American Academy of Music Concert and Ball Raise $1 Million


Left to right: Mayor Michael Nutter and his wife Lisa with the Temple University School of Medicine’s vice president for development, Nina Weisbord, and dean, Dr. Larry Kaiser.

— article and photos by Bonnie Squires

More than $1 million was raised at the American Academy of Music’s 157th annual anniversary concert and ball in Philadelphia last weekend.

Despite bitter cold and snow-covered streets, the events attracted about 1,200 guests, including Mayor Michael Nutter and many Jewish philanthropists.

The event’s theme was “Preserving the Heritage,” and accordingly, the raised money will be used for installing a new HVAC system and other repairs to the historic Academy building — the first opera house built in the U.S.

The building resides in the Avenue of the Arts, and is often called the “Grand Old Lady of Broad Street.”

More after the jump.


Jimmy Schaeffer and his wife, Nicole Dresnin, with Jimmy’s parents, Adele and Harold, at the pre-concert reception.

The newly-appointed president of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, Adele Schaeffer, reigned over the evening. The Bacon Brothers — actor Kevin and composer Michael — served as the hosts on stage.

Another Philadelphia native, Grammy-award-winning singer, actress and poet Jill Scott, performed the song “Summertime” from the opera “Porgy and Bess,” and other material from her platinum-selling albums.

Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducted The Philadelphia Orchestra in a medley of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” songs.

Later that evening, the Bacon Brothers performed in front of the Eddie Bruce Orchestra, in the Bellevue Park Hyatt Hotel ballroom.


Left to right: Mitchell and Hilarie Morgan, Roberta and Carl Dranoff, and Renee and Joseph Zuritsky.

Ken and Nancy Davis in the lobby of the Academy building.

While Adele Schaeffer was busy in the receiving line, greeting hundreds of patrons, her husband was surrounded by some of their grandchildren.

John and Christina Saler, long-time Academy supporters.

If Only Anne Frank Had Been Packing A Luger

Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher (R-OH) campaign video offensively blames Holocaust on gun control.


— by David A. Harris

Using the memories of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust to make a political point is never appropriate, under any circumstances. For Ohio Republican House candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher to imply that these innocent lives were taken because of gun control laws is simply beyond the pale. Wurzelbacher — who is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who seem to think it is acceptable to use the Holocaust for political gain-must apologize and remove this offensive video immediately.”

With this video, Wurzelbacher joins the ranks of other Republicans such as presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Representatives Allen West (R-FL), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Trent Franks (R-AZ), WV Senate candidate John Raese and FL House candidate Adam Hasner who have shamefully abused the Holocaust to make political points.

Hunter Walker of the New York Observer reported today:

Samuel ‘Joe The Plumber’ Wurzelbacher, the 2008 campaign microcelebrity and Ohio congressional candidate, has an interesting theory about the Holocaust. Yesterday, Mr. Wurzelbacher released a campaign web video in which he blamed the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control laws.

‘In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 one-point-five million Armenians, unable to defend themselves were exterminated,’ Mr. Wurzelbacher says in the clip. ‘In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.’

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s video features footage of him on a shooting rage blasting fruits and vegetables with a shotgun. As the clip draws to a close, Mr. Wurzelbacher, gun in hand, proclaims, ‘I love America.’

The description of the video describes gun ownership as ‘our last line of defense’ from tyranny and poses a rather existential question about Mr. Wurzelbacher’s produce shooting hobby.

‘If you hunt or just like shooting guns, the 2nd Amendment will always be a good thing. History also tells us it’s our last line of defense in the face of an out-of-control government,’ the description says. ‘And killing fruits and vegetables is… what?’

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.

John Raise (R-WV) Smoking Restrictions Like Holocaust

Last week West Virginia Republican Senate Candidate John Raese made an insensitive comparison between the Holocaust and smoking restrictions:

I don’t want government telling me what I can do and what I can’t do because I’m an American. But in Monongalia County you can’t smoke a cigarette, you can’t smoke a cigar, you can’t do anything. And I oppose that because I believe in everybody’s individual freedoms and everybody’s individual rights to do what they want to do and I’m a conservative and that’s the way that goes.

