Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Eyes of a Rabbi

(JSPAN) The day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, the president of the Memphis Ministers’ Association, Rabbi James A. Wax of Temple Israel, delivered an impassioned sermon, eulogizing King, placing King’s teachings in the arc of Jewish and Christian tradition and, denouncing the shame of white Memphis and America. Here is an excerpt from the sermon.

Photo by Robert Newman.

Martin Luther King helped to bring freedom to the oppressed people yet in this free nation. He fought to break the chains that have oppressed people; he sought to give men dignity; he sought to make this a better world in which to live.

Oh how the cynics sneered when they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize. They said, ‘what did he do to deserve it?’ How little can people be?

Here was a man in the tradition, the grandest traditions of Judaism and Christianity, bringing freedom to people, and we white hypocrites that speak about freedom for all people know full well that not many miles from here negroes could not vote. In this very city, called a place of good abode, because their skin was black, they had to sit in the back of the streetcar. They were not even given the dignity of their names.

Martin Luther King was one the greatest men of this century because he personified, because he personified the greatest teachings in Judaism and in Christianity, and he did it without violence. He sought to appeal to the heart and the conscience of men.

Hillary Clinton Receives National Constitution Center Liberty Medal

— article and photos by Bonnie Squires

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia held another one of its world-class events last week, as Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received the Liberty Medal before an audience of 1,300 people.

The medal honors men and women of courage and conviction, who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe. Secretary Clinton was recognized for her advocacy of women’s rights and human rights around the globe.

More after the jump.


(Left to right) Bill Sasso, Esq., Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Jeffrey Rosen, CEO of the National Constitution Center, each praised Hillary for her life-long activities for the common good.

ABC News Anchor and Correspondent Elizabeth Vargas served as the mistress of ceremonies, and presenters included:

  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, chairman of the National Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees;
  • Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania and National Constitution Center Trustee;
  • Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter;
  • No Labels Co-Founder Mark McKinnon;
  • Journalist and Human Rights Advocate Roxana Saberi; and
  • National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen, who presented the medal to Secretary Clinton.

Appearing in video tributes during the ceremony were:

  • Former British Prime Minister and previous Liberty Medal recipient Tony Blair;
  • Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan;
  • tennis legend Billie Jean King;
  • actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen;
  • News Political Commentator Cokie Roberts, and
  • other friends, sponsors and dignitaries.

Governor Bush and Secretary Clinton were both gracious in their remarks about each other, even though it is possible that in 2016 each of them will represent their respective political parties in the presidential election.


Dr. Amy Gutmann, Penn president, who chaired the Liberty Medal selection committee, gave a rousing speech about Hillary Cllinton’s accomplishments in gaining equality for women and minorities around the world. Gutmann also got excited when she predicted that Clinton would become the first woman president of the U.S.


(Left to right) Marciarose Shestack, Bob Rovner, Esq., Commissioner Josh Shapiro and his wife Lori Shapiro, and Bill Sasso, Esq., host of the reception.


(Left to right) Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, Tom Knox and Anne Ewers, CEO of the Kimmel Center, joined hundreds of guests at the President’s Reception.


(Left to right) Sandy and Steve Sheller, Esq., were delighted to talk with former Governr Ed Rendell.


(Left to right Patrons Barbara and Len Sylk are joined by Diane Semingson.


Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler speaks to her friend Dr. Afaf Meleis, dean of the Penn School of of Nursing.

50 Years Ago Today: The Complete “I Have A Dream” Speech

“You know the sound bites from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. But have you actually seen the whole thing?

“The speech was delivered 50 years ago today — August 28, 1963 — as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It gave a powerful boost to the Civil Rights Movement and helped lead to passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.” (Nick Berning)

(Transcript)

Video of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Roy Wilkins on “Meet the Press” August 25, 1963 follows the jump.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Is Not Marching on Shabbat the Sin of Silence?

