Clinton Stumps For Sestak at JCC


— Bonnie Squires

President Bill Clinton stumped for his friend Joe Sestak, running for U.S. Senate, at the Golden Slipper Center for Seniors at the Kaiserman JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Wynnewood, his first stop of a very busy day.  Clinton praised Sestak for having an economic policy plan which fit with Clinton’s philosophy and success.

The appearance at the Jewish community center was a last-minute addition to Clinton’s whirlwind Philadelphia schedule as he came to town to honor former British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the Liberty Medal Monday evening.  But Clinton, who had campaigned for Sestak when the Congressman first ran for office five years ago , seemed genuinely delighted to speak to an adoring Jewish crowd on behalf of his former military advisor.

Clinton told the audience that each year the Pentagon picks the brightest member of the military to send to the White House as military advisor to the President, and they had selected Joe Sestak to send to him.  


Sestak’s words to the JCC audience reminded us of Senator Arlen Specter’s appearance there, years ago, when Lynn Yeakel was the Democratic contender for U.S. Senate.  Specter won that close race.  Perhaps Sestak had that in mind as he continued his wooing of the Jewish community.  And Clinton proved once again that he is a huge magnet, even with only a few hours’ notice.

Clinton gave a detailed analysis of the current economic situation in the country, pointing out the success of his philosophy when his administration turned around a huge deficit and left office with a huge surplus.  He credited Sestak with having a detailed plan and vision for creating jobs in three areas which are vital: small business, manufacturing, and the green economy.  

(photo credit: Bonnie Squires)

Astronaut at National Museum of American Jewish History

The first event held at Philadelphia’s New National Museum of American Jewish History is literally out of this world.

Bonnie Squires

Garrett Reisman, with his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, who was the first Jewish member of the space station crew, went up the first time in 2008 where he was able to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary. Israeli President Shimon Peres gave him the symbol of State of Israel to take with him for the occasion. His second trip was just in May of this year, where he and a fellow astronaut had to do a space walk in order to install an additional module to the space station.  
   The National Museum of American Jewish History hosted Reisman in a special event which was the first to be convened in the not-yet-completed new site of NMAJH.  Reisman, dressed in a flight suit, entranced the crowd of founding members of the museum with his stories of his space flight and one very interesting challenge he encountered in trying to install the new module on the space station.

More after the jump.

Bonnie Squires talks with Dr. Garrett Reisman.

   It seems the plug and socket would not fit which would have activated the electrical system.  Nos here was Reisman and his colleague, out in space, trying to comlete a task they had trained for during an entire year.  And it wasn’t working.
   Then Reisman had an aha! moment.  Calling into the space ship, he asked when they would be traveling directly into the rays of the sun.  Then he covered the plug end of the module to shield it from the heat, allowing the socket to expand from the incredible heat from the sun.  And voila!  He was able to push the plug into the socket.
   Of course, Reisman may have more scientific jargon for the plug, but I used the language most of us can understand.
   Reisman used a Star Wars / SAT analogy in order to relate how incredibly large the International Space Station is: “The Space Shuttle is to International Space Station, as the Millenium Falcon is to the Death Star.”
   A highlight of the evening, in addition to getting to ask questions of a Jewish astronaut, was the NASA film of his voyage, including some lighter moments of “flying” inside the spaceship and bobbing for M&Ms.
   But when I asked him how many hours a day he and his six colleagues had to work, not play, he answered matter-of-factly that in the entire twelve-day voyage, they only had four hours off.  And that was why, in the playful scenes in the film, all the astronauts were wearing the same shirts.  It all took place in one four-hour down-time segment.

   Impressive was Reisman’s commitment to the late astronaut from Israel, Ilan Ramon, who was lost in the Columbia shuttle disaster.  Reisman and Ramon had been in the same training unit, even sharing a Passover Seder together. Naturally, Reisman took up the flag for both American Jewry and Israel when Ramon was lost.
   Reisman had carried into space with him the original April 2006 proclamation that had created Jewish American Heritage Month.  
   Michael Rosenzweig, President and CEO of NMAJH, and Gwen Goodman, executive director emerita, praised Philadelphia Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and U.S. Senator Arlen Specter for their work in passing Jewish American Heritage Month and for having NMAJH designated as the museum of American Jewish history in America.

NMAJH board member Joe Zuritsky and his wife Renee; Executive Director Emerita Gwen Goodman; and CEO Michael Rosenzweig.

