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Beit Hatfutsot of America
American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot
About Beit Hatfutsot of America and the American Friends
Beit Hatfutsot of America is the programmatic and institution-building arm of Beit Hatfutsot in North America. It is the conveyor of the vision and mission of The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot, the transmitter of the content produced by Beit Hatfutsot, the vessel to bring to North America Beit Hatfutsot’s program offerings and exhibits; developing leadership for the enterprise; establishing strategic relations with compatible institutions and organizations such as museums, JCCs, synagogues, federations, Jewish learning centers, Israeli representatives, etc. American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot (AFBH), a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization representing the interests of Beit Hatfutsot, as a resource development vehicle. It provides support to the ongoing and prospective programs and exhibits of Beit Hatfutsot.
Shulamith Bahat, CEO, Beit Hatfutsot of America:
Gloria Golan, Executive Director, American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot:
Save the date, December 2, 2019 Annual AFBH Gala in New York City
Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Opens at The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
October 28, 2019
“Am Israel Chai”
Lecture featuring Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, Co-Chair, Beit Hatfutsot
International Board of Governors
Kol Ami Synagogue, Tampa Florida
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Scattered Breath: The Red Thread
A Visual Family Narrative
The Dr. Bernard Heller Museum
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York
Beit Hatfutsot of America co-sponsored an extraordinary exhibition by contemporary artist Jennifer Kopping, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, which explores the Jewish diasporic narrative of two branches of her family separated by the devastation of the Holocaust. Beginning in the small villages of Poland, now Belarus, she traces their journeys and scattered fate that brought them to two corners of the globe: South Africa and the United States.
Her powerful panoramic installation unites two sides of the family and is a visual and mythical feast of diaspora and hybrid hauntings of place and time. The narrative is depicted through images inspired by family archival photographs with mixed media using collage, oil painting, embroidery, and paper cut-outs.
Jean Rosensaft, Director of the Heller Museum, welcomed the opening reception’s guests and introduced Jennifer Kopping, who spoke about the inspiration for her art and its importance as a diasporic narrative tapestry of imagery that is a celebration of life, adaptation, and survival.
Shula Bahat, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot of America, addressed the audience and described how profoundly Jennifer Kopping’s visual narrative contributes to Beit Hatfutsot’s mission of documenting the stories of individual Jews and of Jewish life around the world.
She thanked Hebrew Union College for inviting Beit Hatfutsot to co-sponsor this significant and meaningful exhibition.
This installation will be expanded and exhibited at the Holocaust Museum in Johannesburg next July.
June 15, 2019
Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Opens at the Houston Holocaust Museum
Bucharest Diary: Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light”
A conversation featuring Senator Joseph I. Lieberman and Ambassador Alfred H. Moses
May 20, 2019. The Center for Jewish History, New York
The sold-out event, was initiated by Beit Hatfutsot of America and was sponsored by the Center for Jewish History, the American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University.
Bernard Michael, CEO/President of the Center for Jewish History opened the program and spoke briefly about the Center and its rich archives including AJHS’s Benjamin Peixotto. Peixotto was the consul general to Romania appointed by President Grant in 1870.
Shula Bahat, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot of America welcomed the guests and thanked the partners for helping to make the evening such a success stressing that these august institutions share a vision about the Jewish people which respects diversity and emphasizes unity and not uniformity. In introducing Senator Lieberman and Ambassador Moses, she thanked the two exceptional global, American and Jewish leaders who weave aspects of their identity with pride and with unconditional love, for the Jewish enterprise, Am Israel and to Eretz Israel. She highlighted the role that each of them holds at Beit Hatfutsot, namely, Senator Lieberman as the Honorary Chair of our Board of Governors and Ambassador Moses as the co-chair of its International Board of Governors
Senator Lieberman asked important and thought-provoking questions which were poignantly addressed by Ambassador Moses. A life-long association between the two was evident from the conversation and its tone. Senator Lieberman felt that Ambassador Moses’ book was told three stories in one: The story of getting the Jews out of Romania during the time of Ceausescu and allowing them to emigrate to Israel; the post-communist period in Romania and Romania’s new leadership and goals during Moses’ Ambassadorship to the country; and finally Ambassador Moses’ take aways from the positive and negative of his experiences.
