OJPAC Annual Dinner Honors Defenders of Orthodox Community

By Reuvain Borchardt

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) on Thursday hosted its annual “Policy Conference and Appreciation Event” dinner, honoring those who publicly defend the religious liberties of the orthodox community.

OJPAC was founded by askanim Aron Spielman, Mayer Berger, and Yossi Gestetner for the purpose of countering disparaging media coverage of the Orthodox Jewish Community, and promoting civil liberties impacting the community. It has released data-driven reports and conducted media and advocacy campaigns in defense of the community, and Gestetner in particular has become an influential and ubiquitous presence on traditional and social media rebuffing negative narratives of the community.

“The way Orthodox Jews are reported on and spoken about in the public arena has a direct impact on the number of hate attacks in the streets, discrimination in the private sector, and abuses by governments,” said Gestetner. “OJPAC utilizes a wide range of tools such as data research, studies, reports, op-eds, press releases, videos, social media activity, and paid ads to steer the conversation in a productive matter. The efforts are impactful only because so many people in their respective roles join in the efforts or take the initiative when they see unfair reporting and commentary regarding the Orthodox Jewish community.”

The single-evening conference, held for community leaders, activists, politicians, media and the organization’s supporters at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel and Conference Center in Tarrytown in Westchester County, has in just its third year become a premier event for Orthodox Jewish leadership, bringing together officials from throughout the Northeast to meet and discuss policy and issues affecting the community.

A highlight of the evening is the presentation of awards to five categories of askanim, each of whom is recognized “for helping in the battle against bigotry and for championing civil rights and civil liberties.” A unique feature of OJPAC’s awards program is that the names of recipients are not announced beforehand. In the weeks prior to the event, OJPAC leadership solicits suggestions for awardees from the registered attendees, but the identities of the awardees are not revealed — even to the awardees themselves — until the moment they are announced at the dinner.

This year’s awards went to Rabbi Yeruchim Silber of Agudath Israel and to Rabbi Yaakov Menken of the Coalition for Jewish Values (Senior Askan Awards); Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder (Askan in Government Awards); Shimon Rolnitzky of Kol Mavaser and Der Gluck (Askan in Media Awards); Rabbi Yisroel Kahan of Oyzrim and of the Anti-Defamation League (Organizational Askan Award); Jeff Ballabon and Lee Brewer (Independent Askan Awards).

Photos courtesy of ABB/Reuvain Borchardt/Hamodia/OJPAC

rborchardt@hamodia.com

L-R: New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
Councilman Kalman Yeger pretends to introduce Agudath Israel colleagues Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel and Chaskel Bennett.
L-R: New York Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, activist Heshy Marton, Bobov askan Chaskie Rosenberg.

Gestetner stands between Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney (L) and Republican Mike Lawler, both running for the 17th district congressional seat.

Maloney and Lawler exchange business cards.
L-R: Rabbis Yehoshua Pinkus, Yeruchim Silber, and Avi Schnall of Agudath Israel; and Josh Mehlman of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition.

State Sen. Simcha Felder (L) and Yossi Gestetner

Councilman Kalman Yeger flanked by Brooklyn Community Board 12 officials Jack Kaplan (L) and Barry Spitzer.

Awardees below: Simcha Eichenstein (2nd L); Rabbi Yeruchim Silber (2nd R); Rabbi Yaakov Menken (2nd R); Shimon Rolnitzky (2nd R); Jeff Ballabon (R); Jeff Ballabon; Zalman Leib “Lee” Brewer (2nd R); Aron Wieder (2nd L); ADL officials accept an award on behalf of Rabbi Yisroel Kahan.

The Brooklyn machers table.
Williamsburg Shomrim coordinator Yanky Itzkowitz works 24/6, even at formal dinners.

The City Hall team eventually found their way to Westchester. New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ senior advisor Joel Eisdorfer (R), content producer Benny Polatsek (2nd R) and Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Fred Kreizman (far left). Also basking in the glow of the mayor’s team are Yossi Gestetner (C) and OJ{PAC supporter Meyer Tauber (2nd L).

Ami Magazine’s Turx (L) with NYPD Inspector Richie Taylor.
Forward political reporter Jacob Kornbluh raves about the cuisine.
Host Yossi Gestetner feigns dissatisfaction with the potato kugel.
Yossi Margaretten of Rockland Chaveirim meeting and greeting.

Sam Stern of Williamsburg UJO (L) and Avi Greenstein of Boro Park JCC.

David Klestzick, Deputy Chief of Trials at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office (L) and Bobov-45 askan Chesky Blau
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso with his Jewish liaison Jacob Eisdorfer.
L-R: Rockland Legislator Aron Wieder; political liaison Yoily Lefkowitz; Mishpacha and Yated editor Yochonon Donn.
David Schwartz (L) and Pinny Ringel are squaring off in the upcoming Democratic district leader primary.
L-R: Attorney Ron Coleman, Agudath Israel Executive Vice President Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, political insider Ushi Teitelbaum, Bobov-45 askan Chesky Blau, Boro Park JCC CEO Avi Greenstein.

L-R: Political insider Ushi Teitelbaum, Councilman Lincoln Restler of Williamsburg, Boro Park JCC CEO Avi Greenstein.

Veteran publicist Ezra Friedlander fehrs tisch with some young fans.

Musical entertainment by Yossi Green (L) and Moishy Schwartz.

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