But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County.  Ok?

Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing.

Yesterday — which was Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 19, 2012 — Raise doubled down defending his obscene remarks:

No, this is not a standard line, nor a misstatement. It is a loss of freedom. As Ronald Reagan once said, there is no such thing as partial freedom, there is only freedom.

NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris commented:

Comparing smoking restrictions to the Holocaust is never acceptable on any day of the year. But for West Virginia Republican Senate candidate John Raese to apparently defend those comments on Holocaust Remembrance Day takes the insensitivity and callousness of his remarks to the next level. Raese-who is just the latest Republican to use this type of inappropriate rhetoric-must apologize immediately and quit defending his offensive remarks.

 
With this remark, Raese joins the ranks of other Republicans such as

who have shamefully abused the Holocaust to make political points.

Satirical Videos: Working for Romney & Taglit-Birthright


The one man in America you probably don’t want to work for.
Having said “I like being able to fire people”, Gov. Mitt Romney (played by Justin Long) is cast in the roll of The Office‘s Michael Scott.

This is Taglit
Israeli comedy show Eretz-Nehederet premiered its 7th season (Jan. 23, 2012) with this satire of the Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. Every year tens of thousands of American, European, and South American Jews get free trips to come on a two-week guided tour of Israel. For many this is a chance to see historical sites like Masada, practice whatever Hebrew they learned, and party with Israeli soldiers.

Romney Should Repudiate Scott’s Holocaust Tinged Bain Defense

The National Jewish Democratic Council urged presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) to repudiate the Holocaust reference made by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), in which he invoked Martin Neimöller’s famous poem First They Came… to shield Romney from attacks surrounding Bain Capital. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

It is absolutely unfathomable that Governor Rick Scott-who leads the state with the third largest population of Jews-would invoke the Holocaust to shield Mitt Romney from criticism over his record at Bain Capital. As we have said before, it is never acceptable to invoke the Holocaust to make a political point. This display of insensitivity towards the legacy of the Holocaust-and using Martin Neimoller’s powerful words-is just the latest example of a Republican official abusing the memory of the Holocaust and inappropriately inserting this rhetoric into civic discourse. All who understand and respect the sanctity of the memory of the Holocaust must condemn Scott’s tactless remark, and especially Mitt Romney, for whom Scott was stumping. Romney must make it clear that this sort of language will not be tolerated on the campaign trail. Failure to do so will make him the latest Republican to betray American Jews and the memory of those who perished by giving a free pass to this unacceptable use of this language.

The Associated Press reported this afternoon:  

The governor paraphrased a famous saying by Martin Niemoller, a German Protestant pastor….

‘We shouldn’t be allowing candidates to attack people in business,’ he said. ‘We should be saying, gosh, that’s us.’

Scott then paraphrased the Niemoller saying, which he has on a plaque in his office.

‘We’ve got to defend the freedom of the free market,’ he said after paraphrasing the quote. ‘If we don’t defend the free market, they’ll pick on somebody. Now they’re picking on Bain Capital, then they’ll pick on somebody else.’

Bain Capital is the private equity firm founded by Romney.

Scott later told reporters he used the Niemoller quote to say that capitalism should always be defended.

‘I have the quote in my office, and the reason is I have it is, we all have to think about watch(ing) what’s going on out there,’ Scott said.

‘Look at what’s happening in our society,’ he added. ‘I believe the free market is good for families. And I believe we should defend the free market. When you see somebody being attacked because they believe in the American Dream, we need to go out and say, gosh I would like to live the American Dream. All of us would like to live that American Dream.’

Press secretary Lane Wright further clarified the governor’s remarks.

‘He’s making a point, not an exact comparison,’ Wright said. ‘The quote illustrates a principle: Stand up for what’s right. If you don’t, no one else will. It would be reading too much into it to think he is comparing to the Holocaust.’

Or, in other words, ‘If you’re attacking capitalism, who’s next?’ Wright said.

Former Rep. Alan Grayson on Florida Gov. Rick Scott

CENK UYGUR: Joining me now is former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson to answer some of those questions. That conflict of interest blows me away. He’s got a company making millions of dollars from drug tests and he’s pushing the drug tests all over Florida? I mean, should they investigate that? What should they do about that?

ALAN GRAYSON: Well, look, he spent $70 million to buy the office of governor in Florida. He wants a return on his money. He promised us that he would run state government like a business. What we didn’t realize is he was going to run it like HIS business, like it’s all his. And that’s exactly what he has been doing. It’s not only what you said. In addition to that, he wants to cut all state funding for health care clinics. There are 4 million people in Florida who can’t afford to see a doctor when they’re sick. They have to go to health care clinics. He’s going to shut them all down so that they will be forced to go to Rick Scott’s clinics.

Transcript continues after the jump.
CENK: I mean, it’s beyond absurd. So, again, you know, let me turn to the prescription problem because that’s a whole, another thing. Why does he not want to track these prescription drugs?

AG: Well you said it. Florida has nine times as much as the rest of the country combined. I think eight times as much is Rush Limbaugh alone. It’s exactly what you said. I don’t think he wants to take the heat from Rush Limbaugh.

CENK: You think it’s just that simple? On Rush Limbaugh alone, he’s like, let’s leave these guys alone.

AG: Well look, all the right-wing leaders have catered to Rush Limbaugh for years and years. He says jump and they say how high. You’re seeing that now with the governor of Florida.

CENK: Let’s go back to the election for a second. There’s a new poll out that says if the elections were held today, Rick Scott would actually lose by 19 points. That’s a huge swing. So obviously the people of Florida, once that he got into power, and it didn’t take long, we’re like, whoa, that is not what we expected. So what did they expect and what did they get?

AG: Listen, this is somebody who made his fortune by cheating sick people. And the only reason why he got in in the first place is because Democrats in Florida, like Democrats all across the country, simply didn’t vote in 2010. And it’s like Ed Koch said in his last election. He said, “The voters have spoken, and now they will be punished for it.” And that’s exactly what you are seeing in Florida. We’re being punished for it. This is someone unfit to be governor; this is someone who is unfit for any job. My thinking was that he would get elected, he’d assume office and then he’d pardon himself and quit, but unfortunately he’s doing far worse than that. He’s using the state of Florida to stuff money in his own pocket, because he thinks the real problems facing Florida today, with 4 million people without health insurance, with 13% unemployment, the real problem in Florida is that Rick Scott doesn’t have enough money, and he’s dead set on doing something to correct that problem.

CENK: So final question for you. What can the people of Florida do about this? Now that they realize the scam he ran on them and you’ve seen they don’t like him anymore, and they’re like, whoa, I didn’t know he would funnel all this business to his own companies, now run by his wife, what can they do about it?

AG: Look, it’s a fundamental problem. The government is being run by a corrupt clique called the Republican Party of Florida. The last person in charge of the Republican Party of Florida was led away in chains and has been indicted. It’s as if the state has been taken over by the mafia, that’s how bad the Republican Party of Florida is. Unfortunately the governor himself appoints five of the nine members of the Florida’s Ethics Commission. So you can be sure that all those republicans are going to do nothing about this. The only recourse we may have in the end is to storm the Bastille.

CENK: What if he says, hey you know what? Look, I’m going to make more money; this money is going to get funneled to my companies because I’m going to drug test everybody? I’m going to drug test you and your dog and all that money is going to get funneled to me. What are you going to do about it? What can we do about it?

AG: I’m just glad that Rick Scott’s company doesn’t do proctological examinations, because then we would all have to bend over and cough.

CENK: Congressman Grayson, you are definitely clear on the topic. We appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.