Ambassador Moses shared colorful stories that are contained in his book and memories of his first visit to Romania. He painted a bleak picture of the country in the 1970’s. He recalled being approached on the street by young Jews desperate to emigrate from Communist Romania to Israel. As an American and a Jew, helping them became his mission. He spoke of his face to face meetings with Ceausescu and the intricate dealings involved in establishing the right of Jews to freely emigrate.
He spoke about his conversations with Moshe Rosen, then the Chief Rabbi of Romania, and traveling the country meeting with the Jewish population. He also spoke candidly about the role he played in helping Romania transition from a Communist past to democracy from darkness to light and the importance of their becoming a MFN and member in NATO. The diplomacy of the time was so sensitive given the circumstances and yet he was privileged to be part of this significant period.
Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, moderated the Q&A following the conversation between Ambassador Moses and Senator Lieberman. He reiterated that the impact that Ambassador Moses played on foreign policy and on the course of history was no small feat.
Among the guests were: Pierre De Saint Phalle; Michal Divon; Catherine and Joshua Goestschel; Ruth Gottesman; Robert and Trudy Gottesman; David Hochberg; Gerry Hodes; Sidney and Ruth Lapidus; Joshua Landes; Ken Makovsky; Mark Meyers, Honorary Consulate for Moldava; Morris Offit; Richard O’Leary; Robert Rifkind; Nina Rifkind; George and Pamela Rohr; Sofia and Mike Segal; Robert Elman; Haina Just Michael among many others.
Guests were then invited to a reception where Ambassador Moses signed books for the guests.
Haifa: Two Tales of a City
(April 9, 2019 New York City)
Amidst the Carmel Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea sits Haifa, Israel’s third largest city whose brilliant architecture and culture of innovation and coexistence has been celebrated in film, song, and fine art. Haifa has been hailed by author A. B. Yehoshua as a symbol of all that is normal Israel.
A distinguished audience of 100 gathered at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue for an intimate evening with authors Naomi Harris Rosenblatt and Professor Nili Gold for a revealing and fascinating look at the evolving relations of the people and landscape of Haifa, and memories of historical events that shaped their identities. Guests included Phil Darivoff, Board Chair, National Museum of American Jewish History; Amerian Abby Joseph Cohen, Senior Investment Strategist, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc, Research Division; Ambassador Peter Rosenblatt, a prominent Washington attorney, Daniel Rosenblatt, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, Senior Rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, and Arthur Stein, Co-chair of the Israel Committee of SWFS, among others.
Shula Bahat, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot of America, a trustee of SWFS, and a native of Haifa herself moderated the evening. The discussion focused on themes such as the characteristics of the city that reinforce Israeli and Jewish identity; the essence of the education that both authors received at home and in school that kept them connected to the city; maintaining their identity as Sabras and American Jews and cultivating multi-identities and the issue of dual loyalty to the US and Israel that has re-emerged as a subject of public discourse.
At the end of the evening guests received copies of Rosenbatt’s Bless the Bitter and Sweet, her diary recording personal impressions about the end of the Mandate and the beginning of Israel and Gold’s Haifa: City of Steps, her homage to her hometown and a hybrid work of urban studies, architecture, literature and memory.
NEW YORK HEBREW Celebrates MY FAMILY STORY
March 28, 2019 at The Center for Jewish History, New York
Students and their families gathered at the Center for Jewish History on March 28, 2019 to celebrate the culmination of a school year of study and present their creative projects in connection with Beit Hatfutsot’s educational and experiential program MY FAMILY STORY. This marks the third year that New York Hebrew has partnered with Beit Hatfutsot of America to implement the forward-thinking program created by the KORET International School for Jewish Peoplehood at Beit Hatfutsot. Over 150 Jewish learning centers and 20,000 students and their families participate in the program worldwide.
Grateful thanks are extended to Gillie Shanowitz, Mussie Mangel and Rabbi Mendy Shanowitz of Chabad’s New York Hebrew, for their ongoing commitment to the program and the passion they instill in their students. Kudos to the students and their families for their dedication to the project and the submission of outstanding works which reflect their journey of discovery of their roots, a journey that has strengthened their Jewish identity and identification with the Jewish people.
