National Museum of American Jewish History Opening

Long-time board members and supporters of NMAJH, Lyn and George Ross, have their names emblazoned on the new museum.

Bonnie Squires

One of the great mysteries surrounding the evolution of the new National Museum of American Jewish History site was solved at a press preview right before the official opening and dedication of NMAJH.  For months I had been wondering – how could Patrick Gallagher, the “interpretive designer” who worked so closely with Gwen Goodman, Executive Director Emerita, the board of trustees, and the new CEO Michael Rosenzweig, have translated the vision of Goodman and her board into the amazing new building on Inde
pendence Mall?

I mean – you don’t have to be Jewish to love bagels and lox.  But do you have to be Jewish to interpret the history of Jews in America into a museum which will speak to all ages, all ethnic groups, all different expressions of Judaism, all the immigrant groups in American society?

Some of the older artifacts in the new museum, like this pile of immigrant suitcases, look outstanding in their new home.

So I asked Gallagher, as he stood next to Goodman, after the press conference.  And he answered, “I’m Jewish!”  Now at first I thought he was joking – until Goodman confirmed that yes, indeed, Patrick was Jewish.    Gallagher had converted to Judaism in his twenties when he was getting married.

And like other people who have studied their way into Judaism, instead of simply having been born into the religion, Gallagher probably knows a lot more about Jewish history, traditions, customs and practices than many of those born Jewish.

Gwen Goodman, Executive Director Emerita of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and Patrick Gallagher, the interpretive designer of the new museum.

For ten years, Goodman and her board worked with Gallagher & Associates, in creating the core exhibition. The new museum has been designed by the internationally acclaimed architectural firm Polshek Partnership Architects.

The grand opening gala will feature performances by Bette Midler and Jerry Seinfeld, along with seminars by academics and a ribbon-cutting featuring Vice President Joe Biden.  Nearly one thousand patrons and sponsors will attend the gala concert and dinner, with national figures flying in from around the country.

And as Polshek explained, the beacon atop the glass and terra cotta structure will act as a reflection of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, a call to freedom; a reminder of the Eternal LIght which shines in every synagogue around the world; as well as a reflection of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, American icons of freedom, just across the street from the new National Museum of American Jewish History.

The move to Independence Mall included the 19th century statue, now situated on the Caroline and Sidney Kimmel Plaza, which was a gift from the Jewish community of Philadelphia.

Photo credits: Bonnie Squires

Explaining the mission of the NMAJH are (left to right) architect James Polshek and NMAJH CEO Michael Rosenzweig.

Secretary Sebelius Stumps for Onorato in Bala Cynwyd

Bonnie Squires

A “Women for Onorato” campaign event took place Tuesday night in Lower Merion, at the home of Nancy and Rob Fox, Esq., featuring Mrs. Shelly Onorato and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.  Democratic State Committeewoman Penny Gerber and former Pennsylania state treasurer Robin Wiessman urged the crowd to get out the vote next Tuesday for Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato (D-Pittsburgh) who is running for Governor of Pennsylvania against State Attorney General Tom Corbett (R-Shaler).

Nancy Fox, host of Women for Onorato; Shelly Onorato, wife of Dan Onorato; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; and Rob Fox, Esq., co-host.

PPRA Gold Medal Award to Dr. Amy Gutmann, Penn President

Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania, To Receive Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s 2010 Gold Medal Award

University President Honored for Increasing Access to Higher Education and for Championing Civic Engagement with Communities both Domestically and Globally

— Bonnie Squires

The Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA) will honor Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania, with the organization’s 2010 Gold Medal Award on Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 11:30am – 1:30pm at the Loews Philadelphia, Washington Room, 1200 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107.

More after the jump.
Helping PPRA honor Gutmann is event speaker David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Pennsylvania.  Invited guests include Governor Edward G. Rendell and Mayor Michael A. Nutter. The event’s theme is “Making History … Ben Franklin Would Approve.”

The PPRA Gold Medal Award honors individuals and organizations whose accomplishments leave a lasting impact on our community and bring national recognition to Philadelphia. As a Gold Medal recipient, Gutmann joins Ambassador Walter Annenberg, Governor Edward G. Rendell, former President of Drexel University Constantine Papadakis, 6abc’s Jim Gardner, author Lisa Scottoline, and nearly 60 other prominent individuals and organizations in the Philadelphia area.

