The Boy Who Left Everyone Speechless

Rabbis Charles Sherman and his daughter, Nogah Marshall.

— by Bonnie Squires

When Rabbi Charles Sherman’s son, Eyal, was 4 years old, a tumor was discovered in his brain stem.

Despite the severe consequences of a stroke following his initial surgery, leaving the boy unable to move or speak, Eyal’s brain remained as active as ever. Even though his vocal chords were paralyzed, he could mouth words, and his family, especially his mother, have learned to read his lips.

With the devotion of his family, and innumerable trips to doctors’ offices and hospitals, Eyal was graduated from high school and then from Syracuse University.

Rabbi Sherman’s book, The Broken and the Whole: Discovering Joy after Heartbreak, tells the story of the decades-long struggle to create a fulfilling life for Eyal.

Last week, Rabbi Sherman was the kick-off speaker in the series Open a Book… Open Your Mind created by the Sisterhood of Har Zion Temple and the Jane Fishman Grinberg Religious School in Penn Valley. All through March and April, various authors will be giving talks and signing books at the synagogue.

More after the jump.
It was a homecoming of sorts for the Syracuse, New York-based rabbi. His wife Leah had grown up at Har Zion, they had been married by Rabbi Gerald Wolpe at the synagogue, and their daughter, Rabbi Nogah Marshall, currently serves as an education director at Har Zion.

The book, like Sherman’s talk, floats back and forth between the initial illness, the months of Eyal’s being in a coma at NYU Hospital, and the artist Eyal has become today, holding a paintbrush between his teeth.

Sherman constantly wrestles with guilt and holding onto his faith, but he has arrived, after decades of self-work, at a place where he is comfortable with his G-d and with himself.

Sherman told me about a home-bound tutor, sent by the New York School District, to work with Eyal when he was in a coma. She came by bus every day to the hospital for the months that Eyal was there, and she cleared the room and spoke to Eyal, even though he was unresponsive.

One week, Sherman recalled, she brought a drum to the hospital room, and banged on it right next to Eyal’s head, teaching him the history and uses of the instrument. Until that time, Rabbi Sherman said, whenever he visited a member of his congregation in a vegetative state, he would talk to the doctor, the nurses, the family members, but never to the patient.

One day, however, Eyal finally woke up from his coma and mouthed these words: “Who was that woman with the damn drum?” Rabbi Sherman learned that there is still a person inside there, and we all need to speak to the patient.

The frankness of the challenges that both his son, his family and he himself have faced through the decades is admirable. And the strength of his faith, despite the frailties of his son’s condition, is inspiring. The Broken and the Whole: Discovering Joy after Heartbreak has lessons for all of us.

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.

Hollywood Star Joshua Malina Is Still a Mensch

Joshua Malina (left) with Rabbi Aaron Gaber. Photo: Bonnie Squires.

— by Bonnie Squires

Joshua Malina, noted television, screen and stage actor, appeared at Congregation Beth Judah last Sunday. The title of his presentation was “How to Make it in Hollywood and Remain a Mensch.”

Malina, who had attended an orthodox Jewish day school in New York, went on to major in theater at Yale, and then to star in some of television’s greatest shows of the last two decades, including “Sports Night,” and “West Wing.”

Malina got his acting debut in Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway production of “A Few Good Men.” While getting his start in show business, he paid his rent with the help of his poker winnings. After establishing himself with minor roles in the films, he landed the role as Annette Benning’s assistant in “The American President.”

Throughout his successful career he has remained a staunch advocate for both Conservative Judaism, and for Jewish culture as a whole. He appeared in the Jewish Federation of North America’s “Live Generously” campaign, and considers his Conservative Judaism a foundational part of his character.  

Because of his background, Malina said he can go to any shul and instantly feel part of the community. He is bothered by the fact that there are so many famous Jews in Hollywood, but so few of them ever go public with support of Israel, as he has done repeatedly. He praised Olympic medalist Allie Raisman for having performed her floor routine in the gymnastics competition to the strains of “Hava Nagilah.”

