|Former Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Israel Meir Lau spoke Tuesday evening at New York’s NYU on the topic of The Jewish Future. The lecture was a tribute to legendary journalist Gershon Jacobson who passed away just over one year ago. |
Jacobson’s eldest son Simon, a noted author and speaker in his own right, opened the event with remarks on his father’s life accomplishments as journalist and editor of the Yiddish weekly Algemeiner Journal. Simon then invited Cantor Joseph Malovany of the 5th Ave. Synagogue to perform a cantorial tribute to his father.
Before introducing the main speaker, Simon summed up the resolutions made by his extended family; namely a five part plan to actualize his father’s goal of assuring Jewish continuity. The efforts include the Gershon Jacobson Jewish Continuity Fund, the expansion of the Algemeiner Journal, the launch of Algemeiner.com, the digitizing of the Algemeiner archives and the annual Gershon Jacobson Lecture.
Rabbi Lau, who now serves as Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, paid tribute to Gershon Jacobson saying that “a man’s worth can be measured by his children.” He said that the ongoing work of Gershon’s children underline what an accomplished man he was.
Rabbi Lau spoke at length about the dangers of undereducated Jewish children, telling the 600 audience members that statistics have proven that cities with the highest rate of Jewish school enrollment have the lowest rates of intermarriage.
Rabbi Lau held the audience spellbound as he illustrated the oneness of the Jewish nation and the impossibility of their disappearance. He emphasized that the Jewish people – unlike any people in the world’s history – have the same culture, the unchanged Torah and the identical homeland today, that Moses and their ancestors had 3,300 years ago.
“Were Socrates to visit Athens today…or Julius Caesar, Rome… they would not recognize their homelands.” The language has changed, the temples have been destroyed; nothing remains but the City names. Imagine Moses landing at Ben Gurion Airport. He’d be greeted by a young Israeli: “Sholom Aleichem” the airport worker would say. “Aleichem Sholom” Moshe would respond.
The Jewish people have remained one strong nation since there inception, Rabbi Lau said, and with the proper care to educate today’s Jewish children, the chain will continue unbroken until the coming of Moshiach.
The evening ended with a moving video tribute to Gershon Jacobson’s life. The film highlighted many of his journalistic scoops including breaking news of Adolf Eichmann’s capture, and interviewing Nikita Khrushchev, and Gamal Abdel Nasser among others.