(lubavitch.com) For the first time since he learned of his mother’s and grandfather’s Jewish ancestry during the 2006 Virginia Senate campaign, former Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen (R) will talk at length about his formative experiences as a member of a football family and the son of a French-Tunisian mother who was liberated from the Nazis by Allied Forces in World War II.
The Governor will speak on August 19 to an audience of about 600 at the Fifth Annual National Jewish Retreat at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, VA.
Possibly the largest national Jewish study program of its kind, the five-day Retreat this year opens Tuesday, August 17, and will offer an unusual Jewish immersion experience through a finely honed program of intellectual, inspirational and cultural activities led by renowned thinkers, scholars and experts.
Against the backdrop of the Hyatt’s luxurious setting and gourmet cuisine, guests will choose from smorgasbord of sessions spanning historic, economic, religious, social and self-improvement disciplines as they relate to Jewish life.
Mr. Allen’s experience is unique. Though he and his siblings were told their grandfather was a community leader who had been imprisoned by the Nazis, the former Governor learned of his mother’s and grandfather’s Jewish heritage when his mother disclosed it to him during his 2006 senatorial re-election campaign.
Allen chose this year’s Retreat venue to reflect on this remarkable story because of the diverse and broadly representative Jewish audience the Retreat attracts.
“I’ve always believed and declared that the freedom of conscience is the First Pillar of a Free and Just Society, and I have long admired the great American visionaries who made Freedom of Religion a cornerstone of our Constitution.” Allen commented.
“That core philosophical principle also became deeply personal for me when my mother shared the fact of our Jewish ancestry. I saw firsthand how the Nazi occupation had left scars and an enduring fear that caused her to believe the best way to protect her children was to conceal their ancestry.”
Other program highlights include sessions on topics controversial and current, among them The Nuclear Threat From Iran, and Jewish Homeland Under Attack by Bradley Gordon, the director of policy and governmental affairs at AIPAC; Who is A Jew?, by Yona Reiss, Esq. the director of the Beth Din of America; Where was G-d in the Holocaust? by Holocaust survivor Dr. Nissan Mangel; Famous Jewish Cases in American Jewish Law by Nathan Lewin, Esq.
Historian Dr. Jonathan Sarna will present on The Emergence of American Judaism and Ulysses S. Grant and the Jews; Erica Brown on Judaism and Love; Nazi hunter Mr. Eli Rosenbaum, Esq. will recount his efforts at the US Department of Justice identifying, investigating, and prosecuting Nazi war criminals.
Rabbi Efraim Mintz, Director of the Rohr JLI which sponsors the Retreat, says the program is planned “to ensure that every guest, whether they are advanced scholars or new to Jewish study, finds a rich offering of relevant sessions advancing meaningful, long term Jewish engagement by adults across the spectrum.”
To learn more about the full program visit www.jretreat.com