Steven and Helena Usdan graciously hosted former New York Governor George Pataki on Wednesday February 11th at their home. The evening included remarks by Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, the Dean of Yeshivat Yavneh. The event was created to introduce the retired Governor to communities and individuals that share his vision for both America and the world.
Pataki is known for his trademark “genuniness” and it took just a short time for the guests to feel the truth in this. The members of the LA community, who joined the wonderful “parlor meeting” event, understood how the upstate NY moderate Republican was able to beat his predecessor Mario Cuomo, the heavily favored Democrat who by all rights, had the re-election all but “sewn up” but had been defeated by Pataki in his fourth reelection attempt in 1984. Pataki went on to serve three terms as the New York Governor.
Pataki’s soft-spoken but compelling, “pull no punches” style quickly resonated with the crowd, especially when he shared lessons that he and other state and federal officials learned from 9-11 –which happened during his 3rd term—and his concern over how many of those lessons were tragically being ignored by the current administration.
During the “open forum”, the Governor fielded questions on a wide range of topics and issues, and in the process, made many attendees hope that the rumors of a White House Presidential run in 2016 were more than hyperbole. In January, Pataki told the Boston Globe that he would “seriously consider” a run for US President in 2016.
The two day trip to LA was headed by Mr. Joel Bess who together with others scheduled the event, as well as a series of more personal meetings. Pataki’s visit helped the LA community better understand what made Former Governor George Pataki one of the most well-regarded governors New York ever had. He was and still remains a strong friend to Israel and to Jewish communities both here and abroad. In fact, Pataki’s wife, Libby Pataki, works at the pro-Israel organization, One Jerusalem. The organization’s mission statement is to “maintain a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.”