“We are honoring President Gutmann because she is the standard to which all leaders in Philadelphia should be held,” said Beth Archer, president of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association. “Whether she’s expanding Penn’s environmental commitment, or improving access to higher education for Philadelphians, she brings positivity to our region.”

As President of the University of Pennsylvania since 2004, Gutmann substituted grants for student loans for all eligible undergraduates and has increased undergraduate financial aid by 78 percent. She has recruited eminent, multidisciplinary teacher-scholars to Penn’s 12 schools; expanded Penn’s campus while increasing green space by 20 percent; and championed civic engagement domestically and globally.

A distinguished political philosopher, Dr. Gutmann has authored and edited 15 books and more than 100 articles and essays on ethics and public policy, deliberative democracy, and education.  

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

Previously, Dr. Gutmann served as Princeton University’s Provost, Dean of the Faculty, and founding Director of the University Center for Human Values.  

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of Penn,” said Gutmann. “Local engagement is one of the cornerstones of our Penn Compact. Day in and day out at Penn, we act on the knowledge that the health and vitality of Penn is inextricably linked to that of Philadelphia. We work together with our Philadelphia neighbors and leaders to make both Penn and Philadelphia the best that we can be. I commend PPRA for consistently advancing leadership in our region.”

The PPRA Gold Medal event is co-chaired by Bonnie Squires, president of Squires Consulting and a Penn Alumna, and David Brown, Executive Vice President and General Manager of WURD-AM.

The event committee also includes noted PR practitioners Sylvia Kauders, Sally Berlin, Lisette Bralow, Mark Tarasiewicz, Joan Gubernick, Michael Cavacini, Kera Walter, Meredith Avakian, and Megan Smith.

Registration for the Gold Medal event is $65 for PPRA members; $75 for nonmembers; and $650 for a table of ten, and can be purchased by visiting or calling 215-557-9865.

Keystone Hospice Observes Jewish Holidays

Rabbi Brian Nevins-Goldman, the Jewish chaplain at Keystone Hospice in Wyndmoor, began buliding the Sukkah on the grounds of the historically certified residence in Wyndmoor in preparation for the celebration of the holiday of Sukkot.  Gil Rosenthal and David Campbell, volunteers, designed and built the Sukkah, and volunteer Lois Blofstein  and Rabbi’s daughter Corianna assisted them with decorating the Sukkah.

Photo: Sukkah-building on the grounds of Keystone Hospice brought together volunteers and staff members, inclulding (left to right) David Campbell, of Elkins Park;  Gil Rosenthal, of Chestnut Hill;  Rabbi Brian Nevins-Goldman, Keystone Hospice Jewish chaplain, and his daughter Corianna; and volunteer Lois Blofstein, of Elkins Park. (Bonnie Squires)
Gail Inderwies, founder and CEO of Keystone Hospice, believes that celebrating all religious holidays from all ethnic groups, as well as all American holidays, lifts everyone’s spirits.

On Wednesday, September 22, following lunch, there was a program in the sukkah welcoming Sukkot, with prayers, songs, art and fresh fruits.  Sukkot began that evening and lasts 7-8 days.

Keystone Hospice residents, family members and staff members are invited to attend and participate in all the events.  

President Obama Campaigns for Joe Sestak

President Barak Obama points to Joe Sestak and praises him for his decades of service to the country.

Convention Center Democratic fundraiser

President Barack Obama is getting his groove back, and Joe Sestak, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, was the beneficiary last night.  Hundreds of party faithfuls bought $250 tickets to see Obama and Sestak at a huge reception in the Convention center, while well-heeled supporters were escorted into the $1000 VIP reception.  Then there was a private dinner for the very highest-priced tickets.  While waiting for Obama to land in Philly, a string of luminaries spoke to the crowd, reiterating what has become a disciplined Democratic theme: get out the vote, hold onto the House and the Senate, support Obama’s initiatives, and make certain that Pennsylvania ends up with two Democratic Senators after this November’s election.  Making the point and leading the crowd in energetic chants of “Go, Joe!” were Pat Croce, the ultimate cheerleader; Governor Ed Rendell; Senator Bob Casey; Congressman Bob Brady; and Mayor Michael Nutter.

