Bronx Assembly Delegation Ends Trip to Israel

Congressman Eliot Engel at the Israeli Knesset with Rabbi Michael Miller and Bronx Assemblymembers Mike Blake, Latoya Joyner, Speaker Carl Heastie and Victor Pichardo

Congressman Eliot Engel at the Israeli Knesset with Rabbi Michael Miller and Bronx Assemblymembers Mike Blake, Latoya Joyner, Speaker Carl Heastie and Victor Pichardo

This past Monday Bronx Assemblymembers Speaker Carl Heastie, Victor Pichardo, Latoya Joyner and Micheal Blake ended their journey to the Holy Land.

Their visit was hosted by Rabbi Michael Miller who is the CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council and a Bronx resident. On their last day they met with Congressman Eliot Engel at the Israeli Knesset where he was chairing the International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians.

Congressman Engel, in an exclusive statement to The Bronx Chronicle said, “It was an honor to Chair the Jewish Parliamentarians Conference and a real treat to run into so many friendly faces from the Bronx Assembly delegation, who were also visiting the Knesset. This time of year is always about unity and togetherness, and seeing them in Jerusalem was just another indicator of how unified we as New Yorkers are in our support of the one true democracy in the Middle East and Israel.”

Bronx Assemblymembers Latoya Joyner, Victor Pichardo, Michael Blake with colleagues, Assemblywoman Walker, Assemblywoman Barrett, Assemblywoman Richardson, Assemblyman Blake & Assemblywoman Davila (left to right) at Mount of Beatitudes

Bronx Assemblymembers Latoya Joyner, Victor Pichardo, Michael Blake with colleagues, Assemblywoman Walker, Assemblywoman Barrett, Assemblywoman Richardson, Assemblyman Blake & Assemblywoman Davila (left to right) at Mount of Beatitudes

On their final day there was a visit to a JDC Senior Center in Gilo, supported by UJA- Federation of NY. After that visit they went to the Knesset (parliament) for meetings with the Zionist Union (Labor Party), Deputy Speaker Hilik Bar, Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), and Eli Groner, Director General to the Prime Minister. In the Knesset, the Assembly Speaker and the delegation were acknowledged from the rostrum by the Deputy Speaker Bar at a session attended by the Prime Minister, and received a warm applause.

Assemblyman Michael Blake praying at the Western Wall

Assemblyman Michael Blake praying at the Western Wall

In addition to visiting Jewish religious sites, the members of the delegation got to visit holy sites of their religions and and other religions. This past Sunday Assemblyman Michael Blake, who is also a Pastor, was humbled to visit and pray at the Western Wall and to worship at Christ Church – the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East. There, Assemblyman Blake preached about emerging from the dark times, “My spirit is on fire to serve. Thank you Lord Jesus. My faith and my purpose is stronger than ever.”

It is interesting to note the inclusivity of the Bronx delegation and its constituencies. Unlike other areas in our nation, we do not see the same amount of hate, divisiveness or attempts to use scare tactics to turn one group of Americans against others. Regardless of differing views on the policies of the Israeli government there is unity when it comes to the security of Israel. There is unity in supporting not only the three major religions but all beliefs as well as those who are non-believers.

Speaker Carl Heastie, Rabbi Michael Miller and Jeff leb

Speaker Carl Heastie, Rabbi Michael Miller and Jeff leb

Assemblyman Michael Blake summed up his experience by stating, “Resiliency, spirituality and innovation resonate throughout my experience in Israel. It was my second time there, and I again return with my faith fortified, my desire to collaborate on Technology and entrepreneurship intensified and my ability to find solutions rather than divisions amplified.”

Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx, 77th AD) said, “Having been availed the opportunity to visit Israel – an historical region that is holy for so many different religious groups, I thank Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, my Assembly colleagues, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the UJA-Federation of New York for their partnership on this week long historical journey of openness and respect.”