— by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Fifty years ago, I was one of 240,000 marchers at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Until Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, the most notable speech was the one right before Dr. King’s closing address, by Rabbi Joachim Prinz, head of the American Jewish Congress. Rabbi Prinz said:

When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.

Rabbi Prinz was not an add-on speaker. The American Jewish Congress, which in those days was vigorously progressive with a strong membership, was one of the six key organizations that planned and took responsibility for the March.

More after the jump.

Fifty years later, this past Saturday, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, spoke at the opening prayer service to the anniversary event of the March. (That announcement from the Religious Action Center, and a column encouraging local Reform synagogues to observe the March at home, did not reach me until yesterday — electronically dated August 25, the day after the March.)

At the main event, no one spoke on behalf of the Jewish community, and on the March website I could find no national Jewish organization among the labor unions, civil-rights organizations, women’s organizations, and other progressive groups that sponsored and organized support for the anniversary March.  

Why? Was this absence the sin of silence — not speaking out against a racist backlash and worsening economic injustice in America?

One possible explanation: In 1963, the March was on Wednesday, August 28. This year, it was on Shabbat. Most major national Jewish organizations say they will not take part in such demonstrations on Shabbat. I do not know what negotiations about the date may or may not have taken place between some large national Jewish organizations with a social-justice bent, and March initiators — the King Center and the National Action Network.  

In past situations like this one, including several major anti-war marches, The Shalom Center invented what we think was a creative solution, both honoring Shabbat and affirming our bond with our neighbors: We announced and held a Shabbat morning service. Hundreds of people came, and afterward marched off as a group to join the demonstration.

That required — and received — help and participation from local congregations in Washington and New York City. When I sought such help this time, there were no volunteers. A possible reason: With Labor Day on Sept. 2 and Rosh Hashanah beginning the evening of Sept. 4, many pulpit rabbis are consumed with writing their most important sermons of the year, and planning services to reengage and revitalize their members.

If for some reason none of this was possible, large national networks of synagogues or havurot could, with enough lead time and ingenuity, linked congregations so that, for example, Congressman John Lewis’ address could have become a Shabbat sermon everywhere.

For the past month, our primary focus at The Shalom Center has been on sparking climate-crisis activism as part of the March — not by Jews alone but by Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC), including Jews in a broader coalition. So we pursued, but not as our highest priority, what it might mean to create an explicitly Jewish presence on the March.

Even putting IMAC first, I should note, came from my realization that no Jewish organizations beyond The Shalom Center and the Green Zionist Alliance were ready to take a forthright stand to end fracking and stop the Tar Sands Pipeline, to support a carbon tax or call on Jewish and other institutions to Move Our Money/Protect Our Planet (MOM/POP). IMAC has taken those stands.

No one left to speak

I have an even broader worry, that comes from the history of the American Jewish Congress. I began this rumination with the story of Rabbi Prinz fifty years ago. Through the 1960s and early 1970s, in concert with the civil-rights movement, the AJCongress drew grass-roots energy and membership. Its Women’s Division was especially strongly opposed to the Vietnam War, and strlngly committed to the feminist movement. But through the ’80s and ’90s, the national board of AJCongress persistently moved to the right, while some of its chapters continued to be progressive.

On Feb 1, 1999, its Los Angeles chapter, together with California offices of the Reform movement, issued a report on sweatshops in the California garment business that showed, along with many other critiques, that many of these sweatshops were owned by Jews. But it turned out that some Jewish garment-industry owners were on the national Board of the AJCongress. Within weeks, national AJCongress had simply abolished the L.A. chapter, claiming it was deep in financial arrears.

By March 17 of the same year, “survivors” of the chapter’s abolition announced the founding of the Progressive Jewish Alliance. For years it was financially and politically successful. During this time, national AJCongress did away with its progressive chapters in Boston and Philadelphia. There too, local progressive Jewish groups emerged.

But the rightward drift of the AJCongress undid itself. As grass-roots support diminished, and right-wing Jews found themselves much more at home in more vigorously right-wing organizations, AJCongress tried depending on money from the Ponzi-pyramid schemes of Bernard Madoff. When the Madoff scheme collapsed, the AJCongress suspended its activities on July 13, 2010.

