Book Chat: Tiny Dynamo

— by Hannah Lee

How do you measure the wealth of a country? Economists calculate the gross national product GNP, while the government of Bhutan has been using the quirky assessment of gross national happiness GNH since 1972.

Marcella Rosen proposes to rank the ingenuity of the country’s citizens among its natural resources, in her slim volume, Tiny Dynamo: How One of the Smallest Countries Is Producing Some of Our Most Important Inventions.

Full review after the jump.


A flash drive can hold about 11,380 times more data than a 3.5-inch floppy disk.

In 131 pages, Rosen summarizes 21 inventions of Israelis that make our lives safer, more efficient and better. These inventions include the flash drive, pilotless drones, and anti-bacterial fabric coatings that do not come off in the hospital wash.

Environmental inventions include drip irrigation; floating solar panels; fish farming using bacterial filtration, to reduce the usage of water to two gallons per one pound of fish; and a semi-permeable membrane to desalinate ocean water. In fact, the city of Ashkelon has the world’s largest reverse osmosis facility, producing 320,000 cubic meters of fresh water a day.

Medical inventions include a robot for spinal surgery; a pill-sized camera to view the length of the small intestine (without endoscopy); and implantable tiny telescopes to treat macular degeneration.

Rosen writes in the breezy manner of a public relations professional and a self-professed booster for Israel. I would like more detail on the technological inventions, but I suppose some may be proprietary information, that the inventors do not wish to make public.

The world of investments moves quickly, so one footnote to the book is that Shai Agassi’s Better Place declared bankruptcy in May 2013, after going through $850 million in capital in trying to market its swappable batteries for electric cars.  

Other inventions detailed in the book, such as the cervical stabilization collar, are being positioned for a wider market. The appendix is a nifty timeline of 68 Israeli inventions from 1948 to 2012, including three Nobel Prizes in Chemistry (2004, 2009, and 2011).

Rosen maintains a website, that reports on news from Israel beyond the peace process, and a Facebook campaign that posts on inventions and scientific breakthroughs coming from Israel.

She cited the American-Israeli Friendship League, which reports that Israel, with a population of 7 million, launched 600 startups in 2010, compared with 700 throughout all of Europe with a population of 700 million. That’s one strong measure of creativity.

Rosen wrote:

The common perception about a country rarely squares with the life that’s actually lived in that place, and the people who live it. So if it’s true that you should judge a person not by what is said about him but by what he does, then it follows that you should do the same for countries.

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.

Barrack Students Win Theatre Honors at 2013 Cappie Awards


Left to right: Leksey Maltzman, Lev Ziskind, Leah Schatz, David Feinberg, Jesse Bernstein, Maya Kassutto, Anna Lieberman, Ilana Goldstein, and Josh Horowitz

— by Beverly C. Rosen

David Feinberg, a Barrack Hebrew Academy junior, won a Cappie award at the Philadelphia Cappie Award Ceremonies held last Sunday for the best performance by a comic actor in a play, for his performance in the Barrack student production of “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” Fellow classmate Maya Kassutto won the Spirit Award.

Cappies, the Critics and Awards Program for high school theatre and journalism students, awarded each year, honor student directors, actors, technicians, musicians, and theater critics in the greater Philadelphia region. Thirty-seven public and private schools in the city and surrounding suburbs participated in this year’s program and received nominations and awards from student critics. The critics, themselves, are also nominated for awards.

More after the jump.
Barrack Hebrew Academy’s student production of Neil Simon’s classic play, directed by Barrack senior Joshua Horowitz, received a total of eight Cappie nominations, including: Best Play, Best Direction, Featured Actor in a Play, Comic Actor in a Play, Comic Actress in a Play, Supporting Actress in a Play, Supporting Actor in a Play, and Lead Actress in a Play.

Prior to the awards ceremonies, held at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center at Upper Darby High School, the nominees walked the red carpet in formal wear. “We are very proud of all our Cappie nominees and nominations,” shares Dewey Oriente, Barrack’s Drama Director, “and, given the size of our school, that our plays, directors, actors and everyone involved in our student productions receive Cappie nominations each year.”

