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Ford on Chabad:
President Ford guest of honor at chabad dinner - 1976
Addressing the first Jewish organization since becoming President of the United States, Gerald Ford charmed his audience by correctly pronouncing 'Shalom' and 'Lubavitch'; by putting the wrong accent on 'Mazel Tov' and by struggling with, or having "trouble" with the word 'Tzoras' (trouble).
The occasion was the first National Conference Dinner of the American Friends of Lubavitch and the audience included some 500 Jewish community leaders of every Jewish organization in Greater Philadelphia. They gathered at the Marriott Motor Hotel in Philadelphia to honor Senator Hugh Scott (R. Pa.) for his contributions to the Jewish community, both here and in Israel.
The highlight of the affair was the announcement of the establishment of The Senator and Mrs. Hugh Scott Library on the campus of Girl's Town at Kfar Chabad II, an educational complex near Tel Aviv. The worldwide Lubavitch movement, comprised of 500,000 members on four continents, supports Girls' Town as one of its educational projects. (When completed, it will provide high school and college level training for over 1200 girls, with special emphasis placed on recent immigrants to Israel.)
President Ford was greeted at the Marriott Motor Hotel by Kevy K. Kaiserman, Chairman, Founders of the Friends of Lubavitch; William S. Fishman, former Chairman of the Founders; Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Director of the Lubavitch; and by Kaiserman's grandson, Adam Robinson.
The President, was introduced to the ultra-orthodox group by Bernard G. Segal, former President of American Bar Association.
Ford, who has known
Sen. Scott for 27 years, said he is grateful for the many instances where
Scott has given him good counsel. "Hugh is one of the first I turn
to when I have 'tzoras', the President quipped. "And in the last
few weeks, I have, indeed, had 'tzoras'...
"Nothing could characterize better Hugh's own life, nor reflect more accurately the philosophy of your movement," the President continued. "You are committed to preserving the deep and abiding faith of the Jewish tradition for young and succeeding generations. Your devotion has won the respect and admiration of thousands in this country and around the world."
Ford concluded: "My wish for you tonight was best said and written by President George Washington in 1790: 'May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants... May the father of all mercy scatter light, not darkness, in our paths and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way, everlastingly happy... 'The spirit of what he said is as alive today as it was then."
As President Ford posed near a painting of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, who is now observing his 25th anniversary as head of Lubavitch, he said of Schneerson: "I've read about him."
Sen. Scott expressed gratitude to the American Friends of Lubavitch and said he is honored with the establishment of the library in the "proud and vigorous state of Israel."
Famed opera star Jan Peerce treated guests to five selections including 'If I Were A Rich Man' from 'Fiddler On The Roof and 'Yiboneh'. Before flying back to New York for yet another performance that night, Jan Peerce told me: "I'm a Lubavitch myself and proud of it. I'm a follower of the Rebbe and the Lubavitch movement because they teach the word of G-d, and they believe in the greatest of all teachings, 'Be kind to your fellow man and have love in your heart."
Rabbi Shemtov said that President Ford's presence "focused attention on the activities of the Lubavitch and this will contribute immensely to the furtherance of them, as well as to our goals."
Kaiserman's grandson, seven year-old Adam Robinson from New York, gave up a weekend in the country with the hope of meeting President Ford and Jan Peerce. His trip to Philadelphia proved worthwhile. "President Ford took notice of me, and bent down to say Shalom.' I guess because I'm the tiniest member of the Lubavitch," Adam mused. "He's a nice President because he made the Lubavitch people happy when he came here. I could see Senator Scott smiling too.
"My teacher always asks what we do on week-ends," Adam added. "This time I'm going to have a good story... the class won't believe me when I tell them President Ford talked to me on his way in and on his way out (of the Lubavitch reception).
"Haven't I seen you before?" President Ford asked Adam upon entering his limousine on the way back to the White House.
The dinner in Philadelphia
also marked the 200th anniversary of the Lubavitch movement and was attended
by regional directors representing Lubavitcher branches and centers in
Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri,
Florida, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington and California.
Ford addresses the crowd
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