Real-Life CSI: Tales from the Grave


— by Bonnie Squires

On Thursday, November 17, meet the Montgomery County Coroner himself, when he visits The Franklin Institute to discuss real-life CSI. Known for his entertaining style and fascinating tales, he’ll delve into the vast differences between his role in crime-solving and how it’s portrayed on the popular television shows. Guests are encouraged to come early and tour CSI: The Experience in advance of the event.   Dr. Hofman is pictured here inspecting one of the “crime scenes” on display at The Franklin Institute as part of the CSI: The Experience exhibit.

More details on our Community Calendar.

Jewish Democrats Win Historic Election in Montgomery County


— by Bonnie Squires

Leslie Richards and Josh Shapiro were ecstatic with the response of fellow Democrats as they announced that they had received a call from Bruce Castor conceding  the election, making the Democrats the winners of the Montgomery County Commissioner majority seats for the first time in history.  For 140 years, the Republican party had dominated the suburban Philadelphia county’s politics, but November 8, 2011, became an historic day, as the Democrats won the county-wide election with comfortable margins.

This is also a historic election in that both Shapiro and Richards are Jewish.  Preliminary figures have Shapiro with 87,965 votes and running-mate Ms. Richards at 86,014, to Bruce Castor’s 76, 635, and Jenny Brown’s 74,983.  Castor is an incumbent Republican county commissioner, and Brown is a Lower Merion Township Republican commissioner.  The top three vote-getters, Shapiro, Richards and Castor, will be sworn in January in Norristown.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates Awarded Liberty Medal


Liberty Medal award-winner Secretary Robert Gates and David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center

Presenting the Liberty Medal to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were SFC Dana Graham of the Liberty USO, Anthony Odierno, representing the Wounded Warrior Project, and David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center.

After a lifetme of public service, in the CIA, and ending with serving as Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Robert Gates was awarded the Liberty Medal on September 22 at the National Constitution Center.  The word “liberty” took on added meaning as David Eisner, the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, had invited Iraq war veteran Anthony Odierno, representing the Wounded Warrior Project, and SFC Dana Graham of the Pennsyvalnia Army National Guard, representing the USO of Pennslvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO), to present the actual Liberty Medal to Dr. Gates.

More after the jump.


Jim Gardner, of Channel 6 ABC, hosted the television broadcast of the Liberty Medal ceremony.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was one of the dignitaries who appeared by video to congratulate Secretary Gates and sing his praises.

With Governor Tom Corbett and Mrs. Lisa Nutter joining other diginitaries on stage, the program included video tributes from Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mayor Michael Nutter.  Gates is unique in having served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, which made his remarks of concern for the condition of public discourse in the country and in the nation’s capital today even more pertinent.

The VIP audience included a representation of the area’s Jewish community, some of which are pictured here.

(photos by Bonnie Squires)


Harold and Lynn Honickman

Joan Specter awaits Senator Arlen Specter, who was teaching a class before attending the Liberty Medal event.

Eugene and Roz Chaikin

A new twist on this year’s Liberty Medal ceremony was the introduction of the official timepiece by Hublot, presented to Secretary Gates at the gala which followed  the award ceremony.

Steve and Sandy Sheller

Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 35th Anniversary Dazzles Audience


(left to right) Ken Kaiserman, long-time Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) board member and past president, was congratulated on his being honored at the 35th anniversary gala by Mayor Michael Nutter and CBS3’s Pat Ciarrocchi, who served as auction host.

— by Bonnie Squires

The Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) dazzled hundreds of supporters with its 35th Anniversary celebration Gala, honoring long-time board member Kenneth S. Kaiserman of Kaiserman Company, Inc., and PTC Producing Artistic Director Sara Garonzik on Monday, June 6 at 6PM in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt at the Bellevue.  Governor Ed Rendell served as master of ceremonies, and his son Jesse beamed approvingly from the first table down front.

In addition to the honorees, Rendell praised Suzanne and Ralph Roberts, and Carl Dranoff, the developer of Symphony House, which houses the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, the permanent home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company.

The evening featured appearances by multiple Tony- and Emmy-award-winner Tyne Daly, star of  the upcoming revival of Terrence McNally’s Master Class on Broadway; Broadway and film star Kathleen Turner, who starred in PTC’s world premiere of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins; Tony Award-winner and frequent PTC performer John Glover; Quentin Darrington, star of the recent revival of Ragtime; and the glorious voice of Alexandra Silber.  

More after the jump.


