Obama Takes Action On Gun Violence

Obama announced a package of Executive Actions aimed at fighting gun violence by strengthening and expanding the background check system to cover more sales, ensuring the the system has good records, and implementing new regulations and procedures to curtail trafficking and the illegal gun trade.

Complete transcript follows the video below.
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Woman One Honors Philanthropist Lynne Honickman

This year's Woman One award-winner is the philanthropist and crusader Lynne Honickman.

Lynn Yeakel, director of Drexel’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership; Lynne Honickman, and Dr. Daniel Schidlow, Dean of the Drexel College of Medicine.

For the thirteenth year, Drexel University’s College of Medicine’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership bestowed its Woman One award on a community leader recently at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia. This year’s Woman One award-winner is the philanthropist and crusader Lynne Honickman, who, with her husband Harold Honickman and The Honickman Foundation and its affiliate, The Honickman Charitable Trust, are dedicated to supporting projects that promote the arts, education, health, social change and heritage. Lynne Honickman was recognized for her dedication to Project H.O.M.E. and its Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Labs; for her founding of Moms Against Guns and her merger with CeaseFire PA, working to end violence; for her dedication to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including the Honickman Photography Gallery, and myriad other projects supported by Lynne and her foundation.

Dianne Semingson, Laurada Byers, Stephanie Naidoff and (seated) Suzanne Roberts. photo by Bonnie Squires

Several of the former Woman One award-winners were present to welcome Lynne Honickman to their ranks. Seen here are Dianne Semingson, Laurada Byers, Stephanie Naidoff and (seated) Suzanne Roberts.

The annual reception and award ceremony raises funds for scholarships for women medical school students.

Lynn Yeakel, director of Drexel’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership, announced that $500,000 had been raised for the scholarship fund at this Woman One event. Among the beneficiaries of Honickman’s expertise and generosity who spoke about her amazing efforts were Dr. Daniel Schidlow, Dean of the Drexel College of Medicine; Sister Mary Scullion, founder of Project H.O.M.E., and Shira Goodman,executive director of CeaseFire PA.

A number of medical school women students were presented, all of whom receive scholarships through the Woman One program.

All photos by Bonnie Squires.

Adele Schaeffer and Carol Fitzgerald

Attending the Woman One award ceremony in support of their friend and honoree Lynne Honickman were Adele Schaeffer and Carol Fitzgerald.

The Honorable Constance Williams and Judge Marjorie O. Rendell  know how important is Lynne Honickman's support for the arts in the region.

The Honorable Constance Williams and Judge Marjorie O. Rendell know how important is Lynne Honickman’s support for the arts in the region.

David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, and his wife Rhonda.

David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, and his wife Rhonda were among the attendees.

Steve Shller, Esq., and his wife Sandy Shellter, and Renee and Joe Zuritsky.

Among those gathered to congratulate Mrs. Honickman were Steve Sheller, Esq., and his wife Sandy Sheller, and Renee and Joe Zuritsky.

Margie Honickman and Lisa Vetri Furman

Margie Honickman and Lisa Vetri Furman.

 Dean Schidlow congratulates Lynne Honickman and her husband Harold Honickman.

Dean Schidlow congratulates Lynne Honickman and her husband Harold Honickman.

A Tale of Two Pro-Gun Bills

The House Judiciary Committee tabled Republican Rep. Krieger’s bill (HB 921) to eliminate Pennsylvania’s background check system for gun purchasing and leave a less comprehensive system behind. Shira Goodman of CeaseFirePA credited the deluge of calls, letters and visits they organized with thwarting this bill.

However, Rep. M. K. Keller’s bill (HB 2011) giving special legal standing to gun owners and organizations of gun owners to sue towns and cities was passed out of the committee. Nevertheless, Ms. Goodman vowed that CeaseFirePA would continue its work to defeat HB 2011 as it moves to the floor of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly:

And you know what our callers heard repeatedly yesterday — for the first time, the contacts from folks on our side of the issue — the side of gun violence prevention and safety — were far outnumbering the calls from the other side.  That passion gap we always hear about — destroyed!

An average of 100,000 people are shot each year in the United States. Now is not the time to rally for weaker background check laws. Now is the time to fight for stronger gun laws that help prevent violence and promote responsible firearm ownership.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America combined forces to create the video “Scenes from Everytown: 4:08 pm” as part of their “Everytown for Gun Safety” series highlighting key gun violence issues.

From Frustration to Inspiration: Events Against Gun Violence in Pa.