Among the Sestak supporters waiting for the senate candidate and President Obama to arrive Monday at the Convention Center are AFT-PA union officials, (left to right) Jerry Jordan, Ted Kirsch and Arlene Freedman.  

When President Obama and Admiral Sestak appeared on stage, they were greeted with overwhelming cheers and applause.  Obama used the occasion to praise and endores Sestak, and then he reiterated th themes which he has recently bugan talking about in an effort to bolster the Democratic Party base. He told an anecdote which other Democrats have used in the past month, saying, “When you want to go forward in a car, you put the gear into ‘D.’  When you want to go backwards, you push ‘R.’  It’s not a coincidence.”  The audience recognized instantly that “D” was for “Democratic” and “R” was for “Republican.”  

Obama reminded the audience that not a single Republican had voted for the stimulus bill or for the jobs bill, and that the Republican agenda has not changed in decades: they want to privatize Social Security, despite what has happened to the stock market in the past two years, and they want to remove all regulations on financial institutions,  despite the bank disaster which still has the economy struggling.

Obama gave shoppers at the Reading Terminal Market a thrill before crossing the street to the fundraiser, stopping to buy cheese steaks and, in deference to the First Lady’s push for healthy eating, some apples as well.

Photos and copy by Bonnie Squires.

Clinton Stumps For Sestak at JCC

— Bonnie Squires

President Bill Clinton stumped for his friend Joe Sestak, running for U.S. Senate, at the Golden Slipper Center for Seniors at the Kaiserman JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Wynnewood, his first stop of a very busy day.  Clinton praised Sestak for having an economic policy plan which fit with Clinton’s philosophy and success.

The appearance at the Jewish community center was a last-minute addition to Clinton’s whirlwind Philadelphia schedule as he came to town to honor former British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the Liberty Medal Monday evening.  But Clinton, who had campaigned for Sestak when the Congressman first ran for office five years ago , seemed genuinely delighted to speak to an adoring Jewish crowd on behalf of his former military advisor.

Clinton told the audience that each year the Pentagon picks the brightest member of the military to send to the White House as military advisor to the President, and they had selected Joe Sestak to send to him.  

Sestak’s words to the JCC audience reminded us of Senator Arlen Specter’s appearance there, years ago, when Lynn Yeakel was the Democratic contender for U.S. Senate.  Specter won that close race.  Perhaps Sestak had that in mind as he continued his wooing of the Jewish community.  And Clinton proved once again that he is a huge magnet, even with only a few hours’ notice.

Clinton gave a detailed analysis of the current economic situation in the country, pointing out the success of his philosophy when his administration turned around a huge deficit and left office with a huge surplus.  He credited Sestak with having a detailed plan and vision for creating jobs in three areas which are vital: small business, manufacturing, and the green economy.  

(photo credit: Bonnie Squires)

Astronaut at National Museum of American Jewish History

The first event held at Philadelphia’s New National Museum of American Jewish History is literally out of this world.

Bonnie Squires

Garrett Reisman, with his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, who was the first Jewish member of the space station crew, went up the first time in 2008 where he was able to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary. Israeli President Shimon Peres gave him the symbol of State of Israel to take with him for the occasion. His second trip was just in May of this year, where he and a fellow astronaut had to do a space walk in order to install an additional module to the space station.  
   The National Museum of American Jewish History hosted Reisman in a special event which was the first to be convened in the not-yet-completed new site of NMAJH.  Reisman, dressed in a flight suit, entranced the crowd of founding members of the museum with his stories of his space flight and one very interesting challenge he encountered in trying to install the new module on the space station.

More after the jump.

Bonnie Squires talks with Dr. Garrett Reisman.

