By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — The success of the AIPAC Dallas’ annual event at the Winspear Opera House Feb. 28 was the result of effective, long-term planning that started almost a year prior, two chairpersons explained.
Kenny and Sherry Goldberg and Mike and Lori Cohen all shared chairperson duties, and together welcomed guests to that event — discussing with them the importance of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
All four were attending the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. Monday, although only Sherry Goldberg and Mike Cohen could be reached to discuss the successful Feb. 28 event.
As many as 2,000 Israel supporters from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex attended. This was one of the biggest crowds in AIPAC history and rivaled much larger communities across the United States.
“We almost had the largest event nationwide,” Sherry Goldberg said. “New York City was the only city that outdid us, but of course, you can’t compare New York to Dallas! Although we came very close. … Just 100 people under them. And no city has ever had their event in an opera house as we did! We set the bar high and feel very good about it.”
Mike Cohen — interviewing from the Washington, D.C. conference Monday by phone — said he and his fellow chairs all volunteered for the Feb. 28 event as early as they could, working diligently from the end of last year to this year.
“We had a goal early on,” Cohen said. “We wanted to get away from the traditional meal or dessert at the hotel and we wanted to have a venue like the Winspear. We wanted to get 2,000 people there. That was our goal.”
Cohen said making this happen took a lot of phone calls.
“I would suggest to you that the key to our success was working the phones every single day,” he said.
During an email interview, Co-Chair Sherry Goldberg said the important part about the event to her was raising considerable awareness about AIPAC in the community.
“AIPAC is the only organization of its kind,” she said. “Its mission is to educate our members of Congress — as an advocate of Israel — to create an understanding of Israel’s position in a bipartisan manner, as the only democracy in the Middle East and why they are important.”
One highlight of the event was when Lillian Pinkus discussed her vision as president-elect of AIPAC national.
The keynote speaker was Rabbi Daniel Gordis.
Also at the event:
- Staff Sergeant Robert Bartlett, retired, a veteran who was wounded in Iraq in 2005, discussed his support of Israel; and
- AIPAC Dallas Council Chair David Veeder moderated a brief bipartisan congressional roundtable, which included Eddie Bernice Johnson, Pete Sessions, Kenny Marchant, Marc Veasey, Louie Gohmert and John Ratcliffe.
Overall, Sherry Goldberg said, the event held great significance.
“Our goal was to make this event memorable, which is why we moved it to the Winspear,” she said. “We wanted to bring our community together in a way that had never happened before, and we wanted to do it for Israel.”
Sherry Goldberg and Mike Cohen both agreed it is too soon to know right now how much money was raised by the event.
“There’s a lot of follow-up and with the Policy Conference this week, it will take some time to compute,” she said.
Mike Cohen said that calculation takes place at the end of the year.
The response so far has been great, Sherry Goldberg said.
“We’ve brought in so many new people and that’s the most important aspect,” she said. “As a result, Dallas took the third largest delegate group nationwide to this week’s AIPAC Policy Conference in D.C. That says a lot about Dallas, Texas and makes me very proud.”
Mike Cohen said he became a committed AIPAC member to ensure a safe and secure Israel.
“But as I continue to stay in AIPAC, I realize that a strong U.S.-Israel relationship is also important,” he said.
Sherry Goldberg said she is committed to AIPAC because she is the child of two Holocaust survivors who met in a concentration camp.
“If Israel had existed, my parents would have had much different lives,” she said. “My entire family was killed in that war. My parents were the only survivors in each of their families. That alone created a different path for me as I grew up.”
Sherry Goldberg said she knew about the importance of Israel from the moment her parents told her their background.
“I have always looked at life differently from my friends who didn’t have the same backgrounds,” she said. “I appreciate Israel and my heritage so much. It has made me the person I am today. This generation needs to be constantly educated about Israel and why they must exist. Our survivors are dying out. Soon there will be no one left to remind future generations. It is my duty and others’ to keep educating. We must keep the memory strong. We must never let anyone forget.”