— by Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA

Two weeks ago, two teenagers were shot at the Delaware Valley Charter High School in Philadelphia. On the same day’s night, two gun murders occurred in Southwest Philadelphia, blocks and minutes apart.

And you may not have even heard about those incidents, because as a society, we are becoming numb. It is just “more of the same.” But for the victims and their loved ones, this is far from normal, acceptable or routine.

Three days later, I had the honor of joining City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and more than 100 residents of Southwest Philadelphia in a march against gun violence between the sites of the two murders.

As we took back those streets and, in the words of one of the pastors who addressed the crowd, “made the ground and atmosphere holy with our lives and will to live,” I was inspired.  

Even the mothers of the two most recent victims came to stand with their neighbors and proclaim that “enough is enough.” Their strength and the determination of their neighbors is shared by people all over Pennsylvania. In Pittsburgh, a similar rally was held two days earlier to call for justice for a baby who was shot late last spring.  

More after the jump.
The recurring incidents must not dampen our resolve. We are right to keep fighting, especially to keep guns off our college and school campuses.

We are on the right path, and we will succeed.

See more US News from ABC|ABC World News

Boycott Divestment Summer Camp

— by Alana Goodman

Reprinted with permission from The Washington Free Beacon

Anti-Israel college students will trek to a scenic campsite in upstate New York this summer to learn how to launch campus boycotts against the Jewish state at a program subsidized and run by one of America’s largest Quaker faith groups.

The American Friends Service Committee “We Divest Campaign Student Leadership Team Summer Training Institute” describes itself as a “five (5) day intensive program for campus [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] organizers-those with campaigns already running and those hoping to get one launched in the 2013-2014 school year.”

More after the jump.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was officially launched by a network of pro-Palestinian groups in 2005 and seeks to use economic and cultural boycotts to isolate Israel, force the government’s hand on Palestinian negotiations, and evoke comparisons between the Jewish state and South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

Students attending the AFSC’s Summer Training Institute, which is also sponsored by the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace, will participate in “anti-oppression analysis workshops,” “non-violent direct action planning,” and “strategy sessions with BDS movement leaders,” according to the AFSC website.

The program runs from July 28 to Aug. 1 and promises “fun in a summer camp-like environment!” The cost of room and board is subsidized by the AFSC and the JVP, according to the website.

An AFSC official said the number of attendees for this year is not yet finalized and said the 2013 program will focus on “call[ing] attention to what is happening in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories while supporting a just and lasting peace that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Pro-Israel groups have vehemently opposed the BDS movement, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center released a report that said the campaign was driven by anti-Jewish sentiment in March.

“It doesn’t help a single Palestinian. It doesn’t improve the quality of life for Palestinians. It is simply anti-Israel,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Abraham Cooper told the Washington Free Beacon. “Unfortunately, the community of the people associated with this particular church have embraced [the BDS campaign] completely, so much so that they are using up whatever moral capital they have to do training for an immoral, hypocritical, and anti-Semitic undertaking.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center report said the BDS program meets Natan Sharansky’s “three D’s” test for anti-Semitism: It follows “double-standards” by criticizing Israel while overlooking human rights abuses across the Arab world; “demonizes” Israel by comparing its actions to those of Apartheid regimes; and attempts to “delegitimize” the Jewish state by targeting its existence.

Cooper said students attend these events “thinking their actions are doing the equivalent of the folks that [participated in] the Montgomery Bus Boycott, or following the route of Martin Luther King Jr.-complete and utter nonsense.”

“What a shame, for young people, who are highly motivated that want to do something good in the world,” he added.

The AFSC’s Michael Merryman-Lotze, who helped organize the summer program, objected to the argument that the BDS campaign is anti-Semitic.

“We see nothing inherently anti-Semitic in the use of these proven nonviolent tactics nor in the BDS movement as a whole,” said Merryman-Lotze. “Are BDS opponents next going to argue that these same tactics were anti-White in the Jim Crow south and apartheid era South Africa?”

Merryman-Lotze also disputed claims from critics that the campaign has been ineffective.

“Why, if BDS is ineffective and largely a failure, have the Israeli government and groups like the ADL, the Wiesenthal Center, and AIPAC invested millions of dollars in developing campaigns to counter minimally funded grassroots BDS activism?” said Merryman-Lotze. “If our efforts are ineffective, why write a story about our planned training program? The answer is that BDS is effective and successful.”

