Shabbat was the theme of the National Jewish Outreach program’s 18th annual dinner Feb. 13 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 Democratic nominee for vice president, 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?”
Sam Domb and fiancée Orly Gal, with Sahar Danielpour and Dr. David Samadi.
Shabbat, the senator said, begins with a commandment, “yet we view it as a gift – a gift of time, the essence of our faith. 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.” His shul in Stamford, he said, 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 urology and chief of robotics 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 a special award for his support of NJOP, is finishing his Hebrew autobiography, “Shema Yisrael,” in which he tells how the Nazis made his Polish town Poltosk judenrein.
The Nazis drove his Sam, then five years old, and his father, mother and three sisters and all the Jews 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 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,” 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.”
Senator Joe Lieberman and Dr. David Samadi were honored by NJOP.