The management, advisors, staff and volunteers of the World’s Jewish Museum mourn Eric Mayer z”l who passed away on September 21, 2019. Eric was an extraordinary person who brought his life’s experiences including as a Holocaust survivor to the World’s Jewish Museum as a remarkable volunteer. Please see here for more information on Eric’s incredible life.
The concept of the World’s Jewish Museum has captured the imagination and interest of journalists around the world:
- Frank Gehry Honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award by World’s Jewish Museum (The Hollywood Reporter, 6/7/19, by Alex Cramer)
- World’s Jewish Museum Gala To Honor Frank Gehry On June 6 At The Montage Beverly Hills (The Beverly Hills Courier, 5/23/19, by John L. Seitz)
- Frank Gehry and his vision for the World’s Jewish Museum (The Jewish Journal, by Kelly Hertog)
- Manitoba voted among “hottest” tourist destinations of 2019 (Winnipeg Free Press, 12/13/18, by Danton Unger)
- The World’s Jewish Museum – Showing That Our Tribe is Universal (Wexner Foundation, 11/15/18, by Rabbi Telushkin and Laura Solomon)
- Creating the world’s most ambitious Jewish museum (Jewish Week, 7/18/18, by Gary Rosenblatt)
- Gail Asper: the story behind the most ambitious Jewish museum (Canadian Jewish News, 6/27/18, by Myron Love)
- Canadian heiress throws millions into massive Tel Aviv-based Jewish hall of fame (Israel Times, 4/7/18, by Robert Sarner)
Through a generous donation from the Matanel Foundation, Dr. Noa Shashar, a historian of the Jewish Family has been actively interviewing 50 Israeli educators, writers and historians who have given positive feedback on the World’s Jewish Museum. The Matanel Foundation operates in Israel and encourages cultural initiatives that convey Judaism and knowledge of Judaism to various environments. Its mission is to further justice and equality in the world.
The WJM’s content will be developed with input from scholars around the world.
Gail Asper, Moe Levy and Rabbi Telushkin had an initial meeting with Sir Simon Schama on May 15 in New York to share the vision of the WJM.
Sir Simon Michael Schama CBE FRSL FBA is an English historian specialising in art history, Dutch history, Jewish history and French history. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University, New York. He brings to life Jewish history and experience in a 5 part documentary series: The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama.
He expressed enthusiastic support for the WJM and his key thoughts were:
- The general principle of the WJM should be devoted to “Jewish vitality not mortality”.
- The whole raison d’etre of the WJM is to give the world a sense of Jewish history and culture
- Popular education turns on stories – the more dramatic, the better and he sees the WJM as a chain of dramas each with its own space, some flowing into each other – all linked by questions and principles.
The World’s Jewish Museum is organized as a public benefit company which is one form of a non-profit entity in Israel. Directors of the World’s Museum of Jewish History and Culture (Private) Ltd (CC) convene regularly to oversee the museum’s activities and its management. The activities of the PBC include; fundraising issues, budget, relations with the Museum of the Diaspora and relations with the Israeli government.
The World’s Museum of Jewish History and Culture (Private) LTD (CC) Board includes:
- Jean de Gunzburg – UK
- Phillipe Amon – Switzerland
- David Wollach – Switzerland
- Ami Bougamin – Israel
- Frances Belzberg, CM – Canada
- Hila Oren, CEO Tel Aviv Foundation – Israel
- Gail Asper, O.C., O.M., LL.D, President, The Asper Foundation – Canada
- Jonathan Shiff, Lawyer – Israel
- Moe Levy, Executive Director, The Asper Foundation – Canada
- Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Author and Scholar – USA
The inaugural Board Meeting of the The World’s Museum of Jewish History and Culture (Private) LTD (CC) was held in Israel on June 13, 2019 at the Tel Aviv Foundation offices. Mayor Ron Huldai attended the meeting and spoke of his belief in the importance of the WJM and his personal effort to successfully secure the gift of land from the municipality until 2021. He also said that he has placed the WJM in the city’s promotional materials as one of the main projects the city is endorsing.
Two other Friends organizations have been established:
- United States: American Friends of the World’s Jewish Museum
- Canada: Canadian Friends of the World’s Jewish Museum
All three organizations have charitable status and official tax receipts are issued for donations to the WJM.
Jessica Slovik has joined the World’s Jewish Museum team as the project’s Ambassador for the Mexican Jewish Community. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Graphic Communications and Graphic Design from the Universidad Nuevo Mundo, AC, a diploma in photography from the Miami Photo Art Academy, a Diploma in Interior Architecture from Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de Mexico, as well as a Master’s Degree in International Law for Human Rights from Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de Mexico. We look forward to working with Jessica. Welcome!
“The WJM seemed like a brilliant idea. Original, unique project of its kind and something that the Jewish world needed. From the moment Tammy Stavinsky, one of the most committed volunteers presented the project to me, I fell in love with it! I understood her passion, and I felt that somehow I had to contribute and be part of this magnificent work. I felt that in that moment an immense commitment to deliver this message and vision to others. I am deeply convinced that the WJM will be a great legacy and a gift, not only for the Jews in Israel but also for the Jews from the Diaspora. It will honor how the Jewish people from every corner of the world contributed to the incredible history of the Jewish people and will help to reduce the stereotypes that has being created for centuries. I feel very honored and grateful that Gail Asper and Moe Levy have considered me to be part of this magnificent project.”