   Marcia Jo Zerivitz initiated the legislation for a Florida Jewish History Month, which was became the nation’s first such commemoration each January when it was signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) in 2003 saying “Everyone else has a month. We need a month too. We have so many stereotypes to debunk.”
   Zerivitz then set out to establish a National Jewish History Month despite a decision by the Bush administration to create “no more new months”. Debbie Wasserman Schultz took it on as a personal project to overcome the moratorium and succeeded in finding 250 co-sponsors to the legislation which gave it the critical momentum to come to the floor of the House of Representatives on December 14, 2005 where it passed unanimously 423-0. Senator Arlen Spector championed a similar measure in the Senate on February 14, 2006 and the bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in April 2006. Since National Jewish History Month has been observed each May.  
   The officials from the Jewish Museum of Florida and the Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition turned over the 2006 proclamation to the NMAJH, posing with the astronaut. The proclamation was launched May 14, 2010 on the Space Shuttle Atlantis travelling 4,900,000 miles on its 186 orbits before returning to Earth on May 25, 2010.
   After the flight, Reisman returned home on May 27 to find an invitation from President Obama in his mail inviting him to the first annual Jewish Heritage Reception at the White House on that same day. Reisman called the White House to say he would not be able to make it, but at least he had a good excuse for RSVPing so late: He was in outer space at the time.
   The fabulous new site of NMAJH will open to the public the weekend of November 12, 2010. The museum will feature the Mezuzah which Reisman installed on the Space Shuttle Atlantis next to his sleep station.
  Congreswomen Allyson Schwartz was instrumental not only in passing National Jewish History Month but also in a joint resolution recognizing the museum as the official National Museum of American  Jewish histroy.
   At the reception after the event, Betty the Caterer feted everyone with space themed fare including Dipping Dots, Tang, Star Fruit and Cosmic Cocoa. Afterwards, Reisman returned to his alma mater the University of Pennsylvania to catch up with some of his old friends.

Two Torahs: Columbia Torah (left) and Atlantis Torah (right).

  He then continued to California, where he participated in premiere of the film An Article of Hope at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival. The film is a documentary about the little Torah which Ilan Ramon took with him on the ill-fated Space Shuttle Columbia. Ramon received this Torah scroll from his Physics professor Joachim Joseph who received it when he had a secret Bar Mitzvah as a boy in the Nazi concentration camp Bergen Belsen.
  Everyone clearly agreed with National Jewish History Month coordinator Abby Schwartz that “it gives us such nachos to see a nice young Jewish boy honoring his people from outer space.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Campaigns for Dr. Manan Trivedi

Dr. Manan Trivedi, Congressional candidate for the 6th district; Bonnie Squires, board member of Philadelphia Jewish Voice; and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Bonnie Squires

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz  appeared on behalf of Dr. Manan Trivedi at a morning fundraiser in Merion at the new Town Hall Coffee Company coffee shop.  Wasserman Schultz said that she was there because she and the Democraitc Congressional Campaign Comittee believe that Trivedi can topple Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach in the November election.  Wasserman focused on the need to create jobs and support President Obama’s initiatives, something that her Republican colleagues have refused to do.

The Congresswoman and Lower Merion Democratic and Narberth Democratic Committee co-Chairs Jill Stein and Bill Leopold all turned to their Yiddish roots in search of a suitable words to express their praise for Dr. Manan Trivedi. Wasserman-Schultz recounted how Trivedi proved he was a real mensch when they first met at a Washington DC reception, and Trivedi used his skills as a physician and battalion medical commander to fix up her daughter’s injured foot before introducing himself to her as the candidate here in the 6th district.

She said she looks forward to being our Congresswoman when we retire to her Florida district twenty years from now. In the meantime, she looks forward to saying Mazel Tov to Trivedi on November 3 when he is elected our next Congressman.

Bill Leopold’s eloquent introduction follows the jump.

Dr. Manan Trivedi, Congressional candidate; Bill Leoold, co-chair of the Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee; Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Joanne Fischer; and Jill Stein, co-chair Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee, at the Trivedi fundraiser at the Town Hall Coffee Company.

Bill Leopold:

I want to provide a little bit of local history today, about what has happened since
Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District was gerrimandered by the Republicans in Harrisburg into the bizarre district it still is today. Even the Wikopedia still describes it as being in the shape of a pterodactyl!

In 2002, Dan Wofford ran against Jim Gerlach in a district fashioned specifically for Gerlach… and lost by the incredibly thin margin of 51.4 to 48.6 %. Lois Murphy then lost by two percent in 2004, and by only 1.2% in 2006, and Bob Roggio had a competitive race in 2006.

Now we come to 2010. Debbie Wasserman Shultz is here to support Dr. Manan Trivedi in his race. Like Dr Trivedi, she is a passionate advocate for health care. Her Awareness Requires Learning Young Act was included in the Affordable Healthcare Act for America signed in March 2010. It encourages national education about breast cancer. She was instrumental in passage of the Protect our Children Act, and in passage of the Virginia Graeme Pool & Spa Safety Act, to combat childhood drowning. Also like Manan, she is passionate about providing all needed resources for first responders and for our men and women in uniform.

Dr. Manan Trivedi listens as Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz discusses issues.

And now, as I introduce Manan, I get the right to embarrass him by a few personal words. Manan is personable and friendly while also also being firm and resolute. He is very sharp on all the issues but is actually able to speak in simple English sentences. He has served our country in uniform and learned valuable lessons from the experience. He is a physician and healer, who wants to use his knowledge to improve the system of care as we go forward with implementation of health care reform.

Finally, Manan, I want to provide you with education about a Yiddish word. The

word is mensch. It means “a nice guy,” and also means a person of integrity and honor. Quoting the great sage Leo Rosten in his book The Joys of Yiddish, the word means you are “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character, someone with character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Manan Trivedi…a real mensch.