|Left to right philanthropist Miriam Adelson with Son of Pamela Anderson|
Brandon Lee and billionaire Sheldon Adelson
All photos Lieba Nesis
"The Champions of Jewish Values" held its fourth annual gala dinner at the Marriott Marquis on May 5, 2016. Normally this event is held at Cipriani 42nd Street but this venue was perfect for the massive crowd which included dignitaries, billionaires, and jewish superstars. The event started with a 5:00 PM cocktail hour with the opportunity to socialize with billionaire Michael Steinhardt, Hatzalah Head Eli Beer and Ted Cruz campaign manager Nick Muzin; little did they know they would soon be taking selfies with none other than super doctor Mehmet Oz and Baywatch bombshell Pamela Anderson while one of the richest jews in the world, Sheldon Adelson, looked on.
|Rabbi Shmuley Boteach|
It is safe to say that the only person that could gather a star-studded celebrity crowd is "America's" and Michael Jackson's and Oprah's Rabbi-Shmuley Boteach. While Boteach is renowned for his controversial book "Kosher Sex" he has become a firebrand in the political arena continually calling out Jewish haters such as Max Blumenthal, and criticizing the Iran deal and its proponents. There were so many awards given out that the Oscar's looked succinct, but all the recipients were on point with their presentations.
|Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Crown Prince of Iran Reza Pahlavi, billionaire Michael Steinhardt & Chairman of World Values Network Michael Fromm|
The evening began with the Chairman of the World Values Network, Michael Fromm, speaking of the necessity of combating religious and political oppression in today's day, to which he invited Elisha Wiesel, son of Elie, to light a candle in honor of the 6 million Jews killed on this day of Yom Hashoah. Then it was time for dynamo Shmuley Boteach to stir the crowd with his powerful words commending those 6 million jews who chose to die reciting the Shemah. Boteach, went on to say "we [Israel] have stolen no man's land and we have occupied no one's territory" but rather Israel is the lone majestic democracy located in a sea of tyranny called the Middle East.
|Son of Pamela Brandon Lee, Actress Pamela Anderson and her makeup artist |
of 20 years Alexis Vogel
These rousing words left Pamela Anderson and her gorgeous son Brandon very moved. Mrs. Anderson is still the beautiful bombshell of her Baywatch days. Initially I didn't recognize her but took notice of the picture perfect Shiksa in the crowd figuring it was the wife of some hedge fund mogul. Anderson was accompanied by her makeup artist of 20 years Alexis Vogel, and they sat at the dinner respectfully and somberly without much fanfare.
Apparently, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are neighbors of Pamela Anderson in California so there was a friendly vibe in the room when Fatima Kazimi presented the "Champion of Women's Rights Award" to Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson. Fatima's life was in danger for helping an Afghani couple marry, until Miriam Adelson intervened to provide her asylum in Rwanda. This moving story had many in the audience in tears and the Adelson's, the greatest Jewish philanthropists, received their award with a standing ovation.
|Actor in Son of Saul movie and recipient |
of Holocaust Memory Award Geza Rohrig
Adelson's net worth is $28.9 billion and when I asked two young men if they would rather have a selfie with Anderson or Adelson they replied Adelson without hesitation. Subsequently, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson presented the "Champion of Holocaust Memorial Award" to Geza Rohrig, who starred in the Academy Award winning Holocaust movie "Son of Saul" and Dr. Rebecca Cook, whose father Hillel saved more than 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Sheldon Adelson said there were very few people he idolized except for Hillel Kook who is a hardly known Jewish hero who was head of the Irgun delegation when he came from Palestine to the states in July 1940 and pressured Roosevelt into adopting the rescue of Jews as a main war goal.
|Philanthropist Nily Falic and Marion Wiesel wife of Elie|
Speaking of Holocaust heroes Nily Falic presented the "Champions of Children Award to Marion and Elie Wiesel." However due to poor health Elie could not attend and his absence weighed heavily on the crowd. Another no-show was Yoko Ono who was billed as a star attendee but without explanation failed to attend. Nevertheless she was not missed with Michael Steinhardt, who has brought more than 500,000 Jews to Israel via Birthright presenting "The Champion of Human Rights Award" to HRH Reza Pahlavi The crown Prince of Iran and one of the sons of the late Shah, who continually speaks out against the oppression of the Iranian people and calls for the establishment of a secular democracy in Iran.
Another advocate of democracy, Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens was given the "Champion of Israel Award" by Mona and David Sterling. Stephens said that he was not a Champion of Israel but rather a Champion of good journalism and noted the difference "between victims in a war and aggressors in a war." Stephens pointed out that in Israel a woman can flourish as an artist, a journalist or anything else and Israel exacts no price on journalists who criticize Israel, unlike its Islamic counterparts.
|Crown Prince of Iran Reza Pahlavi and wife lawyer Yasmine|
Speaking of Muslims I had the privilege of sitting next to the surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz who comes from a Turkish Islamic family and is one of the most highly evolved, elegant and brilliant of people. He was eating salmon and vegetables and is even younger and more vibrant looking in person. Not only did he present an Award to Hatzalah Head Eli Beer, but he donated $5000 to the Hatzalah charity and offered to kiss anyone who gave $500 to Hatzalah. It was an absolute delight to sit next to Oz whose face exudes goodness and who has saved the lives of thousands through his surgical expertise and knowledge of health.
|Head of Hatzalah Eli Beer and Famous Doctor Dr. Oz|
|Joey Shammah, Amnon Berger, Century 21 Owner Isaac Gindi,Hatzalah,|
volunteer Dovie Maisel and Aslan Bawabeh
I would be remiss if I did not discuss Pamela Anderson and her eloquent speech lauding Israel for its commitment to animal rights and for its 1 million vegetarians out of a population of 8 million. Anderson received the "Lover of Israel Award" and it was revealed that she visits the Holy Land often even choosing to honeymoon there. Anderson even offered to take selfies for a $500 contribution to the Jewish Values Charity-an enticing proposition for the dozens of men in the audience. Her son Brandon sat with dark glasses in the audience proudly listening to his mother's passionate words.
There was plenty of fundraising during the evening with the Adelson's pledging $1 million to the World Values Network and the owners of Century 21 donating more than $150,000. At the conclusion of this happening at around 10:30 PM, the crowd rushed out to tend to their responsibilities while Boteach and the Adelson's spoke to attendees-proving that true New York Jewish dedication never sleeps.
- Lieba Nesis