Several hundred New York City Jewish community leaders and elected officials gathered last Thursday night to commemorate the third anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. The two-hour memorial for the Israeli leader who risked his life for peace was unfolding even as the drums of war rumbled once again in the Middle East as the late Rabin’s good friend, President Bill Clinton, was deciding on military action against Iraq.
While a religiously split Jewish community was verbally sparring over which U.S. Senate candidate to support, many notables were putting their money where their mouth was.
They were contributing to what is being considered the most expensive Senate race in history, with about $33 million being spent. At the same time they were looking to support the candidate they felt meshed best with their own interests, whether it be the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn or the Conservative and Reform Jews of Manhattan.
James Tisch this month completed the first year of his three-year term as president of UJA-Federation. He recently reflected on his tenure in a conversation with The Jewish Week.
Jewish Week: Has this year been fulfilling?
Local Jewish leaders returned from a 37-hour solidarity trip to Israel this week strengthened in their resolve that, as UJA-Federation executive vice president John Ruskay put it, "We're all in this together."
He added that Israelis seemed committed to "stand firm, particularly after the prime minister had made such an offer for peace" this summer at Camp David. But Ruskay also sensed "an undercurrent of despondency. The choices are difficult and limited, and that's what makes this a crisis."