On the fifth night of Hanukkah, San Francisco-based diplomats who represent countries around the world lit the menorah in a show of support for the Jewish community. And like all gatherings these days, it was on Zoom.
The Dec. 14 event was dubbed “Diplomacy at 75,” a virtual Hanukkah gala sponsored by the American Jewish Committee to mark the 75th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter in San Francisco and the founding of the local chapter of AJC.
Founded in 1906, AJC is a national Jewish advocacy organization devoted to fighting antisemitism, cultivating diplomatic relationships, supporting Israel and building bridges between Jews and non-Jews. It played a key role in inserting human rights protections into the U.N. Charter, which was ratified in San Francisco by 50 countries at the War Memorial Veterans Building in June 1945.
Featured speakers at the event included California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, AJC CEO David Harris, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and three generations of the Swig family, who have been Jewish community activists for many decades. Referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, Breed said, “I appreciate the strength and support [the Jewish] community has given this city during the crisis. This has shown us how connected we really are.”
AJC also honored two longtime supporters of the organization with its Light Unto the Nations Award: Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Tad Taube, who presided over the Koret Foundation for many years as well as his own Taube Philanthropies. Feinstein appeared briefly in a recorded clip, expressing her admiration for the organization’s work. In his remarks, Taube recounted his beginnings as a Polish Jewish refugee from the Holocaust and his lifelong commitment to supporting Jewish life, including revitalizing the Jewish community of Poland.
“I’m grateful for the role I‘ve been able to play in Jewish life,” Taube said, “and particularly grateful to AJC for making this event possible.”
The gala ended with a candlelighting, during which consuls general and diplomats representing Portugal, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, Canada, India and others kindled the Hanukkah candles, while expressing best wishes for the Jewish community and AJC.
Watch the entire gala here.