 (left to right) Jesse Rendell joined Paula Cohen, Richard Green, chairman of Firstrust Bank, and Tim Abell, president of Firstrust Bank, for the festivities at the Bellevue Stratford-Park Hyatt.

A highlight of the Gala was the announcement of the establishment of the Terrence McNally New Play Award presented by Philadelphia Theatre Company annually starting in 2012 in honor of great American playwright, Terrence McNally. McNally  took to the stage to explain that the award recipient will be a playwright who has written a full-length work that celebrates the transformative power of art. Philadelphia Theatre Company premiered Master Class and Golden Age, two of McNally’s works that capture the spirit of this award, which consists of a cash prize for the playwright as well as development support from PTC.


(left to right) Jeffrey Riesenbach, Rachel Hancock, CBS3’s Pat Ciarrocchi, and Cookie and Jerry Riesenbach, Esq., were delighted with the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 35th anniversary gala, especially since Jerry is a past president of the PTC board and both Cookie and Jerry served on the gala committee.

Sara Garonzik, Producing Artistic Director, has directed and produced for Philadelphia Theatre Company since 1982, and introduced more than 140 world or regional premieres of major new American plays and musicals to Philadelphia. Sara is listed in “Who’s Who of American Women” and was named one of Business Philadelphia’s and Philadelphia Magazine’s “People to Watch.” She currently serves as a Board Member of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, as President of the Board of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and on the Advisory Board of PlayPenn, a new play development organization.


(left to right) Howard and Phyllis Fischer; Ron Kaiserman; and Bernie Brownstein, joined the hundreds of supporters at the PTC 35th anniversary gala.

Kenneth S. Kaiserman has served on Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Board of Directors for 34 years, and chaired PTC’s Capital Campaign to build the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Ken is also a Board Member of Brandeis University, Friends of Rittenhouse Square, North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Ken is President of Kaiserman Company, Inc., a real estate development firm which owns and operates commercial and multi-residential property in the tri-state region.


Ralph and Suzanne Roberts were delighted with the support expressed for the Philadelphia Theatre Company and its permanent home at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.

Co-chaired by Brigitte F. Daniel, Carol Saline and Paul Rathblott, the Gala combines an entertainment-filled evening and an opportunity to bid on tokens of affection including romantic get-aways, candlelight dinners for two at some of the area’s finest restaurants, one-of-a-kind experiences, jewelry, crafts, and VIP tickets to sports and cultural events.

Founded in 1974, Philadelphia Theatre Company is a leading regional theater company whose mission is to produce, develop and present entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater focused on the American experience that both ignites the intellect and touches the soul.  By developing new work through commissions, readings and workshops PTC generates projects that have a national impact and reach broad regional audiences.  Under the leadership of Sara Garonzik as PTC’s Producing Artistic Director since 1982, PTC supports the work of a growing body of diverse dramatists and takes pride in being a home to scores of nationally recognized artists who have participated in more than 130 world and Philadelphia premieres.  PTC has received 45 Barrymore Awards and 147 nominations.  In October 2007, PTC moved into a home of its own, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on Center City Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts, solidifying the Company’s status as a major player on the American theater scene.  In October 2010, Kathleen Nolan joined PTC as its Interim Managing Director.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires

Israel 63rd Anniversary at National Museum of American Jewish History


— by Bonnie Squires

Philadelphia Israeli Consul General Daniel Kutner held a celebration of Israel’s 63rd anniversary at the National Museum of American Jewish History, and hundreds of area residents and VIPs turned out.


Mayor Michael A. Nutter (left) joined Consul General Daniel Kutner (right) for the celebration.

Sam Katz, Rabbi Aaron Landis, Councilman Jim Kenney, and Joseph Zuritsky (left to right) were among the people who came to the National Museum of American Jewish History to celebrate Israel’s 63rd anniversary.

More after the jump.

The Honorable Daniel Kutner (left) welcomes Dean Moshe Porat of Temple University’s Fox School of Business  (right) to the reception. Mayor Michael Nutter offered his well wishes to Israel on the occasion of its 63rd anniversary. (Left to right) Rabbi Eliseo Rosenwasser, of Har Zion Temple, and Liliana Elkouss were pleased to see former Congressman Patrick Murphy at the celebration.

