Jewish American Heritage Month Reception at White House

President Barack Obama hosted the annual Jewish American Heritage Month celebration at the White House to honor and celebrate the Jewish community’s contributions to America. Obama welcomed everyone to the celebration by remarking upon the Jewish community’s long and important history of civic involvement. 400 Jewish leaders from across the nation attended. A partial guest list follows the jump below.

Remarks by President Barack Obama
White House, East Room, May 30, 2012

This year, we celebrate Jewish Heritage Month — Jewish American Heritage Month, and we’re also commemorating an important anniversary.  One hundred-fifty years ago, General Ulysses Grant issued an order — known as General Orders Number 11 — that would have expelled Jews, “as a class,” from what was then known as the military department of the Tennessee.  It was wrong.  Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly strain of thought.

But what happened next could have only taken place in America. Groups of American Jews protested General Grant’s decision.  A Jewish merchant from Kentucky traveled here, to the White House, and met with President Lincoln in person.  After their meeting, President Lincoln revoked the order — one more reason why we like President Lincoln.  (Laughter and applause.)

And to General Grant’s credit, he recognized that he had made a serious mistake.  So later in his life, he apologized for this order, and as President, he went out of his way to appoint Jews to public office and to condemn the persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe.

Today, we have a few documents on display — maybe some of you saw them when you walked in.  There are two letters of protest from Jewish organizations to President Lincoln.  There is President Lincoln’s handwritten reply, saying that he had taken action.  And there is a receipt for the donation that President Grant made to the Adas Israel Synagogue here in Washington, when he attended a service there in 1876.

So together, these papers tell a story, a fundamentally American story.  Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the American dream.  But this country holds a special promise:  that if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and in the values we share, then our wrongs can be made right; our union can be made more perfect and our world can be repaired.

Today, it’s our turn, our generation’s turn.  And you guys, your generation’s turn.  You’re younger than us.  (Laughter.)  We got some later generations here in the front.  We’re the ones who have to stand up for our shared values.   Here at home, we have to rebuild an America where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

Beyond our borders, we have to stand alongside our friends who share our commitment to freedom and democracy and universal rights; and that includes, of course, our unwavering commitment to the State of Israel and its security and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace.  (Applause.)

It’s no secret that we’ve got a lot of work to do.  But as your traditions teach us, while we are not obligated to finish the work, neither are we free to desist from that work.

So today, we don’t just celebrate all that American Jews have done for our country; we also look toward the future.  And as we do, I know that those of you in this room, but folks all across this country will continue to help perfect our union; and for that, I am extraordinarily grateful.

God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

Guest list follows the jump.
More after the jump.
Partial Guest List

  • Rabbi Andrea Merow of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park
  • Rabbi Eric Yanoff of Adath Israel in Merion Station
  • Rabbi David Ackerman of Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley
  • Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)
  • NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley
  • NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris
  • Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren
  • Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
  • Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
  • Representative Howard Berman (D-CA)
  • Representative David Cicilline (D-RI)
  • Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)
  • Representative Susan Davis (D-CA)
  • Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL)
  • Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY)
  • Representative Sander Levin (D-MI)
  • Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY)
  • Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
  • Representative Jarrod Polis (D-CO)
  • Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA)
  • Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA)

Academy of Music 155th Anniversary Concert and Ball

Major movers and shakers in Philadelphia’s economy were among the 1500 supporters at Saturday night’s 155th Anniversary Academy of Music Concert and Ball, including (left to right) Ron and Rachelle Kaiserman, Robert and Caroline Zuritsky, and Renee and Joe Zuritsky.

— by Bonnie Squires

Philadelphia’s premier white-tie event took place at the historic Academy of Music, preceded by receptions and dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 155th Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball featured the debut on the Academy of Music stage of. Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin , with special guests multiple Grammy Award®-winners singer/pianist Diana Krall and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Tipping its hat once again to the first Academy concert, the program was a mix of popular and classical music, just as the 1857 opening concert was.

Jazz performer Krall surprised the audience by calling back on stage her friend and collaborator, Yo-Yo Ma, to the delight of everyone.

More after the jump.

Terese Casey, wife of Senator Bob Casey, and Felice Wiener

Yannick also had the Philadanco dancers, reflecting the rainbow of colores which lit the stage and columns of the Academy, perform to the strains of the orchestra.  A surprise finish was the appearance of the Society Hill Dancers, dressed in formal attire of the 1850s, doing a waltz.

The Jewish community was among 1500 supporters of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Academy of Music, an historic monument to music, opera and dance. The Gala evening began with a pre-concert dinner. Guests could choose from two exciting offerings this year: the President’s Cocktail Party and Dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, or a Dine Around option, which allows patrons to dine at selected restaurants along the Avenue of the Arts, or on their own. In a nod to the Academy’s early years, and in a unique departure from recent history, both the Anniversary Concert and the Academy Ball were held entirely within the Academy of Music. A “symphony in three movements,” this unique evening gave attendees the chance to celebrate the “Grand Old Lady of Locust Street” within her very walls.

