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.
Our big news is that the extraordinary piece of land, conservatively valued at $150 million that the City of Tel Aviv has allocated for this project, has been extended by City Council for a further three years. This will allow us more time for fundraising. Mayor Huldai personally presented the resolution to City Council and believes that a Frank Gehry-designed museum will transform Tel Aviv’s waterfront and secure its position as a world-class destination.
The European Friends of the World’s Jewish Museum met on June 13th in the offices of the Mayor of Tel Aviv (Ron Huldai) to express their support for what will become the new symbol of Israel and the Jewish People.
Present were: Yoram Cohen (head of Global Fundraising), David Wollach, Joelle Aflalo, Mayor Ron Huldai, Martine Dussault, Hila Oren (CEO, Tel Aviv Foundation), Robert Cohen Skalli, Yaron Klein and Moe Levy, (Director & Volunteer – WJM).
Also noting, following the Tel Aviv elections on October 28, 2018, Mayor Ron Huldai has been re-elected for another term. The Mayor has become more engaged with the project and he will be featuring the World’s Jewish Museum in his promotional materials for projects in the city that are a priority for him.
We continue our global fundraising efforts. Gail, Moe and Yoram continue to travel the globe to meet with wonderful philanthropists who share our vision of making the World’s Jewish Museum a reality for 2023.
During the past three months we raised $12,350,000 Million in pledges. We have received our first Israel pledge of $1M, a $1M from a donor in London, $1M from a donor in Vancouver a $100,000.00 from a donor in Ottawa!
We have just secured a $1M pledge from a donor in Winnipeg, a $7M pledge from a European donor, a $1M from a donor in Geneva, and another $250,000.00 from a donor in Toronto.
In addition to the land (which was donated by the city of Tel Aviv and worth over $150 million), over $100 M dollars in pledges have been secured to date from Jewish philanthropists including The Asper Foundation which is spearheading this inspiring project.
It will create a new message of and for the Jewish people. The Asper Foundation spearheaded the building of the spectacular $351 Million Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Canada which is now open and receiving rave reviews.
We are holding a major fundraising Gala on Thursday, June 6th, 2019 in Los Angeles, honouring Frank Gehry with a Lifetime Achievement Award. We will be sending out invitations in the very near future.
The World’s Jewish Museum is set to be a world class landmark, museum, and performing arts center a- la Sydney Opera House overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv. The spectacular site has been secured and is just North of the Hilton and within walking distance to the very popular Namal (port) area.
It will celebrate Jewish contributions to humankind, be a place of events and celebrations, and will stay open late with a restaurant/nightclub aspect so that Israelis and tourists alike can enjoy it every day.
Frank Gehry’s design of the WJM is already receiving worldwide attention. With his track record and reputation, the architecture is sure to be an attraction in and of itself. Museum exhibit design is being helmed by the award-winning Ralph Appelbaum whose talents were commissioned for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Clinton Library, the National Museum of African American History & Culture and more. Some of the most prolific Jewish minds and dedicated philanthropists are on the WJM’s scholarly and advisory councils.
The WJM will be transformational because while 70% of Jewish Museums focus on our difficult past, the WJM changes the narrative from one of survival to one of celebration. It is our hope that every child who goes to Israel on Birthright will fall in love with Israel itself, go to Yad Vashem to learn about our difficult past and the importance of tolerance, and then end the trip at our World’s Jewish Museum in Tel Aviv, strengthening their Jewish identity, and empowering them to make their own positive mark on the world.
The European Friends of WJM met in the offices of the Mayor of Tel Aviv to express their support for what will become the new symbol of Israel and the Jewish People. From left to right: Yoram Cohen, David Wollach, Joelle Aflalo, Mayor Ron Huldai, Martine Dassault, Hila Oren, Robert Cohen Skalli, Yaron Klein, Moe Levy.
Our goal for 2018 is to fundraise, fundraise and fundraise! We are asking our donors and prospects for assistance in achieving our goal. Time is of the essence as we have some strict deadlines to adhere to and we are confident that with your help, we will make this dream a reality! How can we not build this great, new project, designed by Frank Gehry for the Jewish people? All donors are being asked to provide pledges which can be spread over 3 – 5 years, and which are completely conditional on the project proceeding as envisioned. Please do share with us the names of prospective donors and be sure to make your pledge today. A pledge form is included here, please encourage your family, friends and colleagues to make their pledge today.
We have just secured an additional $20 million dollar pledge from an anonymous donor. The donor has made this significant pledge because he loves the concept, the location, the content and “the truly beautiful and radical architectural design.” He shares our view that Tel Aviv is the right location for this kind of initiative. He also told Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai that he is excited to do something bold and transformational in Israel and the world and the WJM is the best thing he has seen!
Yoram Cohen joined The World’s Jewish Museum as the Head of Global Fundraising and Strategy in March 2018. Prior to joining WJM, Yoram had been the development manager of the international news channel i24 news, as well as the Executive Director of The Patrick and Lena Drahi Philanthropic Foundation.
From 1996 to 2013, he was Associate Vice President for Europe at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was responsible for development activities in Europe, as well as restructuring of the University’s philanthropic activities, through The Friends of Europe associations.