   It seems the plug and socket would not fit which would have activated the electrical system.  Nos here was Reisman and his colleague, out in space, trying to comlete a task they had trained for during an entire year.  And it wasn’t working.
   Then Reisman had an aha! moment.  Calling into the space ship, he asked when they would be traveling directly into the rays of the sun.  Then he covered the plug end of the module to shield it from the heat, allowing the socket to expand from the incredible heat from the sun.  And voila!  He was able to push the plug into the socket.
   Of course, Reisman may have more scientific jargon for the plug, but I used the language most of us can understand.
   Reisman used a Star Wars / SAT analogy in order to relate how incredibly large the International Space Station is: “The Space Shuttle is to International Space Station, as the Millenium Falcon is to the Death Star.”
   A highlight of the evening, in addition to getting to ask questions of a Jewish astronaut, was the NASA film of his voyage, including some lighter moments of “flying” inside the spaceship and bobbing for M&Ms.
   But when I asked him how many hours a day he and his six colleagues had to work, not play, he answered matter-of-factly that in the entire twelve-day voyage, they only had four hours off.  And that was why, in the playful scenes in the film, all the astronauts were wearing the same shirts.  It all took place in one four-hour down-time segment.

   Impressive was Reisman’s commitment to the late astronaut from Israel, Ilan Ramon, who was lost in the Columbia shuttle disaster.  Reisman and Ramon had been in the same training unit, even sharing a Passover Seder together. Naturally, Reisman took up the flag for both American Jewry and Israel when Ramon was lost.
   Reisman had carried into space with him the original April 2006 proclamation that had created Jewish American Heritage Month.  
   Michael Rosenzweig, President and CEO of NMAJH, and Gwen Goodman, executive director emerita, praised Philadelphia Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and U.S. Senator Arlen Specter for their work in passing Jewish American Heritage Month and for having NMAJH designated as the museum of American Jewish history in America.

NMAJH board member Joe Zuritsky and his wife Renee; Executive Director Emerita Gwen Goodman; and CEO Michael Rosenzweig.

   Marcia Jo Zerivitz initiated the legislation for a Florida Jewish History Month, which was became the nation’s first such commemoration each January when it was signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) in 2003 saying “Everyone else has a month. We need a month too. We have so many stereotypes to debunk.”
   Zerivitz then set out to establish a National Jewish History Month despite a decision by the Bush administration to create “no more new months”. Debbie Wasserman Schultz took it on as a personal project to overcome the moratorium and succeeded in finding 250 co-sponsors to the legislation which gave it the critical momentum to come to the floor of the House of Representatives on December 14, 2005 where it passed unanimously 423-0. Senator Arlen Spector championed a similar measure in the Senate on February 14, 2006 and the bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in April 2006. Since National Jewish History Month has been observed each May.  
   The officials from the Jewish Museum of Florida and the Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition turned over the 2006 proclamation to the NMAJH, posing with the astronaut. The proclamation was launched May 14, 2010 on the Space Shuttle Atlantis travelling 4,900,000 miles on its 186 orbits before returning to Earth on May 25, 2010.
   After the flight, Reisman returned home on May 27 to find an invitation from President Obama in his mail inviting him to the first annual Jewish Heritage Reception at the White House on that same day. Reisman called the White House to say he would not be able to make it, but at least he had a good excuse for RSVPing so late: He was in outer space at the time.
   The fabulous new site of NMAJH will open to the public the weekend of November 12, 2010. The museum will feature the Mezuzah which Reisman installed on the Space Shuttle Atlantis next to his sleep station.
  Congreswomen Allyson Schwartz was instrumental not only in passing National Jewish History Month but also in a joint resolution recognizing the museum as the official National Museum of American  Jewish histroy.
   At the reception after the event, Betty the Caterer feted everyone with space themed fare including Dipping Dots, Tang, Star Fruit and Cosmic Cocoa. Afterwards, Reisman returned to his alma mater the University of Pennsylvania to catch up with some of his old friends.

Two Torahs: Columbia Torah (left) and Atlantis Torah (right).

  He then continued to California, where he participated in premiere of the film An Article of Hope at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival. The film is a documentary about the little Torah which Ilan Ramon took with him on the ill-fated Space Shuttle Columbia. Ramon received this Torah scroll from his Physics professor Joachim Joseph who received it when he had a secret Bar Mitzvah as a boy in the Nazi concentration camp Bergen Belsen.
  Everyone clearly agreed with National Jewish History Month coordinator Abby Schwartz that “it gives us such nachos to see a nice young Jewish boy honoring his people from outer space.”

