April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Permit me to digress from all things real estate and try to recreate this past Sunday evening as my husband and I set out on a mission. We picked up the former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, at his childhood home in Essex County, New Jersey, and drove him to Bnai Yeshurun, our shul in Teaneck. His mission was to address the current war in Israel and beyond. Over 600 people attended and as he stepped up to the bima amidst the thundering applause, he had tears in his eyes and for a few moments Michael Oren could not speak.

Through the lens of this renowned historian, parliamentarian, statesman and, yes, a young lone soldier from New Jersey, Ambassador Oren deconstructed Israel’s military mission in Gaza and soberly addressed the importance of political advocacy by American Jews. Oren was well aware of the many parents and grandparents sitting before him that night in Teaneck who have soldiers fighting in Israel. “Jewish history is hard, but comes with hope,” he repeated several times throughout the evening.

It seemed to both my husband and myself, who have spent time with Oren, that he experienced a “cathartic” relief from the energy in the audience, a small respite from the pain of all the funerals and shiva calls he made personally over the last weeks in Israel. The evening allowed him to share his emotions as well as his profound understanding of the serious road ahead.

In his most recent book “2048: The Rejuvenated State,” Oren’s longest chapter is devoted to the “peace process” and the seeming impossibility of a two-state solution.

He repeated several times that the Holocaust never ended and the dehumanization of Jews continues albeit with one remarkable difference, the Israeli army. In the 1948 War of Independence, one out of every 10 Israelis was in uniform. Those numbers, he cited, would have been equivalent to an American army of 35 million soldiers!

Oren reminisced about his making aliyah when orange juice was the single largest Israeli export. At that point in time, the State of Israel had no relationship with China or Africa and no peace treaty with Jordan and Egypt—and surely no Abraham Accords. Jews had not yet arrived from around the world including the USSR, nor from Ethiopia. And then he saw miracles.

The evening became a journey for both Oren and us, the audience. The ambassador concluded with the following: “History is hard but comes with hope. It will be costly and painful. But for 4,000 years we have endured. History hard—history hope. You, all of us, are the hope.”

Many thanks to Dr. Ben Choake, president of NORPAC and to the Bnai Yeshurun Adult Education Committee for sponsoring this event. Most of all, thank you to my community which I feel so blessed to be a part of. (Look for information about a screening of the event).


Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V&N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Avenue in Teaneck, New Jersey. Send your thoughts and comments to [email protected] or call

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