Great Team Additions
As we approach the Labor Day holiday weekend, I wanted to introduce you to our three newest professionals at the Jewish Federation:
Jodi Garber Simon is our new Director of Marketing and Communications. For the past many months Jodi, and her company Big Horn Communications, have served as our marketing consultant.
Nadine Astrakhan, a past participant in our PDX Pathways program, is our new Development Associate who will coordinate our PDX Pathways programs, young leadership initiatives, Super Sunday and many other campaign related activities.
Nava Sherwood is our new Program Administrator who will work behind-the-scenes managing all aspects of our program offerings.
We welcome these three excellent professionals to our team and look forward to working with them in the years ahead.
In am proud to share that the Krembo Wings youth movement, a partner organization in Israel that the Jewish Federation proudly funds, has been selected by the United Nations as a “special adviser organization.” This status recognizes the youth movement as one of the top organizations internationally in integrating children with and without disabilities. The movement, founded in 2002, has 65 branches (several of which were started by funding from our Jewish Federation) throughout the country from Kiryat Shemona in the north to Eilat in the south and sees over 6,000 active members between the ages of 7 and 22 weekly. It is open to all communities in Israel, including Druze, Muslims, Christian, Bedouin, and new immigrants as well as both secular and religious Jews.
Mazel tov to the leadership of Krembo Wings and the incredible volunteers and participants in the programs.
In a one of those incredible Jewish stories, and one that few know the full details about, comes news that Princeton Lyman, the Jewish American diplomat who played a critical role in organizing Operation Moses, the stunning 1984 airlift of Ethiopian Jews (which our Jewish Federation helped fund), has died.
The Washington Post obituary celebrated the role of Lyman in helping the transition in South Africa from apartheid to democracy in the early 1990s when he was the U.S. ambassador to the country. Lyman had the trust of F. W. DeKlerk, the last apartheid president of the country, and Nelson Mandela, who led the African National Congress.
As the JTA reported, Lyman also played a critical behind-the-scenes role a decade earlier, when he was deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, in organizing the airlift from Sudan to Israel of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who had fled their famine-ravished country only to face indifference and starvation in Sudan.
In a 1999 oral history for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Lyman said he was one of only two U.S. diplomats who was fully apprised of the operation, involving secret Israeli flights from Sudan to Israel. He helped coordinate logistics between Israel and Sudan, which did not have diplomatic relations, and strove to keep at bay Ethiopian Jewry advocacy groups in the United States who were scrambling for information, as well as the media.
“We had to keep the press quiet,” he said in 1999. “The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal all had the story. Peter Jennings at ABC had the story. I had to go to every single one of them to beg them to sit on the story. I told them that if the operation were to go public, the Ethiopians would be in serious danger. I must say that every one of the media outlets suppressed the information they had; I don’t think that today that would be possible.”
It was an Israeli official, Arieh Dulzin, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, who revealed the operation at a press conference, and it was Israeli media that made it public.
“Unfortunately, the Israeli media was not so disciplined” as the U.S. media, Lyman said. Once the word was out in Israel, a Washington Jewish newspaper reported the story – ignoring Lyman’s pleas – and the U.S. media felt free to publish. Sudan suspended the operation after 9,000 Jews had arrived, leaving 500 stranded. Vice President George H.W. Bush then got involved.
Bush “went to Khartoum to see [Sudanese President Gaafar] Nimeiri and to tell him that we wanted the last few hundred Ethiopians taken out,” Lyman said. “Nimeiri agreed, but it too was to be a secret operation. So American C-130s were to fly from Europe to the Sudan, take them on board, fly them up through the Red Sea – avoiding Egyptian radar – and deliver them to Israel. That was done. It was a magnificent operation which I monitored from the Pentagon ‘war room’ listening to the radio broadcasts as the planes landed and took off.”
In a 2007 account of the rescue, “Blacks, Jews and Other Heroes,” Howard Lenhoff said other U.S. officials eagerly seized credit for the operation. “Lyman remained silent,” Lenhoff reported. “Always the consummate professional, Princeton Lyman is an unsung hero of the Ethiopian Jews.”
Because I like interesting tidbits, Lyman was born in 1935 to immigrant Jewish parents from Lithuania. Asked to explain his unusual first name, he explained that he had brothers named Yale, Harvard and Stanford. His other brother named Elliott, the only son not named for a university, was also the only one not to go to college.
I had the opportunity to meet Ambassador Lyman many years ago. I heard him speak about his work in South Africa yet he never once mentioned his role with Operation Moses. He was a true hero of the Jewish people. May his memory be for a blessing.
We are ten days away from the start of the High Holidays. Here is a calendar of servicesthroughout our community. I hope that you and your family will find a meaningful place.
Shabbat shalom and have a wonderful and safe Labor Day holiday weekend.