Malina is very popular on the Hillel and Jewish Federation circuits around the country. He currently stars as David Rosen on the television series, “Scandal.”

Clinton Calls Women to Lead in Bryn Mawr

— article and photos by Bonnie Squires, The Public Record

When Hillary Clinton spoke last Tuesday at Bryn Mawr College, the site of The Women in Public Service Project’s second annual two-week summer session, I did not expect her to announce her decision to run again for president — it would be too early. But she did make a joke about getting into trouble whenever she advocates for more women to lead countries.

As expected, Tea Party proponents were quick to say that her appearance was a “smokescreen for her campaign for president.” I did not see any smokescreen here, but I wish she would announce the campaign sooner than planned.

More after the jump.
Clinton was there to keynote a project she had launched while she was Secretary of State, partnering at first with five leading women’s colleges, including Bryn Mawr. Her friend and ally, former Congresswoman Jane Harman, now head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, gave an enthusiastic introduction to Clinton, rattling off her accomplishments: first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, Senator and secretary of state.

Left to right: Betdy Williams, former State Sen. Constance Williams and former Congresswoman Jane Harman

Many of those present for her speech had walked a long mile with Clinton; and many clearly hoped to continue walking with her.

I kept thinking about the time during the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, when Clinton, then a candidate for the nomination, appeared at a campaign event in Philadelphia’s western suburbs, accompanied by her daughter Chelsea and her mother. And I recall standing with Hillary in a Center City hotel the night of the Pennsylvania primary election, when she won by a huge margin. What an exhilarating moment that was!

Harman asked how many had been with Hillary in Beijing in 1995 for the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women. My hand shot up, as did a few others. I spotted former State Sen. Connie Williams across the way, and her hand was raised as well. Then Harman reminded us that Hillary had told the world in Beijing, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”

That elicited great applause from the hundreds of alumnae, students, and elected officials, and the 50 women delegates to this year’s institute. But Hillary told the audience, “Speech is not a policy, [it] does not create change.” If women are not at the table, then the discussion cannot be fully reflective of the needs of all the people, she insisted.

Left to right: State Rep. Tim Briggs; Juliet Goodfriend, CEO of Bryn Mawr Film Institute; and Lynn Yeakel, of Drexel Institute for Women’s Health & Leadership.

Clinton certainly believes in the power of women. She asked how many of us had seen the film about Liberia, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” When murderous rampages overwhelmed the country, the women of Liberia rose up, marched on the facility where the warring sides were supposedly negotiating for peace, and blockaded the building, not letting anyone leave until the peace had been agreed upon.

She spoke mainly to the delegates from third-world countries which had undergone conflict or civil war, many wearing their colorful native costumes. The goal of The Project is “50 by 50:” to have 50% of the public service positions worldwide held by women by the year 2050.

I am glad I have saved all my “Hillary for President” buttons and signs, because it looks like there is a good chance I will be using them again in a couple of years.

Community Leaders Arrive at Outsider Art Exhibition Opening

Sen. Constance Williams (left), Museum chair of the board, happily greeted Mary Hurtig (center) & Judge Phyllis Beck (right)

— article and all photos by Bonnie Squires, Society Editor

The Philadelphia Museum of Art held the opening reception for the Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection exhibit, but a lot of “insiders” were there. The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz fabulous collection of self-taught artists attracted lawyers, politicians, corporate leaders and art-lovers. The Bonovitzes have pledged the collection as a gift to the art museum, making this one of the pre-eminent outsider art collections in the country. More than two dozen artists, from painters to carvers to ceramicists, are represented in the exhibition, and 200 pieces are on display. The Bonovitzes have spent thirty years collecting pieces of outsider art and Black folk art.

More photos after the jump.

