Former Vice President Joe Biden Honored at Jewish Museum Gala

Vice President Joe Biden seated with Ron Rubin, co-chair of the gala committee and a presenting sponsor.

The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) honored Vice President Joe Biden at the museum’s annual Only in America Gala, held at The Bellevue Philadelphia on April 24. [Read more…]

Leonard Bernstein Exhibit Inspires at NMAJH

At the press preview for the “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music” exhibit at NMAJH. From left to right: Ivy Weingram, Alexander Bernstein, Nina Bernstein, and CEO and Gwen Goodman Director of NMAJH Ivy Barsky. Photo credit: Bonnie Squires

Maybe you thought you knew a lot about Leonard Bernstein — or maybe just the Broadway show or film “West Side Story.”

But you will learn a lot more about the legendary Jewish-American composer’s history and accomplishments after a visit to “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music,” the  latest exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH).

Ivy Weingram, is the curator — or more appropriately, conductor — of the impressive exhibit, which is in tribute to Bernstein’s hundredth anniversary. Worldwide, countless events have taken place, and will continue to occur throughout 2018, to celebrate the deceased music icon. Philadelphia has already had its fair share of events honoring Bernstein, including “Lenny’s Revolution,” a concert conducted by Bernstein’s protégée, David Charles Abell, and the Philly POPS orchestra.

[Read more…]

Lenny’s Revolution: A Centennial Bernstein Celebration With David Charles Abell

By now you must have seen all the ads announcing Lenny’s Revolution: A Centennial Bernstein Celebration, with David Charles Abell and The Philly POPS. Maestro Abell, the principal guest conductor of the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra, is flying back from London for the Leonard Bernstein celebration concerts, which will be held on February 2 – 4 at the Kimmel Center.

I was able to interview Mr. Abell (pronounced “uh-BELL”) by phone while he was in London. During our conversation, he shared his Philadelphia roots with me, and mentioned that he still has relatives who live in Chestnut Hill. [Read more…]

Kay Lokoff, Founder of the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation, Has Died

Kay Lokoff.

Kay Lokoff, 81, of Philadelphia, was the founder of the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation (TLLCCF), a nonprofit, nonsectarian 501 (c)(3) organization. She created the foundation with her husband, Fred, in August of 1987 to honor the memory of their daughter, Terri, who died tragically in a car accident in July 1986. The foundation became Kay Lokoff’s life raft. It kept her afloat and enabled her to live the second half of her life, which ended suddenly on December 28 while she was on vacation in Florida with her family. [Read more…]

Catching Up With Elected Officials at the Pennsylvania Society Event

This year, The Pennsylvania Society held its 119th annual awards dinner. At these dinners, the society honors an individual, from the commonwealth or beyond, with the Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement “in recognition of leadership, citizenship and contributions to the arts, science, education and industry.” Among its other functions, the society also contributes to Pennsylvania-based charities and provides awards and scholarships to deserving students within the state.

Sen. Bob Casey with Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro and his wife, Lori.

The Pennsylvania Society has always held its annual awards dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, though this year, ongoing renovation at this storied old hotel required a change of venue to the New York Hilton Midtown. Given the venue change, as well as a date change, there were some absences at this year’s annual dinner — but not among elected officials or hopefuls running for office next year. They seemed to be well represented at the event. [Read more…]

Party With a Purpose: Cancer Research

Keatings with Nydia Han sitting at banquet table..

Dan and Sarah Keating with Nydia Han.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) was once again the beneficiary of the annual Party with a Purpose fundraiser, with over 450 guests attending the event this fall. Dan and Sarah Keating received the Humanitarian Award for their dedication to cancer research. Dr. Stephen Rubin, of Fox Chase Cancer Center, was awarded the Scientific Achievement Award. Nydia Han, a newscaster with TV station 6abc, served as emcee. Beverly Goldberg, co-chair of the gala, announced that funds raised this year would go toward the research and treatment of ovarian cancer. [Read more…]

Philly POPS 5th Annual Ball

Gary Frank with Dottie and Frank Giordano.

Gary Frank with Dottie and Frank Giordano.

More than 250 people danced to Frank Sinatra tunes played by the Philly POPS’ 65-piece orchestra at the group’s fifth annual ball. During this major fundraiser, held at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, former POPS board chairman Sal DeBunda was honored for his service, and his successor, Gary Frank, was officially welcomed into his new role.

Beth Botel and Bob Green.

Beth Botel and Bob Green.

Among the speakers was Mayor Jim Kenney, who praised DeBunda and Frank Giordano, president and CEO of the POPS, as well as the orchestra as a whole, for their contribution to children in the School District of Philadelphia. Through the POPS in Schools program, the orchestra is enhancing music education by providing instructional activities and bringing musicians into classrooms to mentor Philadelphia students. In fact, additional schools in the district that will be participating in the program were named at the ball.

Mayor Jim Kenney (center) and Sal DeBunda (4th from left) surrounded by representatives from Parx Casino: Tony Ricci, Bob Green, and Marc Oppenheimer.

