Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev announced to Jeff Finkelstein, CEO and President of the Pittsburgh Jewish Federation, that he was chosen to carry the Diaspora Beacon at Israel's 71st Independence Day.
Regev said she spoke with Finkelstein. "I was pleased to announce to Jeff Finkelstein, CEO and President of the Pittsburgh Jewish Federation, his choice to carry the Diaspora Beacon on Independence Day. Jeff Finkelstein represents the Tree of Life, the growing eye of the spirit of brotherhood and human cohesion and the great soul of our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora.
"Jeff Finelkstein expresses in his blessed work the great strides of social cohesion among our people and the concern for spreading light of love for man as a human being, his standing alongside the families of the victims after the attack at the Etz HaChaim Synagogue and the families of those murdered in a mosque attack in New Zealand and expression of the supreme principle of the spirit of the Jewish people, carried on the wings of 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' Rabbi Akiva's teaching," Regev added.
"Jeff, I'm proud you were chosen to represent our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora, that no bad winds will ever be able to dry up the living sources of love of man and brotherhood that blow in you with the power of Tikun Olam."
The public committee for choosing the torch bearers explained the decision to choose Finkelstein: "In his community work, he managed to unite the different streams and groups in the Jewish community in order to promote and strengthen the alliance between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. After the terrorism in the mosque in New Zealand, he established a dedicated fund for the victims of the massacre, thereby emphasizing the cross-border Jewish commitment to fighting terrorism and racism of every kind.
"By connecting to the Jewish roots and emphasizing messages of hope, mutual responsibility, and love of humanity, he leads a unique rehabilitation process in Pittsburgh that symbolizes the entire world. Finkelstein will light the torch in honor of the covenant of destiny between Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora and the long-standing contribution of the communities to strengthening the Jewish identity of the State of Israel," the committee stated.
Jewish Agency Chairman Yitzchak Herzog, in response to the decision said, "I congratulate my friend Jeff Finkelstein, President of the Pittsburgh Federation, for his being chosen to light the torch on behalf of the entire Diaspora. The government made the right choice that will connect in common destiny between Israel and world Jewry, in moments of joy and bereavement. Jeff heads a Zionist Jewish community that exemplifies a rich and vibrant Jewish life, full of love for Israel."