Drexel University Dedicates James E. Marks Intercultural Center


— story and photos by Bonnie Squires

Confetti rained down on philanthropist and Drexel trustee emeritus James E. Marks at the dedication of the new Intercultural Center named for Marks.  The James E. Marks Intercultural Center is located on the northwest corner of 33rd and Chestnut Streets and welcomes all University students and alumni, regardless of religious traditions, humanistic beliefs, or cultural values. The Center embraces the University’s broad definition of diversity, which includes socioeconomic status, ability, political beliefs, racial and ethnic background, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

More after the jump.  

At the dedication of the new James E. Marks Intercultural Center at Drexel University are (left to right) James E. Marks and his wife Peggy; Drexel trustee Renee Amoore; and Drexel President John Fry.


Rabbi Howard Alpert, head of Philadelphia Hillel, congratulates James E. Marks at the dedication ceremony for the Intercultural Center in Marks’ name, as Drexel University President John Fry joins in the celebration.  Although the center is not sectarian, students, faculty and alumni of all religius backgrounds are welcome, as are all people with diverse backgrounds in gender identification

Bonnie Squires Honored At Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival


Bonnie Squires, president of Squires Consulting, was  honored by the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival at its recent New Filmmakers Festival at the Gershman Y,  for her 25 years as vice-chair of the PJFF and her role in creating the New Filmmakers Festival.  She is seen here with Louis Coffey, Esq., chairman of the board of the Gershman Y, who made the presentation.

International Jewish Funders Network Convenes in Philadelphia


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

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

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

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

More after the jump.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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



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



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

Photos: Bonnie Squires.

National Constitution Center, Ken Burns and PBS Partner to Support “Civility and Democracy”

Joint Initiative Launch Tied to National Constitution Center’s

“Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America”

Saturday, March 26 – Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bonnie Squires

David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center (NCC), today joined filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick and Corporation for Public Broadcasting President Patricia Harrison to announce collaboration to foster a national conversation about “Civility and Democracy.”  

More after the jump.

The National Constitution Center hosted a kick-off press conference, featuring filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, prior to their weekend of national speakers and panelists, dedicated to “A conversation about Civility and Democracy in America.”
Seen here in the Annenberg Center are (left to right) David Eisner, CEO of the National Constitution Center; Ken Burns; Patricia Harrison, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Tom Phelps, of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Ken Burns, whose new documentary, “Prohibition,” was highlighted over the weekend;  and Lynn Novick, Burns’ partner in filmmaking.

As part of the project, NCC and PBS station WETA Washington, DC will work together to develop educational materials and Web content connected to Burns’s and Novick’s upcoming film, PROHIBITION, which is scheduled to air this coming fall on PBS.  The film takes viewers beyond the oft-told tales of gangsters, flappers and speakeasies to experience the rise, rule and fall of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Burns and Novick will work with WETA, PBS and the National Constitution Center to create station and public engagement tools around the theme of “Civility and Democracy,” and lead conversations about the issue in a multi-city tour that will take place this spring, summer and fall.

The announcement was made on the eve of “Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America” at the National Constitution Center on March 26th and 27th.  The conference is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Bridging Cultures program.

Highlights from PROHIBITION will be incorporated into some of the Center’s workshops throughout the weekend.  Participants – along with the general public – will be provided an early look at the film the night of Friday, March 25th at the Center.

“The idea for ‘Can We Talk?’ is to engage in a national conversation about the role of civility in our democracy,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner.  “There can be no better partner to make this conversation meaningful and broad-based than one of America’s greatest storytellers, Ken Burns.”

“With each Ken Burns film, PBS works with local stations, such as WHYY in Philadelphia, one of our leading stations for civic engagement, and other partners to create a national conversation about issues as diverse as our parks, the experience of war, and America’s love of baseball,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS.  “PROHIBITION is a remarkable film that will engage viewers around the country and just as importantly serve as a starting point for conversations in schools and at the dinner table.  This partnership will help us provide even more tools to stations and community groups as Ken and Lynn travel the country over the months ahead.”

“There is no topic more important to the ongoing health of our republic than civility and democracy,” Ken Burns said.  “No period in American history is void of conflict.  There is no idyllic moment in American life.  But civility is essential to our ability as a nation to confront together difficult issues, even when we may disagree, and to continue to improve as a country.”

Patricia Harrison, the President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which has partnered with WETA on station engagement and community outreach, said, “Ken’s films connect us, no matter what our background, heritage or station in life, to our country’s past in a way that provides us with an understanding of the present and the issues shaping our lives today.  Public media is committed to providing, through our content and engagement with community, a safe place where people can debate and disagree in a way that affirms, not diminishes, our civil society.  Through PROHIBITION, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick offer an opportunity to follow the law of unintended consequences through the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  As a result, PROHBITION provides public media stations throughout the country an opportunity to engage with students, parents and partners, such as the National Constitution Center, as we take a thoughtful look at this important time in our country’s history.”