While the BDS campaign has gained traction on college campuses and won support from some high-profile names such as Elvis Costello and Stephen Hawking, it has failed to have an impact on the Israeli economy or influence policy.

Israel’s tech industry in particular continues to boom, with Google purchasing Israeli company Waze for $1 billion on Tuesday.

“Culturally-just this week-two enormous, international sporting events were held in Israel,” one D.C. Jewish organization official told the Free Beacon. “Economically, the world’s largest tech companies are rushing to invest there. Politically, Israel stands out more than ever as the only stable Western ally left in the entire Middle East.”

The BDS movement’s failure to meet its objectives suggests that efforts to fund and support the campaign are aimed at opposing the Jewish state rather than achieving any legitimate policy goal, according to pro-Israel advocates.

According to the D.C. Jewish organization official.

“You’ve really got to ask yourself where boycott advocates keep getting the energy, given that efforts to economically and culturally isolate Israel have been an utter failure. Let’s pretend that boycotters succeed in getting everyone to stop buying Israeli hummus, which is something they actually think is important. If they keep that up for a few thousand years, it will almost offset this week’s billion-dollar acquisition of Waze by Google. No company in its right mind is ever going to boycott a country that’s been nicknamed ‘Start-Up Nation.'”

CeaseFirePA Executive Director Speaks to JSPAN Board

Last September, Sami Rahamim’s father was killed in a mass shooting in Minneapolis. Now, he’s doing everything he can to reduce gun violence and keep our communities safer.

He’s hoping his story will help inspire action from Congress — and from people like you.

Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, addressed the JSPAN Board of Directors at its February monthly meeting.

JSPAN Vice President Burt Siegel, who also chairs the organization’s Gun Control Policy Center, introduced the guest speaker. JSPAN is currently working in coalition with CeaseFirePA and other organizations to press our legislators to adopt better gun controls.

Goodman, an attorney, assumed the position of CeaseFirePA Executive Director in October 2012, after serving for three years as Deputy Director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. During his introduction, Siegel referred to a recent piece in The Jewish Daily Forward reporting that the National Rifle Association had compiled a list of its “enemies,” and that the list “reads like a Jewish Who’s Who” and included individuals, organizations, media outlets and corporations that have provided support to anti-gun organizations, including the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith and Hadassah.

More after the jump.
Goodman began her presentation with a brief overview of CeaseFirePA’s mission, but quickly focused on immediate policy prescriptions including what’s “doable.” She stressed the importance of contacting representatives at both state and federal levels. Goodman reported that Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane had recently announced that she had successfully negotiated and signed an agreement with the state of Florida to close the “Florida loophole,” which has allowed Pennsylvania gun owners to obtain nonresident permits from Florida to carry a concealed weapon in Pennsylvania.

Goodman also told the Board how important it is that the background check system for buying guns be improved. She stated that Pennsylvania is ahead of the curve in this regard because it is now sharing the names of people with a history of mental illness with the national background-check system that would prevent them from purchasing guns. However, she also noted that the state has failed to participate fully in the national background-check system. Goodman stated that it should also be mandatory that all lost and stolen guns be reported and that CeaseFirePA had been advocating for the passage of state legislation on lost-and-stolen guns for several years.

Goodman said that several pieces of legislation intended to reduce gun violence will be introduced shortly both in Washington and Harrisburg and that she would make sure that JSPAN is kept informed about these developments. She reminded the board that the vast majority of Americans support background checks and ways to limit easy access to firearms, and that it is important that JSPAN and other organizations as well as individuals tell elected officials to take steps to reduce gun violence.  

National Sabbath To Stop The Gun Violence

— Susan Myers

The shootings in Newtown, CT, have horrified our senses with the tragedy of loss, and highlighted for us the ongoing toll that gun violence takes daily on our American cities. This Shabbat in Adath Jeshurun (7763 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA) is dedicated to understanding the current situation, considering how guns can be kept “out of the wrong hands while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” and considering how we can work together to reduce the toll of gun violence in our society.

Rabbi Rosenbloom has invited as our Guest Speaker Shira Goodman. A lifelong member of Adath Jeshurun, Goodman is the Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, a coalition of citizens, mayors, police chiefs, faith leaders and community organizations taking a stand against gun violence in Pennsylvania. Shira has had a long career as a lawyer and public policy advocate, including ten years as Deputy Director of a statewide court reform organization and five years as a labor lawyer. CeaseFirePA focuses on common sense regulations to keep legal guns from becoming illegal guns that ultimately are used in crimes and empowering Pennsylvanians to take a stand against gun violence in their communities, in the courtroom, in the legislature and at the ballot box.