Public officials attending the evening included Governor and Mrs. Tom Corbett, Senator and Mrs. Bob Casey, a number of city and state officials, and corporate, cultural, arts organizations and philanthropic foundation leaders.

Christina and John Saler

The gala was co-chaired by Joanna McNeil Lewis, president and CEO of the Academy of Music,  and John R. Saler, chairman of Stradley and Ronon’s Government Affairs Practice Group, who also serves on the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Corbetts greet Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with Joanna McNeil Lewis and John Saler, co-chairs of the Academy of Music Concert and Ball, in the background.

In the receiving line with the co-chairs and the Corbetts were Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra board of trustees, and Allison Vulgamore, CEO of the Orchestra.

The energy of Yannick, the Orchestra, the guest artists and the dancers enthralled the audience.  And the impressive program journal, reflecting the support of various segments of the community, was the parting gift as people finally left the Academy balls, held in various sections of the Grand Old Lady of Broad Street.

Photos credit: Bonnie Squires.

More photos
David and Susan Lipson Ken and Nancy Davis Ron and Marcia RubinHelen and David Pudlin, Esq.
Sandy and David Marshall, with Dianne and Jeff Rotwitt Scott and Lynne Mason with friends Pat and Rob Schaffer Harmelin Group

Upset Victory By Kathy Hochul in NY-26 Special Election

Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul arrives at a campaign stop at a restaurant in Amherst, N.Y., on Tuesday, before her upset win.— by Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris, NJDC

Throughout the campaign, Representative- Elect Hochul showed Jewish families in Western New York that she was the only candidate in the race committed to protecting Medicare and Medicaid; two programs that have been under attack by Republicans in Congress and are relied upon by many elderly Jews for their medical care.

Rep.-Elect Hochul will be a strong defender of social programs that Jewish voters in Western New York rely on for their medical care. She has shown without a shadow of a doubt, that she will stand up to Speaker Boehner and stand for the people of Western New York. We are delighted to have such a wonderful advocate representing Western New York Jewish families in Congress.

The National Jewish Democratic Council contacted Jewish Households over the past week in an effort to get out the vote. Since Thursday, nearly 10,000 Jewish voters in Western New York were called to remind them of the special election that took place today. The Associated Press called the race with Kathy Hochul beating opponents Republican Jane Corwin and Green Party Candidate Ian Murphy and Independent, Tea Party backed candidate Jack Davis with 48% of the vote.  

Just Get Dressed!

or How To Get Out Of The House In The Morning On Time And With Your Sanity Intact

— by Brandi Davis

It is 7 am. Your hair is wet, you are half shaven, the coffee has yet to kick in, and the adorable
little angel that you tucked in last night has transformed into a demanding, tearful, screaming, tantrum machine, all because you asked them to get dressed. They loved that outfit last week, but it becomes abundantly clear as it flies across the room that it is a favorite no more. An activity that should take 15 minutes has turned into a wet haired, pressure rising, yelling, hour and a half long struggle. Your child ends up being late to school and you, late to work. Your day is shot, but what is even worse is that today was not the first time that your morning has begun this way. This scene is now playing out all of the time. And about what?


More after the jump.
Ok, it is time to cool down, step back, and take a look at what is going on. As it has been said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It is O.K. though. It happens to the best of us. We all find ourselves in a rut from time to time. Repeating the same action over and over and not knowing how to change our situation, but now it is time to turn a rut into a learning experience. A time to try something new. Here are some tips that may help you on your journey to a new, more enjoyable, morning adventure.

Your child has a need to feel in control of their lives.

By letting them control some of the smaller decisions in their lives, you will find the choice decisions being left to you.

Children enjoy expressing themselves with their clothing.

Oh, and yes I am talking about your 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11 year old. Is it really THAT big a deal if they think green stripes go with purple polka dots? The respect that you are giving them by letting them express themselves will be a strong foundation in the building of their sense of self and confidence.

You can give your child choices but still keep them weather appropriate.

Make seasonal drawers so that in the winter your child can only pick clothes from the “winter” drawers and they do not try to walk out of the door in a skirt and a tank top. Oh trust me; they will try to do that.

Here is a fun ditty that will help keep your kids focused and on track.

At night tell your child to “pick out your clothes from their head to your toes.” This way your child will know what to expect in the morning. They will know that what is out to wear was their choosing. (And I am not kidding. Have your child pick out clothes all the way down to socks and shoes or there will be a battle over that in the morning.)

Most important of all is recognizing that your parenting skills are not reflected by your child’s
clothes matching, but instead, they are reflected by the skills and sense of self with which you send them off into the world. Watch as your child walks out of the house or into their classroom wearing brown sweatpants and a red and yellow sweater, or black pants and black shirt and black spiked hair and think to yourself, “I am a great parent!” Oh feel free to allow yourself a little giggle when they are out of sight. I mean really. They are wearing brown sweatpants with a red and yellow sweater. What a great story for the office!

Brandi Davis’s book Ok, I’m a Parent Now What will appear on May 1.