Dr. Jacob Wisse, Director of Yeshiva University Museum, was the guest speaker. He told his own family’s journey and accompanied the students and their families through a tour of the unique exhibition, “LOST AND FOUND: A Family Photo Album.” It was a most moving exhibition and a fitting complement to the student’s works which reflected their own family’s stories.
We congratulate Sara Flax, Ella Mosca and Lily Gottfried, whose works were submitted to the Manuel Hirsh Grosskopf International competition associated with the program. We commend Sara Flax whose project was chosen for this year’s My Family Story Exhibition which will be on display at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv from the middle of June to the end of July.
Every participant in the program is a winner as various learning centers which implement My Family Story curate an exhibition of the art work of the students. Most importantly, according to an Emory University study led by Professor Marshall Duke, knowing one’s family story is a key to a positive identity formation. Bruce Feiler, a New York Times Journalist indicated in his book The Happy Family that most valuable, yet free, gift parents can give to their children is to share with them the family narrative.
Looking Back at 2018 and Looking Forward:
Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann
This seminal exhibition created by Beit Hatfutsot in collaboration with the Mossad and produced in partnership with Cleveland’s Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, where it opened, continues to tour the United States for the third year.
After a successful run at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, it traveled in 2018 to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, the exhibition traveled to the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, FL and is currently on view at the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in Dania Beach, Florida. On June 15 it will open in the renewed Houston Holocaust Museum and from there will travel in October to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Educational Programs
Curating Your Family Story
Thanks to an ongoing generous grant from the Covenant Foundation, Beit Hatfutsot of America launched Curating Your Family Story, a new iteration of My Family Story, Beit Hatfutsot’s flagship experiential educational program, to select museums, JCCs and innovative Jewish learning centers. The program brings together families from different parts of the Jewish community, including the unaffiliated. The program continues to expand in the United States. The pilot for the program was initiated in Atlanta GA at The William Breman Museum of Jewish Heritage creating the model for other entities.
“Curating Your Family Story” Exhibition Opening, Atlanta, August 26, 2018
Students from Congregation Shearith Israel and The Breman explored their family individual stories as well as curated a group project, collecting family recipes culminating in a cookbook. Their individual and collective art projects, were exhibited at the Breman Museum. Julie Zeff, community engagement coordinator at the Breman Museum said “The year-long curriculum teaches interviewing skills, the importance of artifacts and how to be an anthropologist for a day.” During the final stages of completing their projects, students receive help from local curators and artists. The project fosters an understanding and connection to one’s Jewish heritage and connects young people with their legacy.
The Stroum JCC in Mercer Island, Washington
The Stroum JCC implemented the program in the summer of 2018, utilizing two approaches: On a weekly basis over a period of time and as an intensive week-during summer camp. The students created artistic family trees and maps that charted the journey that each family took to Seattle.
Beit Hatfutsot takes pride in adding Jewish Lens to its offerings and making it an integral part of the Koret International School for Jewish Peoplehood.
In partnership with international photographer, Zion Ozeri, renowned for his images on Jewish themes, Jewish Lens @ Beit Hatfutsot Photo Competition was initiated three years ago to engage Jewish teens worldwide. Participants are invited to submit a photograph with an accompanying text that captures the theme of “my connection to the Jewish people.”
With a generous grant from the Covenant Foundation this important educational program, including a creative curriculum, will be available throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.
- Strategic Partnerships
Beit Hatfutsot of America initiated the following strategic partnerships between The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot and compatible organizations to include:
The agreement brings together two of the Jewish world’s most iconic names in advancing online genealogy and identity exploration. It aims to enrich the online search and discovery process for thousands of people researching their Jewish roots by facilitating access to a massive database of Jewish Family Trees. The partnership will enable the family tree collections held by both parties, to be completely accessible to visitors of both JewishGen.org and Beit Hatfutsot’s Open Databases at dbs.bh.org.il
JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa
The goal of the partnership is to document, share and disseminate the personal stories, traditions and customs of Jews from these ancient Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities. Through the partnership Beit Hatfutsot and JIMENA are preserving the heritage of these Jewish communities in perpetuity, for generations to come.
