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Coffee Break with Dani Dayan

Dani Dayan is the departing consul general of Israel in New York

Photo: AP IMAGES

On August 1, exactly four years since he first arrived in New York, Dani Dayan will board a one-way flight to Tel Aviv when his four-year term as consul general comes to an end. We took a few minutes of his time to talk about the highs and the lows of his years in the Big Apple.

What was the most interesting or surprising thing you learned about the US-Israel relationship during your time here?

“I realized that contrary to prevalent opinion, the positions toward Israel in American society are more influenced by domestic sociopolitical developments and politics than by Israel’s own policies or acts. Also, I found that Americans, many Jews included, are familiar with the issues Israel deals with but don’t necessarily understand the way Israelis form their attitudes toward those issues.”

What was the most exciting moment of your tenure?

“There were innumerable exciting moments. If I had to choose one, it would probably be the huge once-in-a-lifetime celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary in Times Square. As someone told me later: ‘We rocked the city and painted it blue and white.’ ”

What was your most significant achievement during your time here?

“I am most proud of maintaining a friendly dialogue with all the sectors of the Jewish community and bringing them closer to Israel. A few days ago, I received a personal farewell gift from the Skverer Rebbe. That is anything but obvious.”

And what was the low point?

“The Pittsburgh shooting. I arrived at Tree of Life when the 11 Jewish bodies were still lying inside the building. I stayed in Pittsburgh for the entire week of funeral and shivah to embrace the community.”

After four years here, what do you think is the most significant challenge facing the American Jewish community?

“The main challenge is recovering from the pandemic crisis. An incomparable system of Jewish institutions that were built during an entire century or more is now in danger. Other than that, I worry very much about the future of Jewish education in this country.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 819)

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