The first time I met former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was at Brighton Beach’s September 9, 2001 “HIAS DAY” (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) — a day-long celebration at which some 45,000 — mostly Russian émigrés — enjoyed concerts, sporting activities, gymnastics and chess competitions. “Kto eto cheloviek?” (who is that guy?) I overheard a chess player ask his partner near the stage area. Without looking up, the other shrugged. Standing next to very tall N.Y. State Governor George Pataki, Bloomberg, in shirtsleeves, seemed very reserved. “Yivrey?” — a Jew? — a woman asked me. “Da” I replied. It was two days before 9/11!
I have chosen the following standouts from twelve years’ of Bloomberg sightings as presenter, honoree or keynote speaker.
At the September 9, 2003 Jewish Community Relations Council of New York dinner, a just returned from Israel Bloomberg said he “rode buses and visited victims of terror.” He urged “send letters to the president [and] thank him for standing up against terrorism whatever your political stripe.” The evening included a video tribute to NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly set to the soundtrack of “The Gladiator.’” Kelly thanked Bloomberg for his support of the Police Department’s measures to protect “Jewish neighborhoods and synagogues.”
At the JCRC’s March 6, 2007 dinner at which Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes said, “Only in America [can you find] Irish supporters of the State of Israel,” keynote speaker Bloomberg described his trip to Dublin and Israel where he dedicated a ward at Hadassah Hospital in his mother’s name and another ward in his father’s memory.