I write to express my appreciation and support for Steven Markowitz, his unwavering commitment to the Jewish community, and his dynamic leadership of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center.
I have known Steve for 18 years. Steve was the synagogue’s president when I was a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Great Neck. Steve is one of the most decent, upstanding, genuine, and honest people I know, a proud and steadfast Jew.
Steve is an eved ne’eman, a faithful and loyal servant, in all matters involving the Jewish community. Steve is committed to the well-being of Great Neck and its civic life, its diverse Jewish community, the Jewish People, and the State of Israel.
Steve has devoted decades of his life to create an environment for Jews of every ethnic group, religious practice, and political persuasion to live together harmoniously and to thrive both in Great Neck and beyond.
As president of Temple Israel, Steve invited reform and orthodox rabbis for an annual rabbinic dialogue. Steve has fought against the BDS movement nationwide, in both a personal and a professional capacity.
As chairman of the HMTC, Steve has expanded its reach to fight against, and to educate about, anti-Semitism and other bigotry and intolerance and to promote interfaith understanding in Great Neck schools and on Long Island.
We recently commemorated the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem, which the rabbinic sages attributed to sin’at hinam, senseless hatred, within the Jewish community. Senseless hatred harms the Jewish community itself.
Personal attacks on Steve’s character and threats to withhold support for the HMTC are not the Jewish way. Jewish values instruct that we elevate ourselves through civil speech and rational, reasoned dialogue on substantive issues.
Steve’s leadership and his commitment to the Jewish and the broader community in Great Neck and on Long Island is an inspiration and a model to emulate. Steve’s leadership of the HMTC is vital, especially with the dangers of rising and rampant anti-Semitism in the US.
The Hebrew month of Elul has begun and the Jewish community has begun the countdown to the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is the season of heshbon ha-nefesh, spiritual introspection, of reviewing our deeds over the past year, and teshuva, spiritual return and renewal.
Jews around the world know that now is a time for self-examination so that we may strive to do better in the future. I hope that this introspection leads to a constructive outcome.
Rabbi Sarah Cohen