Why does this concern me? Because it seems a parable for much of the rightward drift, or centrist exhaustion, of many national Jewish organizations in the last fifty years. The result: no national organization so far with the foresight, strength, and passion to:

  • Work out ways to meet the needs of Jewish organizations, so that they could bring a hundred thousand Jewishly-focused Jews into an on-the-streets coalition against the New Jim Crow: mass imprisonment of millions of black and brown men;
  • Flood the U.S. Capitol with Jewish bodies, demanding a renewal of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Turn out thousands of Jews to demand a carbon tax, and to Move Our Money/Protect Our Planet, even after Jewish homes on the Jersey Shore are washed away, and Jewish travelers on the Manhattan subways are flooded by Big Carbon’s burning of the planet.

I am glad to add that in that same late Email notice I received last night, commemorating the Great March of 1963, the Religious Action Center wrote:

Wednesday, August 28: Join us at the RAC (2027 Massachusetts Avenue, NW) at 8:30 a.m. for a bagel breakfast and then walk with our staff to the National Mall for speeches by Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter. RSVP here by Tuesday evening!

Less of an effort than I would have wished, but something.  

Christie And King Angry Over Lack Of Aid For Sandy Victims


More after the jump.
Last Wednesday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie held a press conference and charged the House of Representatives for not voting on the $60 billion disaster relief package for his state and the other ones hit by Hurricane Sandy:

There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocence victims: The House Majority and their Speaker, John Boehner.

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. National disasters happen in red states and blue states, and states with Democratic Governors and Republican Governors.

We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans. Or at least we did until last night.

Last night, politics was placed before our oaths to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.

In an interview for Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom”, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) also slammed his own party members:

All we’re saying is treat us the same everybody else has been treated. And why the Republican party has this bias against New York, bias against New Jersey, bias against the northeast? They wonder why they’re becoming a minority party? Why we’ll be the party of the permanent minority? What they did last night was so immoral, so disgraceful, so irresponsible. We’re supposed to be the party of family values, and you have families starving, families suffering, families spread all over living in substandard housing. This was a disgrace.

The Teachings of Dr. King & Rabbi Heschel

— by Sister Mary Scullion and Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Forty-four years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Forty years ago, his close friend and prophetic partner, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, died. In biblical tradition, “40”
is a ripe number, suggesting a pregnant pause before a major transformation – Moses and the Israelites wandering 40 years in the desert, Jesus’ 40 days of temptation. What do we learn from their teachings, a generation since their deaths?

The two of them were, in their day, an odd couple. King was a product of the black Baptist church, raised in the oppressive confines of the Jim Crow South and the crucible of American racism. Heschel, descended from a long line of Polish Hasidic rabbis, fled Nazi-dominated Europe (where most of his family was killed).

More after the jump.
A towering Jewish intellectual, theologian, and mystic, Heschel brought ancient Hasidic spirituality into the tumultuous world of social activism in the 1960s. Given his writings on the religious struggle of the modern person in a confusing world, and on the urgent relevance of the ancient Hebrew prophets, it was no surprise that he found a kindred spirit in King.

Today, religion is often divisive (even violently so); in the 1960s, Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel modeled a friendship rooted in deep admiration and mutual affirmation of their respective spiritual traditions. Today, we debate the role of religion in the civil arena – usually resulting in rancorous and judgmental culture wars; King and Heschel were public theologians and spiritually grounded activists, witnessing to the power of faith in the service of social transformation.

he iconic photograph of the two of them together at the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery is emblematic of the best possibilities of the vision of the civil rights struggle. (Later, Heschel noted famously of that experience, “I felt my legs were praying.”)

