State Sen. Andrew Rice brought back a fond memory for me as he challenged me to answer a trivia question: where in OKC is a lighted public Menorah? I not only knew the answer, but I also knew the story behind it. Mark was a good friend, and I miss him dearly. Matt Dinger did the story shortly after Mark’s death at a time when I and others were still very much mourning his loss.
Mark’s legacy lives on … consider this warmest wish of a happy Hanukkah to all:
RABBI SAYS DISPLAY WAS ‘ONE OF THE WARMEST WELCOMES I HAD TO OKLAHOMA’
Legacy shines on in city community
FORMER CITY LEADER HONORED AT MENORAH-LIGHTING CEREMONY
By Matt Dinger
Monday, December 29, 2008
Mark Schwartz, Oklahoma City councilman and community leader, was honored in the ceremony at the Crown Heights Menorah in the median of Shartel Avenue at NW 40 on Sunday. Schwartz died Nov. 13 following an extended battle with prostate cancer. He was 58.
The Hanukkah prayer “Rock of Ages,” led by Dr. Ali Reshef, was sung while the servant candle, or shamas, and the eight peripheral candles were lighted following a brief address by Marcy Price, program director of the Jewish Federation in Oklahoma City.
Schwartz and neighbor Dan Schonwald constructed the menorah from steel pipe and electrical wiring in the late 80s, Price said, before working through the city council and neighborhood association to integrate the candelabrum into annual Hanukkah festivities. The menorah has been refurbished in bright colors by neighborhood artist, Robin Orbach, and rewired by the Krueger family.
Rabbi Ovadia Goldman said he was driving on an icy patch of Shartel Avenue a decade ago when he first saw the menorah shining on the grassy median. Goldman and his family moved to Oklahoma City from Brooklyn to help establish the Chabad Jewish Center in 1998.
“It was one of the warmest welcomes I had to Oklahoma. It was a very touching moment,” he said.
Schwartz and Price traveled with Gov. David Walters to Israel in 1992. He came back with plenty of stories and ideas to invigorate the community, Price said.
“He died too young. He had lots of vision. I miss his energy, love of life and inclusive attitude about community,” she said.
Schwartz served on the council between 1987 and 1998 in the city’s second ward. He is credited with helping pass a 1989 public safety sales tax used to hire additional police and firefighters and upgrade equipment.