In 1995 Donald Trump [now president elect] was among the crush of “Who’s Who” guests at the December 18th “Minyan of the Stars” Chanukah celebration.
Yaffa Eliach—Holocaust survivor and professor who died on November 8 at seventy-nine—was a unique Holocaust memorialist.
The Budapest Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming December 1 Concert at Budapest’s glorious Great Dohany Street Synagogue was announced by Hungary’s Consul General Dr. Ferenc Kumin at the New York consulate’s Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution [which began on October 23, 1956 as a national revolt against Soviet occupation and repression]. The Dohany concert —featuring six time Grammy Award-winning pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and BFO founder and conductor Ivan Fischer— will be the launch of the BFO’s concert series in abandoned synagogues which was begun two years ago. Through these synagogue concerts the BFO aims to visit every abandoned synagogue in the country. The BFO will also offer free concerts at Hungary’s elderly homes and childcare institutions.
With Hillary Clinton and king Mohammed VI of Morocco in the news, I recalled my March 23, 1995 meeting with his father—King Hassan II at a reception hosted on behalf of the Presidents of The Conference of American Jewish Organizations—a then first by an Arab monarch for a Jewish organization. Invited by telephone, my instructions were to RSVP to the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, D.C. Upon arrival at The Plaza, I was handed a gilt-embossed official invitation by a white robed royal retainer.
Though not officially listed as a “Yiddish” writer/poet, the name of Isaac Babel had been part of the “conversation” about the fate of Yiddish writers and poets who were brutally executed at the orders of Stalin.
The powerhouse roster of speakers at Beit Hatfutsot’s 38th Anniversary Tribute to Leon Charney included—among others—Stephen Greenberg, Chair, Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, Senator Joseph Lieberman and Wolf Blitzer.
“Je suis la France!” declared Rabbi Arthur Schneier founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation addressing a veritable United Nations assemblage at its 2016 Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria as he introduced the event’s honoree France’s president Francois Hollande. Touting M. Hollande as “ someone who has “established himself as an integral player in modern climate talks,” Schneier, Senior Rabbi of Park East Synagogue, applauded President Hollande as someone “who brought the same determination and backbone when dealing with the global fight against terror…in Mali, Syria and Iraq…. At a time when countries around the world were withdrawing and when terror struck France, he remained true to that vision.” Schneier thanked Hollande for “guarding the security and safety of every house of worship in France—synagogues, churches, mosques and for your commitment to give freedom breathing space regardless of religion, race or color.”
Alerted to the celebrity guest in the congregation, the rabbi asked if he would come forward for Psichah —the opening of the ark.
Watching “Denial” — the riveting film recreation of the libel suit brought against Prof. Deborah Lipstadt [British actress Rachel Weisz] by British Holocaust denier David Irving [British actor Timothy Small]— I had a visceral reaction. Notwithstanding his stellar portrayal as Holocaust denier Irving, Small [who portrayed Churchill in “The King’s Speech”] did not physically match the imposing Irving with whom I had engaged in an unanticipated Lipstadt/Holocaust-related exchange two years after the trial.
“You all think ‘he’ came here for the United Nations when in reality he came to see the [new] Klimt show here—which we think is more exciting than the United Nations”— joshed Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, welcoming Austria’s Chancellor Christian Kern to the Neue Galerie. Introducing him as “very much a friend of Israel and the Jewish people” Lauder told the 100 special guests: “You [and he] are the first people here to see the new “Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age 1900-1918” Exhibit (which officially opened on September 22nd).