By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — As more than 250 supporters of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas bid a fond farewell to exiting board chair Cindy Sweet Moskowitz on Thursday, June 18, incoming chair Daniel J. Prescott outlined a vigorous plan to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Prescott was one of the last speakers at the 2015 Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ annual meeting in the Zale Auditorium of the Aaron Family JCC. In his capacity as incoming chair, he presented the BDS plan as the first in a three-part agenda. The other points involve creating a new message delivery methodology and “significantly” expanding the number of people involved with the Federation.
However, most of Prescott’s time was spent discussing a Federation-guided condemnation of BDS — a global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with goals of the movement. His remarks were met with a standing ovation.
Prescott emphasized during his comments he believes the BDS movement at its core is rooted in anti-Semitism and the denial of Israel’s right to exist.
“The BDS battlegrounds are not
just in Israel — rather they are right here in the United States,” he said. “And don’t be fooled, BDS is a not-so-well-disguised version of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. It’s rearing its ugly head on our college campuses. Our kids are forced to fight this battle.”
The fight on campuses
In April, the University of Texas at Austin’s Student Government Assembly voted down a divisive, anti-Israel resolution drafted by BDS followers. This resolution would have asked the UT System Investment Management Company to pull investments from companies, which the resolution alleges facilitated the “oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel.”
The measure was defeated April 21.
Prescott said supporters of the BDS movement are well-financed and well-prepared. The Jewish community owes it to themselves, their children and their Israeli brothers and sisters to jump in and tackle the matter with great vigor, he added.
“We have great partners in our BDS battle — AIPAC on campus, Hillel, Chabad and Jewish fraternities and sororities,” he said. “But there must be a convening entity. I propose the Federation, under the guidance of our Jewish Community Relations Council and hopefull
y with the partnership of Houston, Austin and San Antonio Federations, convene our partners to assess what else is needed and how we rally our various resources to formalize a coordinated response that is appropriately staffed and funded. … We must make sure our kids at UT Austin, A&M, UT Dallas and North Texas are not without appropriate and coordinated support. We have to be prepared. We will be prepared. This is our fight.”
Prescott said he also hopes to educate Jewish high school-age students about the BDS movement “so they can go to college, face BDS, have a background and be prepared.”
Operation Protective Edge
Bradley Laye, president and CEO of the Federation, offered his remarks at an earlier point in the program. They centered around the Federation’s recent successes. Laye emphasized that Jewish people are stronger when they stand together — whether it’s rallying support for Operation Protective Edge, helping neighborhoods deal with floods in Houston, dealing with poverty, displacement or whatever crisis confronts humanity.
“Your Federation, your community, it’s not only incredibly strong, but we have an abundant opportunity to harvest the growth and the passion of this remarkable city and Metroplex,” Laye said. “… We have granted almost $80,000 in outreach and engagement grants to area congregations and Jewish organizations to include more people on the outstretched arm of our Jewish community.”
Laye said the final amount of the Federation’s annual campaign — which raises money every year to provide the basic infrastructure that supports the local and global Jewish community — is expected to close soon at $10.8 million.
Among Laye’s many “thank-yous” was a hearty farewell to Cindy Sweet Moskowitz.
“Cindy, the past two years have been the most fulfilling I have ever had professionally and it is because of you,” he said.
After his comments, Laye cued a televised tribute to Moskowitz. The departing chair’s family members were seen discussing her merits as a person and a leader.
Like Laye, Moskowitz mentioned many Federation-related accomplishments and experiences during her term — such as “The Big One” trip to Israel and how it revitalized Federation members who attended, a rekindled sense of global community, and Lillian Pinkus being selected president of AIPAC.
Moskowitz also celebrated the relationships she made with the many Federation supporters in the audience.
“I have learned from so many of you here tonight,” she said. “If good decisions were made, it is because the leadership team and I have listened.”
Then, elections were held.
During the nominating committee report by Jeffrey Rasansky, the incoming officers and board members were unanimously voted into office.
These included Daniel J. Prescott, chair, and vice chairs Lisa Genecov, Harold Gernsbacher, Eric Pinker, and A.J. Rosmarin. Cindy Sweet Moskowitz was named immediate past chair.
Nominees elected to the board of directors included: David Brickman, Steven Davidoff, Pam H. Fine, Hylton L. Jonas, Robin Kosberg, Brian M. Lidji, and Cynthia Spechler.
Elected portfolio members include: Janet Beck, Neil Beckerman, Cynthia Feldman, Carol Kreditor, Deborah Niederman, Alan Shor, and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg.
Listed board members with remaining years of service include: Alan Bernon, Brett Diamond, Sandy Donsky, Beth Gold, Jennifer Goldman, Betsy Kleinman, Kevin Pailet and Brian Ratner.
Board chair appointments for one-year term included Jeffrey Beck and Nate Levine.
In other business:
- The Helen Gross Leadership Award was presented to Ynette Hogue — who could not be there at the meeting because she was with her daughter and family celebrating the birth of new baby twins. Janice Sweet Weinberg accepted the award on her behalf.
- The Bob Weinfeld Campaigner of the Year Award was presented to Nate Levine.
- The Bess Nathan Young Leadership Award was presented to Lindsay Bendorf, and
- The I. Zesmer Young Leadership Award was presented to Paul Rubin.