Rabbi Arthur Schneier, founding president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith organization dedicated to religious freedom, found himself in a dilemma when he presented an award to Timotheus Hottges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, the telecommunications behemoth headquartered in Bonn and the parent company of T-Mobile USA.
“Should I speak in English or German,” said the rabbi, a Holocaust survivor. “When I came here from Austria in 1947, I had a thick German accent. If I hadn’t worked so hard to lose my accent, I could have become secretary of state like Henry Kissinger.”
Kissinger joined Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, to present the World Statesman Award to Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, at the 54th annual Appeal of Conscience Foundation dinner on Sept. 23 at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan.
“The values of the foundation—tolerance, respect and harmony,” the prime minister said, “are congruent with the values that bind Singapore together as a nation.”
He said that his 54-year-old city state, made up of 5.7 million Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and others living on an island smaller than New York City, is the most religiously diverse country in the world. All the great religions are represented: Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Bahai’s, Jews, Zoroastrians and the Parsis. There are two synagogues catering to a few hundred Jews. “It is a harmonious society,” he said.
Rabbi Schneier presented awards to real estate developer Stephen M. Ross, chairman of the Related Companies, and Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.
Wojcicki said that her mother Esther was an educator of Russian Jewish descent, and her father Stanley was a Polish American physics professor. “I grew up with mutual understanding.”