Natalie Portman Campaigns in Lower Merion

Natalie Portman headlines voter registration drive at Clinton campaign office in Ardmore.

Natalie Portman.

The award-winning actress Natalie Portman made several stops in the Philadelphia region as she campaigned for Hillary Clinton, on Monday, October 10th. At the Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee headquarters in Ardmore, a large crowd gathered, including State Senator Daylin Leach and his daughter Brennan.

I got to ask the last question and Ms. Portman gave an insightful and extensive answer.
Earlier in the day Mike Pence, Trump’s running-mate, had held a press conference, avowing his acceptance of Jesus. He pressed his Christian faith, and accepting grace and forgiveness. He called Trump’s “apology” sincere.

I asked Ms. Portman, on the eve of Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, what she felt about Pence’s pulling the “Jesus Card.” Ms. Portman looked pained as she rattled off all the different ethnic groups and women whom Trump has offended, insulted and threatened. She does not believe religion should be used as a club to beat anyone or any group. And she is really looking forward to having Hillary Clinton as the first woman President.

At another area event, also on October 10th, Ms. Portman’s talk was video recorded. She started by talking about being a mother. (She did not let her five year old son watch the Clinton-Trump debate Sunday night!) Then she reminded audience members that Tuesday, Oct. 11th is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania. She ended with questions from the audience. Video credit: Splash News and the Daily Mail.

Rep. John Lewis Receives Liberty Medal

Jeff Rosen, Lynne Honickman and Rep. John Lewis

Jeff Rosen, Lynne Honickman and Rep. John Lewis

Rep. John Lewis has joined the ranks of such luminaries as Nelson Mandela, Sandra Day O’Connor and Shimon Peres. Like them, the longtime Georgia congressman is now a recipient of the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. As described on the Center’s website, “the Liberty Medal is awarded annually to men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.”

Mayor Jim Kenney, former Councilwoman  Marian Tasco, former Mayor Wilson Goode, Sharmain Matlock-Turner, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle and State Rep. Dwight Evans

Mayor Jim Kenney, former Councilwoman Marian Tasco, former Mayor Wilson Goode, Sharmain Matlock-Turner, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle and State Rep. Dwight Evans

Lewis has demonstrated such “courage and conviction” throughout his life as a champion of civil rights. A product of the segregated South, Lewis joined the Civil Rights Movement at a young age, and throughout his career, maintained his courage in the face of many challenges, such as arrests and police brutality. He took part in the Freedom Rides to oppose bus segregation, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he organized sit-ins and other protests. Along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis was a member of the Big Six, the group that organized the March on Washington, and he was the youngest speaker at that historic event.

Harold and Lynne Honickman and Marguerite and Jerry Lenfest

Harold and Lynne Honickman and Marguerite and Jerry Lenfest

Later, Lewis focused much of his attention on voting rights. He was one of the leaders of the Edmund Pettus Bridge crossing, during which peaceful advocates for voting rights were viciously attacked by Alabama state troopers. He also led voter registration drives and directed the Voter Education Project.

Lewis began his own political career as a member of the Atlanta City Council, and since 1986, he has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. For 13 years, he worked to promote the federal legislation that created the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington.

Ira Lubert, Colleen Wyse and Dr. Steve Klasko

Ira Lubert, Colleen Wyse and Dr. Steve Klasko

Phladelphia Mayor Jim Kenney calls Lewis “an inspiration to people all over the world.” Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, describes Lewis as having “helped to extend the blessings of liberty and equality to all Americans.”

Among the attendees at the Liberty Medal Ceremony were elected officials as well as other civic and philanthropic leaders. The Liberty Medal itself was sponsored by Ira Lubert, trustee of the National Constitution Center and co-founder of the firm Lubert-Adler.

Photos by Bonnie Squires.
Channel 6 ABC will air the Liberty Medal Ceremony on Sunday, October 2, at 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday, October 23, at 1:30 p.m.

