The gala paid tribute to Biden as a supporter of Pennsylvania’s efforts to defend and embrace the American Jewish community and the freedoms to which Americans of all backgrounds aspire. Every day, the museum is dedicated to exploring the American Jewish experience — how an immigrant community and religious minority shapes and is shaped by America.
Echoing the museum’s mission, Biden has said, “… this generation of Americans has the opportunity so rarely granted to others by fate and history. We literally have the chance to shape the future — to put our own stamp on the face and character of America.”
Students from the Girard Academic Music Program performed “Tonight” and other songs from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” As Ivy Barsky, CEO of NMAJH, pointed out, the museum’s current special exhibit, which celebrates the centennial of Bernstein’s birth, is attracting visitors from across the country and around the world.
At the event, Biden received praise from Steve Cozen and Ron Rubin, who served as co-chairs of the gala, as well as presenting sponsors, along with their wives, Sandy Cozen and Marcia Rubin. Gov. Rendell had the honor of presenting the evening’s award to the vice president.
In a video shown during the program, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recounted an experience he had when visiting the Capitol with a group of students when he was 12 years old. The students were advocating for Soviet Jewry, and then-Senator Biden was the only one who stopped to speak with them. Biden promised to carry their message onto the floor of the Senate — and he did.
Hundreds of supporters, both Jewish and non-Jewish, lined up to greet Vice President Biden and congratulate him at the dinner.
Many remembered that Biden has been a long-time friend of the museum, and that in November 2010, he dedicated the museum’s building on historic Independence Mall in Philadelphia. More recently, in 2016, Biden received the annual Theodor Herzl Award from the World Jewish Congress, which recognizes outstanding individuals who work to promote Herzl’s ideals for a safer, more tolerant world for the Jewish people.
Photos by Bonnie Squires.