I’m honored to be in Jerusalem with all of you tonight, for this exciting occasion. And at the risk of not recognizing the many esteemed individuals here today, I would like to personally thank Mayor Barkat, Natan Sharansky, Ambassador Shapiro, and Ambassador Chodorowicz, for joining us this evening.
I’ve always felt that the best way to ensure the health and well-being of the Jewish people is to care for that health and well-being right now. I feel it’s vital to support all segments of our Jewish peoplehood. Bringing all segments of Jewish life together makes us better prepared to meet our future challenges.
We look forward to the revitalized Jerusalem HUC-JIR campus encouraging increased interaction between members of the HUC-JIR community and leading Jewish institutions around the world — from Israel to North America to Europe.
But that’s not the only reason we are supporting HUC-JIR. It’s also personal. Rabbi David Ellenson, who is here with us today, has long been a valued friend. He is an extraordinary human being who was influential in shaping my own commitments to the Jewish community and Jewish institutions, which have focused on the rebirth of Jewish life and culture in my birthplace of Poland. I have been fortunate more recently to know Rabbi Aaaron Panken too, whose interest in Jewish life globally has opened the doors to our ongoing conversation about HUC-JIR engagement in Jewish life and culture in Poland.
My colleagues, and particularly Shana Penn, Anita Friedman Jeff Farber, and I are excited and proud that this gift will both strengthen and beautify HUC-JIR’s work of scholarship and community-building. There is nothing more important to us than ensuring that the Jewish people will thrive in a peaceful existence for generations to come. I am confident that a new Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion campus in Jerusalem will have a central role in helping to achieve that goal.