Heschel and King worked closely together in spiritually rooted prophetic opposition to racism, poverty, and militarism in American society. Like the biblical prophets, they spoke truth to power – but also spoke truth to the disempowered, who can only win their fair share of democratic power by learning and acting on the truth. They spoke truth to their own supporters, even when those supporters urged them to hush – as many did when they spoke out against the Vietnam War. The two of them witnessed to the absolute unity of means and ends, as embodied in nonviolence. The two of them likewise demonstrated a deep unity of prayer and social action.

A biblical generation later, many Americans who likewise see the connection of faith and social transformation are drawing on the legacy of these two brothers. What issues would Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel address today?

Perhaps the mass imprisonment of more than two million Americans, most of them black or Hispanic. Perhaps the breathtaking increase in poverty and economic inequality. Perhaps the horrendous violence in our society.
Perhaps the physical and legal attacks on American Muslims and Hispanic immigrants. Perhaps the government dysfunction that threatens our financial stability. Perhaps our collective failure to address the climate crisis that threatens the web of life, including human life, on our planet.

These two prophets would speak forcefully to the image of God in each person, the inherent dignity in even the most marginalized of our sisters and brothers. They would give voice to the “beloved community”
as the ultimate answer to the crises of poverty, homelessness, addictions, and violence. They would translate the language of Torah, Prophets, and Gospels into a concrete and compelling vision of justice and peace for our world today.

And they would not be content with rhetoric alone: In their generation, they modeled putting faith into action, and today they would urge us to collective action to address injustice and work for the common good. They would insist that any genuine vision must translate into concrete policies, legislation, and real public action.

But now that is our task. Today, no less than in his day, we are confronted with what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now.” As much now as then, we are challenged by Rabbi Heschel’s words: “In a free society, when evil is done, some are guilty; all are responsible.”

Forty years have passed since Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel worked and witnessed among us. Perhaps, like a biblical generation that represents a pregnant pause before a major transformation, we may be ready to act for a transformative rebirth in our time.

The Socialist Gets Reelected To Washington

Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders was swept to a third term in the Senate by a 71-25 margin in the state of Vermont over Republican John MacGovern.

Maine also elected an independent. Former Governor Angus King took 54% of the vote in Maine while Republican Charlie Summers took 29% and Democratic Cynthia Dill took 14%. Last night King said will negotiate with both parties to determine who he will caucus with. He is looking for a party that will

  • allow him to vote independently according to his conscience,
  • give him committee assignments where he can advance the interests of Maine, and
  • change the filibuster rule so that a single Senator cannot put a hold on a nomination and a 60-40 majority is required to pass any legislation.

Most Democrats supported King instead of the actual Democratic nominee Dill so it is suspected that King will ultimately decide to caucus with the Democrats. If he does, this would increase the Democratic margin in the Senate to 55-45.

Earlier this year most pundits had thought that the Republicans would take control of the Senate but that did not come to be. Instead Republicans lost two seats:

  • Populist Attorney General Elizabeth Warren defeated Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown 54% to 46%.
  • Indiana Senator Richard Lugar lost his primary to Richard Mourdock whose campaign self-destructed after an abortion related gaffe giving the victory to Democratic underdog Joe Donnelly (50% to 44% to 6% for independent Andrew Horning).

Meanwhile the Republicans gained only one seat (Deb Fischer defeated incumbent Bob Kerrey 58% to 42%) while vulnerable Democratic incumbents sailed to reelection including Missouri’s Claire McCaskill who defeat tea-party favorite Todd Akin 55% to 39% after his “legitimate abortion” remark.

Romney Endorses Steve King

Mitt Romney was in Iowa today where he gave his endorsement to conservative firebrand Steve King (R-IA):  

“I’m looking here at Steve King, he needs to be your Congressman again. I want him as my partner in D.C.”

Here is some background on Rep. King from Evan McMorris-Santoro:

Rep. Steve King: I’ve Never Heard Of A Girl Getting Pregnant From Statutory Rape Or Incest

Rep. Steve King, one of the most staunchly conservative members of the House, was one of the few Republicans who did not strongly condemn Rep. Todd Akin Monday for his remarks regarding pregnancy and rape. On Monday, King signaled why – he might agree with parts of Akin’s assertion.