Dan Segal Honored

Seth Kreimer, Dan Segal, Bonnie Squires and Ken Myers. Photo: Bonnie Squires

Seth Kreimer, Dan Segal, Bonnie Squires and Ken Myers. Photo: Bonnie Squires

— by Bonnie Squires

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice celebrated its 11th anniversary with an award reception on September 27 in honor of Dan Segal, Esq., an outstanding attorney with the Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller law firm and a well known Jewish community advocate.

A crowd of over 80 people gathered at the home of Kathy and Jeff Pasek in Ardmore. They represented the many different strands of Segal’s life and activities. [Read more…]

Technion Joins with Cornell for new Institute in Manhattan

Steve and Ilene Berger; Professor Adam Shwartz and his wife Shuli; and Linda Richman, executive director of ATS (American Technion Society) Philadelphia region. Photo by Bonnie Squires

Steve and Ilene Berger; Adam and Shuli Shwartz; and Linda Richman. Photo: Bonnie Squires.

Ilene and Steve Berger hosted a reception at their Ventnor, NJ residence for Professor Adam Shwartz, immediate Past Director of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute in Manhattan. [Read more…]

Senator Barbara Boxer Speaking in Philadelphia

Barbara Boxer (r) and Bonnie Squires (l).

Bonnie Squires (L) and Barbara Boxer (R).

Sen. Barbara Boxer visited public media station WHYY in Philadelphia to launch her latest book, “The Art of Tough,” a memoir of her decades of service in both Congress and the Senate. For the first time since 1976, she may not be running for election, but she doesn’t plan on going away. She represented California in Congress from 1983 to 1992. Then in ’92, she entered the U.S. Senate. Next on her agenda as a private citizen is to create a political action committee (PAC).

Sen. Boxer announced that she will be a speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Then she launched into a spirited defense of Hillary Clinton, saying, “Hillary is authentic, the smartest person in the room. She’s shy. But she is just herself, ever since she was in college.” While she had a few choice words about Donald Trump, she repeatedly described Hillary as “authentic.” [Read more…]

State Department Special Envoy Fights Global Anti-Semitism

Ira Forman with ADL Regional Director Nancy Baron-Baer and ADL board members Judith Meyer and Doug Stanger

Ira Forman with ADL Regional Director Nancy Baron-Baer and ADL board members Judith Meyer and Doug Stanger

Ira Forman’s job is to identify and pursue anti-Semitism around the world. As a result, he knows where the trends are particularly disturbing and where there is reason to have hope. Recently, he brought this knowledge and experience to Philadelphia when he served as the keynote speaker for the closing board meeting of the local Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Forman works in the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs in the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. He was appointed to this position three years ago by Secretary of State John Kerry. Forman has an extensive resume, which, among other things, includes his work as Jewish outreach director for the Obama campaign, CEO and executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), and — very early in his career — political director and legislative liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

At the meeting in Philadelphia, Forman gave a run-down of the Jewish communities he has visited and discussed what the future may hold for Jews in those countries. For example, he pointed to a particularly disturbing survey of French Jews — which even pre-dated the Paris attacks — in which 47% said they were considering leaving France. Forman was then asked about the heartening response of thousands of French citizens who marched in support of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Kacher attacks. He said it was believed that if the Charlie Hebdo journalists had not also been killed, the response by non-Jews on behalf of the Jewish community would not have been as strong.

However, Forman did express hope for some smaller Jewish communities. He also emphasized that outside the United States, England seems to be the most secure place for Jews to live.

