December 3, 2001
By JEFFREY SPIVAK
The Kansas City Star
Date: 12/03/01 22:15
Jariv Sultan of Israel zipped in and out of Kansas City last weekend, and his lasting memories of the city will be a sleepless night and a sad mingling of events and messages.
While Sultan traveled, the city where he works, Jerusalem, was hit by terrorist bombings. The city where he grew up, Haifa, was hit with another bombing. He spent the wee hours of Sunday morning on the phone in his Overland Park hotel room learning that the grandson of a co-worker was one of 25 persons killed.
He then spent Sunday afternoon in a darkened Olathe movie theater, telling a few hundred people predominantly from Kansas City's Jewish community how much their support of Israel was appreciated -- and still needed.
Sultan was here for a program highlighting the work of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which aids immigrants in that country. Part of the program was a showing of the 1961 movie "Exodus," about post-World War II Holocaust survivors sailing to Palestine to establish a homeland.
Scrapping his prepared remarks, Sultan told supporters of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City that the terrorist bombings in Israel served as a reminder that the struggle and the spirit embodied in the movie never ended.
"Our purpose here today in Kansas City is to show the mission of the Exodus continues," said Sultan, who is marketing and public affairs director for the Jewish Agency.
Joining him in Kansas City were Natalie Schneiderman, an Israel immigrant from the former Soviet Union who also works for the Jewish Agency, and Zev Meir Siegel, who left America as a teen-ager and was a volunteer aboard the Exodus ship in 1947.
Siegel went on to become an industrialist in Israel and now is 72 years old. He said he was proud to be in the Kansas City area, home of former President Harry S. Truman and his friend Eddie Jacobson. Truman was the first head of state to recognize Israel, and Jacobson pressed him to meet with Israel's early leaders, who persuaded the president to make his stand.
Relating those early days of establishing a homeland to the near-constant threat of wars and attacks since then, Siegel reiterated the spirit of the Israeli people: "We will overcome and we will prevail."
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