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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Hosts Reception Celebrating Jewish Heritage

Mayor Eric Adams hosted a reception at Gracie Mansion to celebrate Jewish heritage, highlighting the importance of standing against antisemitism and promoting unity. The event featured speeches by various dignitaries, including Consul General Ofir Akunis and other community leaders, who emphasized the need for brave leadership, solidarity with Israel, and the fight against hate.

Consul General Ofir Akunis, Consulate General of Israel in New York: Good evening. Shalom Lekulam. The mayor, the Israeli mayors, the new Israeli mayors, Shalom. 

It’s great to see you all. Before and above all, I want to say a huge thank you to Mayor Eric Adams for this beautiful hospitality today at his home. I want to tell you all, I want to tell you something. 

As some of you may know, I arrived in New York on May 1st. Guess who my first meeting was with? Of course, Mayor Adams. Mayor Adams is a brave leader. I understand that what the world needs now is brave leaders. Yes, you’re right. Brave leaders. 

He’s a brave leader, not just because he is a great supporter of Israel, but because he recognizes and stands against the axis of evil on behalf of the whole free world. As I told Mayor Adams, today the world needs brave leaders. This is more important than ever. 

For a simple reason, it’s not a secret that we are in a challenging time. We are hearing a lot of antisemitic chants, but also anti-American chants. For example, I want to give you an example. From the last few days, you better hear that, yes, you better hear that. Only from the last few days, all eyes on Rafah, yes? You know that? We should answer them, all eyes on you, terrorists. It makes no sense for a group of people to call death to Israel and death to America, and they are doing it. It doesn’t make sense for a group of people to burn Israeli flags and American flags, and they are doing it. 

Now about the Jewish communities here in New York, you recognize the value of leadership in circumstances like this. If you don’t want history to repeat itself, we all need to be, we all need, all of us, to be brave leaders. Courageous leaders also need to make tough, encouraging decisions. Antisemitism has increased by more than 300 percent since October 7th. This is unbelievable. Masking all this hate has been an effort to whitewash antisemitic attacks as simply as free speech. Let’s get real, this issue is not. 

Do you think they are speaking in the streets in the name of freedom of speech, calling for death to America? It’s not freedom of speech, it’s freedom of hate. While the Jewish people and the American people had the experience with those people, we must stop it now. All of us together, stop them. 

We need to show together, we need to show together absolute support for Israel and America together, first of all on social and traditional media, in the streets and in real life, stand strong against those who hate democracy. They are just using the democracy, but they hate democracy. Then make it clear we will not accept such attacks again. We do not want conflict, but we are not afraid of it. The most important thing, we will not be silent anymore. 

There is another issue where we need to be loud. There are still over 120 hostages chained in Hamas captivity. They have been there for almost eight months. We are fighting to bring them home, and we are fighting for the free world, and we are saying from here, let my people go, let them go, let them go now, enough. 

Moses, he was a brave leader, he stood in front of the Egyptian king, Pharaoh, and he said to Pharaoh, let my people go, that’s what he said. That such things do not happen again in the U.S. or Europe or anywhere else. My friends, Mr. Mayor, mayors from Israel, distinguished delegation, together there is no challenge we cannot face. Israel has survived terrible attacks and emerged stronger every single time, and it will happen this time as well. 

I want you to remember, all of you, light always prevails over the darkness, truth prevails over falsehood, and good always prevails over evil. Thank you so much. Thank you and good luck. Thank you so much.

Joel Eisdorfer, Senior Advisor to the Mayor: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, esteemed colleagues, and honored guests. Thank you for joining us at the People’s House, Gracie Mansion, for the mayor’s Jewish Heritage event. Celebrating Jewish heritage is more important today than ever, and we are fortunate to have Eric Adams as our mayor. 

