The David Friedman I Know

The night the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of David Friedman as President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to Israel, Friedman celebrated the way he wanted. It was the way many who know, respect and like David Friedman expected. David took his wife, their children and spouses to a local kosher casual restaurant and ate dinner among a crowd of excited neighbors. To them, it seemed like just another intimate gathering after a long-anticipated of an important business meeting.

If he is confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate (which is almost certain to happen), Ambassador Friedman will conduct important business and bring issues involving Israel, the United States and countries around the world with the same dedication and professionalism as reflected in that family gathering. David Friedman loves Israel as much as he loves his family. He stated so publicly the night before the election last November before a crowd of over 100 people that met to hear his thoughts on the possible Clinton/Kaine victory that was wrongly projected by the mainstream media.

When Trump won, as we know, one of his first official announcements was his nomination of Friedman.

Friedman stayed low-key and conducted his life just like he did before his became an overnight public figure and target of opponents.

While any other advisor would be in Washington DC enjoying every VIP gala, hobnobbing with celebrities and public figures from every major business, political party and other countries, Friedman spent his time with his family. Coincidentally, inauguration ceremonies and events overlapped time wise with Yeshiva vacation week. Friedman and his wife, Tammy, took their grandchildren to Florida and instead of dressing up in tuxedos and designer gowns, they chose to dress up in character costumes and enjoy the rides in amusement parks.

They shared in many family dinners and brunches and joined the community public Chanukah menorah lighting ceremonies. The Shabbat after his confirmation hearings, Friedman sgraciously spoke individually with every man in his local shul who eagerly waited to shake his hand and speak with him. Friedman and his family attended a recent memorial honoring dinner celebrating the life of his father, the late Rabbi Dr. Morris S. Friedman.

They baked Hamantashen together for this Purim and celebrated the recent birth of his grandson.

The Power of the Rebbe

Much was made of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s visits to the grave of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, in Queens, NY shortly before and after election night.

Friedman went to visit the Rebbe’s grave the Sunday before his confirmation last February, together with the leader of his local Chabad and some of the men he learns regularly with. Friedman did it without press coverage or fanfare. It was something Friedman was quite familiar with.

I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon right before the hearings with David’s wife and our Chabad Rebbetzin visiting the graveside of both the Rebbe and his late wife. Rebbetzin Wolowik shared meaningful insights to our unique visit.

The Hearings

While I could not personally attend Friedman’s confirmation hearings, many friends and neighbors who both Friedman and I know did. It was truly surreal watching television coverage and seeing so many familiar faces. All said the same thing: they knew David would be confirmed, despite partisan votes and a smear campaign targeting against some of Friedman’s positions. They saw a humble, serious and detailed man, apologizing when necessary, interested in open communications with all, and even joking during recess.

This article is not meant to be gossipy or even trivial, rather a personal statement as a way to ensure those who don’t know David Friedman to relax and embrace the next Ambassador to Israel. Friedman will serve as ambassador with the same dedication, professionalism and care that he does in every aspect of his life. Friedman prioritizes his values of family, religion and issues that concern Jewish communities internationally. Friedman and his family are totally dedicated to ensuring that both the interests of America and Israel are top priorities — and they will continue to do so, with grace and dignity.

The David Friedman I Know

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

The David Friedman I Know

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The David Friedman I Know

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