King told an Iowa reporter he’s never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.

“Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way,” King told KMEG-TV Monday, “and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter.”

And here is some commentary by Adam Peck:

GOP Congressman Tells Voters That Comparing Immigrants To Dogs Was Really A ‘Compliment’

Congressman Steve King (R-IA) participated in a radio debate with Democratic challenger Christie Vilsack last night, and was given a chance to explain a comment he made in May comparing immigrants to dogs.
But instead of apologizing, or even explaining how he simply misspoke, King told the audience that the comment was really meant as a compliment, and that anyone who interpreted it as an insult – namely, everyone – was simply motivated by partisanship and incapable of cooperation:

VILSACK: Frankly, he’s been a bully, and he’s an embarrassment to the people of Iowa when he talks about immigrants as animals. If my mother were here she would say to Congressman King ‘show some decency.’

KING: …This American vigor that we have that comes from legal immigrants who came to this country with a dream – we get the cream of the crop of every donor civilization on the planet – and people that can take a compliment and turn it into an insult are not going to be constructive working across the isle. But that’s what that was, was a compliment. And everyone who was there that heard that knows that.

Zack Beauchamp lists five more of King’s controversial positions.

JSPAN Joins Brief In Voter ID Case

JSPAN and nine other non-profit agencies joined in brief amicus curiae to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in the pending challenge to the “Photo ID Law” enacted in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

The case was launched by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Viviette Applewhite and other voters who will be burdened by the new law. Applewhite, a 93 year old voter who has never driven a car, cast her first vote for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. There appears to be no record of her at the Motor Vehicle Bureau. Because she was born in another state, there is no birth certificate on file in Pennsylvania either. Before she can vote again, the Photo ID Law would require her to produce a birth certificate or other specific documentation to an office of the Motor Vehicle Bureau to convince that agency to issue her photo identification.

Applewhite and thousands of others like her face serious difficulty under the Photo ID Law. For many elderly people, the need to travel to a motor vehicle bureau and document their entitlement to a photo ID is a significant burden. For many others, securing the necessary voter ID before election day will prove to be impractical or even impossible.

The amicus curiae brief reflects extensive research on the disparate impact of the law on several hundred thousand elder voters who do not have the specific current photo identification called for in order to vote. The right to vote, the amicus brief argues, is a sacred right and is the foundation of democracy, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated that free and equal elections, guaranteed by the state constitution, preclude registration requirements that are so difficult as to amount to a denial of the right to vote. By requiring a registered voter who has no driver’s license — or whose license has expired — to travel to a state office, provide a birth certificate or other specified documentation, and secure the specific photo ID — the law especially burdens and discriminates against the elderly.

For further perspective see The Los Angeles Times, and the amicus brief.

Barnes Foundation Opening Gala


Senator Arlen and Joan Specter admired the Barnes Foundation galleries which are exact replicas of the galleries on Latch’s Lane in Merion.

Gala celebrates inauguration of New Philadelphia Campus designed by Tod William Billie Tsien Architects

Star-studded event raises more than $3.7 million. Proceeds support the care and preservation of the world-renowned Barnes Collection.

— by Bonnie Squires

Among the hundreds of movers and shakers who delighted in the Barnes Foundation Gala and celebrated the opening of the museum’s move to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway were many Jewish philanthropists who donated to the $200 million project.


Bonnie Squires greeted Brian Williams as he arrived for the cocktail reception.

Brian Williams, who anchors the NBC network nightly news, served as master of ceremonies for the dinner, following a lavish cocktail reception inside the museum.  The galleries with hundreds of fabulous Impressionist paintings collected by Albert Barnes were open for the gala guests.

The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Court also included an additional set of galleries for visiting exhibits.  The first exhibit is dedicated to the life and times of Albert Barnes, including letters to Barnes from some of the artists whose works he collected.