The event is sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. Join the conversation about how to make our society safer, and prevent gun violence from plaguing our society. Services begin at 9:30 AM (Parashat Sh’mot).

Two Fabulous Films About Kibbutzim and Refugees

— by Hannah Lee

The Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Short Topic for 2010, Strangers No More, was shown on January 30th as part of the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival as well as the 2011 documentary,  Inventing Our Lives: The Kibbutz Experiment, at the Prince Music Theatre.

More after the jump.
Inventing Our Lives: The Kibbutz Experiment, is Toby Perl Freilich’s 79-minute new film, which explores “the longest experiment in collective living,” says presenter Dr. Ranen Omer-Sherman, Professor of English and Jewish Studies of the University of Miami, and the “final word on the kibbutz movement has not been said.”  Freilich’s film intersperses interviews with the three generations of kibbutzniks (kibbutz residents) with actual footage from the time.

At its peak, the kibbutz movement only comprised 5% of the population in Israel, but its influence has been far-reaching, with its radical proposals for change in social organization– parenting even, as children were raised in separate children’s quarters– and economic cooperation.  It was said in the film that Israel’s defense forces and Knesset (parliamentary government) have both been affected, with many of its leaders coming out of the kibbutz movement.  Indeed, the current consul general of Israel for the Mid-Atlantic region, Daniel Kutner, hails from Kibbutz Ein Shemer where his family landed when they first arrived to Israel.

Philosopher Avishai Margolit of Hebrew University was quoted in the film calling the kibbutz movement “a children’s crusade,” because the pioneers were young men and women who’d moved to the barren land that was Israel before the intensive efforts at re-forestation and drying out the swamps.  They worked without older adult supervision and they taught themselves– many with an urban upbringing– how to work the land.  In the film, a first-generation kibbutznik called her peers “children of nature.”

The population in Israel in 1948 was 600,000 and four years later, the population tripled, mostly from the influx of immigrants from Islamic countries.  Alas, according to one person interviewed in the film, a major tragedy for the kibbutzim was that they did not try to integrate the newer immigrants.

The golden period was of the second-generation, who enjoyed the rewards of their pioneer parents– the kibbutzim now had running water and some even had swimming pools– while still proud that they were the heroes of a new country.  Then, two outside forces greatly stressed the movement:  In 1977, Begin’s Likud party of Oriental Jews gained power and rejected Labor’s Zionist ideals.  And during the 1970’s, inflation rose to 400%, and many kibbutzim could not survive the economic pressures.   The youth left and the remaining kibbutzniks were demoralized.  

At the Prince Music Theatre, Professor Omer-Sherman noted that two groups that have faced re-identification in modern times are the Negev Bedouin and the kibbutzim members.   Many kibbutzim experimented with privatization to lure new investments and new members.  Now only 1% of the remaining 270 kibbutzim are still purely socialistic and egalitarian.  Kibbutz Ein Shemer voted three times to reject a differential income plan; it passed on fourth try.  Kibbutz Tamuz in Beit Shemesh is an urban kibbutz—  another variation for bringing the original values to a contemporary society.

>Strangers No More is the 40-minute long documentary directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon about the remarkable Bialik-Rogozin School in central Tel Aviv where students hail from 48 countries.  This public school, encompassing  Kindergarten through 12th grades, and in addition to the local citizens (mostly from the lowest socioeconomic sectors of Israeli society), it welcomes the children of migrant and refugee families, with and without legal status.  Professor Omer-Sherman noted while Jews have long had the Biblical tradition of welcoming the stranger; for the first time, Israel has the opportunity to do so and it’s finally with the power to help others.  But, does it have the will?

The staff and faculty of the Bialik-Rogozin School are shown as generous, patient, and kind, even visiting parents in their home when they cannot meet them at school for the regular student evaluations.  Principal Karen Tal (and now superintendent) extended her school’s hours from 7 am to 7 pm, when she realized that her parents worked way beyond the average work day, because  “We want to be like a home, and a home doesn’t close at 1 in the afternoon.