In order to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, Forman and his staff travel the world. They often work in cooperation with agencies like the ADL, as well as with other nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Photo by Bonnie Squires

DNC Celebrates Jewish American Heritage Month at NMAJH

Marcel Groen, Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., and Democratic State Committee member Ellen Brookstein

Marcel Groen, Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., and Democratic State Committee member Ellen Brookstein

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) chose Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) as the site of its observance of Jewish American Heritage Month. This observance was a multi-faith event that took place on Yom HaShoah and brought together movers and shakers from the Democratic Party. [Read more…]

New Picasso Exhibition Premiering at the Barnes Foundation

(left)  "Studies," 1920, Musee Picasso, Paris (right) "Harlequin Musician," 1924 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Given in loving memory of her husband, Taft Schreiber, by Rita Schreiber

“Studies,” 1920, Musee Picasso and “Harlequin Musician,” 1924, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Given in loving memory of Taft Schreiber by his wife Rita Schreiber

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has mounted a select exhibition of Picasso’s works from 1912 to 1924. The exhibition, called “Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change,” examines the dramatic fluctuations in Picasso’s style during the period surrounding World War I. The exhibition is curated by Simonetta Fraquelli, an independent curator and specialist in early twentieth-century European art. It is on view at the Barnes through May 9, and will travel to the Columbus Museum of Art in June. [Read more…]

Vice-President Biden Launches “Moonshot” Initiative at Penn

Vice President Joe Biden lays out his plan for getting all organizations, federal agencies, and researchers to share data on cancer initiatives. photo by Bonnie Squires

Joe Biden lays out his plan for getting organizations, federal agencies, and researchers to share data on cancer initiatives.

President Obama announced a new initiative as part of his State of the Union message which aims to find a cure for cancer. Named “Moonshot”, the initiative is intended to harness information from research facilities, academic institutions, pharmaceutical corporations and Federal agencies. The President named Vice-President Joe Biden head of the Moonshot initiative.

Biden began his effort by touring and meeting with physicians and researchers at Penn’s Perelman Center, part of the Abramson Cancer Center.  Penn’s leadership in the field of immunotherapy was one of the reasons the university was selected for Biden’s launch of the initiative. After touring a research lab at the Smilow Translational facility at the Perelman Center, Biden laid out questions and goals and listened carefully to a panel of researchers assembled by Penn President Amy Gutmann.

Photos by Bonnie Squires.

Penn Preident Amy Gutmann, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes on Health, headed a panel of cancer research experts meeting to discuss future efforts at finding a cure for cancer. Penn's leadership in the field of immunotherapy was one of the reasons the university was selected for Biden's launch of the initiative. photo by Bonnie Squires

Penn President Amy Gutmann, Joe Biden, and Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes on Health, led a panel of cancer research experts discuss efforts to cure for cancer.

Former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies talks with (left) Dr. Jonathan Epstein and Dr. John Glick before Vice President Biden arrives. Glick is the founding director of the Abramson Cancer Center and is also a nationally known breast cancer researcher and physician. photo by Bonnie Squires

Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies talks with (left) Dr. Jonathan Epstein and Dr. John Glick, founding director of the Abramson Cancer Center.

Expressing Solidarity With Paris

Deborah Willig, Esq., Bonnie Squires, and Helen Loeb.

Left to right: Deborah Willig, Esq., Bonnie Squires and Helen Loeb.

The French International School of Philadelphia, located in Bala Cynwyd Pennsylvania, held a solidarity rally for students, alumni, parents, teachers, and members of the community in order to express solidarity with France and the victims of ISIL terrorism.

Deborah Willig, Esq., chair of the school’s board of directors, along with the school’s co-principals, organized the rally. Votive candles in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and the peace symbol were on a table, and attendees were encouraged to light candles in sympathy with the victims of the Friday the Thirteenth attacks in Paris.

Honorary Consul Michael Scullin, Esq. and Rabbi Albert Gabbai.

Helen Loeb, a native of Toulouse, France, now living in suburban Philadelphia, told the people gathered that her niece who lives and works in Paris had called to tell her that she had lost two friends who were at the concert at the Bataclan venue where the American rock group Eagles of Death Metal were performing.

Michael Scullin, Esq., Honorary Consul of France in Philadelphia and Wilmington, and Rabbi Albert Gabbai, of The Congregation Mikveh Israel, spoke briefly, along with the co-principals of the school, expressing condolences for the victims of the terrorist atacks in Paris. Scullin had arranged a rally the night before in front of the LOVE statue in center city Philadelphia. Votive candles arranged in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and the symbol for peace were available for lighting at the school.