the White House to support Jerusalem’s recognition in advance of President Trump’s historic announcement. “The National Council of Young Israel will not be silent,” said Weiss. “When there are issues of importance in the Jewish community, we will always speak up.”
The video also featured segments from Fox News anchor Pete Hegseth that reported on his recent trip to Israel, which was sponsored by the National Young Israel and coordinated by NCYI 1st Vice President Dr. Joseph Frager and NCYI Young Leadership Awardee Rabbi Duvi Honig.
Prior to the evening culminating with the award presentations to the honorees, it was a heartfelt and unifying address by the guest of honor that brought the crowd to its feet. Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Communications Director and CEO of SkyBridge Capital, generated a laugh from the crowd when he began his remarks with “Welcome to my Bar Mitzvah.” In addition to detailing how impactful his recent trip to Israel was and how he feels like he is “mishpacha,” Scaramucci also spoke about how his life was “seismically changed by the Jewish culture.” Referring to the Jewish people’s rich history and tradition, Scaramucci said, “What you need to know about your culture is that you are the beacon for Earth’s civilization. What you need to know about your culture going right back to the foundation stone and the whole concept of monotheism, from that sprung forth all of our modern technology, from that sprung forth the civilization and modernity that we’re living today.”
Scaramucci also discussed the importance of Jewish pride and always standing tall in the face of adversity. “You have to be proud of who are and you have to be very proud of what you represent to the world,” he said. “You can never, under any circumstances, give up the fight for your family, give up the fight for your religion, give up the fight for your society and the fairness of the civilization.” Further, the former White House official noted how emotional he felt listening to Stuart Force’s remarks earlier in the evening and pledged to help him get the Taylor Force Act passed and signed into law.
As the crowd enjoyed the lavish dessert, people were chatting excitedly about the incredible program and fantastic dinner that they just experienced and how wonderful it was to be part of such an extraordinary and meaningful celebration of the State of Israel, the capital city of Jerusalem, and the National Council of Young Israel.