When the mayor of the city that never sleeps travels to Israel, we can squeeze two weeks of content into two and a half days — particularly when the mayor is the famously indefatigable Eric Adams.
UJA funded and helped organize Mayor Adams’s whirlwind trip, his first as mayor, in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council. Our aim was to introduce the mayor to Israeli leaders, explore technological developments that might have applications in New York, and strengthen our shared commitment to fighting antisemitism. We also wanted to introduce the mayor to our extensive work in Israel building bridges between diverse communities, another issue with enormous relevance to us as New Yorkers.
Israel’s foreign office quite literally rolled out the red carpet, welcoming the mayor of New York — the second largest center of Jewish life in the world — almost as a head of state. For his part, Mayor Adams came eager to make the most of every sight and every interaction.
On the first night, we were joined by religious leaders representing some of the diverse faiths in Israel: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Druze. Each offered a blessing, which the mayor graciously received.
In turn, Mayor Adams asked the leaders to not only be worshippers of their faith but active practitioners, to step out of their synagogues, churches, and mosques and be the force for change we desperately need. He asked how we would answer our grandchildren if they were to ask “Where were you? What did you do?” when the world was in such a state of upheaval.
We didn’t shy away from facing the very hard issues currently consuming Israeli society. The mayor met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and separately with leaders of the judicial reform protest movement, as well as many other leaders on both sides of the current conflict.
Over dinner, we introduced the mayor to a group of inspiring UJA grantees that are finding new ways to work for and with disadvantaged populations, creating education and job opportunities.