The World Values Network held its “Sixth Annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala,” on Thursday March 8, 2018 at the renowned Plaza Hotel with cocktails beginning at 5:30 PM. It is quite an achievement for a relatively small organization to hold a major dinner containing more than 600 people at the Plaza on a Thursday night. For those who don’t know the leader of the Network, Shmuley Boteach is an unconventional Rabbi who skyrocketed to fame with his book “Kosher Sex.” Newsweek named him one of the 50 most influential rabbis in the United States three years in a row.
Boteach has been an avid supporter of gay rights and believes that the biggest threat to marriage comes not from gay marriage but heterosexual divorce. As a celebrity Rabbi who has appeared on Oprah numerous times and was a spiritual advisor and close friend to the legendary Michael Jackson, Boteach has friends in high places including Miriam and Sheldon Adelson who are fervent supporters of both his ideology and organization. His fervent right wing positions on Israel and its settlements made him a frequent foe of the Obama administration. Boteach utilizes his organization to publish papers decrying the anti-Semitism of former friend Cory Booker and most recently singer Lorde and the BDS movement for demonizing Israel. He has recognized and lauded Trump for his “emergence as a great champion of the Jewish People.”
Shmuley’s eclectic approach to Judaism was reflected in his diverse list of honorees which included: Caitlyn Jenner, Steven Mnuchin, Sean Spicer, Ron Dermer, Dani Dayan, Scott Pikarksy, and Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman. Honoring the transgender Caitlyn Jenner was certainly an “unorthodox” choice and Boteach explained he understood the opposition but “we fight for Israel and Jenner loves Israel and speaks out courageously for human rights.”
Jenner was accompanied by a 21-year-old Ivanka Trump transgender doppelganger named Sophia Hutchins. The controversial Jenner was bombarded with selfies while the straitlaced Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, looked baffled by the commotion at his table. An award was presented posthumously to Yoni Netanyahu, brother of Bibi. Bibi accepted the award via video and praised Elie Wiesel as a “warrior on the battlefield of conscience.”
Brilliant Orthodox Comedian Elon Gold was the emcee and the crowd laughed uproariously when he joked how Israelis always make singular-plural and plural-singular making it impossible to get a word in because they repeat the same phrase eight times.
Philanthropist extraordinaire of Birthright, Michael Steinhardt, presented an award to former Miss Universe Israel Adar Gandelsman. During the live auction prizes like box seats at the Yankees failed to sell so Boteach urged Jenner to auction off lunch with her which sold to a number of people. Caitlyn Jenner even bid on lunch with Steinhardt for $10,000. The talk of the evening amongst Steinhardt and DeSantis was President Trump’s moving the embassy to Jerusalem with Ron Desantis remarking that this was akin to the controversial decision of Truman to recognize Israel in 1948. Sean Spicer reiterated the administration’s resolve remarking, “we knew he was going to be a real friend who was going to get results. From day one, we knew that we were going to stop paying terrorists so they would end up paying terrorists who kill Jews.”
Spicer said he felt honored to have served in the Trump administration and loved the message of unity of the evening. Mnuchin reiterated the Trump administration’s commitment to fighting terrorism and said they had opened a new terrorist targeting center in the Middle East to work on the ground to stop attacks. He remarked that withholding funding and utilizing sanctions were great tools in stopping terrorist activity. Mnuchin remarked, “This President is the greatest friend to the State of Israel… He is not only committed to making sure that Israel is safe, but that its neighbors and the rest of the world is safe from ballistic missiles and from Iran exporting terrorism throughout the region.” Mnuchin said the President would reinstate sanctions against Iran if the existing agreement was left unaltered. “In the past year we have put more sanctions on North Korea than all the administrations in the previous 20 years,” remarked Mnuchin who was referencing the recent historical decision of Kim Jong-Un to meet with the President. All the years of Presidents tiptoeing diplomatically around the dictatorial Kim were futile: sanctions and words of “fire and fury” were the only effective methods.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer who received an award addressed Mnuchin and thanked him for his support and friendship with Israel remarking, “now that you are done with the tax cuts and have got the tariffs and everything out of the way, now we can actually start and strengthen the U.S-Israel economic relationship and bring it to unprecedented heights.” He also added that there has never been a President who has shown greater support for Israel.
As the evening concluded, Caitlyn Jenner accepted her award and spoke tearfully about the 1972 Olympics where she witnessed the Munich massacre in a nearby dormitory. Jenner also said she admired the Jews for their commitment to their families and called Boteach and his wife, Debbie, “the bomb” for having 9 children joking “I have ten but it took me three women” to get there. Jenner lauded Israel for its pro-homosexual and pro-transgender policies being only one of 19 nations that allow transgenders to serve in the army. As the diverse honorees stood on stage to take pictures with their awards guests hurried to the lobby for some delectable desserts while r
ecounting the unusual highlights of the evening.