CELEBRATING YOM YERUSHALAYIM—OU ISRAEL STYLE!
By Rabbi Avi Baumol
Director of Communications, OU Israel
Striking a perfect balance between Torah, spirit, great food, good friends and, of course, acknowledging the miracle of returning to Yerushalayim, this year’s Fourth Annual Orthodox Union Israel dinner was a major success. With almost 400 guests in attendance, Zvi Sand, the Dinner Chairman, introduced Rabbi Avi Berman, the Director of OU Israel. Rabbi Berman’s succinct message was that the simple meaning of the word Yerushalayim is comprised of two words found in the Torah — Yeru and Shalem. Yeru connotes vision, or a desire to see, to actualize, to behold; Shalem connotes completion, perfection, wholeness.
Joining the two words is the mission of every Jew — when we arrive at Yerushalayim as the nation of God, driven by the Torah and mitzvot as well as by an attitude of loving and helping out Am Yisrael — that is when we will have reached the ideal existence, Yerushalayim. Everyone in the room was in some way attempting to visualize the completion of our long collective journey; everyone in the room also understood that this is the mission of OU Israel — to strive towards and to help facilitate the vision of perfection — of Yerushalayim.
President of OU Israel Yitzchak Fund shared a d'var Torah and introduced the guest speaker, the recipient of the Amud Ha’Torah Award, Rabbi Zev Leff. In his masterful and inspiring way, Rabbi Leff shined light both on the chag of Yom Yerushalayim and on the OU and its role in strengthening Torah and chessed in the capital for the past 25 years. At the end of the lecture, the entire congregation arose for a tefilla chagigit in honor of the chag. Led by esteemed chazan Dovid Weinberger, the tefilla was accompanied by songs of Yerushalayim and Shirei Ha’Maalot in honor of the miracle of returning to a unified Jerusalem.
Dinner, Entertainment and Awards
The dinner featured a new and exciting promotional video about OU Israel, with the message that OU Israel is actually many organizations in one. Torah and chessed, trips and Torah Tidbits, are ever-present at the Center, but the influence of OU Israel reaches much further. The kiruv/outreach program Lev Yehudi spans over twenty branches affecting adults and youth throughout the country; our youth movement, Makom Balev, has influenced the lives more than 3,000 youngsters in the past few years, giving them hope and friendship as well as instilling in them Jewish values. We have programs for men and women in the Israeli army; for religious and secular young people; for new immigrants and yeshiva students; and the list goes on.
Videos about each honoree showed their background and philosophy in a concise yet picturesque manner. A surprise award was presented to Rabbi David Cohen for his years of leadership and service at the Israel Center.
Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, the recipient of the Shuvu Banim Award, concluded the dinner by passionately calling for a return of all Jews to Eretz Yisrael and for the understanding that our return to the Holy Land is nothing short of the realization of a prophetic dream.