The World Values Network held its annual dinner on Thursday March 28, 2019 with cocktails and the red carpet beginning at 5:30 PM on the tenth floor of Carnegie Hall. It is quite an unheard of feat for a Jewish organization to be given the keys to the coveted Carnegie Hall; Artistic Director Clive Gillinson’s adoration for founder Rabbi Shmuley Boteach may have been behind this unprecedented occurrence. The World Values Network is based on the teachings of Rabbi Boteach who lectures, debates and delivers radio and TV broadcasts in an effort to spread universal Jewish values.
Boteach is an “unorthodox” Orthodox Jewish rabbi who is the author of 30 books including “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Jesus.” In the 1990’s Boteach became a friend and unofficial spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson and recently remarked that he believed Jackson’s accusers and felt sorry for the burden their parents must shoulder. Boteach is an outspoken proponent of gay rights and counts celebrities such as Dr. Oz, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil and Roseanne Barr as good friends. Previous Boteach galas had nearly 1,000 people with controversial celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Pamela Anderson being honored.
This year 150 people gathered due to the limited space of the venue. Boteach wowed attendees as the exclusivity of the event allowed for an intimacy that left many elite participants remarking this was a night they won’t forget. The IQ was also much higher as Economic Director Larry Kudlow, Assistant to the President Jason Greenblatt, Humanitarian Marion Wiesel, Carnegie Hall Artistic Director Sir Clive Gillinson and Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White were honored. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Roseanne Barr and Dr. Oz were unfortunate no-shows. Boteach has the uncanny ability to make friends with all the right people as he counts Miriam and Sheldon Adelson as close personal confidants-unable to attend they donated a cool half-a-million.
The evening began with a larger crowd attending the reception and red carpet that lasted for over an hour-and-a-half. As guests streamed into the main room for the smaller dinner party attendees gathered around Marion Wiesel to snap pictures and shower her with admiration. Nily Falic, a close friend of Wiesel and Israel, introduced her son Simon whose dream it was to play in Carnegie Hall as he regaled the crowd with his extraordinary accordion skills. Falic, who was wearing a smashing Escada suit, counts Chanel and Escada as her two favorite designers and owns the Lacroix couture house.
Falic is a philanthropist extraordinaire whose love for Israel is unmatched as she donates millions to the IDF and other Jewish organizations. Her zest for life and enthusiasm alights ever hall she enters. Another luminary, CEO of Discovery David Zaslav, came to pay homage to Marion Wiesel whom he called a close personal friend. Zaslav, is a mega-mogul who has raised Discovery’s market capitalization from $6 to $18 billion. He is a phenom in the broadcasting world and has frequently spoken out against the surge of global anti-Semitism urging the audience to rise up against it. Zaslav has become notorious for holding the best Hamptons party of the summer with guests such as Oprah, Robert De Niro and Diana Ross in attendance. Zaslav praised Wiesel for marching with the NAACP in the civil rights marches of the 60’s saying Marion and Elie had brought him closer to the religious side of Judaism as he is an active member of the Shoah organization.
Elisha Wiesel, CIO of Goldman Sachs and son of Marion, described his mother’s acumen in helping his father Elie write and translate books. He referred to his mother by the aphorism used to describe Eve “Ezer Kenegdo”; Elisha recalled his mother being the perfect complement to his father: Elie was gentle she was firm ; he was full of ideas she was action oriented; he had given up hope on civilization and offspring. Upon accepting her award Marion admitted she was unsure if she was receiving it because she was Elie’s wife or if she was worthy. Because she translated his books and started the Elie Wiesel Foundation which assists Ethiopian Jews she realized she was deserving of the honor.
Jon Voight, who is a great friend of Wiesel and Israel, praised Marion on her award and remarked that he was excited by all the beautiful children in attendance. Voight said the story of the Jewish people was extremely bold and their greatest blessing was having Trump as president. When I asked Voight what led to his love for the Jewish people he remarked, “my pursuit of the truth.” The Weisels, who are great lovers of music, were treated to the tunes of Michael Feinstein who congratulated Carnegie Hall director Clive Gillinson for his marriage to young lawyer Anya Deutsch saying they found each other in this “crazy world.” Gillinson, is a “Sir” and is certainly worthy of this title as he has risen to the top of the cultural ladder in the unforgiving circle of New York’s highest society. I have encountered him at numerous Carnegie Hall functions and he is as elegant and erudite as they come-and much appreciated by the Carnegie Hall community. His British accent belies his Jewish ancestry and he lauded Carnegie Hall as the greatest musical institution that transforms lives by reaching over 600,000 people a year.
Another fan of the arts, Jason Greenblatt, spoke of his Hungarian Jewish background and his family’s demise in the Holocaust. Greeenblatt said working in the White House was inspirational and at times frustrating as he was attempting to accomplish a Middle East peace deal. His colleague Larry Kudlow, Director of the United States National Economic Council, described his busy day which included speaking to a group of economists, seeing a foot doctor, meeting Andrew Cuomo, and attending a campaign fundraiser with this being the best and funnest part of the day.
Kudlow said he called Jared Kushner and inquired as to what he should discuss since he was having a crappy day. Jared replied, “tell them this is the first US President to have Jewish grandchildren.” That statement brought tears to my eyes as Israel’s fortune has drastically changed under the Trump administration’s enlightened policies. Kudlow humbly stated that he takes zero credit for the booming economy and found it fun arguing with the president 7:30 in the morning. He lauded Israel for its’ booming market-based economy which has steadily grown 3, 4, and 5 percent each year with no inflation. Kudlow upbraided China and Russia for being equally subversive to the fight for democracy with little concern for Israel as the US seeks to reach a trade deal with China.
Kudlow concluded by praising Trump for his fight against anti-Semitism and totalitarianism and for righting a “huge” wrong and changing the course of history by rejecting the Iran nuclear deal. This momentous evening concluded close to 11 PM as guests ran over to Voight, Kudlow, Greenblatt and Boteach to thank them for fighting valiantly for Israel and for contributing to an unforgettable evening.
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