The City Sentinel

Shirley Shanker receives President’s Highest Honor at the 25th anniversary gala for OKIE

Darla Shelden Story by on November 30, 2017 . Click on author name to view all articles by this author. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
Ben and Shirley Shanker smile for The City Sentinel after a gala at the Hall of Mirrors, Oklahoma City Civic Center. On Saturday evening, November 18. The Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) held its annual gala to promote business, cultural and social exchanges between the states of Oklahoma and Israel. Shirley Shanker was honored for decades of community involvement in a wide range of worthy causes. At the event, Ben introduced his sweetheart of 67 years to a packed house of admirers. After the OKIE gala, attendees adjourned to the Music Hall for a classics concert of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, with members of the Israeli Philharmonic participating. Photograph by Patrick B. McGuigan

Ben and Shirley Shanker smile for The City Sentinel after a gala at the Hall of Mirrors, Oklahoma City Civic Center. On Saturday evening, November 18. The Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) held its annual gala to promote business, cultural and social exchanges between the states of Oklahoma and Israel. Shirley Shanker was honored for decades of community involvement in a wide range of worthy causes. At the event, Ben introduced his sweetheart of 67 years to a packed house of admirers. After the OKIE gala, attendees adjourned to the Music Hall for a classics concert of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, with members of the Israeli Philharmonic participating. Photograph by Patrick B. McGuigan

Patrick B. McGuigan

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) held its annual gala at the Civic Center in mid-November, drawing several hundred supporters to prelude, fine evening meal and a series of award presentations. After the awards program, gala participants attended the Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s classics concert, which featured members of the Israeli Philharmonic as guest performers.

The evening was topped off with a champagne and chocolate reception hosted by Lance and Cindy Ruffel to honor Shirley Shanker, recipient of the President’s Highest Honor for her decades of community involvement in a wide range of worthy causes.

Shirley’s husband Ben introduced his sweetheart of 67 years before the packed room of admirers. He introduced their children and many other family members who had traveled from across the United States and, in the case of one daughter, flown in from her home in Israel to honor the beloved matriarch of the extended Shanker family.

Among the political leaders attending the OKIE event were state Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and state Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City, as well as Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony and Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan.

Also present to honor Mrs. Shanker and support OKIE were Governor Mary Fallin and her husband, Wade Christensen, former Gov. Brad Henry and his wife Kim, former Gov. Frank Keating and his wife Cathy, and former Gov. David Walters and his wife Rhonda.

The four chief executives and their spouses each supported close relations between the states of Israel and Oklahoma. OKIE was formed during Gov. Walters’ time in office, then garnered tax-exempt status during Keatwing’s governorship. Both and Henry and Fallin have maintained strong Israel-Oklahoma ties.

OKIE’s formally stated purpose is “to foster enhanced cooperation between the state of Israel and the state of Oklahoma in commerce, agriculture, culture and education.

Also in the crowd was Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry, a recipient of honors from OKIE for his advocacy of good Oklahoma-Israel ties.

Past OKIE honorees, including philanthropist Melvin Moran, came to the fete for Mrs. Shanker. Former state Rep. Joe Dorman, now running the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was there, along with another former Solon – Mark Liotta, who now is chairman of the Workers Compensation Commission.

During the event, attendees learned that OKIE Executive Director Susan Robertson had – in their words of her close friend, Edie Roodman – been “swept off her feet” by a lucky fellow, and would be marrying soon, returning to her home in Minnesota in January.

Roodman presented a gift to Robertson is recognition of her work for OKIE. Roodman, long-time executive director of the Jewish Federation of Oklahoma City City who retired this year, attended the event with her husband, Dr. Eli Reshef.

Roodman served on the gala committee along with co-chairs Richard L. Sias and Glenn Tenenbaum, and embmers Judy Austin, Teri Cooper, Ronna Davis, Emmery Frejo, Donna Frieberg, Linda Gardner, Jonna Kirschner, Elaine Levy, Amalia Miranda, JiJi Pollack, Kathy Powell, Cindy Ruffel, Debbie South, Gena Timberman, Robertson, as well as honoree Shanker.

Former Governor Brad Henry and his bride, former First Lady Kim Henry. The couple joined hundreds of supporters of the Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) for the annual gala at the Meinders Hall of Mirrors at the Civic Center. This year’s event celebrated 25 years of OKIE’s work. For eight of those years, the government of Oklahoma was under Gov. Henry’s leadership. The Henrys promoted business, cultural, and educational exchanges between Israel and Oklahoma during their time at the executive mansion. Photograph by Patrick B. McGuigan

Former Governor Brad Henry and his bride, former First Lady Kim Henry. The couple joined hundreds of supporters of the Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) for the annual gala at the Meinders Hall of Mirrors at the Civic Center. This year’s event celebrated 25 years of OKIE’s work. For eight of those years, the government of Oklahoma was under Gov. Henry’s leadership. The Henrys promoted business, cultural, and educational exchanges between Israel and Oklahoma during their time at the executive mansion. Photograph by Patrick B. McGuigan

 

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