“In many ways, Prohibition is an example of an era when strongly held views by one group led to consequences that no one could have foreseen at the time,” said Lynn Novick.  “Ken and I are very excited about the opportunity to the work with the National Constitution Center, PBS stations and others across the nation to embark on a conversation that we hope results in greater civility and ultimately a stronger democracy.”

“Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America”

An interactive, interdisciplinary forum, “Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America” will bring together the best and brightest from such fields as history, government, communications, and political philosophy.  This renowned group will guide public discussion of the role of dissent and protest throughout American history, and the degree to which dissent can and should be civil.  At the close of the event, participants will present guidance on the tools, systems, and best practices that may contribute to productive social and political movements in the future of our nation.

The forum will feature three main parts specifically designed to foster active public engagement with the topic: an opening keynote address, a set of small group discussions and a large town hall-style exchange that will be taped for broadcast at a later date.  Portions of the conference also will be webcast live at www.constitutioncenter.org.  The Center’s new blog, Constitution Daily, will feature live blogging of the events and ongoing coverage about civility and its connections to the Constitution at http://blog.constitutioncenter…

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Educational and Web Materials

As part of the partnership, NCC and PBS member station WETA Washington, DC will work together to incorporate themes from “Can We Talk?” into educational and web materials to support the broadcast.  The web site for PROHIBITION will be accessible via pbs.org, one of the most successful .orgs in the world, and will reach millions of people of all ages.  In addition to educational materials, the site will include selections from scripts, outtakes and transcripts from interviews, archival footage and photographs, music, a bibliography, and timelines.

WETA and PBS also will launch a social media campaign designed to engage audiences online in conversations and discussions around the themes in the film.  Video clips from the broadcast also will be posted on the PBS YouTube Channel.  Fans can follow Ken Burns on Twitter @kenburnspbs or on Facebook at facebook.com/kenburnspbs.

Community Engagement

For each Ken Burns film there is a comprehensive national engagement campaign designed to work in conjunction with the broad promotional plans in order to help create a larger discussion around important topics addressed in the film.  For PROHIBITION, WETA will offer grants to stations to help them explore civility and democracy-related themes and issues in their local markets.  Station activities will include screenings and panel discussions, local productions, customized classroom materials, social networking, and online modules and multi-media projects.

It is expected that events will take place in up to 15 markets (including New Orleans, St. Louis, Baltimore, Louisville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Columbus, Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington, among others).

When in market, Burns, Novick and others will screen highlights of PROHIBITION and lead discussions about the film and “Civility and Democracy,” as well as visit local schools to discuss these topics with children.  

Dispelling Rumors in Tunisia

Bonnie Squires

Today the president of the Jewish community in Tunisia, Roger Bismuth, informed AFP (Agence France Press) that no anti-Semitic act has been signaled in Tunisia since the start of the popular revolution.

Cautioning against a rumor that surfaced on Tuesday regarding a fire in a synagogue, Mr. Bismuth declared “at no time were the Tunisian Jews either a target of attacks or targets of foul comments during this revolution.”

The chief of the Tunisian Jewish community, which numbers 1600 persons, stated a “formal denial” of “a rumor describing a fire in a synagogue” on Monday evening in El Hamma, near the coastal town of Gabes (south east). He added that “There is no synagogue in El Hamma. There is a mausoleum for a great Rabbi, which is a site of pilgrimage. Monday night several buildings in the region were the target of vandalism and the guard house of the mausoleum was vandalized and a few chairs stolen.”

The Jewish community in itself was not a target. He explained that “A building of the UGTT (the main Tunisian labor union) was vandalized, and so were other buildings.”

More after the jump.
“We need to be very careful with rumors. Some are trying to make us believe that there is an intention to attack synagogues. That is not true.” He insisted, “We are neither worried, nor did we request special security protection from the government because we are convinced that there is no reason to do so.”

Tuesday, several leaders in the local Jewish community mistakenly confirmed to AFP and AP (Africa Press) a fire in the synagogue at El Hamma, after allegations were made by an Anti-Semitism watch-dog group in Paris.

Several officers in the Tunisian league for human rights denied these allegations and warned against the multitudes of rumors of different kind circulating in the country while security was not totally re-established.