Sestak Tells Jewish Leaders Of His Passion For Israel

The event in a private home was very heimesche with live Klezmer music by hostess Irene Glickman on the piano and Ken Ulansey and Stan Slotter on the clarinet playing as community leaders awaited Sestak’s discussion of foreign and domestic issues. (Photo: Bonnie Squires)

Joe Sestak (D PA-7) met with Jewish Community leaders recently in Center City Philadelphia, York and Lower Merion recently to discuss a range of issues, including his passionate and longstanding support for the State of Israel.

Sestak is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania. Supporters of his opponent, Pat Toomey, along with Tea Party activists, neo-conservatives and other elements of the far right, have attempted to paint him as anti-Israel. This outreach effort by Sestak was designed to respond directly to those attempts.

Sestak was invited to appear in Lower Merion by the Orthodox Union, an organization best known for its kashrut supervision and youth movement, but which also provides forums where candidates speak on issues of importance to the Orthodox Jewish Community. The forum was held in the home of Joel and Irene Glickman.

Morrie Litwack, Deputy Director of Orthodox Union; Rep. Joe Sestak (D PA-7); and Howie Beigelman, Deputy Director of Orthodox Union. (Photo: Bonnie Squires)

Sestak was introduced by State Senator Daylin Leach, who had just returned from his own trip to Israel. He told the crowd that after donning tefilin at the Western Wall, Israel was the most important issue to him, and he would never support a candidate without being confident of that candidate’s strong support for Israel. He praised Sestak’s support for Israel through his votes and advocacy in Congress, and through his actions in defense of Israel on six different occasions during his 31-year Naval career.

Sestak spoke passionately of his experience. He spent Hannukah with Israel’s Chief of Naval Operations when Israel was being denied American-made littoral combat ships. Sestak successively lobbied Washington to give Israel this important defense system. Sestak oversaw the first joint military maneuvers between Israel and an Arab nation (Turkey).

The first vacation he was given from the Navy was a two-week leave which he spent in Israel. He still cherishes the “Never Again Masada” t-shirt he acquired at that occasion.

In 2003, Sestak commanded a carrier battle group in the Mediterranean Sea. When war with Iraq broke out, Sestak stationed one of his Aegis cruisers off the coast of Israel and integrated its radar system into Israel’s air defense system before moving the rest of his fleet to the Gulf.

Sestak also took credit for switching plans for a U.S. and European missle defense system based in Poland and the Ukraine to one based on Aegis cruisers. The Aegis system is cheaper, will be online by 2011, and would be able to protect Isreal whereas the land-based system would not be able to protect Israel and would not be functional at all until 2017.

Tom Wiener, Joe Sestak, Felice Wiener, and host Irene Glickman at the meeting with Senate candidate Sestak convened by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (Photo: Bonnie Squires)

Sestak then took questions from the all of the participants. One participant questioned Sestak’s voting record. Sestak replied that he has a 100% pro-Israel voting record, whereas his opponent Pat Toomey voted against funding for Israel on seven different occasions and refused to sign a Congressional letter calling for the PLO to be defunded if they did not implement the Oslo Accords.

Sestak was incensed by political attacks claiming that he was “raising funds for terrorism” when he spoke at CAIR in 2007. Sestak was the head of the Navy’s anti-Terrorism unit after 9/11, and some of his friends were killed when the Pentagon was attacked. Indeed, the message he delivered to CAIR was that “it is our just duty to condemn not just terrorism but also the specific acts, and specific individuals and groups by name associated with those acts, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice asked when he thought Iran would get a nuclear weapon and what the United States and Israel should do about it. Sestak said that he has been well briefed on this subject through his career in the military, and his position on the Armed Services Committee, and he believed that Iran was still a couple of years away from a nuclear weapon.

Sestak was adamant that a nuclear armed Iran was unacceptable. Not only would it pose an existential threat to Israel, but it would be in a position to blackmail all of the countries in the region. Saudia Arabia would want a weapon of its own leading to a regional nuclear arms race.

