Jewish Community Relations Council Lauds Hyphenated Americans

With all due humility, Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes said, “I’m a boy from Ohio — really a goy from Ohio — who’s introducing an African American woman for a Jewish award.”

Ailes introduced H. Mitsy Wilson, senior vice president of diversity development at the News Corporation, who accepted the Corporate Leader Award from Janice Shorenstein, outgoing president of the Jewish Community Relations Council last week at the Pierre Hotel.

Wilson was a Catholic schoolgirl in the Bronx, Ailes related. One day her teacher was so frustrated with the class that she called everybody stupid.

“If you’re stupid, stand up,” the teacher said.

Nobody stood, except Wilson.

“Are you saying you’re stupid?” the teacher asked.

“No,” Wilson said, “but I didn’t want you to be standing alone.”

More than 550 dinner guests were amused, among them former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, UJA-Federation of New York Executive Vice President and CEO John Ruskay, Israeli Consul General Asaf Shariv, New York City Comptroller John Liu, incoming JCRC President Alan Jaffe, Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch and HarperCollins Publishers President/CEO Brian Murray.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed how “in America we hyphenate our nationality — Jewish-Americans, Irish-Americans, Spanish-Americans, African-Americans or whatever. We live as a mosaic of different parts, rather than a mixture. People of all ethnic backgrounds walk the streets of New York together.”

Shorenstein, retiring after three years as president, announced that the dinner raised $1.3 million. “We help to build and secure communities in New York.”

William Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, credited dedicated volunteers as the backbone of the success for a charity.

“It took one volunteer to build the ark — and thousands of professionals to build the Titanic.”

Shorenstein presented awards to real estate builders Jeffrey E. Levine and son Benjamin Levine, Deutsche Bank managing director Jacques Brand and BlackRock Vice Chairman Bennett Golub.

Ailes, who regaled the crowd with his vast repertory of stories, retold the one about O’Brian who had fish every Friday. Annoyed at the odor of barbecued steak wafting in from next door, O’Brian took his neighbor to church where the priest sprinkled water on his head and pronounced, “You were born a Jew, raised a Jew, now you’re a Catholic.”

Next Friday O’Brian was stunned to see his neighbor barbecuing a steak. The man was sprinkling and saying, “You were born a cow, raised a steak, now you’re a fish.”

IDF Chief Introduces His Dream Team

The Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, brought 30 of his troops with him when he came to New York last month. He introduced his Dream Team at a Friends of the IDF fundraising dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria, which was emceed by syndicated radio host Monica Crowley.

“Shalom, y’all,” said Daniel, one of the Dream Team members.

“I’m originally from Houston, Texas. Eight years ago I made aliyah and joined the IDF. Today I am a captain in the air force. I operate unmanned drones in the sky, watching over Israel.”

Netsanet, also of the Dream Team, said she was born in Ethiopia. “I’m proud to wear this uniform. I’m a member of the education unit of IDF where I help members of my community.”

Another member said he became a helicopter combat pilot in 1986. He went to medical school and became a pediatrician. He was part of the IDF medical mission in Haiti following the disastrous earthquake.

“In 12 days,” he related, “we treated 1,000 patients, performed 300 life-saving operations and delivered 16 babies in our field hospital. They named one baby Israel in honor of the IDF.

“We are trained to save the state of Israel, but I much prefer to save the lives of newborn babies in the name of the IDF.”

For the 12th year, Benny Shabtai served as dinner chairman. He called for contributions from the audience of 1,400 people. Fashion designer Elie Tahari responded with $100,000. The Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York donated $500,000. The Genesis Philanthropy Group announced $750,000. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews pledged $4 million. It went like that until $20 million was raised for the welfare of Israel’s soldiers.

Guy Banai, an Israeli guest at the dinner who is deaf and spoke through a sign language translator, tearfully related how his son Liran was so happy to join the IDF’s Givati Brigade combat unit even though, as the son of deaf parents, he was exempt.

Staff Sgt. Liran Banai was struck down by Palestinian terrorists who attacked his jeep on the Gaza border.

Sgt. Todd Bowers of the U.S. Marines was so moved that he lifted himself from his plate of prime ribs to give a personal donation of $1,000 in memory of the fallen soldier.

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About the Author
Tim Boxer is a former New York Post columnist, and is longtime columnist for the New York Jewish Week. He is also editor of, is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.