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AO Recognizes Dean Amid Ismail as the 2017 Achievement Medal Award Recipient

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Summary by Marc Rothman, Evening Chair, Philadelphia Member 

April 20, 2017 was a special night for Alpha Omega as we presented Honorary membership to Gail Reiss, Chairman and President of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University  and Allen Aufzien, Chairman and managing partner of the Norall Organization.  Allen had previously served as lay president of AFTAU.  We also presented the Alpha Omega Achievement Award to Dean Amid Ismail of the Kornberg School of Dental Medicine at Temple University.

Dr. D. Walter Cohen, AO International President Mervyn Druian, Dean Amid IsmailThe setting could not have been more appropriate.  The evening occurred in the historic center of Philadelphia, across the street from Independence Hall, the birthplace of our Nation.  It was there that our founding fathers provided the enlightened vision of a country where one could pursue achievement as “all men are created equal” and endowed “with unalienable rights”.  The setting was in the National Museum of American Jewish History, a museum which chronicles the Jewish experience in America, but which could also have been telling the story of any immigrant population and the success they could achieve in a land that was free and governed by laws applied equally to all.  And then here we were, a Jewish Dental Fraternity, who formed because our founders recognized that antisemitism was an injustice that did not conform to the principals for which our country and its laws stood.  So, Alpha Omega became part of that Jewish Story, growing in the US, expanding to Canada and Europe, and eventually achieving a strength in numbers and influence so that it could significantly impact the dental needs of Israel through the development and founding of both its dental schools.

How apropos that our two new Honorary members represent the Tel Aviv School.  Through Gail and Allen’s assistance, we were able to recently complete the Rothstein/Williamowsky clinics which provide Advanced Dental Education and Special Needs Care.

In 1997, AO and the Jerusalem school established the D. Walter Cohen Middle East Center for Dental Education.  This center brought students from neighboring Arab countries in the middle east to Jerusalem to study advanced dental and biological science.  Friendships developed among individuals of differing ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds as they realized that what2017 AO Achievement Medal Award they shared in common was greater than the politics which kept them apart.  The friendship that arose from this between Adam Stabholz Dean at the Hebrew University and Musa Bajali, Dean at the Palestinian dental school, led to the beginning of an Alliance for Oral health Across Borders, and its Chairman is our Achievement Medal Recipient.

The geographical location of our dinner, the museum setting, the Story of Jewish American History of which Alpha Omega’s story is a significant part, the concepts of law and tolerance, and the freedom to pursue a world unencumbered by preconceived notions of race or creed or label, all came together in one magical moment where we gave the Achievement Medal to Dean Amid Ismail.  We honor Dr. Ismail’s many feats of accomplishment and extraordinary work, his rise to become the Dean of a prominent Philadelphia institution, which he has made stronger, and his management of his position and influence to make our community, and the world, healthier and more humane.

In his acceptance speech, the Dean referred to several philosophies which have shaped his life:

I do not seek awards nor to be rewarded.  The Sufi Philosopher Rumi said that “You have forgotten the One who doesn't care about ownership, who doesn't try to turn a profit from every human exchange.”   I do not forget the Ones.

Many first thought when they met me in 2008 and 2009 that I would fade away in 2 years.  Some said that I did not know the environment or the faculty at Temple dental.  And many also thought and said ‘his name is Ismail and he is a Muslim.

I do not pass through a community, I am absorbed and influenced by my experiences.  Walking the streets of North Philadelphia energizes every day.  I feel for the plight of patients whom we see on daily basis at the dental school.  I made their experiences better but I am not yet satisfied.  We can continue to grow and build to better serve our community.

I look at the Horizon and said ‘why not?’  Status quo may not be an option and change is never easy, especially change that must occur at a fast pace.

I have lived my life promoting equality for all:  Rich and poor; Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Atheists; Men, Women, Lesbian, Transgender, and Gay.  Equality and respect is for all and not only for those whom we like or believe are right.

We are born equal and God created us in different tribes, origins, colors, religions, and orientations, in order to know and learn from each other.  That is why diversity is the foundation for strength and rejuvenation

I choose to be global, diverse, embracing, and humbly thankful for today’s generous recognition.  Today among you, I am a Jew and a friend.In thanking us for the medal, Dean Ismail expressed that he will continue to be “global, diverse, embracing, and humbly thankful for today’s generous recognition.”

Event Photos:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10155055001286508&type=3

 

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