Best-selling author Rabbi Joseph Telushkin was the featured guest speaker at the Northern Virginia Breakfast for Israel on Sunday, September 10, hosted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Over 400 people attended the event at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, catered by Medina Cuisine.
Breakfast for Israel Co-Chair Susan Dilles said she was delighted by the turnout, which appeared to exceed that of the previous year’s successful event, and expressed excitement that the Jewish community in Northern Virginia seems to be getting larger each year and more active in organizations like the JNF.
Rabbi Telushkin is the author of more than 15 books, including the popular “Jewish Literacy.” His lecture, titled “The 50 Best Jewish Jokes and What they Show About the Jewish People,” was both informative and entertaining, showcasing the talents that earned Rabbi Telushkin a place on Talk Magazine’s “50 Best Speakers” list.
Jokes, said Rabbi Telushkin, can speak to the heart of a people, especially jokes told by the group about itself; they often speak from a common understanding of how the community operates and thinks.
“In the early years of Israel, travel was much more arduous,” Rabbi Telushkin began. “You didn’t have people so often coming over from Israel, and a high official of the Israeli government arrived at the airport in New York.”
“He gets out and the press delegation comes out to meet him. One of them calls out, ‘Tell us what the situation is like in Israel in one word!’ and the man says ‘Good!’”
“And someone else calls out, ‘Tell me in two words!’ and the man says ‘Not good!’”
The audience responded with sustained laughter.
“Between the event last year and this year, Gesher JDS was happy to be a major participant,” said Dan Finkel, head of school at Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax. “One of the things that strikes me is that despite Northern Virginia’s proximity to Washington, D.C., and the inevitable political divide that that can bring to any community, we all come together when it comes to Israel.”
Mark Lapidus, a native of Northern Virginia and gabbai at the local Chabad synagogue, also attended the breakfast. “Events like this are very important to our community in Virginia, which can be spread out. Jews from all over Fairfax and beyond attend, and I can interact with people I don’t get to see very often. It’s like a homecoming,” he said.
By Dovid Nachshon Albright
Dovid Nachshon Albright is an active member of Chabad of Fairfax in Virginia. A volunteer Talmud teacher at his shul, Dovid is also the owner and founder of Albright IP, an intellectual property research and consulting firm.