The Fourth Annual Orthodox All Star Awards this past Thursday was an incredible night! Eight of our ten All Stars flew in from all over the world, including the UK Pension’s Minister, Baroness Ros Altmann, who came in from London for only twenty hours! The other All Stars in attendance were: Treasurer of Columbia University, Gail Hoffman, EVP, Secretary, and General Counsel of The Madison Square Garden Company and MSG Networks, Lawrence Burian, Celebrity Jewelry Designer, CEO of Sarah Chloe Jewelry, Zahava Reisman, “Modern Family” co-exec producer, Ilana Wernick, WSJ reporter, Greg Zuckerman, CNN Hero, Kids Kicking Cancer Founder Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (ret.), The Honorable Norm Eisen. Here are my brief remarks from the evening:
I discovered recently how much the All Stars are connected to the Purim story, and that’s not necessarily because my mind was wandering to my speech during megillah reading last week! Months ago, I realized that in the Purim story, Esther is first instructed to keep her Jewishness on the down low. Mordechai is afraid that it would be dangerous if it were made public. I got to thinking about how many of us observant Jews often prefer to blend in in the workforce, to not be known as the Jew around the office.
But then, when the safety of her nation is on the line, Mordechai implores Esther to reveal her Jewish identity to the king. When she hesitates, fearing the repercussions of going public, Mordechai explains that perhaps it was for this very reason that she was elevated to this position. Our dear all stars – you are all proud Orthodox jews, but your professional achievements stand on their own, never needing to be defined by your religious beliefs or observances.
Then, out of the blue, several months ago, you found your name on a list from an organization called “Jew in the City.” Some of you may have been confused or wondered how you made it on to our list (nominations for the 5th class of All Stars begin after Pesach on JewintheCity.com!) You could have ignored us, you could have threatened to sue us, but no, one by one, each of you stood up to the plate, to make the time in your exceedingly busy schedules to film a video and nearly all of you, except for one recently had a baby, and another who just lost a close family member made it here tonight, traveling from literally all over the world to share your inspirational stories with the Jewish nation. Today, like in the days of Haman, our nation is in peril. But it is not a physical danger that threatens to wipe out our people. No, today, our enemy is apathy, misinformation, and an onslaught of shameful stories in the headlines which have caused too many Jews to forget why we bothered surviving generation after generation as our enemies rose up to destroy us.
And why are you, and your fellow All Stars the perfect answer to this threat? Again, in the megillah, I found the answer. The Jewish people are on the verge of destruction and then miraculously gain the upper hand, meriting God’s salvation. Their would-be murderers are vanquished. But oddly enough, this incredible turn of events does not bring “light to the Jews.” No, it is not until Mordechai, leaves the king’s quarters decked out in royal garments with a crown on his head and a high position in government that the megillah tells us “l’yehudim haysa ora v’simcha v’sason vayikar” (“the Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor.”) Mordechai was an Orthodox Jewish All Star and the Torah is telling us that the natural reaction to seeing a fellow Jew who is true to his beliefs and at the same time is honored by the world at large brings us joy and gladness. Thank you for bringing joy and gladness and restoring pride in so many with your participation and thank you to all in attendance for coming out and helping to spread this light.
Thank you to our incredible corporate sponsors who made this event possible: Buds Designs, Royal Wine, Ruth Fischl, Eden Wok, Bedford Kitchen, Ben Shimon Music, Delectable Desserts, Make-it-up Cosmetics, Amudim, Undercover Waterwear, Breezy’s, Teitel Creative, Lev Collection, Baker’s Dozen, Kangen Fountain, Zyr Vodka, The Kosher Scene, Moshe Grunfeld Photography.
If you wanted to join us, but couldn’t be there that night, you can still take home some of the All Star experience! For a $72 donation to Jew in the City (the cost of a ticket), we will mail you a Jew in the City iced-coffee cup, charging bank and handmade cookie (the SWAG the guests received that night) as well as a sneak preview of the 4th Annual All Stars video before we release it to the public!
You can also enter to win one of our priceless All Stars Experience Auction prizes by purchasing a $25 ticket. With this auction, you can get an investment advice phone call with Henry Swieca, Forbes -ranked self-made billionaire hedge fund manager, you could win two tickets to watch “The Big Bang Theory” filmed live in Los Angeles, or a tour of The Wall Street Journal headquarters with reporter Greg Zuckerman. All proceeds are will help Jew in the City and Project Makom continue their growth.