A new pro-Israel European Christian advocacy group called the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy (F4CD) deserves credit for the Tashlich ceremony that was held at the UN Headquarters in New York City last week, for the first time ever.
Dozens of top ambassadors, and even the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, attended the ceremony in the resplendent Rose Garden of the UNHQ, and allegorically threw the bread of their “sins” into the East River.
It was a bittersweet moment for Ron Prosor, the outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN, who called for the United Nations “to reestablish its rightful role as the bastion of freedom and the temple of peace it was really established to be.”
But the real star of the evening was the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy (F4CD) the pro-Israel European Christian group that sponsored and engineered the de facto diplomatic coup that drew dozens of actual ambassadors to the first ever traditional Tashlich ceremony, presided over by the Orthodox Rabbi Arthur Schneier of Park East Synagogue.
The two F4CD speakers were Dr. Gregory Lafitte and Tomas Sandell, and they both emphasized that it was time for the world to honor the Jewish people and their invaluable contribution to world culture and peace.
Sandell, the founding director of the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), who presided as master of ceremonies, explained that the umbrella group was formed in 2003 as a response to the “greatest crime against mankind,” the Shoah – to learn from Shoah’s tragic history and to insure the mistakes are not repeated.
In 2005, the ECI hosted and sponsored the first Holocaust Remembrance Day at the European Parliament in Brussels, which has since become an official annual event. It also helped pass the UN official designation of January 26 as the official UN Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Sandell explained that the ECI’s newest initiative, F4CD, seeks to honor and celebrate the Jewish people so as to learn from past terrible mistakes.
To emphasize the centrality of the Jewish culture of peace, F4CD Director Dr. Lafitte mentioned the “Isaiah wall” across from UNHQ, which features the verse from Isaiah, Chapter 2, prophesying a time when “swords will be turned into plowshares.”
Ominously, he warned of the rising tides of virulent anti-Semitism in Europe. He proclaimed that “Tolerance [of the Jewish people] is not the answer. It is not enough to ‘tolerate’ the Jewish people, but we need to honor and celebrate their culture and their many contributions to mankind.” Dr. Lafitte even ended his speech with a rendition of the Avinu Malkeinu prayer.
The fact that with over two million Jews in New York City, it took a European pro-Israel group to engineer and sponsor a UNHQ Tashlich service, shows both the righteousness of some Europeans, and the state of American Jewry.