Sestak said “the military option should remain on the table, but on the far side of the table.” He was skeptical of our ability to eliminate weapon systems buried deep underground. Perhaps we would only be able to close the doors to the bunker for a while merely delaying the deployment of Iran’s nuclear missles. He criticized former President George W. Bush who left all the diplomatic work in the hands of the European Union, saying that our enemies do not take overtures seriously if the United States is not fully on-board.

Sestak sees himself as a leader in the spirit of Sam Nunn (D-GA). “It is pretty easy to send kids into harm’s way when you have no experience with war. My experience comes from 31 years in the military.” Rising to the rank of 3-star Admiral, Sestak is the highest ranking military officer in Congress.

Through his career he visited over eighty countries and found America was “respected for our power, and admired for our principles”. He is a firm believer in Engagement, saying that “we accomplish nothing by not talking to our enemies”. As proof that he does not only speak with people he agrees with, he mentioned that he would soon be appearing for the eighth time on Fox News with Sean Hannity.  

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Campaigns for Dr. Manan Trivedi

Dr. Manan Trivedi, Congressional candidate for the 6th district; Bonnie Squires, board member of Philadelphia Jewish Voice; and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Bonnie Squires

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz  appeared on behalf of Dr. Manan Trivedi at a morning fundraiser in Merion at the new Town Hall Coffee Company coffee shop.  Wasserman Schultz said that she was there because she and the Democraitc Congressional Campaign Comittee believe that Trivedi can topple Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach in the November election.  Wasserman focused on the need to create jobs and support President Obama’s initiatives, something that her Republican colleagues have refused to do.

The Congresswoman and Lower Merion Democratic and Narberth Democratic Committee co-Chairs Jill Stein and Bill Leopold all turned to their Yiddish roots in search of a suitable words to express their praise for Dr. Manan Trivedi. Wasserman-Schultz recounted how Trivedi proved he was a real mensch when they first met at a Washington DC reception, and Trivedi used his skills as a physician and battalion medical commander to fix up her daughter’s injured foot before introducing himself to her as the candidate here in the 6th district.

She said she looks forward to being our Congresswoman when we retire to her Florida district twenty years from now. In the meantime, she looks forward to saying Mazel Tov to Trivedi on November 3 when he is elected our next Congressman.

Bill Leopold’s eloquent introduction follows the jump.

Dr. Manan Trivedi, Congressional candidate; Bill Leoold, co-chair of the Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee; Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Joanne Fischer; and Jill Stein, co-chair Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee, at the Trivedi fundraiser at the Town Hall Coffee Company.

Bill Leopold:

I want to provide a little bit of local history today, about what has happened since
Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District was gerrimandered by the Republicans in Harrisburg into the bizarre district it still is today. Even the Wikopedia still describes it as being in the shape of a pterodactyl!

In 2002, Dan Wofford ran against Jim Gerlach in a district fashioned specifically for Gerlach… and lost by the incredibly thin margin of 51.4 to 48.6 %. Lois Murphy then lost by two percent in 2004, and by only 1.2% in 2006, and Bob Roggio had a competitive race in 2006.

Now we come to 2010. Debbie Wasserman Shultz is here to support Dr. Manan Trivedi in his race. Like Dr Trivedi, she is a passionate advocate for health care. Her Awareness Requires Learning Young Act was included in the Affordable Healthcare Act for America signed in March 2010. It encourages national education about breast cancer. She was instrumental in passage of the Protect our Children Act, and in passage of the Virginia Graeme Pool & Spa Safety Act, to combat childhood drowning. Also like Manan, she is passionate about providing all needed resources for first responders and for our men and women in uniform.

Dr. Manan Trivedi listens as Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz discusses issues.

And now, as I introduce Manan, I get the right to embarrass him by a few personal words. Manan is personable and friendly while also also being firm and resolute. He is very sharp on all the issues but is actually able to speak in simple English sentences. He has served our country in uniform and learned valuable lessons from the experience. He is a physician and healer, who wants to use his knowledge to improve the system of care as we go forward with implementation of health care reform.