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, who recently announced her intention to run for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party nomination for governor,and her husband Dr. David Schwartz were among the first to arrive

Joe Boardman, Esq., was happy to see the Hon. Joan Specter

Dr. Beverly Emanuel (left) with friends Charlotte (center) and Carroll Weingarten (right) were impressed with the collection and the hundreds of art-lovers who attended the reception

Comcast is a major sponsor of the exhibit, and Brian Roberts (left) was on hand to greet collector Sheldon Bonovitz

Among the hundreds of friends of the Bonovitzes and the art museum were Carole Saline and her husband Paul Rothblatt

Philadelphia Academy of Music Hosts Memorable Concert and Ball

No, the award-winning actor and star of Broadway and film, Hugh Jackman, is not Jewish, as far as we know, but we could not resist including him, backed up by maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin, on the stage of the Academy of Music.

— article and all photos by Bonnie Squires

When the Academy of Music and The Philadelphia Orchestra held their annual Concert and Ball on Saturday, January 26, 2013, Jewish philanthropists and supporters of the arts were prominent on the scene. Their businesses, corporations, and family foundations were listed and depicted in the gorgeous program journal, where charities, schools, colleges, and other worthwhile community endeavors are photographed and sponsored.

The volunteers and executives in charge of the mammoth event were far-seeing enough to have booked Hugh Jackman as the main talent far in advance of his nominations for his role in “Les Miserables,” for the Golden Globe award (which he won), the SAG award and the Academy Award. Jackman’s energy and passion in rendering numbers from shows he has performed in, like “Carousel,” as well as his role as Jean Valjean, inspired maestroYannick Nezet-Seguin and the orchestra to match Jackman’s verve.

More after the jump.

(left to right) Dianne Rotwitt, PA First Lady Susan Corbett, and Diane’s husband Jeff Rotwitt, Esq., at the President’s Reception preceding the Philadelphia Orchestra concert.

At one point, the Philadelphia Boys Choir, in bright red jackets, came on stage to sing background for Jackman. He also treated the audience to the sight of his seven-year-old daughter coming out on stage, offering a silver platter with a Philly cheesesteak on it.

Even the First Lady of Pennsylvania, Susan Corbett, got in the act when Jackman danced over to her VIP box, twirled her around while he sand “Mack the Knife,” and then planted a kiss on her cheek, to the cheers of the audience.

As you turn the pages of the program journal, a prized coffee table publication, you come across many Jewish names. There were so many hundreds of people at all the various venues of the event that I only got to capture a few dozen in photos. Others were spotted across a crowded dance floor at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, being serenaded by the Eddie Bruce Orchestra (18 members strong).

Marjorie and Peter Ochroch raved about Hugh Jackman and maestro Yannick.

Nancy and Ken Davis were among the many hundreds of delighted supporters of the Academy of Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The spirit and generosity of the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore hovered over the entire event, from start to finish, with the restored chandelier and the renovated ballroom, beneficiaries of the Annenbergs vision and philanthropy.

Just as they did for the Barnes Foundation opening, the Jewish community showed strong support for the Academy of Music and The Philadelphia Orchestra, emphasizing the theme of this year’s event: “Celebrating New Beginnings.”

Delighted with the 156th Anniversary Concert and Ball  and the huge turn-out are (left to right) Carl and Roberta Dranoff with Terese and Senator Bob Casey.

The Zuritsky Family joined in the “Celebrating New Beginnings” event which ended up at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue for dinner and dancing.  Here we see (left to right) Robert Zuritsky, CEO of the Parkway Corporation, with his wife Caroline, his mother Renee and father and founder of the firm, Joe Zuritsky.

Steve and Julia Harmelin  represented Steve’s law firm, Dilworth Paxson, which was one of the Major Sponsors of the evening.

(left to right) Joe Kluger and his wife Susan Lewis, a cultural arts reporter for WRTI-FM, joined Vada and Dave Conant at the gala.  Conant is general manager of Temple University’s WRTI-FM station.

Jeanette Lerman Neubauer and her husband Joe Neubauer,  Prime Sponsors of the Academy Concert and Ball,  greeted their friend Barbara Eberlein at the President’s Reception.