Synagogues 360.org is an internationally recognized leading resource for documentation of Jewish synagogues worldwide. This project is the result of over a decade of the dedicated work of architect Louis Davidson and his team. The spectacular photographs document the rich diversity of hundreds of outstanding synagogues in places as varied as India, Norway, Malta, Taiwan, Romania, and the United States to name but a few.
The project’s importance derives from its geographical and institutional diversity, as well as an educated selection of synagogues that led to a successful mixture of architectural jewels with buildings boasting centuries of uninterrupted spiritual history while covering the entire array of Jewish religious denominations, from traditional Orthodox to contemporary progressive congregations. The choice of photos and their disclosure on the website represents a major contribution to the preservation of Jewish heritage.
- Programs and Events
A Celebration of Israel’s 70 th Anniversary and Beit Hatfutsot’s 40 th Anniversary, New York, January 9, 2018
Friends of Israel and Beit Hatfutsot gathered on January 9, 2018 for a memorable event launching the celebration of Israel’s 70th Anniversary and Beit Hatfutsot’s 40th Anniversary. The evening was held in conjunction with Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann, Beit Hatfutsot’s the Mossad and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage’s landmark exhibition on view at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
Schmaltzy, March 13, 2018 at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv
Food, as an integral part of identity and the social fabric of the Jewish people, will be part of the Culture and Identity Wing of the new core exhibition of Beit Hatfutsot. The interactive display will enable the creation of a comprehensive database of Jewish cuisine.
Schmaltzy, an ongoing program of the Jewish Food Society, presented with the encouragement of Beit Hatfutsot of America, a delicious evening of live storytelling by a diverse group of authors and chefs. Gil Hovav, the great-grandson of Eliezer Ben Yehuda; PJ Library author Tamy Shemtov; and celebrity baker Uri Scheft, of Lehamim-Breads were featured in the program that was sponsored by The Paul E. Singer Foundation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation at the annual conference of the Jewish Funders Network.
“Whoever Saves A Life Saves the World”, New York, April 10, 2018
The Book Launch of The Fox Hunt by Mohammed Al Samawi.
The story of Mohammed Al Samawi would have ended differently if not for the commitment of prominent Jewish leaders, including Daniel Pincus, President of the American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot, and numerous organizations who saved him. The story of Mohammed’s rescue underscores how the lessons of the Shoah continue to shape Jewish identify and activism.
Beit Hatfutsot of America co-sponsored this program at the Center for Jewish History with the American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, The Muslim Jewish Advisory Council and other organizations.
“Israel-Diaspora Relations: Past, Present and Future”, New York, May 3, 2018
The program was inspired by the literary legacy of Leon H. Charney z’l, a businessman, lawyer, media personality, activist, cantor and author. It focused on his book “The Battle of the Two Talmuds: Judaism’s Struggle with Power, Glory and Guilt.”
The program was sponsored with the Center for Jewish History. It was introduced by Shulamith Bahat, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot of America, who questioned the current relevancy of the term Diaspora.
Prof. Nathaniel Laor, Professor of Philosophy, Psychiatry and Medical Education of Tel Aviv University preceded the panel with a moving tribute to the legacy of Leon H. Charney. Prof. David Myers, former President and CEO of the Center for Jewish History moderated the distinguished panel: Dr. Aaron J. Koller, of Yeshiva University; Dr. Marjorie Lehman, of the Jewish Theological Seminary; Prof. Shaul Magid, Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University and Alana Newhouse, Editor and Founder of Tablet Magazine. The lively conversation focused on the historical connections between Israel and world Jewry, through relations today and into the future. The evening concluded with a musical performance “Breath and Hammer” by David Krakauer on clarinet and Kathleen Tagg on piano.
“Beit Hatfutsot, A Game Changer”
The Hampton Synagogue, Westhampton Beach, New York, August 12, 2018
A conversation with Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, Co-Chair of Beit Hatfutsot’s International Board of Governors and Shulamith Bahat, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot of America. Guests gathered at a breakfast forum to learn about the renewed Beit Hatfutsot, the hub of Jewish Peoplehood and a global content provider on the path to re-envisioning the relations between Israel and Jewish communities worldwide. Ambassador Moses underscored that celebrating Jewish life is the main aim of Beit Hatfutsot.
