Malcolm Hoenlein speaks Monday night in Jerusalem after receiving the Menachem Begin Prize for Israel-Diaspora leadership.
(photo credit: COURTESY MENACHEM BEGIN CENTER)
Prominent American Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein received the Menachem Begin Prize at a ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday night, in honor of his work in strengthening ties between Diaspora Jewry and Israel.
The other recipient of the award this year was Yigal Cohen-Orgad, Ariel University chancellor and former finance minister.
The Menachem Begin Heritage Center has presented this award annually since 1999 at its center in Jerusalem to an organization or person for extraordinary acts that benefit the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
A special committee headed by former justice minister Moshe Nissim chose the winners.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a video message to the prize recipients, saying that he can testify personally about their tremendous contributions to the State of Israel.
“This is a special honor for me,” said Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who is close to Netanyahu.
“Prime Minister Begin, the Begin Center and the prize in his name, symbolize the great tradition of our people, our determination to overcome challenges and live in peace with everyone around us. I am pleased to receive this honor as a sign that these ties remain strong and that the Jewish communities in the United States and the world stand together with Israel as one family.”
Cohen-Orgad spoke of the challenges he faced in establishing Ariel University and thanked the committee for awarding him the prize.
Herzl Makov, director-general of the Begin Heritage Center, addressing the prize recipients, said, “This year the Begin Prize is awarded to two people: Yigal Cohen-Orgad is a real Betari,” he explained in reference to the revisionist Zionist youth movement of which Begin was a member. “Yigal’s life, his political path and even his family were shaped in Betar, and his life was a constant service of the Betar ideal. In particular, we were impressed that after your retirement from political life, you devoted the best of your energies to the establishment of a Zionist university, which is meticulous in academic excellence in Ariel, Samaria.”
“Malcolm Hoenlein – we know your different opinions and positions that are not always similar to the other opinions among the various groups,” Makov said. “But you lead the various groups represented around the table of the Conference of Presidents so brilliantly, with your sense of fairness and pluralism, your compassion and your strong leadership, you are the perfect leader for such a diverse organization. You are inspiring and respected and admired by your colleagues. It is clear to everyone who meets you as the representative of the organizations that the prosperity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is your top priority. In both Israel and the Diaspora, we need more leaders like you.”
Former defense minister Moshe Arens, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, members of the Begin family, and other public figures also participated in the event.