Sunday night’s National Council of Young Israel dinner was a feast for Trump lovers, with a tasty helping of old fashioned patriotism and a side dish of religion.
The annual gala, which drew several hundred supporters to the Marriott Marquis at Times Square, heard speakers voice unqualified praise for President Trump, condemnation of enemies seeking to attack Jews and Israel, tributes to Jewish veterans of World War II, and reminders of the importance of sustaining and growing Torah true Judaism.
Rabbi Yechezkel Moskowitz, the gala’s chairman, described the NCYI as the “premier Jewish organization promoting Torah true values, Americanism and Zionism.”
“The leftist Progressive tikun o’lam ideology … is not Judaism,” he told the gathering, asserting that because of the Progressives’ agenda, America suffers from “levels of immorality unprecedented in the history of this country.”
The bright spot, Rabbi Moskowitz added, is that “for the first time in our history, the Jewish people have a real friend in the White House — President Trump is the most benevolent leader the Jewish people have ever known in their 2,000 years in their Diaspora, believe me.”
The House Minority Leader, California Republican Kevin McCarthy, said that Israel and America should not fear their common enemies. With a nod to four WWII veterans sitting on stage, he said of those enemies, “We stood against them before” — and we won.
“They put fear into us, but they should not,” McCarthy said. “I expect that from Iran, I expect it from Syria, but I should not expect it from the U.K. and America, or in the halls of Congress,” where Democrats have shielded Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, two freshman Democrats, from repercussions for pro-BDS and anti-Semitic statements.
The evening’s second guest speaker, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee — proudly identifying himself as “Sarah’s dad” (a reference to Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders) — slammed Democrats in Congress who failed to stand up to anti-Semites in their midst.
“Israel is under attack, not just from the nations that surround it geographically and wish to attack it militarily,” Huckabee said. “It’s under attack ideologically, philosophically, from the anti-Semitic movement, and if we don’t see something change in the other party, we might see Louis Farrakhan become their spiritual leader.”
Lauding Trump and actions he’s taken in support of the state of Israel, Huckabee concluded with this:
“All of Jerusalem is one united city. Judea and Samaria is not going to carved up by the United Nations because G-d was the one who carved it up when he gave it to Abraham. And that’s the title and deed that we need to respect.”
“Zionism and Americanism are the front lines of Western Civilization and freedom in our world today,” said Fox and Friends host Pete Hegseth, the master of ceremonies.
Tommy Hicks Jr., co-chair of the Republican National Committee and a guest of honor at the gala, reminded his audience that “we have the best president of all time” and urged them to “come help us win in 2020.”
“Wherever you have friends, please come get them working,” he said. “We have to win in 2020. It’s the most important thing in our life.”
Red MAGA-style hats reading “BUILD ISRAEL GREAT AGAIN” were placed on tables around the room. And while Israel was front and center, attendees praised Trump for more.
“We’re in agreement with many of the policies, at this point probably most of the policies, on Israel and on other things,” Iris Maidenbaum told JTA. “But particularly, our concern is the security and the advancement of the state of Israel.”
For others, the bond between Orthodox Judaism and Trump hit home.
Zachary Silver, a 25-year-old conservative activist who managed a contingent of about 125 young professionals at the dinner, told JTA that he believes Jews who become more traditionally observant will gravitate toward the Republican Party.
“The Republican Party right now and the conservatives are the most pro-G-d movement of my life, honestly,” said Silver, who wore a Trump kippah. “The liberal party, the leftist party, the Democrats, especially here and in Israel, they’re socialist, they’re anti-G-d, they don’t have true values.”
“I got a whole wardrobe of Trump stuff,” said Ayton Eller, wearing a tie and kippah both reading “Trump 2020.” “I got like 10 T-shirts, I got like four sweatshirts, I got five yarmulkes.”
He reference Trump’s tax cuts, the stock markets and “rverything else — Israel policies, doing away with Obamacare, Obamacare is a mess.”
The gala was shown videos telling the stories of four WWII veterans who were honored Sunday night — Stanley Feltman, Louis Goldstein, Paul Kaye, and Edmund Rosenblum.
“You saved our country and you saved western civilization,” Hicks said.
The evening’s other guests of honor were Rabbi Zvi & Aviva Gluck (Moses H. Hoenig Award), Laurie Moskowitz Hirsch (Bonei Yerushalayim Award), David & Michelle Katz (Shofar Award), and Eve Stieglitz (Young Visionary Award).
Also honored were Rabbi Yoel & Peri Schonfeld (YI Kew Gardens Hills) and Rabbi Nachi & Michelle Klein (YI Northridge), with the Dor L’Dor Rabbinic Leadership Award; Dr. Alan & Deborah Berger, Dr. Marc & Judy Berger, Igor Fruman, and Lev & Svetlana Parnas, with the Chovevei Zion Award; and Charles Gucciardo and Dan K. Eberhart, with the Friend of Zion Award.
In addition to his political pitch, Rabbi Moskowitz gave the crowd a taste of the NCYI’s religious and educational initiatives including “impactful youth initiatives, a world-class rabbinic training and synagogue services program [and] a retired-rabbi aliyah initiative.”
He previewed “Shabbat Shalom, a nationwide Shabbat of unity which will promote an anti-BDS and pro-Judea and Samaria message in collaboration with the Yesha Council.”
NYC Councilman Kalman Yeger, who tweeted that “Palestine does not exist,” was cheered by the crowd. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani posed for pictures on stage.
The dinner was co-chaired by Dr. Joseph Frager.