Anti-Defamation League Honors Ambassador Dennis Ross

Ambassador Dennis Ross (left) accepts the Anti-Defamation League’s Distinguished Public Service Award from Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in recognition of his role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East Peace Process.  Mr. Ross, who recently retired from his role as a top Middle East advisor in the Obama Administration, is currently a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  Mr. Ross was presented with the award, a crystal Eagle representing America’s commitment to pursuing the ideals of freedom and democracy abroad, in a ceremony during the League’s annual dinner, February 9, 2012 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: David Karp/ADL)

Interfaith Passover Seder for Catholic and Jewish Middle School Students

— David Karp

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, left, and Abraham H Foxman, right, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, share a laugh as they eat matzah at a symbolic interfaith Passover Seder for Catholic and Jewish middle school students in Manhattan Thursday, April 7, 2011.  Sixty students from The Epiphany School and the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan joined together to learn the story of Passover and discuss common ties binding the Jewish and Christian communities. (Photo/David Karp)

Remembering the Victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

— David Karp

Susan Harris of Los Angeles visits the grave of her great uncle, Jacob Bernstein, on March 25, 2011, at Mount Richmond Cemetery in Staten Island, New York. Bernstein was among the 146 people who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, and the Hebrew Free Burial Association held a memorial ceremony to honor the 22 victims of the fire it buried at the cemetery 100 years ago. The Hebrew Free Burial Association provides Jewish burial rites and a final resting place for impoverished Jews. The fire led to major changes in workplace labor and fire safety laws. (Photo/David Karp)

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.

UN Condemnation of Israel is Modern Anti-Semitism

Israel’s outgoing Ambassador to the United Nations Prof. Gabriella Shalev received an enthusiastic sending off in New York from of a friendly crowd, as she delivered the 5th Annual Gershon Jacobson Memorial Lecture, hosted by the GJCF and the Algemeiner Journal.

This historic lecture, entitled Representing Israel at the UN: Challenge or Opportunity?” took place on Tuesday August 24th at the Park East Synagogue. The Ambassador took the opportunity to share the various hardships facing Israel at the UN, and also shared details of positive growth and development.

Shalev harshly criticized the UN saying:

“Sadly, there are countless human tragedies and immeasurable human suffering around the globe. Yet the United Nations reserves the overwhelming majority of its condemnation only for Israel. This can only be interpreted as the “politically correct” modern anti-Semitism. “

More after the jump.

“We cannot stop the witch-hunt against Israel that regularly takes place at the United Nations today.”

She insisted that despite the challenges, Israel must not walk away from the UN, quoting President Woodrow Wilson who said:

“I would rather lose in a cause that will someday win, than win in a cause that will someday lose.”

Shalev also spoke of the dangers of rhetoric saying:

“Some may simply dismiss all of this — all these meetings, resolutions and letters (at the UN) — as purposeless diplomacy, or as mere rhetoric.”

But, she said;

“We must also acknowledge the danger of words. The horrific genocide of the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers — it began with the inciting words of Nazi leaders.”

The Ambassador also acknowledged the positive power of words, stating:

“Words, indeed, may have a powerful force. Think, for instance, of the words of the United States’ Constitution or Israel’s declaration of independence; or the words of great leaders such as Washington, Lincoln, Herzl or Ben Gurion”

She also expressed gratitude for America support and the support of the American Jewish community:

“This hypocrisy, this double standard, this double talk, which is unleashed inside the United Nations, is checked only by one country, Israel’s best and closest ally: the United States of America.”

On the upcoming peace talks she said:

“The pursuit of peace will inevitably be a complicated and uncertain venture; but with the security of Israel we will never gamble. A request that Israel recognize a Palestinian state, as the nation-state of the Palestinian people, must be met with an acknowledgement that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.”


This annual lecture is one of many programs of the Gershon Jacobson Jewish Continuity Foundation (GJCF), established in 2005 after the death of Gershon Jacobson, the long-time editor and publisher of the largest Yiddish-English weekly, The Algemeiner Journal, Jacobson, one of the most respected and influential Jewish journalists of our time was described by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as “a warrior for truth.” Gershon served as a courageous, independent advocate for the most important issues facing the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

The GJCF, which bears Jacobson’s name, is dedicated to perpetuate his pioneering spirit by serving as a valiant media voice addressing the most compelling issues of our time, with vision, integrity and moral clarity, fighting for Jews and Israel in the media. The GJCF is directed by Simon Jacobson and Dovid Efune, and is overseen by a highly prestigious tribute committee. The GJCF is now responsible for publishing the weekly Algemeiner. For a comprehensive description of the GJCF’s activities, please visit the organization’s website.

Picture captions:
1. Ambassador Shalev delivers the 5th annual Gershon Jacobson Memorial Lecture. (Photo credit: David Karp)

2. GJCF and Algemeiner director Dovid Efune thanks Ambassador Shalev. (Photo credit: David Karp)