2017-06-21 / Voice at the Shore

ADL dinner at Stockton underscores urgency of “Never Again”

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore editor

“Never is Now” is the theme of an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) dinner at Stockton University on Thursday, July 6. The dinner will honor local businessman and ADL supporter Alan Kligerman. The entire community is invited to attend this local ADL fundraiser.

“‘Never is Now’ comes from ‘Never Again,’ what we said after the Holocaust. It means we need to stay vigilant right now,” said Liane Levenson, who is hosting the dinner along with her husband, local attorney Lloyd D. Levenson of Cooper Levenson, which is a major sponsor for the event.

Indeed, now is a critically important time for the ADL. “Regrettably, now, more than ever, the ADL’s mission of monitoring hate crimes is very important,” said Doug Stanger, vice chair for ADL’s Philadelphia Region. Stanger, a local attorney for Flaster Greenberg (another major sponsor of the dinner) is also on the dinner’s planning committee, along with more than 30 local residents.


Liane and Lloyd Levenson are hosting the ADL benefit dinner. Photo courtesy of Cooper Levenson. Liane and Lloyd Levenson are hosting the ADL benefit dinner. Photo courtesy of Cooper Levenson. A recent ADL audit of hate crimes shows “a mind-boggling surge in anti-Semitic incidents,” said Stanger.

Nationwide, there was an 86 percent spike in anti-Semitic incidents during the first quarter of 2017, said Nancy Baron- Baer, regional director of the ADL’s Philadelphia office. This follows a 36 percent increase between 2015 and 2016. During that same period, New Jersey saw a 14 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents, from 137 in 2015 to 157 incidents—or 3 per week—in 2016, according to an ADL report. “New Jersey ranked third in the nation for anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, behind New York and California,” the report noted.

Fortunately, such incidents have not been a problem in the shore communities. Even so, having a local ADL presence is still important, stressed Stanger, who has been working to get other locals involved in ADL in order to create that presence. “Things going on globally impact our lives locally. That is part of the reason we are doing this event—ADL needs money to deal with this stuff. We need awareness and we need money.”

The Never is Now dinner will begin with a cocktail hour in Stockton’s Independence Plaza, a “beautiful, open area” just outside the student center “with a giant replica of the Declaration of Independence on the side of the building,” said Levenson, who teaches at Stockton and chose the venue partly for its symbolic significance. With the rising incidence of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes, “the Declaration of Independence has new importance to us now,” she noted, because of the urgent need in today’s world to actively embrace the Declaration’s underlying principles of equality, tolerance, and respecting everyone’s rights and freedoms.

A tour of the nearby Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton will also be offered during the cocktail hour. This, too, goes to the theme, said Levenson. The Holocaust represents what can happen when the values of respect and tolerance are cast aside and hate takes over.

In addition to raising funds and awareness for ADL, the dinner will also honor local resident Alan Kligerman, a staunch ADL supporter and founder and CEO of Akpharma Inc. “Alan has been a long-time supporter of ADL here and on a national level. He was a friend of Abe Foxman and communicated with him on a regular basis regarding issues of interest,” said ADL’s Baron-Baer, referring to the ADL’s former national director who retired in 2015. “Alan traveled with [Foxman] and met with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, France and Great Britain.”

Kligerman has vivid memories of his travels through the Middle East with Foxman and ADL in 1998, where he was part of a group that met with heads of state and other government officials. He still remembers the fleet of white Mercedes that met them at the airport.

“The Arabs are the greatest hosts in the world if they like you or want to impress you,” he recalled.

The Arabs did want to impress ADL. They wanted to gain U.S. support, felt the Jews might hinder that, and thought it would help to create good will with ADL, which they saw as a mainstream Jewish organization, said Kligerman. The ADL contingent, for their part, wanted the Arab nations to acknowledge Israel and show Israelis greater respect. Among other things, the ADL contingent insisted that the Saudis stamp their passports, something usually not done for travelers whose passports already had a stamp from Israel.

Although Kligerman said he was honored to receive ADL’s recognition, he stressed that “the event is not about me, it’s about ADL. This is about creating support for ADL and delivering its message of tolerance and good citizenship,” he noted. “I believe deeply in what ADL stands for and does, not just for Jews but for everyone.”

For Levenson, ADL is comparable to “an arm of law enforcement. You pay taxes to have police protect you. We need to pay to have ADL protect our rights.”

The July 6 ADL dinner at Stockton, described as “a Jersey Fresh Dinner in the Pinelands,” costs $136 per person. The event opens with cocktails at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. RSVPs are requested by June 22; call ADL at (215) 568-2223 to reserve and for further information. Stockton University is located at 101 Vera King Farris Drive in Galloway. 

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