The film highlights one school year for three new students: 16-year-old Mohammed from Darfur who came to the school after witnessing the killing of both his grandmother and father; 12-year-old Johannes from Ethiopia and a Sudan refugee camp who had never attended school before entering Bialik-Rogozin; and Esther from South Africa who’d also witnessed her mother’s murder.   Mohammed is an orphan who has to work to support himself, but he is so determined to succeed that he “made up four years [of study] in one year.”  He wants to return to his own country and start a school modeled after the Bialik-Rogozin.  Johannes is struggling with the language and formal study until the school fits him for prescription glasses and he can finally see the teachers’ writing.  In just a few months, he is able to translate for a new boy in his native Tigrit.  In another poignant– and ironic  moment– Esther tells about her prized souvenir from her mother, a jewelry box for which “she must have paid a fortune” and the camera pans to show her layered plastic box.

The film does not detail the way that Tal financed her school, in order to provide her needy students with hot lunches, school books, and extracurricular enrichment (some lucky few get bicylces), but she reached out beyond Tel Aviv and Israel and has received financial assistance from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (in cooperation with the Chais Family Foundation and the Rashi Foundation) and a committee that included support from high-tech companies and business leaders.

Afterwards, Professor Omer-Sherman reported on recent developments after the movie was released.  On the day the film won its Oscar, Esther’s family was threatened with deportation.  Last month, the Knesset approved “harsh new penalties on illegal migrants, a measure aimed at stopping the flow of African asylum seekers and economic migrants across Israel’s southern border with the Egyptian Sinai.  The amendment, to the existing Law to Prevent Infiltration, makes it possible to detain illegal migrants and their children for up to three years without a trial. Anyone caught aiding illegal migrants found to be carrying weapons, or trafficking in humans or drugs, could face prison terms of 5 to 15 years.” [10 January 2012, New York Times]  One angry audience member denounced this amendment and suggested diverting the money needed to enforce such measures to funding more schools like the Bialik-Rogozin , so that these children of circumstances beyond their control can become productive citizens and even serve in the Army.  Consul General Kutner rebutted this view, saying that Israel has become a magnet for Africans, not just political refugees but also economic aspirants to “the Promised Land.”  These government measures are a reluctant reaction to stem the tide of migrants, which totaled 400,000 40,000 last year.  That’s a big burden on a small nation.

The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival concludes its “Documentaries and Dialogues” series with Eichmann’s End on February 6th at 7 pm.  

In addition, it’ll feature Louder than a Bomb and Live Poetry Slam on Sunday, February 12th, at 2:30 pm, also at the Prince Music Theatre at 1412 Chestnut Street.

Judaism 101 for ME

Medical Examiners (ME's) and Coroners are charged by the state to determine cause of death. In the case of an accident, sudden death, homicide or suicide, the resulting investigation can lead to conflict between secular practice and Jewish law (halacha) or tradition (minhag).

In order to help Medical Examiners navigate these issues and sensitize them to the concerns of Jewish mourners, Dr. Norman Goodman, Jeffrey Goodman, Esq. and Walter I. Hofman, M.D. have published a primer on Jewish practices Autopsy: Traditional Jewish Law and Customs “Halacha” in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. Norman Goodman is the former Chester County Chief Deputy Coroner and Walter Hofman is the Montgomery County Coroner so they both have a great deal of experience in this domain.

Chester County Chief Deputy Coroner Dr. Norman Goodman
Traditional Jewish law encourages a speedy burial and respect for the corpse, keeping it intact and covered while while members of the Jewish burial society respectfully prepare and sit with it to ensure respectful treatment in honor of the deceased. There are important exceptions. For example,

  • “burial can be delayed for the sake of honoring the dead, to procure a coffin [by tradition a simple pine box], … or to await” the speaker who will deliver the eulogy,
  • burial can be delayed to identify the deceased,
  • autopsy are allowed if this may save a life, for example to discover death related to a genetic condition.

The authors review how deaths are investigated in the modern State of Israel and give advisory guidelines for autopsies of observant Jews in the United States.

In many cases, new technologies allow the Medical Examiner to obtain the necessary information through minimally invasive procedures.

  • Virtospy: Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans now allow coroners to study a detailed 3-dimensional computer model of the decedant.
  • Laparoscopy and Thoracoscopy allow the coroner to examine internal organs through small openings in the body.

For specific situations in your personal life, be sure to consult your rabbi for directly pertinent information and assistance that can be brought to bear through rabbinic training, authority and relations with local law enforcement officials.

International Jewish Funders Network Convenes in Philadelphia

Al Berger and Carol Auerbach, husband and wife, each heads up a private family foundation.  The Auerbach Agency at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia was founded by Auerbach when she lived in Philadelphia.  Now, as a board member of the Jewish Funders Network, she divides her time between New York City, Seattle, and Jupiter, Florida.

