Edie Roodman: spreading the light

The core value of Edie Roodman, executive director of Oklahoma Israel Exchange, is the Jewish concept of tikkun olam or perfecting and repairing the world.
“I always felt that I had to give back and make the world a better place,” she said.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she moved to Arizona after graduating from high school. Her father told her that he would pay for her studies if she came to live with him.
She obtained undergraduate degrees in political science and psychology and a master’s degree in counseling and education. Edie also completed 30 hours on a PhD in Women’s Studies.
In college, Edie’s younger sister decided they should visit Israel.
“I said, ‘You make all the arrangements and I’m going,’” Edie said.
They had to live and work on a kibbutz or a communal farm organized by the Jewish Federation. It was Edie’s introduction to the organization she would later work with over the years.
Then, three days before the trip, her sister decided she was not going.
“Everyone thought that meant I was going,” Edie said. “But, I just went on my own.”
On the first Friday, Edie was matched with a family to celebrate Shavuot together. The family was that of her future husband, Dr Eli Reshef.
Eli was in the army and Edie came back three more summers. They wrote letters and when Reshef left the army they met in Europe.
“He followed me to the States and we got married a month later,” Edie said.
Eli went to college and got an undergraduate degree in three years. They moved to Texas so he could go to Baylor medical school.
Edie worked at Houston Community College as a women’s affairs coordinator. Daughter Erielle was born during Eli’s final year of medicine.
Eli’s residence took them to Birmingham, Alabama. Again, starting from scratch, Edi went to work for Jewish Family and Children Services, which was under the umbrella of the Jewish Federation.
Eli’s scholarship was in Louiseville, Kentucky, where Edie worked as the deputy executive director of the Jewish Federation.
Then Eli went to a job interview. By this time, sons Eitan and Evan had arrived.
“Eli came to me and said, ‘The best job offer I’ve had is in Oklahoma,’” Edie said.
It was 1990 and Edie described Oklahoma City as “sorry.” The Jewish community was small, and Edie feared she would not find a job.
The people, however, were very welcoming.
“I wasn’t a good retiree, so I would volunteer for the Jewish Federation,” she said.
The then executive director was unhappy and Edie told him about a job in Birmingham. He left and she took over in 1991.
Edie retired in 2017, but again she was not a good retiree. About a year later, she was chair of the board of OKIE and then CEO Susan Robertson left the state.
“I said, ‘I don’t want to be president, I want to be executive director,” Edie said. “It was a natural transition for me. It made sense.
OKIE’s mission is to “promote goodwill and understanding, foster people-to-people exchanges, create lucrative partnerships, and initiate mutually beneficial collaboration between the State of Oklahoma and the State of Israel ”.
“I love taking people to Israel,” Edie said. “I couldn’t really ask for a better game.”
Along the way, and currently, Edie has lent her time and talents to a number of other organizations, including the OKC Beautiful 50th Anniversary Event and the OKIE 25th Anniversary Gala. .
“When I’m turned on by something or feeling passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like a chore,” she said. “I like to see things come together and succeed.”
What really turns him on these days is bringing Aubrey McClendon’s lights back to Western. When McClendon was president and CEO of Chesapeake, the street was lined with trees wrapped in all colors.
Edie said Adam McMillion, a Metro waiter, was the mastermind and that Edie, along with Cathy Keating and others got on board. The lighting ceremony will take place on December 3.
“I’m so excited that there is the glare of these lights again,” she said. “In Jewish life, it is important to bring light to the world.
“It’s a way for me to add my light.”
She called McClendon’s vision “magical”. In the dead of winter, when it’s cold and dark, any way to brighten up someone’s day is important.
“These Christmas lights can warm a heart,” Edie said.

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