Glenn Close Fetes Pat Mitchell At Elly Awards

Never has the adage “If you want something done, ask a busy woman” so aptly fit the description of the honorees at the June 25 Women’s Forum of New York 2013 Elly Award Luncheon at The Plaza, which honored Maria Cuomo Cole and Pat Mitchell.

Formidable women with paragraph-long rosters of accomplishments, both were honored for their commitment to the Forum’s Fund which was founded by philanthropist-activist Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer. The fund enables women over 35 who have had their education derailed to finish their schooling and become leaders themselves.

Elly Award presenter to Pat Mitchell, Glenn Close — winner of multiple Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes plus six-time Academy Award nominee — introduced the award-winning career journalist, film producer and executive as “a force of nature, goddess of networking, passionate advocate of women.. holder of black belt in accessories and coordinated outfits who had the devil-may-care confidence to use a shower curtain as a shawl at a major public event.”

When the laughter and applause by the fashionable assemblage abated, Mitchell, winner of multiple Emmys, five Peabody Awards, inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and currently producer and president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, modestly thanked the guests for their support, generosity and minds… and left the stage to waves of applause.

New York Forum president, Doris Meister, president of US Markets for BNY Mellon Wealth Management, introduced former New York State First Lady Matilda Raffa Cuomo — award presenter to her daughter Maria Cuomo Cole — who cheerily announced: “This is so impressive a crowd. There are so many men! I thank you as a grandmother of thirteen — one boy! “ adding “ Maria is tough! I am blessed with three wonderful daughters. My two sons are O.K. too.” Seated at the VIP table, former New York State governor Mario Cuomo — with whom I reminisced during the reception — was schepping nakhas. I don’t know the Italian equivalent, but it is an expression with which he is no doubt familiar. Giving her mother a hug, Maria Cuomo Cole escalated the family love fest by touting her husband Kenneth [Cole] as “wonderful.”

TV producer and legendary chair of The Elly Awards, Lucy Jarvis, got a standing ovation by the ballroom’s guests who joined in singing “Happy Birthday” in honor of her 96th. “If you give your all to the organization, you too can be 96” declared a beaming Jarvis. Among the high powered crowd, honorary co-chair and past honoree Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, author of the hefty coffee table book “Landmarks of New York,” which she dedicated to me in Yiddish! Director of the Trust for the National Mall in Washington D.C., in 2010, she was appointed by President Obama as a Commissioner of The American Battle Monuments Commission. At her side, her amiable husband Carl Spielvogel, appointed by President Bill Clinton”as [2000-2001] U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic.

For a cerebral dessert, Tony Award winner playwright, performer, feminist and activist Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” led the honorees in a conversation “On Leadership.”

Your Stories

  • "I push wagons, I work with a shovel, I turn rotten in the rain, I shiver in the wind; already my own body is no longer mine: my belly is swollen, my limbs emaciated, my face is thick in the morning, hollow in the evening; some of us have yellow skin, others grey. When we do not meet for a few days we hardly recognize each other."Primo Levi, "Survival in Auschwitz"

  • "This holiday we take for ourselves,
 no longer silent servers behind the curtain, 
but singers of the seder,
 with voices of gladness,
 creating our own convocation,
 and leaving ‘The Narrow Place’ together."E.M. Broner

  • "The idea of opening the door is that we hope Elijah might actually be there this year – that we might actually have done enough to change the world to have had him arrive. And, if we don’t have even the tiniest bit in us that thinks he might be there, that thinks we have tried our hardest to bring around a messianic time, with no hunger, no war, no conflict, no pain – if we don’t believe that we have tried to end those broken parts in the world – well, then I tell my students – don’t do any of it."Rabbi Leora Kaye

  • "The whole seder, for me, is the tension between two statements: We say, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and now we’re free,' but before that, we pick up the matzoh, we invite the hungry in and we say, 'This year we are slaves, next year may we be free.' We are the most fortunate, liberated Jews in history. But on the other hand, there are lots of things that enslave us."Rabbi Arthur Green

  • "To tune of "Mack the Knife": "Enter Haman ben Hamdasa, /And he’s claimin’, he’s an Agagite. /Better look out, oh Hadassah/For that Haman—he’s an Amalekite./And though Haman, he’s in power now, That old Mordy, will not bow down. /Haman’s ego, it takes a powder now. And just like that—Amalek’s in town!""By Rabbi Jan Uhrbach