Finally, Manan, I want to provide you with education about a Yiddish word. The

word is mensch. It means “a nice guy,” and also means a person of integrity and honor. Quoting the great sage Leo Rosten in his book The Joys of Yiddish, the word means you are “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character, someone with character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Manan Trivedi…a real mensch.

Sen. Bob Casey Reports on Middle East Trip

Bonnie Squires

Senator Robert Casey held a conference call Tuesday, July 13 to report on his recent nine-day trip to the Middle East.  Casey said that he held 56 meetings in nine days, meeting with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the West Bank.
In Saudi Arabia, he delivered the message that one of the best things the Saudis can do for the peace process is to make their payments promised to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Casey said that at this time last year the Saudis had given $200 million.  This year, they have only given $15 million. Casey said he urged them to make the payments to the PA.  

There are positive developments in the West Bank because of Saudi Prime Minister Fayad who has worked hard to build the economy.  If the PA can’t make payroll, it will injure their ability to continue momentum and progress.  The Saudis can be a huge help on that.

Casey said he had some good briefings about Saudi efforts to stamp out terrorism.  He recalled that about 7 years ago the Saudis had a horrific experience with terrorism.  They asserted they have dismissed 2000 imams involved with extremism.

The next visit was to Kuwait where Casey met with the Foreign Minister.  The Senator raised the issue of the American hikers being held hostage by Iran, asking Kuwait to make sure this was on the table when they have dialogue with Iran.

Casey spent the Fourth of July in an American military camp in Kuwait, and he saw how complicated it is for our troops to move vehicles and supplies to Iraq.

As for Iraq – what will happen to their government? Casey commented that the vote was so close that they have to reach an accommodation.  He saw some good indicators that they recognize they have to come together.  Vice President Biden met with Casey and his delegation, saying the same thing.

Casey raised the hikers issue when he met with Iraqi leaders, asking them to keep this issue on the table when speaking with the Iranian regime.

As for Israel and the West Bank, Casey commented that the peace process has been the subject of intense discussion in the last week to ten days. He sees positive momentum, even in the aftermath of the controversy regarding the flotilla incident.  He observed that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu had a good meeting in Washington, DC while the Senator was in Israel. He reiterated his commitment to the two-state solution.  

Casey said he spent some time on border issues, and he praised the 7% economic growth in 2009 in the West Bank, crediting Prime Minister Fayad for the growth. In Ramallah, he said, it is visually evident that the economy is more vibrant, more successful.  The Prime Minister spoke about almost 1500 entities which had received $150,000 grants – mini economic development packages, all the more reason why the Saudis – and any other country that has not paid its pledge – should pay up and fulfill their commitment. America has fulfilled its obligation, he added.

In Lebanon – until recently, a country  paralyzed by the terror campaign of Hezbollah – Casey chaired a hearing on the threat posed by Hezbollah.  Government officials there are afraid to speak out because of threats by Hezbollah.

Recently, Lebanon has been able to build up the Lebanese armed forces because of American assistance.  Casey said that the American people have paid for training of thousands of police in Lebanon and also helped with education and economic development. Lebanon has a smaller population than Massacusetts.

Casey said his visit of Egypt went well. The Egyptians are very grateful for the billions of dollars America has provided. They spoke of cracking down on smuggling on the Gaza border, mentioned helping the PA to help them build up their economy. Casey raised the question of Egypt’s human rights problems. Casey praised our  close relationship with this country which has a strong presence in the Arab world.

I asked Senator Casey whom he met with in Israel, and whether he Israeli officials or the general public was suspicious of President Obama’s level of his commitment to Israel. Senator Casey replied that he had met with Israeli leaders Ehud Barak, Mrs. Livni (the head of the Kadimah Party), and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, whom he has known for years.  

Casey said that Israeli leaders appreciate President Obamas’ commitment to move the peace process forward. In the very first hours of his presidency, he called leaders in the Middle East.

“I think the record is very clear when it comes to the basic and most important issue. For Israel, it’s the country’s security.  The administration is putting dollars on the table helping with missile defense, to put the dollars in place to make sure people of Israel are safe and secure.  Couple the military assistance plus constant focus on the peace process and assigning George Mitchell to do this full time, add Secretary of State Clinton, Vice President Biden, the whole team, and I don’t think more could be done.”