More after the jump.


Linda Paskin and
Jeanette Neubauer.

David and Helen Pudlin with Sharn and James Rohr, PNC Financial Services CEO.  Mrs. Pudlin served as executive vice president and general counsel for PNC Financial Services until recently.

Aileen and Brian Roberts (shown on the left) co-chaired the inaugural gala.  Mrs. Roberts chairs the Building Committee of the Barnes Board of Trustees and Comcast Corporation, headed up by Brian Roberts, co-sponsors the inaugural year with PNC.

Performances by the Avalon Jazz Band, Enon Tabernacle Mass Choir, and special guest artist and multiple Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter/musician Norah Jones entertained the 900 guests. In addition to Barnes architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, and landscape architect Laurie Olin, Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett attended the celebration along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Mrs. Lisa Nutter. Premier sponsors of the opening gala and the inaugural year for the Barnes in Philadelphia are PNC and Comcast.

The Barnes Foundation inaugural gala was co-chaired by

  • Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation,
  • Aileen K. Roberts, Chair of the Building Committee of the Barnes Foundation Board of Trustees,
  • James E. Rohr, Chairman and CEO of The PNC Financial Services Group, and Sharon Rohr.

Steve Harmelin, Esq., treasurer of the Barnes Foundation board, with his wife Julia and Dr. David Paskin.

Marina Kats,  Bernard Spain, and Marguerite Lenfest.

Marsha and Jeff Perelman with friends.

Sidney and Caroline Kimmel.

Governor Ed Rendell , Judge Marjorie O. Rendell and Billl Hankowsky.

Sharon Pinkenson had a chance to chat with Sidney Kimmel major donor and also film producer.

(Left to right) David L. Cohen executive vice president of Comcast Corporation and his wife Rhonda Cohen; Dave Watson, COO of Comcast;  Charisse Lillie, Esq., president of the Comcast Foundation, and her husband Tom McGill.

PNC Bank president Bill Mills and Barnes Foundation vice president of trustees Joe Neubauer.

Patrons Joyce and Dr. Herbert Kean; Elaine Levitt; and Gerry Lenfest.  

In addition to gala co-chairs, Barnes Foundation Executive Director and President Derek Gillman, Barnes Foundation Chairman Dr. Bernard C. Watson attended with Mrs. Watson, along with

  • Barnes trustees The Honorable Jacqueline F. Allen and Mr. Roy Beity,
  • Barnes Foundation vice chairman Joseph Neubauer and Jeanette Neubauer,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Steve J. Harmelin,
  • Dr. and Mrs. Neil L. Rudenstine,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon Bonovitz,  
  • Mr. and Mrs. Donn Scott,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Andre Duggin,
  • Brenda and Larry Thompson,
  • Gwen and Colbert King, Rajiv Savara, and
  • Barnes Foundation Trustee Emerita Agnes Gund.

Philanthropists and art supporters in attendance included:

  • Leonard J. Aube, Executive Director, The Annenberg Foundation,
  • Rebecca W. Rimel, President and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts,
  • H. Fitzgerald Lenfest, President of the Lenfest Foundation, and Mrs. Marguerite Lenfest;
  • David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation;
  • Thomas K. Whitford, Vice Chairman, PNC Financial Services Group;
  • J. William Mills, III, Regional President, PNC Financial Services Group;
  • David W. Haas, Chairman, Board of Trustees, William Penn Foundation;
  • Mr. and Mrs. S. Matthew V. Hamilton, Jr., Gala Advisory Committee;
  • Mrs. Samuel M.V. Hamilton, Hamilton Family Foundation;
  • Mrs. and Mrs. John S. “Seward” Johnson II, The Sculpture Foundation;
  • Sidney Kimmel, founder of the Sidney Kimmel Foundation, and Caroline Kimmel;
  • Harold Honickman, Chairman of Pepsi-Cola, and Lynne Honickman;
  • Jane and Leonard Korman, Founders, Jane and Leonard Korman Foundation;
  • Bruce and Robbi Toll, Collectors;
  • Robert B. Menschel, Chairman Emeritus, The Museum of Modern Art Board of Trustees;
  • Mr. Ira Gluskin and Mrs. Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, Collectors and Founders of Gluskin Charitable Foundation;
  • Jeffrey and Marsha Perelman;
  • Mr. and Mrs. Leon Polsky,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Peter Boris and
  • the Roberts Family.