An Historic Vote Ushers In A New Era


— by Ben Rosen

Strength, unity, diversity, longevity, community, tradition and Jewish continuity were the overarching guiding principles that governed the discussions between negotiating teams from Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (JBHA) and Perelman Jewish Day School (PJDS) over the past several months.

Working in partnership, Perelman Jewish Day School, Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, all agreed that a unified middle school would not only maximize community resources, but also provide exciting and expanded opportunities for students — educationally, socially and financially.

More after the jump.
During the past several months, both institutions, their leadership and administrations engaged in intense discussions focused on creating and enhancing an educational system based on best-practices and the combination of best features currently offered by both schools. PJDS, JBHA, and the Federation are committed to the priority of providing first rate day school education to as many children as possible – an education grounded in deep Jewish traditions and exceptional academics.

On Tuesday night, December 18, 2012 history was made in our Greater Philadelphia Jewish community when the Boards of JBHA and PJDS voted, during their respective meetings, to unify their two middle schools. In September 2013,   The Schwartz Campus in Bryn Mawr will welcome students and parents to the new Robert M. Saligman Middle School of the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy.

The newly unified Middle School will be pluralistic in its philosophy offering at a minimum a Conservative-based religious practice track as well as the religious tracks currently offered at JBHA, and familiar to PJDS families, in order to appeal to a wider variety of students. The Middle School will also offer academic programs suited to a wide spectrum of learning styles and abilities, including reasonable accommodations for students with special needs (such as the OROT program).

Cecily Carel, Ira Schwartz, and Elliot Norry

Both institutions agreed to work together along with the Federation to raise significant resources to enhance and support the entire K-12 day school system including:
a) Offering incentives for increased enrollment,
b) Providing free transportation to the school from points north and east,
c) Creating a state of the art home for the newly formed middle school,
d) Offering generous financial aid and merit scholarships.

Sherrie Savett, President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, commented:

Both institutions must be commended for their tireless efforts in this process. Their shared vision for a strong, robust and vibrant community day school system prevailed and led us to this momentous day. I applaud Cecily Carel and Elliot Norry and their negotiating teams for their steadfast leadership and dedication to the children of our community.    

Cecily Carel, Chair of the Board of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy praised the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia adding:

Federation has been an invaluable asset to us in this process, when called upon, providing guidance and strategic input. Moreover, Federation and its leadership have agreed to garner significant resources to make this partnership a reality. We owe a debt of gratitude to Ira Schwartz for his contributions, especially in recent days, that resulted in both teams agreeing on a plan to unify the schools.

I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to partner with Elliot Norry on this most momentous journey and applaud him for his visionary leadership, together with his unwavering commitment to our Jewish community.

Elliot Norry, Chair of the Board of Perelman Jewish Day School commented:

We engaged in our joint discussions believing that we could create a more seamless K-12 day school system grounded in rich traditions, superior academics, with a focus on affordability, sustainability and improved access. While many collaborative models were thoroughly examined during this process, the PJDS board believes that we have achieved the best possible outcome for the broader Jewish community. We have also learned a great deal about our respective institutions that will undoubtedly further improve and enhance our collaborative efforts. I want to thank Cecily Carel for her partnership and her exemplary leadership.  The future of our day schools is extremely bright and we look forward to creating a strategic alliance with JBHA as the process of creating a unified middle school unfolds.

Rodin Museum Gala Attracts 350 Patrons


Chair of the Philadelphia Museum of Art trustees, the Honorable Constance Williams, joins His Excellency François Delattre, the French ambassador to the U.S., and Michael Scullin, Esq., Honorary French Consul in Philadelphia. Photo: Bonnie Squires.

— by Bonnie Squires

Jules Mastbaum, the Jewish philanthropist who, in the early 20th century, created and donated to the City of Philadelphia his fabulous collection of Rodin sculptures and the “jewel box” of a museum to house it, would have been very pleased with the number of Jewish philanthropists who turned out on September 15 for the Rodin Gala and fundraiser.

Mastbaum, who made his fortune as a movie theater mogul, spared no expense in having his “jewel box” of a Beaux Arts museum designed and built to house his collection.

More after the jump.  


Daniele Cohen, her husband Jerry Grossman, and her French-born friend Michele Rosen, who served on the Rodin Gala Committee. Photo: Bonnie Squires.


