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Honoring Jewish Military Heroes

By Masha Leon

Jacob Goldstein, colonel and Army Reserve chaplain, introduced the keynote speaker,Sidney Shachnow, a retired major general of the U.S. Army and a former commanding general of U.S. Army Special Forces Command, at the Jewish Community Memorial Day Event, held at The Jewish Center, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, on May 23.Read More

Eli Zborowski Center Stage at American Society for Yad Vashem Luncheon

By Masha Leon

“Because I inaugurated the spring luncheon more than a decade ago, I have a proprietary feeling about this event,” said public relations specialist Rochel Berman, keynote speaker at the Annual Spring Luncheon of The American Society for Yad Vashem, held at the Marriott Marquis on May 16. “I’d like to speak about Eli Zborowski, president and founder of the American and International Societies? for Yad Vashem, who has been a central figure in my life for the past two decades.” A past executive director of the society, Berman, who, with her husband, George Berman, wrote “A Life of Leadership: Eli Zborowski, From the Underground to Industry to Holocaust Remembrance” (Ktav Publishing House/Yad Vashem, 2011), described Zborowski as one who “never saw himself as a victim — feelings common among survivors. Eli’s Holocaust experience was about struggle and courage rather than victimization and despair.” Berman informed: “Eli has maintained a very warm relationship with non-Jews in [his birth town] Zarki and with the Polish government, enabling him to play a significant role in opening the door to diplomatic relations between Israel and Poland.”Read More

Ronald Lauder and Jo Carole Lauder Host Reception for The Film ‘Follow Me”

By Masha Leon

In anticipation of the May 18 New York opening of the film “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story,” Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, and his wife, Jo Carole Lauder, hosted a reception at the Museum of Modern Art’s Ronald S. and Jo Carole Lauder Building on April 29. Among the guests were Marion and Elie Wiesel, members of Israeli and foreign diplomatic and cultural arenas, and representatives from major Jewish community and Holocaust organizations. “This is a historic, startling evening,” Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York, told the crowd in MoMA’s packed screening room. “We are starting five minutes early! I love Israel, and I want it to survive. This film is of great men and women of Israel. I remember [the Entebbe rescue] and feeling great pride.” He quoted the almost 97-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk, who said: “‘Follow Me’ is one of the strongest, most powerful documentaries I have ever seen about Israel.” Aharoni added, “This film should be made accessible to every young person in the community.”Read More

News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch Hails Israel at Museum of Jewish Heritage Dinner

By Masha Leon

“If you’ve been reading the papers lately, you realize I am pretty happy to be anywhere, particularly amongst such great friends,” said News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, the honoree at the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s 16th annual Heritage Dinner, held on May 7. Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News Channel and chairman of Fox Television Stations, presented Murdoch’s Award.Read More

Lucette Lagnado Recalls “Jewish” Egypt at American Friends of Rabin Medical Center Luncheon

By Masha Leon

At the American Friends of Rabin Medical Center’s April 26 luncheon, held at the restaurant Fifteen Central Park West, guest speaker Lucette Lagnado recalled an Egypt where “Jews, Muslims and Christians lived side by side until 1953.” She explained, “There was once a vigorous 80,000-strong Jewish community between Cairo and Alexandria; what is left now are 40 — mostly elderly widows.”Read More

From The YIVO Archives: The Unknown Memoir of Tuvia Bielski

By Masha Leon

On April 19, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research launched its “Treasures From the YIVO Archives” series at the Center for Jewish History. This first event included a panel discussion of — and readings from — a recently rediscovered memoir by Tuvia Bielski, leader of the Bielski partisans. Given to YIVO in 1955, the unsigned, handwritten manuscript resurfaced in the Institute’s archives in 2008. Robert Bielski, Tuvia’s son, now 59, confirmed the memoir’s authorship in 2010, when he exclaimed, “This is my father’s handwriting!”Read More

Avi Scher & Dancers Present Balletic Magic

By Masha Leon

So besieged by friends and fans was 28-year old choreographer/director Avichai Scher following the April 9 performance of his Avi Scher & Dancers program, held at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, that he and I had to postpone our post-performance interview. “At 5, I decided I wanted to dance, and I never looked back,” Scher told me during our chat later that week. “Both my grandparents and my parents were born in the USA. At 3, I was taken to Israel, where I lived for seven years near Herzliya and was raised Orthodox. Yes, my parents supported me.” Scher, whose dance training includes “being on scholarship at the School of American Ballet for eight years,” declared, “I have to keep creating, to shape my own works.” In 2008 he formed Avi Scher & Dancers “to build new audiences for neoclassical and contemporary ballet by presenting top dancers and new works in small, affordable venues. I choose the dancers, [who] are all great artists.” And so they were in the April 9 performance. The dancers, who are members of prominent dance companies and sported imaginative costumes, used their superbly honed techniques to performed five Scher ballets, three of which— “Phased,” “The Gift” and “Dwindle” — received their world premieres that day.Read More

Playwright Israel Horovitz Center Stage as He Is Honored by France in New York

By Masha Leon

“I parle Français like a Spanish cow,” playwright Israel Horovitz joked as he accepted the insignia of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, awarded to him on April 3 from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, in New York.Read More

Marlo Thomas Honored at Physician of the Year Awards Dinner

By Masha Leon

“My mother [who came to America from Zloczow, Poland, in 1919] vowed that her son would be the first family member to go to college,” Dr. Robert Brent said as he accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Castle Connolly National Physician of the Year Awards dinner, held on March 26 at The Pierre hotel. Referring to his “No fees charged, none expected” policy for consultations and phone calls, Brent, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, Radiology and Pathology and Louis and Bess Stein Professor of Pediatrics at both the Jefferson Medical College and the Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, said: “In 2012 I will have my 25,000th [free] consultation. You can do it through the Internet, but consulting cannot be summarized in a few minutes. Websites are meaningless unless there is someone who can explain.” I have sons who are doctors and a daughter who is a psychiatric nurse.” Of his 64 years of marriage, he said: “My wife has created a home with music and education as the focus… a plan to help make the world a better world.” Joking about his zest for life, he said, “I can’t believe I’m not even 60 years old!” William Liss-Levinson, vice president and chief strategy and operations officer at Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., presented the award. Liss-Levinson also serves on the board of the Jewish Book Council.Read More

Columbia University Hosts Charlie Rose’s Interview With Claude Lanzmann

By Masha Leon

“I hate the word ‘Holocaust’!” declared Claude Lanzmann, director of the nine and a half hour 1985 epic “Shoah,” during a March 20 interview with Public Broadcasting Service interviewer and broadcast journalist Charlie Rose at Columbia University’s Maison Française.. “To which god [were] 1 500,000 Jewish children sacrificed — gassed or killed — during World War II by the Nazis?” Lanzmann railed. “There is no proper word for what happened. During the 12 years [I worked on the film], I had no name for it. How could a name exist for something which never happened in the history of mankind? Some rabbis, at the end of the war, discovered the word shoah in the Torah, which means ‘destruction’…. It was barbarity. It should have been a film with no name.”Read More

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