“Bucharest Diary: Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light” October 22, 2018
Bucharest Diary: Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light, is a fascinating book by Alfred H. Moses, former Ambassador to Romania and Co-chair of Beit Hatfutsot Board of Governors. Alfred Moses, who worked diligently for the release of Jews from communist Romania during the Carter Administration, was appointed Ambassador to Romania by President Clinton. Beit Hatfutsot celebrated the publishing of the book by the Brookings Institute, along with the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). Ambassador Moses was interviewed by Itamar Rabinovich, Israel’s former Ambassador to the U.S. The book offers Ambassador Moses’ personal perspectives and analysis on Romania’s transition from communism to democracy, the resilience of the Jewish community both in Romania and in other part of the communist world, the weight American Jewry assigns to the value of “Kol Israel Arevim Zeh L’Zeh,” the impact of a Jewish diplomat and leader on the fate of a Jewish community and international affairs. The program was interesting, profound and entertaining.
“Dream, Reality, Future: Ethiopian Israelis from Operation Moses to the Present”
American Jewish University, Los Angeles, November 1, 2018
Beit Hatfutsot’s film Operation Moses: 30 Years After, which is based on the Museum’s seminal exhibition by that name, featuring Israeli Ethiopians and their diverse stories was screened at American Jewish University at the inauguration of the partnership between Beit Hatfutsot and AJU.
Oshra Friedman, Deputy Director General of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, who made Aliyah to Israel with her entire family, was interviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Herbst, President of AJU and highlighted the universal resonance of the story of the Aliya of Ethiopian Jews to and integration in Israel. The top officials of the Authority were also in attendance.
“Roberta:” A Witness to Israel’s Rebirth” November 12, 2018
Beit Hatfutsot of America in conjunction with Louise Kerz Hirschfeld and Stephen Wise Free Synagogue’s Israel Committee presented this dramatic reading and musical performance based on the life of New York native Roberta Hodes who on June 6, 1948 fresh out of Vassar College, made her way to Israel in the midst of its War of Independence. Against her parents’ wishes, she volunteered to serve for two years in the IDF where she was assigned to its Film Corps. Upon her return to the US in 1950 she began a long and distinguished career in the film industry later teaching film at New York University for over 15 years. Award winning Broadway actress Charlotte Maier read from Hodes’ diary and Cantors Daniel Singer and Inbal Sharett Singer led the audience in singing Israeli songs from that era. The spontaneous dancing of the Hora concluded this stirring and spirited event.
“Lighting the World: Menorahs Around the Globe”
Museum at Eldridge Street, New York, December 6, 2018
Beit Hatfutsot of America co-sponsored this exhibit which presented the Aaron Ben Zalman remarkable collection of menorahs, spanning the globe and more than five centuries. Hanukah celebrations worldwide reflect the unity of the Jewish People, but the style of the holiday menorahs, known as Hanukiot, demonstrate the diversity and unique cultures and traditions of Jewish communities. Within the Museum of Eldridge Street’s vibrant landmark sanctuary, Hanukiot from 17th-century Italy and 19th-century North Africa are displayed alongside those from Colonial America and modern-day Israel, India, Brazil, Poland, and the Netherlands. Each Hanukia’s design tells a story of its origin and those who used it.
Let There Be Laughter
What A Night! The Museums Annual Gala in New York, December 17
The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot hosted a magnificent celebration of Jewish humor radiating with the rich content of “Let There Be Laughter: Jewish Humor Around the World,” the blockbuster exhibition currently on display at the Museum.
It was a unique event demonstrating the brand values of a renewed Beit Hatfutsot. Our vision, mission and programs have engaged and excited all those in attendance on Monday, December 17, 2018 at Manhattan’s Mandarin Oriental.
In Memory of Sam Bloch Z”L
The American Friends:
Sam E. Bloch Z”L, Founding Chairman
Daniel Pincus, President
Ruth Shamir Popkin, Vice President
Stephen M. Greenberg*, Treasurer
Elissa Blaser, Secretary
Gisele Ben Dor
Dr. Aaron Feingold*
Dr. Cheryl Fishbein*
Milton and Tamar Maltz
Ambassador Alfred H. Moses
Shula Bahat, CEO, Beit Hatfutsot of America
Gloria Golan, Executive Director, American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot
* Past President