Written by Dwight Bachman
Cesar Beltran, lecturer in the Department of Communication, played a key role in a tribute to former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara, when the two were honored earlier this year for their friendship and service to the Jewish community.
Beltran, who once served as acting deputy ambassador and public affairs counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, acted as co-master of ceremony during an awards ceremony in March where the Mensch International Foundation presented the prestigious Mensch International Foundation Award to the Bushes. The ceremony took place at the Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, TX, the state’s oldest congregation. Head Rabbi David Lyon assisted in the awarding ceremony, as did members of the Bush family.
As part of the award ceremony, Beltran read from a letter the former president’s cousin, George Herbert Walker III, a former ambassador to Hungary who Beltran trained in diplomacy, diplomatic duties and responsibilities, and introduced to the Mensch Foundation.
“The couple serves as a great example of tolerance and political leadership,” said Walker in his letter. “George and Barbara have amply supported the activities and principles of the Mensch Foundation. When I came to Budapest in 2003, I was unaware of how Hungary suffered from the round up and extermination of most of its Jewish citizens at the end of World War II. If I could do anything to avert such a horrific past, I meant to do so, and I believe I share these feelings with George and Barbara.”
President George H. W. Bush supported the Jewish community in many ways, most notably playing a supportive role when Ethiopia evacuated 14,000 Jews in the late 1980s. He also stepped up by providing U.S. financial and commercial assistance when Hungary, Poland and other former Warsaw Pact nations became independent after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. The foundation said it was honoring Barbara Bush as well because she has always been supportive of her husband.
During the award ceremony, Beltran said that the mission of the Mensch International Foundation is to educate children and young adults about the horrors of the Holocaust, and to underline the ugliness of bigotry, prejudice and anti-Semitism. Founded in Budapest 15 years ago by Steven Geiger, the foundation carries out its mission through summer study camps, commemorative activities and its awards programs. Beltran currently serves as communications advisor for the foundation.