Committee members Hope Cohen (left) and Richard Green (middle), of Firstrust Bank, join Marina Kats, Esq. (right). Photo: Bonnie Squires.


(Left to right) Roberta and Carl Dranoff join  Constance Williams at the gala. Photo: Bonnie Squires.


(Left to right) Sheldon Margolis, committee members Jeanette and Joe Neubauer, and Marsha and Dr. Richard Rothman. Photo: Bonnie Squires.


Joyce and Dr. Herbert Kean. Photo: Bonnie Squires.


(Left to right) Lyn Ross and Leslie Anne Miller, Esq. Photo: Bonnie Squires


In the Balzac room at the Rodin Museum, Joe Rishel, of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum, welcomes (right) Iris Cantor, of the Iris and G. Bernard Cantor Foundation, and  (left) Iris’ friend Pamela Hoefflin. Photo: Bonnie Squires

The four-year restoration of the Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was guided by the original blueprints and now sparkles as it did when it first opened in the 1920s. Joe Rishel, the Art Museum’s curator of the Rodin Museum, escorted Iris Cantor, Chairman and President of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, to the gala. Her foundation, a major collector of Rodin sculptures, has loaned the massive “The Three Shades” to the museum, and it sits in the rejuvenated Rodin Museum gardens.

You could not walk two steps without bumping into either a patron of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which also runs the Rodin Museum, or a genuine Francophile.  In fact, the French Ambassador to the U.S., the Honorable François Delattre, was in cheerful attendance, along with Catherine Chevillot, Director of the Musée Rodin in Paris, and Michael Scullin, Esq., the Honorary French Consul in Philadelphia and Wilmington..

Among the 350 guests who paid a lot of money to attend the gala and to support the Rodin Museum at 22nd and the Parkway were many leaders of the Jewish community.  Many of them are also major donors at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other arts and culture institutions in the region, including Lynne and Harold Honickman, Richard Green and Hope Cohen, Lyn Ross, and the chair of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Honorable Constance Williams.

After hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the fabulous gardens, as well as remarks inside the totally restored museum, guests were treated to a gourmet dinner in a tent on the grounds of the museum.  Going from day to night, the sculptures and gardens glowed, first in sunlight, and then in artificial lights after sunset.





Admiring the sculptures are Judge Arlin Adams and his wife Neysa.
Photo: Bonnie Squires.



(Left to right) Alison Perelman, her mother Marsha Perelman, and friend Maya Capellan.
Photo: Bonnie Squires.



(Left to right) Lynne Honickman and Joyce deBoton
Photo: Bonnie Squires.

Golden Slipper Club’s 90th Anniversary Gala Raises $100,000


Honorary gala co-chairs (L) Ron Rubin of Narberth and (R) Ed Rosen of Bryn Mawr with
(C) gala co-chair Jerome Muchnick of Philadelphia.

— by Scott D. Bluebond and Ann Hilferty

On the evening of Thursday, June 7, 2012, the Golden Slipper Club & Charities (GSC) hosted its 90th annual anniversary gala at Vie at 600 N. Broad Street in Philadelphia. The gala co-chairs were Jerome N. Muchnick and Barbara Frishberg, the tribute book co-chairs were Nanci and Ken Gilberg and Joseph H. Levine, the honorary co-chairs were Edward H. Rosen and Ronald Rubin, the young gala co-chairs were Megan and Brian Gilberg and Rachel Giuliano and Matthew Bagell, and the executive director is Paul Geller. Approximately 213 guests enjoyed fabulous food, cocktails, live music with Eddie Bruce, dancing and more, all to benefit GSC.

The evening looked back throughout Golden Slipper history by honoring past presidents, gold medallion recipients, and Horatio Alger honorees. These individuals created the Golden Slipper overnight camp, the Center for Seniors, a scholarship program for college students, and the human needs and services program. They also celebrated the induction of the second term of club president, Stephen H. Frishberg and the incoming officers and board members.

More after the jump.


Chair Debra Rasansky of Radnor (right) swears in president, Stephen Frishberg of Blue Bell (left).

