HOUSTON (FOX 26) - In the wake of the more than 120 Jewish center bomb threats throughout the U.S., a former President and First Lady showing their support for the Jewish community in Houston. The event is President George H.W. Bush's second public appearance since battling pneumonia in January 2017. First, he appeared at Super Bowl LI as part of the pre-game coin toss. On Wednesday, he and his wife Barbara expressed their defiance toward hatred and are being honored for years of behavior just like this.
President and Mrs. Bush arrived to a standing ovation from of a small crowd of invited guests and in a gracious ceremony, they were presented with the Mensch Award.
"'Mensch' is a German word for human beings but in Yiddish, it has a special meaning that somebody will take the shirt off his back to give to you," explains Steven Geiger, founder of the Mensch International Foundation.
"They are the essence of a true mensch," adds Adrienne Punkin Hecht, who was among the invited guests. "A mensch is a good person. A mensch is somebody who has a big heart and does good all the time."
"The two of them together have lived lives of service to others," says Neil Bush, son of the former President and First Lady. "They've been selfless in their commitment to helping the communities they've served, so it's a great recognition."
The event took place at the Jewish synagogue Congregation Beth-Israel where Neil Bush, speaking on behalf of his parents, says they are disgusted by the dozens of recent Jewish Center vandalism cases and threats.
"Being here today and asking me to speak on their behalf says volumes about their concern about this whole trend," says Neil Bush. "It's really sad."
"Decency has to be fought for and maintained at all costs," says Geiger. "When decency is gone, society is gone."
"It's really disheartening," adds Neil Bush. "I hate it. I hate the racial intolerance. I hate the religious intolerance. I hate the dividing one group against another group. I don't like the politics of America today."
FOX 26 News was initially told that President George H.W. Bush would not make it to the event because he was suffering allergies, but that wasn't the case. He's said to be a bit tired but doing well for his advanced age of 92 years old.