Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Uses New Book to Build Bridges

Posted Thursday, Feb 2nd, 2023

(Press Release) To begin the new year of 2023, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan gifted copies of the recently published Book of Jewish Knowledge to all ambassadors at the United Nations. In a body where Israel regularly faces negative headwinds, Erdan aimed to utilize the Book of Jewish Knowledge’s concise exploration of Jewish life and history to educate and inspire his fellow ambassadors about the Jewish people’s history and values. (Read San Diego Jewish World‘s review of the book here.)

In September 2022, Representative Erdan visited the New York headquarters of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) to address a visiting Israeli leadership group. While there, he got a first-hand look at JLI’s recently published Book of Jewish Knowledge. Erdan was inspired by the book’s beautiful and concise presentation of the whole of Jewish teaching and experience. The JLI team arranged the necessary legwork and the Israeli diplomat presented the book as a New Year gift to all one-hundred-ninety-three United Nations ambassadors.

For Rabbi Yosef Vogel of JLI, it was a chance to impart an inspiring message to the United Nations. “As is well known, all forms of bigotry, prejudice, and hatred are predicated on ignorance,” he said. “This gift of wisdom represents an opportunity to educate and inspire the Ambassadors of the United Nations to the history and timeless values of our people.”

In a note enclosed with the book Ambassador Erdan wrote, “As you know, the Jewish people have a long and rich history dating back thousands of years. This volume is a one-of-a-kind work with everything you need to know about the Jewish people. It is my hope that you will find this work insightful and meaningful not only in your capacity as an ambassador but also personally as a friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Representative Erdan’s bridge-building initiative was made possible by Florida-based philanthropists Ezzy and Malka Rappaport, who generously funded the necessary books.

Rabbi Efraim Mintz, Director of JLI, says the Book of Jewish Knowledge’s encyclopedic overview of Judaism has become a rallying point for Jewish unity and a uniquely effective tool for building bridges. “The book captures the broad spectrum of Jewish history and culture and Judaism’s timeless values,” he says. “It’s already generated an outpouring of interest from the whole spectrum of the Jewish world, and it’s also helping to build bridges beyond the Jewish community.”

Building on the success of Ambassador Erdan’s work, the JLI is pursuing an initiative to present the Book of Jewish Knowledge to all international ambassadors stationed in Israel.

In a letter to JLI on January 3rd, Ambassador Erdan wrote that the book was the best tool he could think of to tell the Jewish people’s story. He concluded, “It is my firm belief that as the Ambassadors go about their diplomatic work in New York and engage with the heads of government in their home countries, they will remember this book and think positively about Israel and the Jewish people.”

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