Frishberg comments on the evening: “I say with some humility that it was a most glorious evening, seeing all of our past leaders and honorees reconnect and interact. I cannot convey the warmth in the room and the fun that was had by all who attended…and cannot say enough about the service and honor and glory that each of our honorees have brought to Slipper at the time that they either served as president of the Club, the Home, the Center for Seniors, the Camp, or received our Horatio Alger award for services to the Camp, or gold medallion honor for their charitable services to the Jewish community at large.” This event raised approximately $100,000 to fund the many programs and services provided on a daily basis by Golden Slipper Clubs & Charities.


Honorees David Fineman of Merion Station (left) and Sherman Leis of Bala Cynwyd (right) accept a 90th Anniversary Pin.

Golden Slipper Club & Charities, celebrating 90 years in 2012, has taken a hands-on approach to support programs and services for the Greater Philadelphia area’s youth, needy and elderly, with some 600 active men and women who volunteer their time to serve people in need. Golden Slipper’s motto is charity, good fellowship and loyalty, first and foremost, in all its endeavors. It provides charitable services to those in need in the community. Golden Slipper Camp sends approximately 600 children to overnight camp in the beautiful Pocono Mountains. Golden Slipper Center for Seniors provides a daytime activities facility which offers social and recreational activities and meals for over 300 senior citizens. Other programs offered to help the community include HUNAS (Human Needs and Services) which gives emergency grants to those in need and the Slipper Scholarship Program, which provides college scholarships to deserving and promising young students.


Chair Debra Rasansky of Radnor (right) swears in the Golden Slipper Club & Charities executive committee (from left): Rabbi Eric Yanoff of Dresher, Sherry Horowitz of Wynnewood, Brian Levine of Dresher, Celeste Rose of Philadelphia, Betsy Klausman of Bala Cynwyd, Matt Bagell of Philadelphia, Megan and Brian Gilberg of Philadelphia, Ed Caine of Bryn Mawr, Howard Lapensohn of Gladwyne, Marc Feller of Wyncote, Fred Kaplan of Maple Glen and David Levy of Rydal.

BFF: Obama supports Israel & Israels support Obama

— by David Streeter and Jason Attermann

A new independent poll released today by the Brookings Institution of Israelis in November demonstrates again that a majority of Israeli Jews hold favorable views of President Barack Obama. Of the Israeli Jews polled, 54% held a favorable view of Obama, while 39% did not. This survey marked a 13 point increase over the percentage of Israelis who held favorable views of Obama one year ago in a similar poll.

National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David A. Harris commented,

This new poll shows the continuing increase in support among Israelis for President Obama over time. As they get to know him better and better, Israelis hold more and more favorable views of the President — and this poll demonstrates it.

Earlier in his term when Israelis were getting to know President Obama, and his favorability numbers were significantly lower as a result, GOP partisans used those numbers to falsely smear and distort this President’s stellar record on Israel. Today, it’s clear that Israelis hold favorable views of the President. But I don’t expect to hear a peep from the GOP about these new favorability figures now that Israelis have gotten to know the President better over time.

The poll, led by Dr. Shibley Telhami, a professor at the University of Maryland and a non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, surveyed 510 Israeli Jews between November 10-16 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%.

President Obama: “No Ally Is More Important than the State of Israel”

The feeling is mutual.

Wednesday night, President Barack Obama spoke at the home of American Jewish Congress Chairman Jack Rosen and firmly reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security. When Rosen introduced Obama, he declared that “America has never been as supportive of the state of Israel as President Obama and his administration.” During his remarks, Obama affirmed that “no ally is more important than the state of Israel,” and also said:

I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.  And that’s not just our opinion, that’s the opinion of the Israeli government.  Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an Iron Dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.  And that’s not just something I say privately, that’s something that I said in the U.N. General Assembly.  And that will continue.

We do have enormous challenges in making sure that the changes that are taking place in Egypt, the changes that are taking place throughout the region do not end up manifesting themselves in anti-Western or anti-Israel policies.  And that’s something that we’re going to have to pay close attention to, and work diligently on in the months to come.

More poll results and the President’s full remarks follow the jump.

