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Obama, Others, Send Get-Well Wishes As Prominent Jewish Democrat Falls Ill

First Posted: 04/26/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:10 PM ET


Fate, occasionally, can be cruel.

On Sunday night, Ira Forman and his wife Caryn were honored by a local Washington D.C. Jewish Day School for the work they had done on behalf of that institution and the Jewish community at large. It was, by all accounts, a splendid affair, with Forman, the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, addressing a crowd that included at least one of his children. He had been instrumental in easing the school's move to its current location, had sent his three kids there, and had helped spearhead major fund-raising efforts on its behalf.

But after his speech was over, the longtime voice of the Jewish Democratic community, former Clinton administration official, and occasional Huffington Post blogger, felt a bit ill. Inside a men's room in the National Building Museum (where the event was held), Forman suffered a heart attack. Not fatal, but serious.

"In the bathroom he knew he had trouble. He was trying to freshen himself but was weak and ashen and knew he was in trouble and asked a friend for help. So the friend got help," said Steve Rabinowitz, a longtime friend of Forman's and another major figure in Jewish Democratic politics. "Fortunately it was a Jewish dinner with a million doctors; unfortunately, no cardiologist. We decided to work on that the admissions director has to recruit a cardiologist's kid."

Forman was rushed to a local hospital, where he remains. His health, at this juncture, is holding well. Those close to him expect a solid recovery and pray for a quick one. He will have open-heart surgery on Monday. In the interim, he has no shortage of people sending their well wishes, from the mayor of Washington D.C., to the vice president and the president himself. Even his long-time political adversary, the man with whom he has exchanged more than a few partisan jabs but equal amounts of friendly exchanges, has put politics on a hold.

"I have talked to Ira and have been on the phone with him," said Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Council. "Ira is a dear friend. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery. This makes everything about politics take a back seat. It is all about family and friends. That is what's important."

Indeed, it is. Get well Ira.