Beit Hatfutsot 35th Anniversary Gala, December 3rd
300 prominent civic and Jewish leaders gathered on December 3, 2013 for Beit Hatfutsot’s 35th Anniversary Gala honoring the vision and legacy of Andrea Bronfman. To quote one of the guests “The event was remarkable: it paid tribute to the most deserving person; the crowd was top notch and optimal; the program inspiring and disciplined; the venue elegant and beautiful; everything projected creativity and good taste."
Judith Stern Peck, President, American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot (AFBH), welcomed guests who came from all parts of the world to honor an outstanding leader, Andrea Bronfman. She highlighted that the future of the Jewish people, especially the engagement of the next generations, will depend on Institutions like Beit Hatfutsot that offer a breadth and depth of content and connectivity. Beit Hatfutsot is about Jewish peoplehood, a concept that has framed and defined Jewish civilization for generations. It incorporates a sense of belonging; inspiring both a collective and personal identity based on common heritage, moral underpinnings, history, faith and an attachment to the Land of Israel. While Beit Hatfutsot, she underscored, follows its founder edict Abba Kovner as we “remember the past, live the present and trust the future”, it also endorses the view of Abba Eban that Judaism “...is a religion and it is a peoplehood, and it is a civilization, and it is a faith, and it is a memory; it is a world of thought and of spirit and of action and it cannot be restrictively defined.”
Daniel Pincus, AFBH Board Member, a recipient of numerous leadership awards, explained that the lighting of candles during Hanukah is a public display of Jewish identity and dedication. In a rare coincidence of the calendar, this year Thanksgiving was also on the first day of Hanukah. Andrea Bronfman’s grandchildren, Talia, Scott and Danielle Cohen joined Daniel in reciting the brachot and lit the oil candles on the Statue of Liberty Hanukia, designed by Manfred Anson, whose creation unites the spirits of gratitude and freedom evoked by Judaism and America as well as Thanksgiving and Hanukah. The same Hanukia was lit at President Obama’s White House Hanukah party. Dr. Aaron Feingold, AFBH Board member, commissioned these works of art and donated a bronze version of the Anson Hanukia to Beit Hatfutsot.
The Salomé Chamber Orchestra, founded in 2009 by the Carpenter siblings, (violinists Sean and Lauren and violist David) who are of Iraqi Jewish descent, played at the event. The Salomé Chamber Orchestra leverages the universal language and healing power of music to collaborate with non-proﬁt organizations in raising awareness for their philanthropy and broaden the audience of classical music.
Following a delicious meal, Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in the tri-state area, one of Israel’s most effective diplomats and communicators, a true aficionado of Beit Hatfutsot, who was responsible for a major branding project connect Israel with its creative endeavors, achievements in science and global humanitarian role, spoke about the significance of Beit Hatfutsot in transmitting Jewish values and instilling understanding of the Jewish people and Israel as a Jewish state among people of all backgrounds.
Charles Bronfman and Pippa, Tony and Jeremy Cohen, Andy’s children, stirred the audience by highlighting her zest for life and enthusiasm for the Jewish enterprise, her total commitment to the Jewish people and Israel. Andrea Bronfman’s love of Jewish history and passion for Jewish heritage led her to the chairmanship of Beit Hatfutsot. In 1999, she conceived the strategy that transformed Beit Hatfutsot from the Museum of the Diaspora to the Museum (and the center) of the Jewish People. She said "The business of Beit Hatfutsot, now more than ever, is to put on the shared agenda of Israeli society and world Jewry what all of us have in common -- connection with our history, and the determination to implement its lessons for the future."
A film “Andrea Bronfman: A Vision Realized” captured and commemorated vividly her outstanding and sparking leadership, the noble and innovative mission she charted, and the compelling initiatives she launched, which live on at Beit Hatfutsot.
In her memory, her family established “The Andy Fund” which will allow visitors to explore and discover their own roots via the Museum's vast genealogical resources. Through the Fund's support of the digital expansion of the Museum, these connections will continue and grow as visitors, including Taglit-Birthright participants, return home. The resources will also be available online to help reinforce Jewish identity and thus enhance the future.
Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Chair of the Board of Directors of Beit Hatfutsot, wholeheartedly thanked Charles and Rita Mayo Bronfman for allowing BH to honor Andy’s vision in such a special way. She thanked Michael and Judith Steinhardt for Co-Chairing the gala, Judith Stern Peck, Ambassador Alfred Moses and General (res.) Eitan Ben Eliahu, Co-Chairs of the Board of Governor for their exceptional stewardship.
She expressed how moving the evening has been for her and the entire family of Beit Hatfutsot. Leaders like Andy, those mentioned previously, and many in the audience, have done a great deal for future generations. They made her life and the lives of many a moving journey of Jewish Peoplehood. “Think about it - I was born in the Soviet Union, a Russian speaking Jew totally deprived of any ability to be Jewish. Many of you here were part of an amazing Peoplehood project, Let My People Go, and then the curtain fell, I made Aliyah and you continued to give me opportunities to benefit from the Jewish education you supported.”