Remarks by President Barack Obama

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me begin by just thanking Jac and Phyllis — and their adorable grandchildren.  (Laughter.)  And their children — I don’t want to skip over a generation.  (Laughter.)  But the grandchildren are really my buddies.  This guy says he’s going to be a future president.  (Laughter.)  So I’m just kind of warming up the seat for him.  (Laughter.)

But in addition to the Rosens, I want to make sure that everybody had a chance to say hello to somebody who has been a dear friend and is an outstanding DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  (Applause.)

I’m going to keep my remarks very brief at the top, because what I want to do is spend as much time in dialogue and answering questions as possible.

When I came into office, we knew that this was going to be an extraordinary time in the life of the country, and in the world.  I don’t think any of us realized what an extraordinary transformation would be taking place over these last several years.  They’ve been tough years.  They’ve been tough years for the American people.  They’ve been tough for the world.  And we’re not out of the woods yet.  But I begin any meeting like this by saying that we should remind ourselves how much we’ve accomplished over the last three years.  

When we came into office, the economy was contracting at 9 percent.  It has grown over the last 3 years — not as fast as we’d like, but we have been able to sustain a fairly steady pace of growth.  When I came into office, we had lost 4 million jobs before I was sworn in, and 4 million jobs in the three months after I was sworn in.  About six months later, we were creating jobs, and we’ve had private sector job growth for 20 consecutive months.

Along the way, in addition to preventing a financial meltdown and preventing a second Great Depression, we were able to pass a historic health care bill that’s going to make sure that 30 million people have coverage.  We were able to pass a Wall Street reform package that, although some folks in New York are still grousing about it — (laughter) — is going to ensure that we do not have the same kinds of crisis that we had in the past.  We were able to make sure that we ended the war in Iraq, as promised, and by the end of this year we’re going to have all of our troops out, which is going to be an extraordinary homecoming for families all across America.  Thanks to the great work of folks like Debbie, we were able to end practices like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” make sure that we expanded college loans for millions of students all across the country.

So a huge amount of progress has been made, but what we also know is we’ve still got a lot more work to do.  On the domestic front — Jack and I were just downstairs talking — the housing market and the real estate market is still way too weak and we’ve got to do more.  We’re doing some stuff administratively.  We’re hoping that we can get a little more cooperation from Congress to be more aggressive in tackling the housing market and the real estate market.

We still have to put people back to work.  And I was just in Pennsylvania talking about why it’s so important to make sure that we pass a — continue, essentially, a payroll tax cut that helps small businesses and individual families so that there’s more money in circulation and businesses can really latch on to this recovery and start expanding their payrolls.

Internationally, we’ve been managing I think an extraordinary period not just of two wars, which we’re now winding down, but, as Jack alluded to, enormous tumult in the Middle East.  And so far, at least, what we’ve been able to do is manage it in a way that positions America to stand on the side of democracy, but also be very firm with respect to the security of our allies.  And obviously, no ally is more important than the state of Israel.

And as Jack alluded to, this administration — I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.  And that’s not just our opinion, that’s the opinion of the Israeli government.  Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an Iron Dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.  And that’s not just something I say privately, that’s something that I said in the U.N. General Assembly.  And that will continue.

We do have enormous challenges in making sure that the changes that are taking place in Egypt, the changes that are taking place throughout the region do not end up manifesting themselves in anti-Western or anti-Israel policies.  And that’s something that we’re going to have to pay close attention to, and work diligently on in the months to come.

In the meantime, there are other regions in the world in which we’re making enormous progress.  I mean, we’ve been able to not only reset relations with Russia, manage relations with China, but we’ve also been able to mobilize world opinion around U.S. leadership in a way that many people had thought had been lost when I came into office back in 2008.

So the bottom line is this:  Over the last three years we have made enormous progress.  People aren’t feeling all that progress yet because we had fallen so far and some of the problems that we faced — whether it was on health care or energy or employment — those are problems that had been building up over decades.  And we never anticipated that we would solve them over night because these problems weren’t created overnight.  But the trajectory of the country at this point is sound.

The question is, in 2012 does it continue?  And, frankly, we’ve got another party that — how will I say this charitably — (laughter) — in the past I think has been willing at times  to put country ahead of party, but I’d say over the last couple of years, has not.  Everything has become politicized, from the most modest appointment to getting judges on the bench, to trying to make sure the economy grows — everything has been looked at through a political lens.  And that is what people are tired of. And, frankly, that’s the reason that Congress right now is polling at 9 percent.

