On The Go

Celebrating Rabbi Arthur Schneier’s Half-century Leadership at Park East Synagogue

By Masha Leon

The sanctuary of Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue was packed for the March 18 celebration of Rabbi Arthur Schneier’s 50th anniversary as the leader of the congregation. Israel’s consul general, Ido Aharoni, a congregant, quipped, “I was born when you were installed.” He went on to praise the rabbi as “integral to the Jewish life of the city… a builder of bridges. He is a compass for spiritual solidarity and ethnic conflict resolution.” Dubbing Schneier “a legendary New Yorker,” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli described him as “a rabbi of the human family. I don’t pay dues, but I count myself a member of your congregation.” New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver noted Schneier’s “wisdom, leadership and reaching out to the community.” Former New York City mayor Ed Koch recalled: “I, too, believe in the power of God and you and me. When I was in the hospital and Arthur came to see me, he told me, ‘Say after me: Heal me and I shall be healed.’ [John] Cardinal O’Connor came half an hour later and said to me, ‘If you like, I’ll pray with you in Hebrew.’” Koch chuckled and said, “I told him, ‘It’s already been taken care of, [but] can you do it in Latin?’”Read More

National Jewish Book Awards Fetes 18 Authors And Hails Gift From Patriots Owner Robert Kraft

By Masha Leon

“I always wanted to write a history of Jerusalem,” said Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of “Jerusalem: The Biography” (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, 2011), which received the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year award at the Jewish Book Council’s 61st National Book Awards Ceremony, on March 14. Held at Manhattan’s Center for Jewish History, the event was co-hosted by writers Samuel Freedman and Abigail Pogrebin. Explaining why he wrote the book, Montefiore, in a mellifluous British accent, cited Disraeli: “When I want to read a book, I write one!” Expounding on the Jerusalem of legend, fiction and reality, Montefiore said: “Pilgrims expect to find it an idyllic city…. There are no white angels…. The JBC described the book as “even handed. Its purpose is to neither inflame nor defend, but rather to enrich… any reader of any background — Jewish, Christian, Muslim or other.”Read More

Grace Hightower De Niro, Dr. Diane Reidy Lagunes and Dr. Emily Sonnenblick Honored at American Cancer Society

By Masha Leon

“When I was getting ready [to play] Jake La Motta [in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film “Raging Bull” and battling cancer and winning, it was nothing like the pressure of this speech,” Robert De Niro said before introducing his wife, Grace Hightower, one of three honorees at the March 1 American Cancer Society of New York’s Mother of the Year Award Luncheon, held at the Plaza. “I better do a good job or I won’t have a place to sleep tonight. You are one tough woman, Grace! I am proud of you. Mother, wife, friend, she is our mother-of-the-year every day. Today she is yours.” Hightower replied simply, “Nursing, protecting, caring, we are all mother of the universe.”Read More

Baron David de Rothschild Celebrates American Jewry

By Masha Leon

Baron David de Rothschild Celebrates American Jewry at Jewish Museum’s Purim BallRead More

Hadassah’s 100th Anniversary and Its Link to the Titanic Recalled at Temple Emanu-El

By Masha Leon

“There were giants in the land at the time,” said Temple Emanu-El’s senior rabbi, David Posner, at the New York synagogue’s February 24 Sabbath service in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.Read More

“Adolf Eichmann Trial: Fifty Years Later” a Pivotal Revisit to the Jewish Museum Ballroom

By Masha Leon

“Israel of the post-Eichmann trial [era] was forever different,” said Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York, at “Adolf Eichmann Trial: Fifty Years Later,” held at the Jewish Museum on February 13. The event was co-sponsored by the Israel Consulate and the Anti-Defamation League’s New York region. Aharoni continued: “It was the Eichmann trial that reminded us Israelis that for more than a decade — since the establishment of the State of Israel, in 1948 — we had been fearful of touching our own past…. The trial served as the first and most significant opportunity for the champions of the remarkable Zionist rebirth to comfort the survivors who silently lived among us.” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman welcomed an audience packed into the museum’s ballroom, where bleacher seating had been installed to accommodate the crowd. All were spellbound by the recollections of Tami Raveh, daughter of Gideon Hausner, who was attorney general of the State of Israel from 1960 to 1963 and chief prosecutor in the Eichmann trial, and Itay Arad, grandson of Isser Harel, who was director of the Mossad from 1952 to 1963 and commander-in-chief of the Eichmann Operation.Read More

Remembering Kutsher’s, a Many Splendored Resort

By Masha Leon

Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg’s documentary, “Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort,” which had its world premiere on January 26 at the New York Jewish Film Festival, caused me much angst. The fragmented look back to Kutsher’s glory days did not do justice to an institution that offered more than comics’ yuks, sporting events and an endless flow of food. Starting in the 1960s, my husband, Joe, and I made an annual weeklong pilgrimage to the Catskills — and every few years our Kutscher’s visit made it into my Forward column. The following is an excerpt from my July 25, 1997, column.Read More

An Animated Affair

By Masha Leon

“It’s been a great year for Bezalel across the globe, with exhibitions in London, Venice, Paris and Israel,” declared Ilan Kaufthal, chairman of the Friends of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, at a January 24 gala.Read More

March of the Living Reception Hosted by Israel Ambassador

By Masha Leon

“We do it every year, like Exodus,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, at the January 17 March of the Living reception.Read More

Agnieszka Holland Shines Light on Heroic Poles

By Masha Leon

“My first reaction was, ‘I can’t do it!’” Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland told me during our chat about her film “In Darkness,” which opened in New York on January 27 and has been nominated for an Academy Award.Read More

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