For the twenty-first year, the Jewish Funders Network convened its annual international conference, this time in Philadelphia at Loews Hotel.  The theme this year: What’s Your Story?  The Power of Narrative to Drive Change.

Andy Goodman, the keynote speaker, entertained the audience while transmitting very important points, about how to inspire others to support the various philanthropies represented by the 315 attendees.  

Dorit Straus shared the story of her chance encounter on a New York subway with the famous violist Joshua Bell, learning that Bell was the proud owner of a Stradivarius violin which had once belongs to an earlier generation’s highly regarded violinist, Bronislaw Huberman, who had a dream of creating an orchestra in Palestine.  Huberman managed to collect hundreds of professional musicians, saving them from the Nazis, and eventually establishing the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

More after the jump.

(left to right) Haim Emil Dahan, of Israel, greets Michael and Kristin Karp at the JFN conference at Loews Hotel in Philadelphia.  The conference attracted 315 individual donors, founders and staff members of private Jewish foundations.

Straus enlisted Academy-award-nominated filmmaker Josh Aronson to make a documentary film about the life of this almost forgotten hero, the violinist she credited with having saved her entire family.  Straus is serving as the executive producer of Aronson’s film, which they hope will be completed for a premiere in December 2011 for the 75th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic.

Straus illustrated the way in which a story motivated the philanthropy.

Carol Auerbach, founder of The Auerbach Family Foundation, and the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education in Philadelphia, spoke to the plenary session about the new technology and means of communicating with a larger audience and with the naxt generation of donors and philanthropists.

The afternoon workshops on Sunday included the well attended Strategic Investment in the New Media Space, moderated by Joshua Miller of the Jim Joseph Foundation, who explained a grant process aimed at 18 to 40-year-olds which involved a collaboration of three funders.

Gwen Borowsky, of the National Liberty Museum, and Eunice Miller, founder of the nonprofit Linkages, enjoyed the sessions at the JFN conference.

Miller introduced a panel, consisting of Lucy Bernholz, president of Blueprint Research and Design;  John Bracken of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; and David Bryfman, of The Jewish Education Project, focusing on engaging teenagers.
   The seesion alerted the funders to the existence of  the new on-line charity engine, “Kickstart,” which helps all kinds of projects and charities raise funds in a short period of time on the internet.
   There was a lively session on Jewish education with the interesting title, “Nor Your Zade’s (and Bubbe’s) Hebrew School.”
   Another added benefit, besides the quality of sessions and speakers, and the line-up of visits to the National Museum of American Jewish History, as well as the Barnes Museum beofre it re-locates to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was the opportunity for philanthropists and representatives of foundations from across the country, even from across the globe, to network and share experiences.

Josh Aronson, filmmaker, and Dorit Straus, executive producer of Aronson’s film, inspired by Straus’ encounter on a New York subway with the famous violinist Joshua Bell.  Bell was carrying a Stradivarius once owned by a Jewish violinist, Bronislaw Huberman, who pioneered the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, gathering Jewish musicians who had fled the Nazis and saving 1000 lives in the process.  The film in progress, for which they showed clips, is entitled, “The Orchestra of Exile.”

Martin Lautman, Ph.D., and Betsy Sheerr were delighted to pose with the incoming president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, Andreas Spokarniy.

Among the hundreds of Jewish philanthropists gathered in Philadelphia for a three-day conference of the Jewish Funders Network, are (seated) Mark Solomon and Carol Auerbach, and (standing left to right) Paul Silberberg, Robin Batoff, and Morey Goldberg.  The three men are all part of CMS Industries in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, which was a main sponsor of the JFN conference.

Philanthropist Charles Bronfman (right) receives a special award at the Jewish Funders Network from JNF past presidents Murray Galinson and Mark Cherendorff.  Video tributes included one from Shimon Peres.

Charles Bronfman’s 80th birthday happened to fall on the day he was honored in Philadelphia by the Jewish Funders Network.  Representing a group of students who had benefited from Birthright, the Bronfman-supported program which provides the gift of first time educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults  to strenthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people, are Penn students Elayna Zach and Adam Levinson, alumni of the Birthright program.

At the awards luncheon at the JFN international conference at Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, Bonnie Roche-Bronfman, a nationally recognized architect, was very proud of her husband, the honoree Charles Bronfman, head of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.  Roche-Bronfman had recently organized and served as set designer for a New York theatrical production, “From the Fire,” commemorating the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and tragedy.

Photos: Bonnie Squires.