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Out & About in Cleveland

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North Coast Chamber awards Jennifer Pederson and visit to Anti-Defamation League Meeting.

On Wednesday, January 20th, we had two events to attend in opposite ends of Lorain and Cuyahoga County within a two hour time frame in tentative weather so we double-checked our windshield wipers and our tires (as well as our heater) and went for it. The first event took us to Parker's Grill and Tavern on Walker Road in Avon Lake where we gathered with the North Coast Chamber of Commerce to network. Later, the annual membership meeting wouldIMG_7184 take place in which Cohen and Company, a public accounting firm, would be named Business of the Year and Ms. Jennifer Pederson, CPA (its representative) would receive an award.

Ms. Tammy Bertrand and Ms. Gylene Pelton, who work for the chamber, told us that Ms. Pederson is its treasurer and "lends her expertise without compensation" as well as volunteering all of the time at events when help is needed. We congratulated Ms. Pederson who told us, "I have been involved in the chamber for longer than I can remember and this is exciting!"

Among the people that we met there was Mr. Derek Lindsay who works CLE3D, LLC that creates virtual walkthroughs of real properties. This is a fast growing industry and will have people from all over the world working together sooner than we all think. Mr. Lindsay was more than happy to take our information and we were happy to take his.

We also had a conversation with Ms. Cristina Bertero who immigrated to the United States from Brazil 20 years ago and has lived in the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio area for 10 of them. We have only been in this area for six years ourselves so Ms. Bertero and ourselves were in full agreement when we discussed the difficulties of driving on snowy, icy roads and highways.

We mentioned to several people that we could only stay a short while because we wanted to attend a meeting of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Mayfield Heights. Ms. Bertrand recalled that years ago IMG_7189she, herself, attended a meeting where Ms. Meip Gies (who was one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank and her family) was the compelling speaker.

Soon we were on the road again and both the traffic and the weather were on our side so travel was smooth as we drove to Executive Caterers, where the 30th Annual Meeting of the ADL took place.

We had visited with Ms. Anita Gray, Cleveland Regional Director of the ADL, at the Maltz Museum just two days earlier and she was very glad that we were able to work things out with our schedule so we could attend.

We had time to say hello to quite a few people like Mr. Howard Steindler who served on the Board of College Now! along with Ms. Margaret W. Wong and outgoing board chair Bettysue Feuer who said to be sure to give Ms. Wong her best as did Mr. Christopher Axelrod.

We shared a table with our good friend Mr. Pierre Bejjani, Mr. Herb Rainer who is very interested in issues pertaining to immigration, and Ms. Nancy Levy who taught the children of both Ms. Rose Wong and Ms. Cecilia Wong at JCC preschool.

The program soon started and Ms. Feuer delivered the Welcome and Opening Remarks in which she reviewed the mission statement of the ADL which is "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." This is accomplished by hard work in three areas which are civil rights, education, and building a world without hate.

IMG_7193Mr. Rainer spoke next and praised the "passionate commitment" of Ms. Feuer. He then introduced Mr. Jon Wise, the new board chair.

Mr. Wise pledged to build on the achievements of the people who have held this post in the past as the ADL moved forward. He, himself, introduced  the main speaker for the evening  who was Mr. Imam Ramez Islambouli who, is Adjunct Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University and the President of the Uqbah Mosque Foundation in Cleveland, along with other impressive posts.

The thrust of Imam Islambouli's speech was the serious trend of Islamophobia which he termed "a reality that we cannot hide." He believed that history was repeating itself and cited examples of Islamic people changing their names out of fear and being harassed because of their skin color; these samethings happened to European Jews and the Japanese people living in the United States in the World War II era.

What's more, he considered the fear of immigrants to be very unfortunate, particularly in the United States, because the U.S. was built by immigrants working together.

He concluded by saying that we have a lot of work before us and we need to do it with patience, perseverance, and unity. People of different faiths and cultures must take a common-sense approach and work together to create a safe environment for our children to grow up in a country governed by its ideals and not by bigots.

Imam Islambouli received an excellent round of applause and Mr. Bejjani rose to shake his hand as he returned to his seat.

Following Imam Islambouli was Mr. Anita Gray who talked about how rewarding that it was for her to be able to work for and with the ADL as its Regional Director. She said that one never knows what each day will bring but she was proud that the ADL was one of, if not the first, to respond to issues regarding human rights. She said that the guiding star was first asking oneself what the right thing was to do because struggle is not easy but having right on one's side is important. She believed that the mission of the ADL was to "make miracles" and obstacles were "miracles waiting to happen."

This stirring evening then concluded with a smashing performance by the Voices of Imani Temple IMG_7201Ministries led by Sister Tina Farmer with our friend Mr. Jeffrey Allen from the Maltz Museum providing a commentary to their songs that was comparable to an overture.  Soon we were all up on our feet clapping, swaying and clapping our feet to the music.

We left Executive Caterers feeling very upbeat and remembering another statement by Ms. Gray which was that we are responsible for one another regardless of sex, religion, race, or sexual orientation "because we are all citizens of the world."

Written by:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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