Esther Levens, the founder and former CEO of the Kansas-based Unity Coalition for Israel (UCI), passed away on August 21 at the age of 95, according to her surviving family.Esther and her late husband Vrem had spent most of their lives in national politics working to strengthen the bond between the United States and Israel. Vrem so much that he worked as part of the Sonnenborn group before the 1948 War of Independence, attempting to secure armaments for pre-state Israel. In the 1960s, Esther and Vrem worked on Bob Dole's campaign for Senate hosting events and fundraising parties before his election. By 1968, the couple became immersed in a life of politics through and through. After Vrem's passing, Esther continued to work alongside Dole on his finance committee during his presidential election run in 1988.Following her work with Dole, Esther began focusing her attention on the negative publicity the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria were attracting across the world. She recalled back to her memories of what her husband Vrem might do, knowing he would not allow the settlements to tarnish the relationship Israel and the United States has, or the outward view Israel has to the rest of the world.Knowing she needed to do something, and keeping in mind 2% of the US population is Jewish, she decided to assemble an alliance of Jewish-Christian partners, using the contacts she made from working for senator Dole all of those years and stumbled upon something much larger than she could have possibly imagined.In July 1991, Esther founded the UCI, which is a pro-Israel Jewish-Christian alliance that works to support the Jewish state and educate the American public on "security issues and radical ideologies, including global Islamic terrorism, affecting not only Israel, but all of Western Civilization.""I sought out a Christian person who I knew was interested in Israel, and we had coffee and discussed Israel. Shortly thereafter, we held a meeting with 20 people on my back porch and as they say the rest is history," Esther noted in her bio.From then on the meetings got larger, the venues and cities more renowned – from Johnson County Community College to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, and from Jerusalem to Nashville to Los Angeles. The meetings would have keynote speakers such as David Bar-Ilan, and two of the events would even be held in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Today, the organization hosts 200 autonomous branches that represent over 40 million American supporters, and it has built an enormous network, utilizing hundreds of organizations, to educate the American public about Israel – much larger than the humble beginnings of 20 people crowded on a back porch from where it began."Esther Levens was an amazing human being. Always kind, gracious, and polite to a fault," said the US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and former Kansas senator Sam Brownback. "I loved working with her in supporting the State of Israel, she was a pioneer on Jewish-Christian relations and their connection to Israel. Indeed, she never stopped working on this topic. She will be greatly missed but left an eternal mark!" In response to the news of Esther's death, Dole took to social media to eulogize her."Esther Levins was a long-time friend who I first met when her husband Vrem and I became acquainted," he tweeted, adding that she "gave me a lot of great political advice over the years" and that she "was a strong supporter of mine in the Jewish community. "She worked tirelessly to help others and will be sorely missed."
Esther Levins was a long-time friend who I first met when her husband Vrem & I became acquainted. Esther gave me a lot of great political advice over the years & was a strong supporter of mine in the Jewish community. She worked tirelessly to help others & will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/PwJMI2HH1p— Senator Bob Dole (@SenatorDole) August 27, 2020