  • "Do you know that every shepherd/ has his own tune? / Do you know that every blade/ of grass has its own poem?/ And from the poem/ of the grasses,/ a tune of the shepherd/ is made./ How beautiful and/ pleasant to hear/ this poem!"Reb Nachman of Breslov's Likutei Moharan

  • "Tu B'Shvat is more than a New Year for Trees -- it is a call to action. To observe Tu B'Shvat isn't to read and pray, but to do, to plant, to place one's hands in contact with the Earth....While we may mark Tu B'Shvat as a Jewish Earth Day once a year, we are responsible as Jews to act as environmental stewards every day."David Krantz - Aytzim: Ecological Judaism

  • "Donniel Hartman said the miracle of Hanukkah is not just that the oil lasted 8 days; it’s actually that it lasted more than one. Would we have said, 'Dayenu,' (to mix metaphors,) if it had lasted two days? Would we have had a holiday? Probably, yes. The idea that we as a Jewish community, even in our darkest moments, hold out the hope that a candle is going to keep burning, I find very powerful."Rabbi Rachel Ain

  • "“We would all argue vehemently and work tireless against assimilation. But the Hellenists and we Reform Jews didn’t assimilate. We acculturate, and by doing so, provide a portal for continuity unavailable to those who continue a quasi-ghettoized existence with all the ramifications thereof, good and bad. The irony, rarely mentioned by those who use the Hanukah story to justify Orthodoxy, is that the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) lasted a century and a half before they disappeared, having taken on Greek names as High Priests and Kings. And Rabbinic Judaism, the first ‘reform’ movement, birthed all of us.”"Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein

  • "I find it refreshing to go from carrying the decomposing lulav and etrog in our hands in procession for 7 days (save for Shabbat), to carry absolutely nothing on Shemini Atzeret, to then carry a Torah on Simchat Torah. It’s like Judaism’s way of saying… ‘What you are carrying with you on this journey — Torah, lessons, stories, values, covenant, a connection with a higher power and history — all of the intangibles, you carry them with you on the tangible, tentative, twisting path of life."Rabbi Paul Jacobson

  • "Shemini Atzeret is conceptually an attempt to maintain the holiday relationship with God without any specific rituals. In modern times it has been become eclipsed by the joy and dancing of Simchat Torah. This speaks to the difficulty in a pure relationship without concrete modes of expression. It could be a reminder that our close relationships exist even when we don't exchange presents or cards."Rabbi Yosef Blau

  • "Sukkot is the reminder that it doesn't take two days or even two years to go from darkness to light. It might take an entire lifetime to get there and you have to constantly walk with the belief that it's possible."Rabbi Sharon Brous

  • "Yom Kippur: God is our judge. Sukkot: God is our shelter. Yom Kippur: you sit cooped up for endless hours. Sukkot is about space and breath. Yom Kippur, it’s all about, ‘What have I done?’ And Sukkot is, ‘What can I do in the world?’"Rabbi Naomi Levy

  • "The Rabbis in the Talmud spoke of the necessity of both sinai and oker harim, that is both those who collected traditions that were handed down and also those who literally “overturned mountains.” Essentially, the one group would not survive without the other. It is in the radical interpretations of the given traditions, and in the broad and fluent knowledge of the traditions that one is able to create radical new interpretations."Dr. Aryeh Cohen

  • ""I have never felt that repentence, prayer, and tzedakah would change my fate. Rather, I feel that through honest reflection, refinement, and a sense of responsibility, I do have incredible power to affect the decree for others.""Cantor Ellen Dreskin

  • "Teshuvah does invite us to begin again, but not from the beginning. Part of what it means to be human is to learn how to begin again and again – from right where we are, right in the messy middle of things. The Torah, according to an ancient midrash, reminds us of this truth by opening the story of creation itself with the letter Bet…Even when we have rolled the parchment scroll as far back as it will go, the letter Bet meets us there -- insisting that this story cannot be told from the very beginning. No story can. Beginnings elude us."Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

  • "This year our theme at Temple Emanuel Beverly Hills is “If not Now, When?” and we asked congregants to tweet their responses to #innwtebh or to fill out cards filling in the blanks :“If not now, when will I….” We will prepare these ‘intentions for the year” in a similar way, as a power point presentation scrolling quietly on the screen facing the congregation as individuals come forward silently in front of the open ark before neilah."Rabbi Laura Geller

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