Bill and Lizzie Rubin joined Bill’s parents, Marcia and Ron Rubin, Benefactors of the event.


American Associates of Ben Gurion University 40th Anniversary

(left to right) Jeremey Kaplan, Cortnee Doll, Melanie Simon and Liza Mitgang, all students who have returned from studying at the Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, attended the recent Philadelphia Chapter Tribute Brunch held by the American Associates of BGU of the Negev. Photo credit: Bonnie Squires.

— by Bonnie Squires

American Associates, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU), held its Philadelphia Chapter 40th Anniversary Tribute Brunch, honoring Charlotte and Dr. Carroll Weinberg, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Sunday, November 11.  More than 170 friends and supporters of AABGU came to celebrate the 40th anniversary  of AABGU,  including six American students who have spent either a semester or an entire year at the Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program at BGU.

Sam and Connie Katz, co-chairs of the Philadelphia Chapter of AABGU, presented the Tikkun Olam Award to Charolotte and Dr. Carroll Weinberg for their decades of supports for the university.

The family of the late Harry Dozor, founder of AABGU, Dr. Rick Dozor, his mother Shirley Dozor and his son Harry Dozor, named for his late grandfather, received  a special Dreidel sculpture award for their continuing support.

Ambasssador Barukh Binah, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC, delivered the keynote address.

More after the jump.
(left to right) Dr. Carroll Weinberg and his wife Charlotte were honored by Philadelphia chapter co-chairs Connie and Sam Katz with the Ben Gurion University Tikkun Olam Award at a Tribute Brunch in Philadelphia in the Weinbergs’ honor.
Photo credit: Bonnie Squires.

Among the American Friends of Ben Gurion University gathered at the Tribute Brunch were (left to right) former PA State Senator Bob Rovner; Ambassador Barukh Binah, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Israel, who gave the keynote address; and Jack Bershad, AABGU Mid-Atlantic Region Chair.
Photo credit: Bonnie Squires.

Arlene and Stanley Ginsburg, Dottie Wasserman and Ann Waldman.
Photo credit: Bonnie Squires.

(seated) Murray Shusterman, Billy and Carole Stamps, and Aimee Katz.
Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires.

Honoree Charlotte Weinberg, her sister Rosalie Davison, and Marilyn and Bob Birnhak.
Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires.

American Associates of Ben Gurion U. Welcome Israeli Consul General

Israeli Consul General Yaron Sideman is welcomed to the American Friends of Ben Gurion University of the Negev reception in his honor by hostess AImee Katz and her daughter Kathy Katz-Hall. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

— by Bonnie Squires.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, held a reception to welcome the new Mid-Atlantic Region Israeli Consul General, Yaron Sideman.  Aimee Katz, of Bala Cynwyd, hosted the event, with Julia and Steve Harmelin, Esq., serving as co-hosts.  Derek Gillman, President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation, spoke briefly about his pride in the fact that limestone from the Negev had been selected as the building material for the new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Sideman had served previously in Lagos and in the New York Consulate.  He told the large group assembled about cooperative ventures between America and Israel, going on right now, particularly with military forces.

The Consul General talked about Israel’s concerns, regarding the Arab Spring and the unrest and uncertainty in the region.  During a question and answer period, he spoke of Turkey’s trying to gain favor with other Muslim countries, asserting that the break in relations between Israel and Turkey was initiated by the latter.

More after the jump.

Derek Gillman (right), President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation museum, introduced the new Mid-Atantic Region Israeli Consul General, Yaron Sideman, pointing out the architects of the new Barnes museum selected granite from the Negev for the new building. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

He also said that Tunisia, the country which initiated the overthrow of dictators in Arab countries, had benefited from Israel’s support in prior years, although he was not certain what Israel is doing currently or can do to assure the transition in Tunisia to a democratic state.

A few years ago, the American Associates had spent time in Tunisia before going on to the Negev in Israel.  The president of Ben Gurion University, Dr. Rivka Carmi, is a geneticist who has done much research on the occurrence of Fragile X Syndrome in communities of Tunisian Jews from Djerba who have migrated to Israel.

