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The lights were dim, the house was packed. Not a single seat in the audience at Heichal HaTarbut in Tel Aviv was empty, and as I took the stage the spotlight was on me. I’d like to take credit for being the draw, the main attraction. But alas, it was not me they were there to see, or me they were there to honor.  Despite that, it was a heady feeling standing before a crowd of thousands, sharing one of OU Israel’s many stories and triumphs.

Last night OU Israel hosted a Yaakov Shwekey concert to honor the families that take part in OU Israel’s Lev Yehudi Yisraeli program. These couples settle their families in secular communities so they can serve as a living example of Torah values exposing their neighbors in the Gush Dan area to Jewish ideals and traditions. And the crowds came out in droves to listen, to honor. Shwekey brought down the house! And I said a little something too.

After thanking Shwekey for giving us the music to inspire, and thanking the families that make up the OU Lev Yehudi Yisraeli core, and explaining how the money from OU Kosher is returned to the Jewish people through the projects it funds, I told the audience, “Every single one of you sitting here tonight can be a part of this. Every single one of you sitting here tonight has to be a part of this. Whether it’s a donation, a learning partner, or a spot at your Shabbat table, you can make a huge difference to the life of an individual and the life of the Jewish people. Is that an opportunity you can pass up?”

The second the concert was over I was surrounded. I took out my pen to sign autographs (the lights had gone to my head), but they wanted information and details on how they can be a part of the OU’s Lev Yehudi Yisraeli and OU Israel. It seems the Jewish heart (Lev Yehudi Yisraeli) was a star of the show last night.