New York Hails
One Of Its Own
HEN Charles Rangel was reelected in November for his 19th term as a representative from New York, a man said to his little son, "I want you to shake the hand of the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee."
The kid shook hands, and asked, "Dad, whatís the Ways and Means Committee?" The father said, "I donít know but itís awesome."
Now that Charles Rangel has taken the reins of the most influential committee in the new Congress, it was time for celebration. Some 200 political leaders and activists gathered for a breakfast to salute Rangel, dean of the New York state congressional delegation.
Dr. Steven Bernardo, superintendent of the Kiryas Joel school district, said he became familiar with the deanís office during his years at the DeWitt Clinton High School.
Rangel said he was raised on Lenox Ave. in Harlem by a mom with three kids. In the Army he found that anyone can learn anything. When he got out he wanted to become a lawyer. He was told, "Youíll do better as a plumber or mortician." He persevered and started out as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan.
Today heís the 60th chairman of the Ways and Means, the only committee established by the constitution in 1789. The committee has responsibility over legislation to raise revenue for the government.
Rangelís success story reminded William Rapfogel, chief executive of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, of the time Robert Briscoe, a Jew, became mayor of Dublin, which prompted Yogi Berra to remark, "Only in America!"
The tribute to Rangel, at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan, was sponsored by Metropolitan Council, Sephardic Community Federation, Kiryas Joel and Yeled VíYalda Early Childhood Center.
The guests included Representatives Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Red Apple chief John Catsimatidis, Ari Noe of OTR Media Group, Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudas Israel and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the New York Board of Rabbis.
Nadler, who worked on Rangelís first campaign in 1970, credited Rangel for helping to save Israel in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. "Before the Six Day War in 1967," he said, "the United States was a not an arms supplier to Israel. When the Yom Kippur War broke out, people said not to supply Israel. Charlie insisted that we have to. If not for those Phantom jets, the war might have turned out different."
J. Morton Davis, chairman of the D.H. Blair Investment Banking Corp., couldnít believe he was here. "This is the first time Iíve ever given up my two hours of tennis for a breakfast."