She added that she accepted the position of Chair of Beit Hatfutsot, following in the footsteps of Andy, because she felt compelled to give back to the community, having experienced her own unique Peoplehood journey. It is a great honor to be leading the building of the new Museum of the Jewish People - the museum that will tell both the narrative of our people as a whole and many individual stories. She announced that the dream is becoming a reality with two recent capital gifts totaling $10 million.
Mr. Milton Maltz, a renowned businessman, proud Zionist and great philanthropist who built the Spy Museum in Washington, DC, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, and supports numerous educational and cultural initiatives in the Jewish and general community, has pledged a gift of a $5 Million.
Ambassador Alfred Moses, Co-Chair of the Board of Governors of BH, a prominent public servant, businessman, lawyer and leader of many Jewish interprises, who is totally devoted to Israel and the Jewish people, has dedicated $5 Million for the creation of the new Synagogue Hall which will open in the summer of 2015 and will conclude the first phase of the renewal of Beit Hatfutsot.
It is a privilege to have Ambassador Moses and Mr. Maltz spearhead this, one in a life time, project through their generosity and enthusiasm. Their unparalleled experiences, business acumen, outstanding leadership of and passion for Jewish life are valuable assets to Beit Hatfutsot.
YOU PART OF THE STORY, our new film, was screened and highlighted the connection of telling a story to the formation of Jewish identity. It ended with the following message “We are part of this remarkable, ongoing story, connecting Jews across centuries and continents. Today, Beit Hatfutsot is embarking on our most ambitious undertaking yet The complete renewal of The Museum of the Jewish People We invite you to join us in strengthening our collective identity, as together we build for the future.”
Dan Tadmor, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot, stressed that BH is an institution with a singular mission: to promote a sense of belonging through engagement in Jewish identity. “…we didn't need a survey of 3,475 participants to tell us that both in Israel and throughout the world, Jews DO feel a sense of pride and belonging, and they DO seek to engage in their Jewish identity. We just need to provide them with the right opportunities and the accurate tools. This is what we mean at BH when we talk about PRACTICAL peoplehood. The new museum of the Jewish people will certainly have a key role in this. But it is only one of three core elements at BH. The second is the International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies, which develops curricula for the study of Jewish identity in Israel and abroad. The third will be BH online. In 2014 we will finally be connecting BH's unique and unparalleled database to the internet, to serve as the foundation for a content rich Jewish identity online hub.”
Ambassador Alfred Moses, who plays a pivotal role in Jewish and American life, followed on the theme of the pride the vast majority of Jews have in being Jewish. The Pew Report: A Portrait of Jewish Americans, he said, continues to present bleak findings and projections as past studies, but the Jewish People had grown rather than vanished. Jews have thrived in the American meritocracy. The full emancipation of North American Jewry came about as a result of two major events: the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The first gave the Jews a Land and the second removed limitations – in law and in fact - formerly imposed on Jews as a minority, both introduced the prospects of assimilation as a real option. We need to create ways for Jewish individuals and communities to relate to Judaism as their essence, but take into account that religion is only part of their identity. Beit Hatfutsot is committed to preserving Judaism through the broad and sophisticated concept of Jewish Peoplehood. The new core exhibition of BH will show the wholeness of Jewish life through the centuries, not just the tragedies, but also the joys – the closeness of families and communities.
In concluding the event Martin Rozenblum, AFBH Board Member, saluted those who so diligently made the evening a great success, the team at the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies; members of the gala Working Committee, Shula Bahat, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot of America, who spearheaded every aspect of the evening, and Gloria Golan, director of AFBH. He thanked the staff of Beit Hatfutsot who provide forward thinking programs and exhibits, originated “Remember the Past, Live the Present, Trust the Future” the book published on the occasion of the event and designed a decorative cube with images of the new core exhibition, the gifts guests received. Last but not least – he thanked the attendees for gracing the gala’s celebration of Jewish life with their presence and generous investment in Beit Hatfutsot and the Jewish future.
Irina Nevzlin Kogan and the Steinhardt Family
Ambassador Alfred Moses, Elaine Wolfensohn
Judith Stern Peck
Rita May Bronfman and Charles De Gunzberg
Daniel Jusidman, Batya Kahane, Shula Bahat
The Azouri Family Table with Irit Admoni Perlman and Ariela Cotler
MP Irwin Cotler, Dorothy Tananbaum, Mem Bernstein, Ariela Cotler
The Pincus Family and Shula Bahat
Judith Stern Peck, Charles Bronfman, Pippa, Tony and Jeremy Cohen
Ambassador Ido Aharoni
Linda Mirels, Judith Steinhardt and a Guest
Scott, Talia and Danielle Cohen
Rabbi Michael Paley and Judith Stern Peck
Medy Shvide, Patrick Gallagher, Orit Shaham Gover - Beit Hatfutsot team