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Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald and Sen. Joe Lieberman
Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald and Sen. Joe Lieberman

Sen. Joe Lieberman and Dr. David Samadi
Sen. Joe Lieberman and Dr. David Samadi
Sen. Joe Lieberman and Fanya Heller
Sen. Joe Lieberman and Fanya Heller
Sam Domb and fiancée Orly Gal
Sam Domb and fiancée Orly Gal
Jay Domb and Sen. Joseph Lieberman
Jay Domb and Sen. Joseph Lieberman
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: "Mistake?"

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 rabbi."

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.

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