This past Wednesday afternoon, many of American Jewry's foremost leaders gathered at New York's Fifth Avenue Synagogue for a Memorial Tribute to Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister and one of Israel's greatest military heroes. The tribute was organized by two of General Sharon's closest friends, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, and included personal remarks from Ariel Sharon's son, Gilad Sharon.
The rabbi of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier, introduced each of the speakers with wonderful references to passages in the Megillah that suggested how each reflects qualities which the midrash associates with the heroic Mordechai.
Those sharing memories of the late Prime Minister, who died this January 11 after an eight-year coma that followed a stroke, include the Israeli Consul General in New York, Ido Aharoni; the Executive Vice Chairman of the President's Conference, Malcolm Hoenlein; a personal friend of Prime Minister Sharon, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel; and a dear and life-long friend, Ira Rennert.
Gilad Sharon, whose devotion and care of his father during the past eight years is a model of the Jewish mitzvah of "Kibud Av" (Honoring One's Father), reminded those in attendance that, coincidentally, the tribute was being held on Ariel Sharon's birthday.
Fifth Avenue Synagogue Cantor Joseph Malovany chanted the traditional funeral prayer El Male Rachamim and led the gathering in singing a rousing prayer for the State of Israel, Avinu Shebashamayim (Our Father Who Is In Heaven).