Mayor Jim Kenney (3rd) and Sal DeBunda (4th) surrounded by people from Parx Casino: Tony Ricci, Bob Green and Marc Oppenheimer.

A founding resident company of the Kimmel Center, the Philly POPS is now entering its 39th year of offering concerts to the community, including July 4th Independence Week performances, and the Salute to the Military and First Responders. The POPS’ 39th anniversary season is being sponsored by Parx Casino.

 

Jay and Sharon Ruder with Debbie and Steve Appel.

Jay and Sharon Ruder with Debbie and Steve Appel.

Roz and David Marion.

Roz and David Marion.

 
 

Photos: Bonnie Squires.

Former Har Zion Cantor Feted in Atlantic City

Program book featured a photo of Cantor Wall and his late wife, Sheva, z”l.

This summer, at Atlantic City’s Rodef Sholom, a hundred people paid tribute to Har Zion Temple’s cantor emeritus, Cantor Isaac Wall, in celebration of his 100th birthday. After serving at Har Zion Temple for more than four decades, Cantor Wall moved to Ventnor, where he has spent the last 25 years of his “retirement” as cantor of Rodef Sholom. [Read more…]

Village View: Bill Cosby trial – and tribulations

Bonnie Squires.

This article was originally published in the Main Line Times. 

The Bill Cosby trial was an international fascination, not just a Philadelphia-Montgomery County-Pennsylvania obsession. I even received a request from a French magazine reporter who was in the region, covering the trial for his readers before he returned to Paris. He forwarded to me a column I had written in the Main Line Times about Cosby’s having received the Marian Anderson Award in Philly some years ago. The French reporter thought I might be able to give him contact information for three people whom I mentioned.

I answered him in French, letting him know that one of the people he wanted to speak with had died, one had left town years ago, and the last one, Coach Gavin White Senior, had retired from Temple.

So I have two distinctly different visions of Bill Cosby, who was once an idol of American television viewers. And film buffs. First there is the Bill Cosby in a Temple T-shirt or sweatshirt who raised awareness nationally — and even internationally — about his alma mater, in North Philadelphia.

Cosby never missed a Commencement, drawing cheers from students, professors, family members of the graduates, and media members alike. He would come early to the robing room, pose for photos with everyone, kibbitz, make us all laugh, and guarantee media coverage for the graduates and for Temple U.

I do believe it was the late Temple University President Peter J. Liacouras who reached out to Cosby and asked him to be the public face of Temple. And when Cosby starred in the most popular television series of his time, “The Cosby Show,” we could not even calibrate the value of seeing Cosby in the show sporting a Temple T-shirt!

In 2010, Cosby was the Marian Anderson award-winner, and at the time I wrote this about the Coz: “He is the consummate performer, successful author, humanitarian, philanthropist, advocate, educator, role model and creative genius. And he and his wife maintain scholarships at many universities, including Temple.”

Now I do not dismiss Andrea Costand’s testimony — or the charges of any of the dozens of other women who claim that Cosby plied them with drugs and then used them sexually when they were totally defenseless.

It’s just that this was not the Cosby whom I used to see on campus, whom I worked with to make the Temple recruitment television ads, who created a riot as he had everyone laughing and feeling good about themselves at whatever Commencement or Temple University event he would appear at. And who constantly would talk with the parents of students, praising them for their sacrifices.

There is only one other time when someone whom I liked and admired a lot turned out to be quite a different person at another point in his life And that person is Ira Einhorn. Now I do not by any stretch of the imagination equate Ira’s having murdered his girl friend Holly Maddox and stuffed her in a steamer trunk in the closet of their apartment with Cosby’s being a sexual predator. No comparison.

When Ira and I were undergraduates at Penn, Ira was a founder of Earth Day, he would sit under a tree and recite poetry. He was impressive. I was Miss Goody two-shoes with my saddle shoes, knowing nothing about drugs or alcohol. And then I lost track of him while I was substitute teaching in Lower Merion Schools while raising my children, and Ira just disappeared. Probably in a pot-filled haze, but I didn’t know it at the time.

Cosby would lecture and write books and exhort men to be responsible fathers.

Each time, though, that one of Cosby’s extensive legal team would be quoted on radio and television as saying, “but the sex was consensual,” I cringed! I would yell out loud! I mean — Cosby is married to Camille, an elegant, intelligent, philanthropist in her own right. And she has stood by her husband, even appearing one time in court in Norristown with him.

There are cynics who would retort, “But she’s staying for the money!” I highly doubt that now that Cosby’s reputation and career have been destroyed, that much money is still coming in. Although re-runs of “The Cosby Show” are probably running around the world.

I thought Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele controlled himself and his team admirably, and his comments at his press conference after the judge declared a mistrial were sober and professional.

We will have to endure the worldwide publicity again at some time in the future. I will try to keep in mind the original vision I had of Dr. Bill Cosby.

Bonnie Squires is a communications consultant who writes weekly for Main Line Media News and can be reached at www.bonniesquires.com. She hosts the weekly Bonnie’s Beat TV show at Radnor Studio 21 and Main Line Television which airs Monday nights at 7 p.m.