Joe Lieberman As Ambassador
For Sanctity Of The Seventh Day
HE Sabbath was the theme of the
National Jewish Outreach program’s 18th annual dinner
in February at the Grand Hyatt in New York. Rabbi Ephraim
Buchwald, founding director of NJOP, which has sponsored
Shabbat Across America and Canada for more than 800,000 Jews
since 1996, honored Sen. Joe Lieberman for his book,
The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath
(Howard Books/Simon & Schuster).
"Hadassah and Senator Lieberman,"
Rabbi Buchwald said, "have become worldwide ambassadors for
Shabbat and the idea of sanctified time."
Lieberman recalled the night he became
the vice presidential running mate of Sen. Al Gore on the
Democratic ticket. Larry King put his mother
Marcia on the spot: "Seriously, Mrs. Lieberman, when your
son makes a mistake, what do you say to him?" Mom shot back:
Shabbat, the senator said, begins with
a commandment, "yet we experience it as a gift – a gift of time,
the essence of our faith and destiny. We rest on the seventh day
to remind us our existence is not accidental. It’s not a somber
day of denial but a day of life, family and learning."
He mentioned a line in the TV series
Cheers: "This is the only place where everyone knows my
name." He said his shul, Congregation Agudath Sholom in
Stamford, Conn., is a community, like that bar in Cheers
– before the Kiddush.
Rabbi Buchwald also honored Dr.
David Samadi and wife Sahar Danielpour who fled Iran
during the revolution and now live in Old Westbury, N.Y. He is
Vice Chairman of the Department of Urology, Chief of Robotics
and Minimal Invasive Surgery, and Associate Professor of Urology
at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Dr. Samadi said that his first patient
was from Afghanistan, his second an African American, and his
third from Israel. "A physician is a healer, an extension of the
Sam Domb, who received an award
for his unceasing support of NJOP educational programs, is
finishing his autobiography, Shema Yisrael, in which he
tells how the Nazis made his Polish town Poltosk judenrein.
The Nazis drove Sam, then five years
old, and his father, mother and three sisters and all the Jews
of Poltosk over the bridge. As his mother was carrying Sam she
stumbled and was immediately shot. His father knew if he’d stop
to help, the entire family would be killed. He grabbed Sam and,
without looking back, continued the march. In the forest a
ten-year-old Jewish boy helped Sam escape.
To this day Sam Domb does not know the
name of that boy, but calls him a malach, an angel.
"Today Mr. Domb has transformed
himself into an angel for others," Rabbi Buchwald said. "He has
become one of the foremost philanthropists of our time,
supporting Jewish education, renovating synagogues, and even
coming to the aid of the people of Sri Lanka."
NJOP honored attorney Susan Hecht,
who worked in the charitable giving department of the American
Technion Society, and served as a volunteer for NJOP’s
fundraising efforts, and her husband, David Cohen, who
works for a software company in Manhattan.
The organization also honored
Diane and Rabbi Daniel Cohen, spiritual leader of
Lieberman’s shul in Stamford. "I always invite people for
Shabbat dinner," Rabbi Cohen said. "For the price of a chicken,
you can bring people closer to their faith."
Since its founding in 1987, NJOP has
offered programs in 4,759 locations across North America and 39
countries worldwide. Rabbi Buchwald reports that his group has
brought Jewish knowledge, tradition and Hebrew classes to more
than 1,323,000 North American Jews – an astounding success story
in the realm of educational outreach.