Oklahoma Israel Exchange
6608 N. Western Ave. #464
Oklahoma City, OK 73116
91450 Jerusalem, Israel
U.S.Fax No. 425-732-1379
Shirley Shanker Honored at
OKIE's 25th Anniversary Gala
Oklahoma Israel Exchange held its annual gala at the Oklahoma City Civic Center in
November, drawing several hundred supporters to a 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.
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 Keating’s governorship. Both and Henry and
Fallin have maintained strong Israel-Oklahoma ties.
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. 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.
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 in 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 membmers 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.