By COLlive reporter
Photos by Freed Photography
Two days after an historic election in Israel in which the Prime Minsiter’s Likud party won handily, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda took time this past Thursday to attend the Annual Gala Dinner benefiting the Chabad Center of Bethesda.
The Chabad Center is directed by Rabbi Sender and Nechamie Geisinsky – personal friends of the Dermers – and is under the auspices of Mercaz Menachem Chabad the organization that oversees all Chabad activities in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area helmed by Rabbi Bentzion Geisinsky – Rabbi Sender Geisinsky’s father.
The Ambassador was honored at the formal event attended by nearly 200 of Chabad’s key supporters for his lifelong commitment and vital work on behalf of the citizens of Israel and their interests. The Ambassador’s efforts have been of unique importance in light of the increasingly precarious situation facing Israel in recent months.
The award was presented by the executive vice-president of Bnai Brith International Mr. Dan Mariaschin, himself a friend of the Chabad Center in Bethesda. In his brief remarks, Mariaschin shared his respect for the Chabad centers he’s encountered in his many travels all over the world and especially the Chabad Centers in Bethesda and Chevy Chase, his home base. He then went on to express his deep admiration of the Ambassador; his unique character, moral clarity, and his unwavering commitment to his accepted life mission in safe guarding the people of the Holy Land.
The Ambassador accepted the award in the presence of his wife and Rabbi Sender and Nechamie Geisinsky. He then took the podium and began by lauding the Chabad Center of Bethesda and its Rabbi. “In my time I have met a few true leaders, those include Natan Sharansky and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… Rabbi Sender Geisinsky is a leader.”
The bulk of his speech which was received with enthusiastic applause, was extolling the unique treasure that a sovereign Israel was to a Jewish People whose history was one wandering without a homeland. He mentioned 3 specific items that Israel provides to a Jewish People under global threat of anti-semitism, namely: a safe haven, an ability to defend themselves, and a sovereign voice that will not be silenced. He cautioned against complacency and remaining vigilant in protecting these gifts.
He issued a call to action for American Jews to support Israel by any means available to them: “Whether you choose to live in our ancestral homeland or not, Jewish People around the world benefit by having a strong and secure Israel.” He highlighted the need of every Jew to cultivate an knowledge and pride in their Jewish identity and that this above all else is how Jews can support the Jewish State. In this, he sees Chabad as a unique and able partner in helping Jews in any corner of the world discover their Jewish identity and pride.
Rabbi Sender Geisinsky, director of Chabad of Bethesda – organizer of the Gala Dinner, “It has been truly an honor to have gotten to know Ambassador Dermer and his family. His commitment to the people of the Holy Land and his diligence in representing and safeguarding their interests is something that has been true inspiration to myself and to so many others within the community. We are grateful for what he is doing on behalf of our brethren especially in these critical times. It means so much to us that as busy as the Ambassador must be in these days immediately following these pivotal elections, He and Rhoda came out to support this event.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, incoming national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others explains what so special about Chabad.