People want Washington to work on behalf of the American people, not on behalf of folks in Washington and special interests.  And that has been a great challenge.  This election in 2012 is going to pose a decision for the American people in terms of what direction we want to go in.  There’s fundamental differences in terms of direction.

Their view is that less regulation, a shriveled government that is not doing much for people in terms of giving them a ladder up into the middle class, that that’s their best vision; that we don’t invest in science, that we don’t invest in education, that we don’t invest in infrastructure and transportation — all the things that made us a great power, they seem willing to abandon for ideological reasons.

And I was so moved listening to Jack’s story, because Jack is exactly right — his story is our story.  It’s my story; it’s your story.  At some point our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents came to this country seeking opportunity.  And they had to work hard; they had to hold themselves personally responsible, they had to take risks.  But they also knew that there was a country here where if you did try hard, then somebody might give you a little bit of help; that we were in it together, there were ladders of opportunity that existed.

And that’s what we have to rebuild for the 21st century.  And that requires us to make some decisions about, are we going to have the best schools in this country, are we going to have the best infrastructure, are we going to do what it takes, so these guys end up being part of an America where everybody can still make it if they try; regardless of whether they came from Russia, or they came from Poland, or they came from Mexico, or they came from Kenya, that they’re going to have a chance to succeed, and live out the same kind of dreams that the Rosen family has been able to live out.

Our kids are going to be fine.  And I always tell Malia and Sasha, look, you guys, I don’t worry about you — I mean, I worry the way parents worry — but they’re on a path that is going to be successful, even if the country as a whole is not successful. But that’s not our vision of America.  I don’t want an America where my kids are living behind walls and gates, and can’t feel a part of a country that is giving everybody a shot.

And that’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what 2012 is going to be all about.  And I’m going to need your help to do it. (Applause.)

So, thank you, very much.  (Applause.)

Barrack Multimedia Museum of Czech Jewry opens Sunday, May 1


Opening in Partnership with Centropa coincides With Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1.

— by Beverly Rosen

Highlights: Over 70 Six-foot Story Panels, Student Videos, and Guided Tours

All during the spring trimester, Barrack Hebrew Academy 9th graders researched Czech history; the richness of Jewish life in Czechoslovakia prior to the Holocaust, including vibrant music, theater, and art scenes, in addition to daily life; the horrors of the Shoah; and life after World War II. They turned their research and photos into larger than life story panels and videos based on key historical happenings, personal family histories, and interviews with Holocaust survivors and children of survivors to create the Barrack Museum of Czech Jewry.

Pictured (left to right) are 9th graders Jacob Reich, Sarah Wolfson and Avi Gordon.

More after the jump.

The student exhibit, that will be displayed throughout the school, will be complemented by six-foot story panels from Centropa, an organization based in Vienna, Austria dedicated to keeping the memory of Jewish life alive in Central and Eastern Europe. The multi-media exhibit debuts with a Community Opening Night reception, program and guided tours by student docents on Sunday evening, May 1, 7:30 pm at Barrack and coincides with nationwide Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies. The exhibit runs through Friday, May 6

The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Igor Laufer, a special friend and member of the Akiba-Barrack family and a Czech survivor. The Opening Night program includes a student tribute to Mr.Laufer; welcoming remarks by Dr. Steven M. Brown, Head of School; greetings from Peter A. Rafaeli, the Honorary Czech Consul of Philadelphia; a presentation by Hannah Lessing, General Secretary of the Austrian National Fund for Victims of National Socialism and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor; and instrumental and vocal performances of Czech music by Barrack students.

Ninth grade docents will provide guided tours of the exhibit on May 1 and throughout the week. “Area schools and community groups will be invited to tour the exhibit,” share faculty advisers Ivy Kaplan and Lilach Taichman. “The community also is invited to Opening Night,” adds Sharon Levin, Humanities Department Chair. For details, contact [email protected]


Barrack Hebrew Academy provides a dynamic dual curriculum of college preparatory and Jewish studies to students from all Jewish backgrounds in grades 6-12.