Mayor Adams has been a friend in our community, is a friend to our community, and always will be a friend of the Jewish community. Having been by Mayor Adams’ side for many years, and during some of the most trying times in Jewish history, I can personally attest to his moral clarity and his conviction to say what he believes. Our mayor will never stop calling out hate as he sees it. As we all know, our mayor never rests and is always working to bring everyone together and to make sure that New Yorkers live in peace and harmony. Mayor Adams leads by example and expects those around him to do as well. 

As I embark on a new chapter in my professional journey, I carry with me the lessons learned and the many memories shared during my time serving Mayor Adams at City Hall. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have served alongside such dedicated individuals and to have contributed to the betterment of our city, the greatest city in the world. 

We have accomplished a lot in a very short time. I extend my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for your support, your partnership, and your commitment to our shared mission serving New York City. I’d like to personally thank my colleagues on stage with me: Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy, Commissioner Fred Kreizman, Commissioner Ed Mermelstein, Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg, Deputy Commissioner Mark Stewart, Deputy Chief Richie Taylor, Deputy Chief of Staff Menashe Shapiro, CAU Jewish Liaison Moishe Davis, Uri Frenkel, and Alexis Taylor. 

Most importantly, a huge thank you to my wife Rivky for being my rock and supporting me always. To my mother who is with us today, thank you. Mayor Eric Adams’ unwavering support for the Jewish community and his commitment to combating hate and bigotry have set a powerful example for the world. His leadership has been guiding light in our city, fostering a culture of respect, understanding, and unity. I’m standing here tonight filled with an immense sense of [speaks in Hebrew]. 

I would like to thank Mayor Adams for giving me the opportunity to serve my fellow New Yorkers. It is now my pleasure to introduce to you the 110th mayor of the City of New York, Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much. I cannot say enough about the level of commitment and dedication that Joel has served and showed this city. We are going to miss him as he transitions to go to the next level of what he’s going to do. We all know he’s never too far away and join a list of people who have continued to be committed and serve the people of this city in a real way. 

I want to thank my friend, Consul General Ofir, for his support and dedication and clarity. A few of our honorees that are here today, we have some real surprises in our honorees. I want to thank this team behind me. You see them as they adorn the stage as part of our Jewish leadership. They would be the first to tell you that any event we have here, you will see a similar reflection of the diversity of this administration. 

In order to understand communities, you must have people in position of power that can bring the position of communities to the table. In my brevity today, I want to say to the men and women and the children and the families of the Jewish community, we are in extremely turbulent times. We’re in a time where we must ask ourselves, what type of country are we going to live in? 

Yesterday we honored — or Monday — we honored the men and women of the armed forces. I shared with them, I shared with them we sit under the tree of freedom because they watered that tree with their blood. I also shared with them the significance of who they are as I looked across the room on the Intrepid and saw children and families sitting next to each other. I reflected on what is the next generation of soldiers? What’s the next generation of police officers? What’s the next generation of leaders of our amazing country? 

Like Israel, where young people join the military service to really embrace patriotism, we have moved so far away from our patriotism and what really rooted us in the success in the first place. When you think about the fact that only 18 percent of young people between the age of 18 and 34 love America, only 18 percent. That is a question that we’re asking, who’s coming through the pipeline? Who’s going to wear the Navy uniform, the Army uniform? Who’s going to be our soldiers, our National Guards? Who’s going to say they love America? 

Then when you add that lack of percentage with the fact that right on our college campuses we’re radicalizing our children, not only to hate Jewish people, but to hate the country that they’re educated in in the first place. Something is wrong with that. The real tragedy of this is that how many good people are remaining silent because they’re afraid of being canceled? Well I say cancel me any day, I’m not going to sit back and allow this to happen to the country that I love. 

We have to stop being afraid. Because there were people who sat back, stood back, and watched slavery take place in America and didn’t say anything, and watched large numbers of people destroyed. There were people who stood back and watched what happened in Nazi Germany. I walked through Krakow and went to see what happened in those camps. Far too often, people who knew better stood back. I want to know, where are the people right now when we’re watching this hatred play out on the streets of our cities across the globe? 