A number of artworld leaders were also present, among them:

  • Glenn Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, and Mrs. Lowry,
  • Marc Porter, Chairman, Christie’s Americas,
  • Lisa Dennison, Chairman, Sotheby’s North and South America,
  • Jock Reynolds, Director, Yale University Art Gallery,
  • Barbara Guggenheim, partner, Guggenheim, Asher and Associates,
  • Matthew Marks, owner of Matthew Marks Gallery NYC, and
  • artist Ellsworth Kelly, whose 40-foot-tall Barnes Totem ws commissioned by Jeanette and Joe Neubauer and marks the entrance to the new Barnes Foundation museum.

Other notable guests included:

  • Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Judge Marjorie O. Rendell,
  • Senator Arlen and Mrs. Joan Specter,
  • Jeffrey Lurie, Owner, Philadelphia Eagles,
  • Ed Snider, Owner, Philadelphia Flyers,
  • Paul Matisse, Grandson to painter Henri Matisse, and Mimi Matisse,
  • Robert R. Jennings, President of Lincoln University, and Ms. Alma Mishaw,
  • Olivier Serot Almeras, Consul Général de France, Ambassade de France, and Mrs. Almeras,
  • Sharon Pinkerson, head of the Philadelphia Film Office,
  • The Honorable Felix Rohatyn and Mrs. Rohatyn, and
  • John Henry Merryman.

Barnes Foundation CEO Derek Gillman.

The Executive Producers for the event were Fred Stein, the Creative Group, Inc. and Karen Homer, HKH Innovations, LLC. Artistic Producers for the performance were Wayne Baruch and Chuck Gayton, Baruch/Gayton Entertainment Group.

The Barnes Foundation’s 93,000-square-foot building designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, conceived as a “gallery within a garden and a garden within a gallery,” is set within a four-and-a-half-acre site with landscape design by OLIN. The building provides significant new facilities for the Foundation’s core programs in art education, as well as for temporary exhibitions and visitor amenities. At the same time, the legendary Barnes art collection is displayed within a 12,000-square-foot gallery that preserves the scale, proportion and configuration of the original Merion gallery, as well as the founder’s conception of a visual interplay between art and nature.

Ten days of free admission to the Barnes Foundation’s Philadelphia campus began on May 19 and continued through May 28, made possible by the generosity of the premier sponsors of the opening, Comcast and PNC. The inaugural week culminatesd with a Memorial Day festival weekend, from 10 am on May 26 through 6 pm on May 28, featuring a variety of entertainment and programs and offering round-the-clock free admission to the renowned collection and entire campus. Tickets are required for all opening events and are available online or by calling 1.866.849.7056.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.”

The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, with extensive holdings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine and Giorgio de Chirico, as well as American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast, Old Master paintings, important examples of African sculpture and Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles, American paintings and decorative arts and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. The Barnes Foundation’s Art and Aesthetics programs engage a diverse array of audiences. These programs, occurring at the Philadelphia campus, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the mission through progressive, experimental and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

Betsy Cohen, head of The Bancorp Bank, also serves on The Barnes Foundation Corporate Council.

The Barnes Arboretum, located at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,000 species/varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and subsequently added to under the direction of Mrs. Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes a fern-leaf beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Laciniata’), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include Lilacs, Peonies, Stewartias and Magnolias. The Horticulture school at the Barnes Foundation in Merion has offered a comprehensive, three-year certificate course of study in the botanical sciences, horticultural practices, garden aesthetics, and design through a well-grounded, scientific learning experience since its inception in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires.