American Friends of the Israel Museum Gala Celebrates 1 Million Visitors in 2011

The Shmooze

By Masha Leon

Published November 10, 2011, issue of November 18, 2011.
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American Friends of the Israel Museum Gala Celebrates 1 Million Visitors in 2011

Addressing the 500 guests at the American Friends of Israel Museum gala, held at Cipriani 42nd Street on October 24, AFIM President Stephen Lash said: “Tonight we celebrate “Art Next Next Art,” highlighting Contemporary art at the Israel Museum and signaling our priority for the next four years: to enhance the collections by filling specific gaps, with an eye toward the museum’s 50th anniversary, in 2015.”

Lash touted the Israel Museum’s millionth visitor, who arrived in August 2011. He noted that the milestone marks “a remarkable achievement in a city of only 700,000.”

In his address, the museum’s director, James Snyder, noted that the joint project between Google and the museum (known as Google/IMJ) of digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls “reached 1 million visitors within three days of launch, [with] visitors from 210 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and beyond.” Later, Snyder told me, “Considering the museum’s location [and] its centrality from Jerusalem to the rest of the world, the international response is very gratifying.”

The invitations to the event, done as holograms, reflected the museum’s ingenuity, as did a striking green-ribbon sculpture by David Stark, which hung suspended from the ceiling above the diners at Cipriani’s. The evening’s guest list includedWendy Lash; Tina Snyder, the director’s wife; Judy and Michael Steinhardt; Linda and Harry Macklowe; Charles Bronfman, and Stacey Bronfman.

Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Ball Honors Somers Farkas and Mindy Grossman

“I thank you on behalf of the 15 million caregivers across the nation for all you have done for the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, founder and general chair, at the association’s 28th annual gala, held at the Waldorf Astoria on October 25. “As you know, this is a deeply personal cause for me. After years of misdiagnosis and misunderstanding her behavior, my mother, Rita Hayworth, was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1981…. One terrible day, we stood together in front of a mirror — mother and daughter — and she turned to me and asked, ‘Who are you?’ It broke my heart. That was the moment I lost my mother.”

Named by Forbes magazine in 2009 and 2011 as one of the world’s most powerful women, Corporate Award recipient Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, Inc. and president and CEO of Polo Jeans Co., told me, “After what my mother went through, [I am grateful] I had the resources to care for her.” The Rita Hayworth Award was presented to Somers Farkas, longtime advocate for the association, and wife of real estate heir Jonathan Farkas, whose father, George Farkas, founded Alexander’s department store.

The assembled gentlemen in black tie included John Loeb Jr., Victor Garber and David Hyde Pierce. In keeping with “Hollywood glamour,” the theme of the gala, the guest list also included ladies dressed in exquisite gowns, among them Muffie Potter Aston, Denise Rich, Sharon Bush, Alexandra Lebenthal, Nazee Moinian, Margo Catsimatidis, Donna Dixon and Andrea Stark.

Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder Awarded the Hadrian Award by World Monuments Fund

“Why is a nice Jewish boy like me getting the Hadrian Award?” joked Ronald Lauder. Along with his wife, Jo Carole Lauder, he received the World Monuments Fund’s Hadrian Award at a black-tie gala held on October 27 at The Plaza. Lauder added that Roman Emperor “Hadrian was not a good guy. He was brutal, but he did build Hadrian’s Wall in Britain, and if not for him we would not have Rome’s magnificent old monuments.”

‘Nice Jewish Boy’: Honoree Ronald Lauder.
karen leon
‘Nice Jewish Boy’: Honoree Ronald Lauder.

In 1988, Lauder helped found WMF’s Jewish Heritage Program, which supports conservation work at Jewish heritage sites in more than 20 countries. Recalling his first visit to the 19th-century Tempel Synagogue, a Reform synagogue in Krakow, Poland, Lauder said, “I was standing on the balcony and asked what needs to be fixed first. I was told,‘ The balcony you are standing on is about to fall!’ A synagogue is more than a religious place. It is a center where the community comes alive.”

The event’s honorary chairs were Alma Powell and her husband, Colin Powell (who could not attend), former secretary of state. Alma Powell presented the award to the Lauders.

Lauder recalled growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West side, on West End Avenue and 74th Street. “Across the street there was a house that looked like a big castle,” he said. “One morning it was gone, destroyed. I was crying that something so beautiful was destroyed. Two years later, one of the 20th century’s ugly buildings [replaced it].” Lauder also looked teary-eyed as he remembered the destruction of Penn Station. The founder of Neue Galerie in New York City, Lauder declared his love for art.

Marcela Perez de Cuellar received the WMF’s 2011 Watch Award for her advocacy to restore Peru’s cultural heritage. Her husband, Javier Perez de Cuellar is a former secretary-general of the United Nations.

According to the gala’s program notes, “The WMF presents its Hadrian Award to international leaders whose patronage has advanced the understanding, appreciation, and preservation of the world’s art, architecture and cultural heritage.” The award was inspired by the Roman Emperor Hadrian (C.E. 76–138), who, the program said, “demonstrated a concern for the survival of outstanding artistic works and a desire to convey the standards embodied in these works in his contemporary world.”

Jewish National Fund Honors Laureine and David Greenbaum With “Tree of Life” Award

At Jewish National Fund’s annual Tree of Life Tribute, held on November 1 at the Waldorf-Astoria, 780 guests applauded honorees Laureine and David Greenbaum. Ido Aharoni, Israel’s consul general in New York, delivered the keynote address, and Stanley Chesley, JNF’s president, introduced the honorees. David Greenbaum is president of Vornado Office in New York (a division of Vornado Realty Trust). Laureine Greenbaum, formerly an attorney specializing in copyright law at CBS Inc., co-founded, and is co-chair of, Project Cicero, a New York City book drive that has donated more than 1 million books to under-resourced city pubic schools. The dinner’s proceeds will benefit the JNF Parsons Water Fund, a comprehensive $100 million, 10-year initiative to increase Israel’s supply of high-quality water. Beginning when JNF was founded in 1901, the organization’s blue coin boxes were distributed to Jewish homes to help purchase land and return the Jewish people to their homeland in Palestine. By the time World War II began, more than 1 million of these blue boxes had been sent to Jews worldwide. At this year’s award dinner, each guest received a modern, metal version of the blue pushke. In the past, JFN gave out at its dinners single fir tree saplings. In my yard grow 10- to 20-year old evergreen bushes that had once been such JNF saplings.

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