We have normalized hate in our globe. We’ve normalized antisemitism. We’ve normalized going after groups because of who they are and what they respect. Hate has no place in our city, and we will say it over and over again. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish. It doesn’t matter if you are Muslim. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian. It doesn’t matter if you’re Sikh. We know it is time for us to embrace the humanity that makes us who and what we are. That’s what this day is about. 

As we celebrate your heritage, you are not the only that have adorned this lawn that we acknowledge the diversity of our city. As I traveled to Rome a few weeks ago to the Pope calling together a human fraternity, we’re all part of the same family. Any time the family is in disarray, it impacts us all. I believe this is a moment of tikun olam. It’s time for us to heal the world. 

I cannot harm you without harming myself. I cannot hurt you without hurting myself. For some reason, we’ve embraced this concept that I can call for the destruction of a particular group without realizing hidden in that destruction is the secret that is going to bring me the prosperity that I’m looking for. I don’t say destroy from the river to the sea. I say built from the river to the sea, embrace from the river to the sea. 

We’re all in this together, and we cannot turn our backs on each other. We have a rich history of our participation. I was so moved backstage meeting a woman, Shoshan Haran. She’s an Israeli and traveled to the continent of Africa. As they’re dealing with drought and the inability to feed their families, she went and showed the countries of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania how to grow food, how to ensure that their families can prosper. 

Remove her from the equation. If something were to happen to her, she was part of the victimization. If we would lose her, we would lose the lives she’s saving in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. We have to start connecting the dots. Every life we lose is going to cascade out and cause the loss of thousands of other lives. That’s what this pursuit is about. 

I’m not doing it because I’m the mayor. I’m not doing it because I want to stand up and raise my voice. I’m doing it because we depend on each other. This is a moment where we must stand up for what is right. If we get it right in New York, it would cascade throughout the entire country and the entire globe. We must start saying hate has no place in New York. Hate has no place in New Jersey, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Iowa, Nebraska. Wherever we are, hate has no place in this country and across our globe. 

To my brothers and sisters who are here, I thank you for being here, for not allowing yourself to believe this city would be a city where you would take off your yarmulke before walking on our streets. This won’t be a city where you would take off your hijab, your Sikh turban, your dashiki. This is not the city we will live in. 

There is more of us than there is of them. We need to always remember that. The loudest is not the majority. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled because people yell loud and say nasty, hurtful things that they’re representative of what this city has to offer. There is more of us than it is of them. That’s who we are as a city. 

I thank you. I thank those who have adorned this tent today. We live under this big tent together. I want you to join me as we honor those who made sure to state hate has no place in the great City of New York, in the great country of America, in the great land of Israel. Thank you very much.

What Scooter is doing, what Scooter is doing, on October 7th, many people read a few stories and a few headlines. Just were, they were dismissive of what happened at the peace concert. Scooter understood that as painful as it is, people needed to see what really happened. His display down in Lower Manhattan, I walked through, others have walked through, he has used his status to heighten how we cannot stand by and allow hate. Scooter, based on 8.3 million New Yorkers, we want to thank you and your family for what you’re doing. Continue to lift up peace and prosperity in our city and country. Thank you.

Scott “Scooter” Braun: Hello. I don’t have the music that the mayor has when I walk up, so it won’t be as exciting. What I want to say is I’m here on behalf of myself and the team from Nova. There are, in this room, I actually see my friend Tomer there who is a survivor of the Nova Music Festival. I had the privilege of meeting Tomer and his friends when I went over to Israel in December. 

When I realized that these young people who had lived through the largest music massacre in history, with over 360 killed and over 40 hostages, I realized that my own industry that I had worked in for over 20 years was staying silent. I became angry. I looked at a friend of mine who some of you might know, Joe Teplow, and I said, we need to do something. We should bring this memorial, we should bring it to New York, we should bring it to LA, we should bring it around the entire United States and make people understand that this could have been them. This could have been Governors Ball, this could have been Coachella, this could have been any music festival in the world. These kids like Tomer and his friends deserve to be heard and they deserve to be respected. Their friends who are still waiting to this day, those hostages need to be brought home. 

I want to say that this is also a full circle moment. My family is here. My dad came to this country, to this city in 1956 from Hungary. I’m the first person in my family born in the United States and I was born right here in Manhattan. To be here on stage with the mayor, I just want to say thank you, thank you. A mayor who… I’ve met politicians all around this country, the reason we decided in the end to bring it to New York is there is no politician in this country who has not wavered once the way Mayor Adams has. I think it’s a big thank you and I also hope and will fight to make sure you stay the mayor of this city. 

I want to leave with this for some of the young people in the room. I’ve spoken to a lot of young people, I’ve seen them at the Nova exhibit, I’ve spoken to them around the country. They are scared, they don’t know what to do. I just want to leave you guys with this thought, that this is the Jewish Heritage celebration. While it seems scary and while antisemitism is on the rise, every Jew in the last thousand years would switch places with you right now. Antisemitism is as it always has been and as it always will be unfortunately. The difference is we don’t need to hide. We don’t need to be ashamed and we are stronger than we’ve ever been. We have a nation, we have a nation here. We are a strong people and we are a proud people. With that strength, we’ll stand with poise. 

As my dad told me as a kid, he said, when there’s no man in the room, stand up and be a man. I’m very proud to be Jewish. I’m very proud to be an American. I’m very proud to bring Nova to this amazing city. I’m honored today to be standing here with these people on behalf of Nova. Thank you mayor and thank you everybody.

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: Hi, everyone. I’m Lisa Zornberg. I’m very proud to be chief counsel to Mayor Eric Adams and work for him every day. 

For everyone in the back, everyone enjoying a kosher hot dog or Beyond Burger, I need you to settle down for just a moment because I have to introduce you to someone very important. Everyone just shh. Everyone quiet for just a moment. 

The mayor spoke of his interaction backstage with this woman, Shoshan Haran. Shoshan is the founder of Fair Planet. She has devoted her professional life to helping farmers in Africa triple their crops to support their families. 

Shoshan, on October 7th, was on Kibbutz Be’eri. She was kidnapped along with her daughter and granddaughters and was held in Gaza and was one of the hostages released after 50 days in captivity. Her son-in-law remains captive in Gaza. 

Shoshan is here with us tonight. It’s a privilege and an honor. Tomorrow, I know she speaks to the United Nations. I would like to introduce her to say a few words.

Dr. Shoshan Haran, Founder and President, Fair Planet: Thank you, Mayor Adams. I would like to thank the Jewish community who helps us, supports us, and enables me and all my friends and family to fight for the release of the remaining hostages. 

As Mayor Adams mentioned, I work in Africa for the benefit of small-holder farmers to improve their farming productivity and exit the cycle of poverty and hunger. I was born to the founders of Kibbutz Be’eri. I grew up. I raised my family there. Although I had an international career, I always stayed in the kibbutz. 

On the last day of Sukkot, when we celebrate our historical freedom, we went to sleep with all our guests in my home. In the morning of October 7th, we were attacked by Hamas terrorists who occupied my kibbutz, who broke into our house. They tried to break into the safe room through the door. Steel-penetrating bullets that flew above my head. They couldn’t break through, and then they went out and brought a bulldozer and cracked our safe room window. 

We had three seconds to decide if to surrender or die. We decided to surrender. My husband and Tal, my son-in-law, opened the window, and we were taken hostages by Hamas. I’m not allowed to talk about the conditions that we were held during these 50 days, but I can tell you that I’m a passionate reader, and I read a lot of Holocaust survivors’ books. I used all their wisdom to survive in captivity and save my daughter, my grandkids. Yahel is three years old. Naveh is eight years old. I was there with my sister-in-law and a 12-year-old daughter. 

