U.S. REP. CHRIS Smith (R-Dist. 4) gave the keynote address to a gathering of over 300 people at the Center for Jewish Life dinner held Feb. 8 in Marlboro.
CJL religious leader Rabbi Yossi Kanelsky presented Smith with an award for his “outstanding leadership and vision and for confronting anti-Semitism at home and abroad.”
Smith, who is cochair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, is the author of the provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 that created the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the U.S. State Department. In the early 1980s, his first trips abroad as a congressman were to the former Soviet Union, where he fought for the release of Jewish “refuseniks.”
“When political leaders fail to lead or denounce anti-Semitic violence, the void is not only demoralizing to the victims but silence actually enables the wrongdoing,” Smith said. “History has taught us that silence is not an option. It has been said that to sin by silence when they should speak makes cowards of men. We must do more.”
Joshua Block, CEO and president of the Israel Project based in Washington, DC, also addressed the gathering, saying Smith has issued a powerful call “for elected officials on both sides of the aisle and civic and religious leaders of all faiths and backgrounds to fight the rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world and here at home….”
At the event, Yan and Lena Feldman were named Guests of Honor, Alexander and Tatyana Smertenko received the Community Service Award; Igor and Irina Cherny, the Community Partnership Award; and Israel Libus, the Lifetime Achievement Award.