Farewell to a Friend
Four years ago I got an unusual phone call. The new Consul General for the State of Israel wanted to come visit me in my office in order to introduce himself and get better acquainted. I was intrigued. This had never happened before. A few days later Akiva Tor arrived at Beth David and we began to get acquainted. I learned that his perfect English was a result of having been brought up in Ohio, where his father, an Orthodox Rabbi, was the Hillel director at Kent State University. I learned that Akiva had a terrific education, both religious and secular, and had already held important posts in the Foreign Service. I learned that he thought good relations with rabbis and synagogues were a high priority. One thing he said at our first meeting stands out, “Israel needs Masorti Judaism.” He also said that he wanted to study Torah together with Rabbis, and this he did on many occasions, most recently yesterday at a farewell luncheon.
That positive first impression held true. Akiva came to speak at Beth David on several occasions. He formed friendships with many rabbis across the religious spectrum. He was an eloquent and effective advocate for Israel. He was honest, unflappable, and respectful to all.
Last year, as you may remember, a group of Bay Area Rabbis from all the movements went on a mission to Israel. The mission’s purpose was to bring rabbis with different religious and political viewpoints together, to show that collegiality and common love of Israel was more important than our differences. This was Akiva’s brainchild. He traveled with us and we got to see how highly he was esteemed by his colleagues in the Foreign Ministry.
A religious Jew, Akiva has shown great support for rabbis, congregations, and Jewish life. He affiliated with a synagogue, sent his children to Jewish day school, and was always interested in what was happening in our shuls. American Rabbis talk a lot about the necessary partnership between American Jews and Israel. Akiva Tor has been a great activist and advocate for that partnership. Akiva Tor will be returning to Israel to continue his diplomatic career. He will be missed.
To see some recent articles by Consul General Tor, go to:
When Gilad Shalit was released: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/18/EDH21LJ81K.DTL