“We did everything we could to make it safe to be a Jew in New York,” said Charles Temel, who is ending up his term as president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. He’ll pass the mantle to Cheryl Fishbein on July 1.
At the annual JCRC dinner on April 9, at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, immediate past president Ronald G. Weiner and executive director Michael Miller presented a Leadership Award to Temel, whose day job is managing director of UBS Financial Services.
John Catsimatidis, founder and chair of the Red Apple Group, handed a JCRC Public Service Award to State Attorney General Letitia James.
James, who had been in office for 99 days, said that “hate is grounded in ignorance and fear. Freedom of speech must never be confused with freedom to hate. Hate will never be tolerated on my watch.”
She added, “There’s never been a greater need for an organization like the JCRC.”
Temel, who’s been a board member for 20 years, defined the mission of JCRC as protecting the Jewish community, diminishing hateful behavior, creating a climate of collaboration and respect, as well as strengthening and improving all of New York.
“Why do I do this?” He asked. “My wife Judy has said that our family dances at the edge of history. Sometimes we end up in the middle of the hora.”
He described how his mother and family, stripped of their Czech nationality, were shipped to the Terezin concentration camp where the Nazis murdered her father. She was 10. The Russian army liberated the camp five years later.
Before the war Temel’s father left Vienna for Bogota, Colombia. After the war his mother and grandmother made their way to Bogota. That’s where they meet and married and where Charles was born.
“My parents made one of the most important decisions in their life — they immigrated to Miami in 1963,” Temel said. “They wanted their children to grow up as Americans and I am grateful for that decision every day.”