The Honourable Linda Frum was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 2009 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She represents the Province of Ontario.
Senator Frum is a committed and passionate member of the Jewish community in Toronto and is a dedicated supporter of Israel. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto and is on the board of the United Israel Appeal. In 2018, she co-chaired a record setting annual UJA Toronto campaign.
Senator Frum is a fierce advocate for human rights in Iran and has co-sponsored Iran Accountability on Parliament Hill. She is known for her legislative efforts to eliminate foreign funding in Canadian elections. In 2017, Senator Frum introduced in the Senate the bill that designates May as Canadian Jewish Heritage Month. She is a member of the International Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee and is an Honourary Board Member of NGO Monitor.
Senator Frum is a graduate of McGill University and is a former journalist. She is a best selling author and a Gemini Award-winning documentarian. She lives in Toronto with her husband Howard Sokolowski, a real estate developer and together they have five children and two grandchildren
When asked why she chose to get involved with the World’s Jewish Museum, Senator Frum noted: “I remember Gail Asper telling me about the World’s Jewish Museum project a few years ago. At the time, I didn’t really understand if there was a pressing need for a museum of this kind in Israel. It wasn’t until I was on a recent trip to Israel with my family and was looking at my cultural and museum options that Gail’s words came back to me. She had told me that 70% of Jewish museums focus on the Holocaust or Jewish survival and the other museums don’t really cover the big Jewish story – the story of our history and the remarkable impact Judaism and the Jewish people have had on civilization, whether it’s the impact of the Bible, the Theory of Relativity, psychoanalysis, human rights or super heroes. I began to realize that it would be wonderful if I could take my kids to see this kind of museum and strengthen their relationship with the State of Israel and their relationship with their Jewish identity.
My involvement with the Jewish community of Toronto has made me realize how important it is that we take steps now to teach the next generation about how Judaism enriches the world and why our values are worth understanding, preserving and celebrating. I want my kids to be proud of their heritage. My hope for the World’s Jewish Museum is that we change our narrative from one of persecution and tragedy to one of positive impact and being a light unto the nations.
The project has an iconic Frank Gehry designed building, a spectacular piece of land on the Mediterranean and a remarkable 3500 year story.
I think this project is important for the entire Jewish world to embrace, which is why my family has not only committed to support the campaign, but we are also helping to inspire other people to donate as well. I would really like to see the World’s Jewish Museum developed in Israel as soon as possible so I can enjoy it with my children and grandchildren for many years to come.
If we work together, I know anything is possible.”
Tammy Stavinsky has been an avid member of the Los Angeles committee of the World’s Jewish Museum since 2016.
“Being the daughter of a Holocaust survivor has shaped the way I look at the world. The minute I heard about The World’s Jewish Museum, I knew that I would want to be a part of this incredible endeavor. The WJM has the potential to positively impact so many lives by way of teaching the insurmountable amount of medical advancements and innovations we have contributed as a people, which have improved so many lives, Hopefully, the information learned will influence people to be appreciative of our efforts and hard work. Equally important is the fact that our kids will have pride in who they are and will feel a cause for celebration for our achievements and not just feel sad about our past. In a time when the atmosphere feels eerily familiar to pre-World War 2, and antisemitism is on the rise, the WJM is a beacon of light and hope for many generations to come. I am very proud to be a part of the WJM team.”
Tammy is married to Amit and they live in LA with their three children.
Eric Mayer was born in 1928 in the city of Worms in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany. He lived with his parents Moritz and Irma and his older brother Fred and sister Ruth. Until he was 11 years old, he grew up safe and happy in Worms, ensconced in a family of formidable accomplishments. As children they lived through the Nazi terror of Kristallnacht in Worms.
Throughout Germany, on November 9 & 10, 1938, Nazi paramilitary forces and German civilians torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and business and killed Jews. The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after windows were smashed.
In January 1939, Eric and his siblings were sent to France and were taken in by cousins, where they moved from Alsace to Burgundy, to Vichy and in July 1941, moved to a small village in southwest France. In November 1942, at the age of 14, Eric became a messenger for the French Resistance until liberation of the area in July 1944. Eric came to the US in September 1947 and married his wife Edith. Both Eric and Edith are survivors of murdered parents.
When asked about his motivation to get involved with WJM, Eric stated that “he is very proud of his family and his Judaism. Without the people who took a stand for me and my siblings, we may have not survived the Holocaust. I have an inordinate feeling of indebtedness to them that I can never repay, even if I live to be the age of Moses.”
To pay back that debt, Mr. Mayer devotes himself to activism, advocacy for the remaining heroes and victims of the Holocaust and their descendants, and education about its horrors and the truths of human nature – including the good ones – that it revealed.
“I am very proud of the contributions the Jewish people have made in every conceivable field over the last 3500 years and this remarkable story must be told to future generations of Jews and non-Jews.”
At age 91, Eric Mayer is still actively involved in many institutions and works for many world wide initiatives, especially in the areas of human rights, education and health in the U.S., South Africa, Kenya, Costa Rica, India and Morroco.