Connie and Sam Katz, co-chairs of the Philadelphia region’s AABGU, were unable to get back to Philadelphia in time for the reception because of Hurricane Sandy.  But the Charlotte and Dr. Carroll Weinreb, who will be honored at an AABGU brunch on November 11 at the Ritz- Carlton in Philadelphia, were delighted to be congratulated by Consul General Sideman at the reception.  Sideman will also be at the brunch and will be joined there by the Honorable Barukh Binah from the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Julia Harmelin (right) represented her husband, Steve Harmelin, Esq., who was traveling and could not make the reception. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

Irwin and Adele Lipton were delighted to be part of the crowd which welcomed Consul General Sideman. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

Murray Shusterman, Esq., was delighted to meet the new Israeli Consul-General. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

(Left to right) Consul General Sideman chats with hostess Aimee Katz and friend of AABGU committee Dottie Wasserman before Sideman spoke at the reception in his honor. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

Sen. Arlen Specter’s funeral a tribute to his life of service

Arlen Specter and his wife, former City Councilwoman Joan Specter, enjoyed the Barnes Foundation opening gala this past May a few months before Specter learned his cancer had returned for the third and final bout. Photo: Bonnie Squires

Barack Obama and Joe Biden attend a press conference welcoming Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party at the White House April 29, 2009. Photo: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images.

Sen. Arlen Specter and Gov. Ed Rendell during Specter campaign rally in Philadelphia, May 15, 2010. Photo: AP.

Sen. Arlen Specter was carried in a flag-bedecked limousine from Temple Har Zion to his eternal resting place at his family’s plot in Shalom Memorial Park. Photo: Daniel Loeb.

— by Bonnie Squires

Har Zion Temple was the site of the funeral for Senator Arlen Specter, and the thousands of people who poured into the main sanctuary, which had to be opened up to include the ballroom behind it, represented a cross-section of America.

Judges and lawyers and U.S.  Attorneys and academics and heads of charities and former Specter staffers by the score populated the seats at Specter’s funeral.  Candidates and former candidates from both sides of the aisle came to pay tribute to a mover and shaker who according to every speaker, did the right thing, the fair thing, even when voting for President Obama’s stimulus package would cost him his seat in the Senate.

Specter’s influence crossed political boundaries, racial differences, and economic backgrounds, as evidenced by the huge diversity of those in attendance to pay their respects to Joan Specter and her family.

Federal officials, past and present, like Senator Bob Casey, former Senators Ted Kauffman and Harris Wofford, and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies; state officers, including Governor Tom Corbett; federal and state judges; leaders of academia; and hundreds and hundreds of other notables, like Gwen Goodman, former executive director of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and Lee Ducat, founder of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.  Ducat nodded as each speaker mentioned Specter’s passionate defense of funding for cancer research and stem cell research, even when various Presidents decided to cut funidng of the National Institutes of Health.

Chief among the notables, however, was Vice President Joe Biden, who teared up as he spoke about Arlen Specter, his dear friend, who always was there for him, especially in times of personal crisis.

Biden and Specter seved in the U.S. Senate, and Biden said in his remarks that he knew he had spent more time with Specter than anyone else in the sanctuary, sitting with him in the Senate and especially in the Judiciary Committee meetings and hearings.

Biden also let people know that he had foregone campaign stops in two critical swing states, Colorado and Nevada, to pay tribute to his dear friend at Har Zion Temple.

President Obama that very morning had ordered all American flags to be flown at half-staff on all government properties, military bases, embassies, etc., in the nation and around the world, to salute Senator Arlen Specter on the day of his funeral.

But the people asked to speak by Joan Specter were close personal friends, like Biden.  Like Ed Rendell.  Like Flora Becker, widow of Judge Ed Becker.  Like Judge Jan DuBois.  Like Steve Harmelin, Esq.  Like Shanin Specter’s long-time law partner, Tom Kline.  Like Shanin Specter, the Senator’s son, and two of Arlen’s four grand-daughters.