I used the wisdom of the people who survived the Holocaust to survive these 50 horrible days. Now that I am released, my mission is to help release Tal Shoham, my son-in-law, who is still there, 237 cruel days with all the other hostages. This is my mission. I’m traveling all over the world. I spoke in the U.N. Security Council. 

I want to use this opportunity to thank the Jewish community here that helped me do all these efforts. I always understood that we are am echad, we are one people. We need each other. We in Israel need you. I believe that you need us. Together, we will survive. They murdered my husband. They murdered my sister. They murdered 101 members of my kibbutz. But our spirit is not broken. We are fighting. We are resilient. We need to bring them home now.

Mayor Adams: That was a powerful story that was shared with us. All of us have to use our platforms to fight against hate. No one has personified that more than Montana. What she is doing is just raising this issue. I’m just really pleased that she took the time out to come and really show here in this city where the largest Jewish population outside of Israel resides. 

If you follow her on social media, how she’s unapologetic about pushing back against antisemitism and against hate. Montana is really an inspiration to young people as young people are trying to find their ways. Instead of being radicalized with hate, she’s showing them how to be influencers against the tolerance and the love that we should be sharing. My girl, Montana, keep doing what you’re doing. Thank you so much for what you’re doing.

Montana Tucker: Hello, everyone. How are we doing tonight, by the way? This is amazing. Thank you, Mayor Adams and Joel and the rest of the team. It’s very hard these days to be pro-Israel, pro-Jewish. Anyone, especially a politician that is standing up for Jews and for Israel, needs all the praise in the world. 

I am a singer, dancer, actress, but most importantly, I’m a proud Jew. I am the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Scooter is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors. This is in our blood. This is what we are meant to do. Anybody who is Jewish and is not speaking out for Jews and for Israel, I don’t know what you’re doing because this is what we have to do. There’s no other option. 

Our ancestors, my grandparents, it didn’t matter how rich you were, how successful you were, if you were Jewish when the Holocaust happened, you had no power. But Jews nowadays, we have power. We are strong. We are resilient. We are incredible people. We have voices. We must continue to use them in any way, shape, and form. 

I will continue to use my platform to stand up for Jews, to combat antisemitism, for all forms of hate, and to continue to call for the release of the hostages. Thank you all so much for this honor. I love being Jewish. Am Yisrael Chai.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Chaverim is always, I remember as borough president, always coming out and supporting those who are in need. Really personifies giving back mitzvah in a very real way. Whenever someone is in need, this organization can be called. I appreciated them as borough president. Now as the mayor, your citywide appeal, thank you for what you do. Continue to do your great work.

Aaron Cohn, Chaverim: Hi, everybody. My name is Aaron Cohn, Chaverim organization. Around ten years ago, we had the same exact thing when the mayor was still borough president of City Hall. It means a lot to us. It means a lot to the community. It means a lot to the whole nation. Thank you very much, mayor. You’ve always been with us. You always give us the support. Thank you very much. God bless the mayor. God bless New York. God bless United States of America.

Mayor Adams: Before we depart tonight, I want to give a special award to a dear friend. I watched all of his children being born. His dad was a good friend of mine before he transitioned. 

It’s a rarity that you find someone that no one has anything negative to say about. That is what Joel Eisdorfer is. He’s a real mensch. His level of comfortability in any community. He has shown what it means to be a great New Yorker, to be a great American, to be a great member of the Jewish community, but to be a great member of the greatest race alive, Rabbi Potasnik, we say the human race. That’s what Joel is. 

To my friend, I want to tell you thank you with your new beautiful daughter. Just say Godspeed, good luck to you. Keep doing the good things you’re doing. Keep doing the good things you’re doing.

May 29, 2024 New York, NY

Sources: Midtown Tribune news . NYC.gov
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