U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman will headline Chabad gala in Oklahoma City
By Patrick B. McGuigan
U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is headline speaker for an almost-sold-out gala to benefit the Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City.
The event, characterized by organizers as “a memorable evening of spirit and unity” will celebrate 13 years for the Chabad movement in the community, including the continued success of an-almost-new headquarters near Lake Hefner. The gala will be held there on November 3.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Rabbi Ovadia Goldman of the center explained the 13th year is an apt moment for the gala. “In the Jewish tradition, 13 is when a young man becomes responsible, becomes an adult. Similarly, 13 years signifies for our work a milestone. The event will allow us to recognize and honor people, individuals who have become ‘angel-like’ in their support for this work,” Goldman said. Some have termed the gala a “Bar Mitzvah” for the local Chabad community.
Lieberman is arguably best known as the 2000 Democratic nominee for vice president. He and Al Gore won the popular vote but fell short in the Electoral College when Texas Gov. George W. Bush carried Florida by several hundred votes.
Sen. Lieberman’s views on international relations led him to support many Bush administration policies, and provoked some Democratic opposition to his reelection in 2006. However, running as an Independent he gained reelection by 100,000 votes.
Lieberman is widely known for a bipartisan approach to challenging issues, with a philosophy of governance that does not readily place him in either major party camp. Since the 2006 election, he has retained the Independent label, but caucuses with U.S. Senate Democrats.
Lieberman has been a strong advocate of sanctions against the government of Iran for developing nuclear capabilities, in defiance of international norms. He is frequently allied with Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican, on national security and defense policies. The two recently joined to applaud the Obama administration for criticizing Iranian government officials for serious human rights abuses.
Lieberman is a devout and observant Jew. His wife, Hadassah, is the child of survivors of the Holocaust. Her father was a rabbi in Massachusetts.
On September 29, Governor Brad Henry extended to Chabad his congratulations on 13 years of service in Oklahoma City. In a letter to Rabbi Goldman, he wrote, “Oklahoma is home to diverse people of many faiths from across the world. In this diversity lies our greatest strength, and the opportunity to build bridges of understanding and engage more fully with the world in which we live.”
Henry continued, “The Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning has not only served Oklahoma City’s Jewish community, but reached out to residents of all faiths. Your programs offer education programs that benefit all of Oklahoma City.”
Gala honorees include Richard and Glenna Tanenbaum, Linda and Justin Gardner, and Edward Kaswan.
Glenna Tanenbaum is an Oklahoma City native, while Richard was born in Cuba. She has been involved in charitable good works throughout her life. Richard is a successful businessman in commercial real estate, and a leader at the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
Linda, a native of England, is past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City. Among other activities, Justin has carried on a family tradition as a president of Emanuel Synagogue.
Edward Kaswan was born in Austria. In early stages of the Holocaust, his parents sent him on the “Kindertransport” to England, assuring his survival from the horror that unfolded in mainland Europe. After growing up, he came to America, served in the U.S. Air Force, worked at the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City, and later owned a contracting business. He has been a strong supporter of the Chabad in Oklahoma City.
Goldman reported he and his wife Nachoma have come to love Oklahoma City, “where so many people from different walks of life have welcomed us from the very beginning. It is an honor to be among the great non-profits in this great city.”
The Chabad-Lubavitch movement in which the Goldmans work and live is a vibrant element in the Orthodox tradition of Judaism.
The November 3 Gala’s host committee includes many of the most prominent Jewish leaders in Oklahoma City, and several longstanding allies of Rabbi Goldman, his wife and the Chabad community.
Co-chairs include Dr. Eli Reshef and his wife, Edie Roodman (executive director of the local Jewish Federation), and Melvin & Jasmine Moran. The host committee will include Michael & Anita Barlow, Larry & Ronna Davis, Paul & Amalia Silverstein, Stephen & Juliana Tanenbaum, Irina Aizenman, Andria Kaplan, Rick Lupia, and Diana Robinson. Also participating are Gary & Connie Bachman.
Dinner coordinator is Goldman’s colleague, Rabbi Zalman Notik. In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, he reflected, “I’ve been here in Oklahoma for only a short time. The entire community has rallied behind our work in a wonderful manner. There has been no distinction made between people or categories. This is inspiring to me.”
While the November 3 event is nearly sold out, information about it and the other work of the Chabad is available at http://www.jewishokc.com/.