Perhaps most remarkable, in all of their praise of Specter’s fairness and acumen, was the telling of how, less than two weeks before his demise, Specter insisted on teaching his class on the Constitution at Penn Law School.   I guess that was why Penn President Amy Gutmann was also in attendance.

Probably half the people in the throng owed their careers to Arlen Specter, either through having been hired by him when he was either District Attorney, or having been appointed by him when he chaired the Judiciary committee.

Although each of the speakers, including life-long friends Flora Becker, Judge Jan DuBois, attorney Steve Harmelin, Governor Ed Rendell, Specter’s son Shanin, and Vice President Biden shared wonderful anecdotes and memories of Specter, going back to Penn undergraduate and Yale Law School days, it was two of Specter’s granddaughters who made the greatest impact.  Sylvie Specter, by the way, is a friend and classmate at Penn of Biden’s own granddaughter.

Sylvie and Perri Specter told us that their grandfather had spent two weeks before his passing, working on yet another book – one that was a memoir with photographs from his amazing collection.  They announced that the family plans to complete the book and have it published, joining the array of Senator Specter’s other remarkable books.

Rabbi Kieffer, Rabbi Knopf and Cantor Vogel of Har Zion contributed to the testimonials, making this a remarkable send-off for a remarkable man.

National Liberty Museum Honors Collectors

Honorees Bob and Shelby Ford are joined by Gwen Borowsky and Arlene Silver at the National Liberty Museum awards reception and dinner., where the Fords were honored for their devotion to glass sculpture and their support of the museum and its mission. Photo: Bonnie Squires

— by Bonnie Squires

What do you do when your world-class glass scupture collection outgrows your residence?  If your name is Irv Borowsky, you buy an historic former bank building in Philadelphia and transform it into the National Liberty Museum.  You commission Dale Chihuly to create a four-story glass chandelier which indicates the flame of revolution and the fragility of freedom.  And then you hold an annual Glass Art Weekend & Auction Gala, and you honor supporters of the museum who are themselves connoisseurs of glass sculpture.  This year’s awards reception and dinner honored Shelby and Bob Ford and Inna and Alex Friedman.  Artist Therman Statom, who does unique things with glass, was also honored.

More after the jump.

Irv Borowsky, founder of the National Liberty Museum, and his wife Laurie Wagman greeted guests at the awards reception at the museum. Photo: Bonnie Squires

Patrons of the National Liberty Museum, including Herb and Phyllis Victor, and  Rhea and Dr. Morton Mandell, came to pay tribute to their friends who were the evening’s honorees. Photo: Bonnie Squires

The Museum houses one of the world’s most important collections of contemporary glass art to make the point that freedom is beautiful and strong, like glass, but also extremely fragile.  Through this unique metaphor, students learn that it is their responsibility to protect our nation’s heritage of freedom by making good and productive choices in their everyday lives.

Over 400,000 young people from the Philadelphia region and beyond have visited the Museum since it opened its doors in the year 2000.  Building on that success, the Museum created character education outreach initiatives that bring its message directly to area middle schools.  One such program, the highly successful “Young Heroes Outreach Program,” is funded by the proceeds of the National Liberty Museum‘s Glass Art Weekend & Auction Gala.  The money raised provides staffing, computers, lesson plans and classroom materials.  It also goes to forming a “Young Heroes Club” at each school, which empowers the students to identify and solve real-life problems they face in their school and community.

The National Liberty Museum is grateful to the many collectors and artists who recognize their connection to the Museum’s mission by generously donating and purchasing work at the auction.  The glass art community has been a major supporter of the Museum from the very beginning and will certainly continue to be a factor in the Museum’s success in the years to come.

The National Liberty Museum is located in historic Philadelphia at 321 Chestnut St.  It is open 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday and 12-6 pm on Sunday.  Hours extend to 7 days a week during the summer months.  The facility is fully wheelchair accessible.