Educate! Empower! Endow! And Entertain

ON THE GO

By Masha Leon

Published May 14, 2004, issue of May 14, 2004.

“The myth is: We eat and non-Jews drink. Not so!” said Sylvie Sherman-Bloch to the 315 guests at the April 21 Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York benefit luncheon at The Pierre. A foundation grant recipient, the blond, attractive Sherman-Bloch, a recovering drug and alcohol addict, concluded with the unsettling query: “Is there an addict in your shul?”

Mistress of ceremonies Jane Hansen, WNBC anchor, articulated the foundation’s imperative: “Educate! Empower! Endow!” The foundation gives grants for Jewish women and girls, addressing domestic violence, eating disorders, economic empowerment, genetic testing, Jewish education and more. Education Award recipient Joan Rosenbaum, director of New York City’s Jewish Museum, touted the Jewish museum as a “major resource for understanding the history, values and ideas that bind the Jewish people.”

Endowment Award honoree Abby Joseph Cohen, a partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co. (who was inducted into the Wall Street Hall of Fame in 1997) said: “You know what I do. Today the stock market came tumbling … Employment is up … jobs created … But … we came here to talk about what is real and needs to be done.” Cohen later told me she is an avid Forward reader. “We also get the Yiddish Forward in my house, which my daughter reads.”

Introduced as “the humanitarian couple,” Kathryn Greenberg and Alan “Ace” Greenberg shared the Humanitarian Award and the podium. Mrs. Greenberg, founder of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), which provides free civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers, was adamant about the need to provide “something money can’t buy and marriage does not guarantee: self-esteem.” Accepting the mike, “Ace” Greenberg, chairman of the Executive Committee of The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. and a professional-level magician, stated: “[In 1984] I was knighted by the Queen of Denmark. Now you are going to see a quiet knight.” And then, to everyone’s surprise, he just sat down!

* * *

“Tonight I report that the Robert M. Morgenthau wing is complete,” said David Marwell, director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, at the April 25 Heritage dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the evening’s keynote speaker, told the 315-strong black-tie crowd that helped raise over $1 million for the museum that he was in a rush to get back to the final KNICKS/NETS game.

Covering much ground, the mayor noted that the museum was “the first construction completed after 9/11.” He commented on the 350th anniversary of the arrival in America of Jews “escaping persecution in Brazil.” He lamented that there is “still persecution of Muslims … [and] Jews.” He declared; “We have to continue fighting against terrorism … America is the beacon of freedom.”

The evening’s treat: film excerpts from “Ours To Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War,” the inaugural exhibition at the museum’s new wing. The videotaped recollections by veterans are poignant and, at time, humorous. They dovetail with the exhibit that celebrates the role of Jewish men and women who were part of the American war effort — on and off the battlefield. It is inspiring and uplifting! Don’t miss!

* * *

The April 26 Lincoln Center-sponsored Gala at Avery Fisher Hall honoring film star Michael Caine, chaired by Irene and Bernard Schwartz, was a mutual love fest, with Americans lauding Sir Michael (knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002) and Caine effusive in his praise for America.

Ira Resnick, chairman of The Film Society of Lincoln Center, launched the evening of tributes and clips from Caine’s body of work. In a video excerpt, Woody Allen recalled that though he originally wrote Caine’s role in the 1985 film “Hannah and her Sisters” for an American, Caine (a Brit) “was perfect” and went on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Role. Among the evening’s participants: Andrea Marcovici remembered that “at the end of a working day, [Michael] would go home to his wife Shakira.” Steve Martin recalled Caine telling him: “‘I’d go to actors’ homes and they’d have pictures of themselves on the walls. And then I’d go to the producers’ homes, and they’d have Monets on their walls.’”

In the audience: Ruth Westheimer, Joel Siegel, Sylvia Miles, and Caine fan Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, president of Iceland. “When I was 7, at the beginning of the Second World War,” said Caine,

Walking down the street my friend said, “That’s a Yank… ask him ‘Have you got any gum, chum?’… The soldier said, ‘sure.’ That began my love affair with America… You are a generous and wonderful people to foreigners and strangers… America is a land where the smallest thing is a wonder.

On Caine’s list of wonders: “White Strips for your teeth, dissolving breath tape, Post-Its, lasers to line up pictures on the wall.”



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