[VIDEO & PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]
Spring may not have come yet to Washington, DC, but on Wednesday, February 27, the unique relationship between the United States and Israel was in full bloom. Several hundred Jewish leaders from across the U.S. journeyed to our nation’s capital to offer their gratitude to members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives for their staunch support of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Nearly two dozen Members of Congress, whether they are ultra-conservative or extremely liberal in their political ideologies, put partisanship aside and participated in this special program in order to stand united with the State of Israel.The Iron Dome Congressional Tribute, was chaired by Robert Rechnitz, a prominent Los Angeles based Jewish philanthropist and businessman who is the Principal of Bomel Companies and coordinated by the NYC & Washington DC based consulting firm The Friedlander Group under the stewardship of its CEO, Ezra Friedlander.
As per the goal of Robert Rechnitz, the historic event was a celebration of the everlasting U.S.-Israel alliance and a tribute to the United States Congress for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System. In addition, there was a special tribute to the memory of Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who was a courageous defender of the State of Israel, a stalwart supporter of the bond between the U.S. and Israel, and one of the individuals who was instrumental in securing the funding for the Iron Dome.
During the recent conflict in Israel in November 2012, the world witnessed the technological marvels of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System and the unbelievable manner in which it saved the lives of thousands of civilians. With thousands of deadly rockets raining down on Israeli cities, the Iron Dome effectively disabled the overwhelming majority of those rockets and prevented widespread devastation. Since 2009, the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress have allocated an unprecedented $275 million in funding for the Iron Dome.
The program began with a gourmet luncheon in the majestic Kennedy Caucus Room of the United States Senate.
In his introductory remarks, Robert Rechnitz noted that everyone in the room was there to give thanks to the United States. “We have no political agenda,” said Mr. Rechnitz. “We are here to simply offer our gratitude to the United States for its unwavering support of Israel.”
The emcee was Phil Rosen, Esq., one of the premier corporate and property attorneys in the United States and a prominent Jewish communal leader who is Vice-Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the Founding and Current Vice Chairman of the Board of Yeshiva College.
A diverse group of speakers included: House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce; Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi; Senator Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky; Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida; Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is a Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee; Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California; Ambassador of Israel to the United States Michael Oren; Mrs. Irene Inouye, wife of the late Senator Daniel Inouye; Bill Thompson, Jr., the former Comptroller of the City of New York who was introduced by Jona Rechnitz ; Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia who was introduced by well known activist Chaskel Bennett; R. James Woolsey, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and currently the Chairman of Woolsey Partners, LLC; Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii who was introduced by Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, NY board of Rabbis; Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona; Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy, III of Massachusetts who was introduced by Greg Rosenbaum; Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York,( Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committe) who was introduced by Stanley Treitel; Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas; Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia; Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana who was introduced by Rabbi Yechiel kalish, National director of Government Affairs- Agudath Israel ; Democratic Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas who was introduced by Wallenberg Commission Board of Governors Member Leon Goldenberg; and Dr. Tevi Troy, the former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and President George W. Bush’s liaison to the Jewish community.
“In an environment where partisanship often causes rifts among our elected officials, it was extremely heartwarming to see that our leaders in Washington were able to bridge their partisan divides and stand in unison with American Jewish leaders at the historic Iron Dome Congressional Tribute” concluded Mr. Rechnitz.
Upon the conclusion of the tribute luncheon, the attendees participated in a special White House briefing with members of the Obama administration, including Zachary Kelly, President Obama’s liaison to the Jewish community, Andy Abel- Director for Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian Affairs for the National Security Staff and Eric Lynn, a senior policy official on Mideast affairs at the Department of Defense who was presented by Robert Rechnitz with the Iron Dome Medal in recognition of President Obama’s key role in the development of the Iron dome anti-missile defense system.
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(N. Aaron Troodler)
The Friedlander Group