Between 1985 – 1996, he held several senior management and fundraising roles with several significant organizations, including the Bronfman Foundation and the Rich Corporation.
He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in International Relations (BA), an MBA specializing in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, which was followed by a 2 year program in the field of Education and Contemporary Jewish World (MA studies). He was also educated in philanthropic studies at Brandeis University, Harvard University and John Hopkins University.
From 1979 to 1983 Yoram served as an officer at the rank of captain in the Israeli Parachute Corps and Artillery Corps. Please join us in welcoming Yoram.
We are pleased to announce that Rivka Carmi, President of Ben Gurion University has joined our Advisory Council!
President Carmi is the first woman to serve as President of an Israeli University. She was born in Israel and is a graduate of Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She completed a residency in pediatrics, a fellowship in neonatology at the Soroka University Medical Center and an additional two year fellowship in medical genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University Medical School. In addition to her duties as President, Professor Carmi remains a member and serves as a consultant of national, professional and public committees and organizations, is a scientific reviewer for various journals and funding agencies and serves on the editorial board of prestigious scientific journals.
Recent noteworthy honors she has received include: the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Yated organization for children with Downs Syndrome; the Achievement in Medicine Award by the Municipality of Beer-Sheva; the 2002 Award for Peace from Canada International Scientific Exchange Program (CISEPO), to Distinction Award of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America; and in 2009, an award of excellence from the Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association (IAPA). In 2013 she received an honorary doctorate from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Asper Foundation created the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) which opened in 2014 and has won over 40 international awards and now adds another significant accolade. We have just learned that the Bank of Canada will feature the CMHR along with civil rights activist Viola Desmond on the new $10 bill.
We are delighted to announce that WJM Advisory Council member Rabbi Joseph Telushkin has just been inducted into the Manhattan Jewish Hall of Fame on May 14, 2018. Other inductees included Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Kol HaKavod Rabbi Telushkin! As well, Advisory Council member Patty Glaser received the Business Operator of the Year Award by the Los Angeles Business Journal on March 21, 2018. Major donor and wonderful ambassador of the WJM, John Farahi received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Nevada on May 17, 2018. We are blessed to have such an esteemed group of advisors and donors believing whole heartedly in the vision of the World’s Jewish Museum. If we have omitted any recent accolades for other team members, please let us know!
NEW YORK CITY
On December 5th, 2017, Gail and Moe hosted an informal gathering of volunteers and donors for an exclusive update on the spectacular architecture and exhibit plans for the WJM. The event took place at Ralph Appelbaum’s incredible offices, where he has developed the exhibits for some of the world’s leading museums!
December 2017 – Shauna Shapiro Jackson, our LA volunteer extraordinaire, hosted a few potential donors at Frank Gehry’s offices. In attendance were some of the LA team including Sheryl Fleischer, Rachelle Fleischer, Adam Press and Rachelle Berger. Also in attendance were Nikita Khan, David Dubinsky from CAA and David Lonner, an accomplished agent representing writers, directors and producers in the film, television and online content arenas.
January 2018 – Gail Asper hosted a few potential donors at Frank Gehry’s offices. Everyone is quite excited about the project and they are thrilled with the model that Frank has created.
On March 15th, 2018, Gail and Moe hosted a reception for WJM volunteers and donors at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv to update everyone on the progress and achievements of the WJM and to introduce our Israel team; Yoram Cohen and Shai Abramson. Shai is the Israeli representative for The Asper Foundation’s projects and initiatives in Israel. Hila Oren, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tel Aviv Foundation spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about the importance of the WJM for the City of Tel Aviv.
Gail and Moe continue to travel the globe to meet with wonderful philanthropists who are assisting in making the World’s Jewish Museum a reality for 2023.
We have created a Shofar pin in silver, which you can order for $20 by calling 204-989-5522.
The Shofar is ‘The call to worship; The call to action; The call to make the Jewish message known to the world.’
Information on how to purchase a Shofar pin online will be announced shortly.
We are pleased that Lee will join our team. Lee already has, and will play a significant role in the project’s development. We extend our thanks to Lee and her Finance Director, Lisa Hofheimer, for all their support.
Biography: Lee is Principal of the LJCB Group of Companies. She is also a Board Councilor of the USC Shoah Foundation, a Board Director of the General Sir John Monash Foundation, and a long-standing Board Member of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. Lee is publisher and editor of A Day in the Life of Israel, Jerusalem in the Shadow of Heaven, and A Day in the Life of Africa.
As a committed supporter of the arts, Lee served on the Council of the Australian National Gallery and the Australian National Gallery Acquisitions Committee. As Chair of the Lee Liberman Foundation, Lee provides strategic funding to non-profit partners in Australia, Israel and the United States.
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We are pleased to present the concept design by Frank Gehry through two new renderings of the building on the site.
Those who have visited Frank Gehry’s studios and seen his work have used many superlatives to describe the design; ‘breathtaking’, ‘astounding’, ‘beautiful’, a ‘true icon and symbol for the Jewish people’.
We believe that, like Frank Gehry’s architecture in Bilbao, Spain that created ‘The Bilbao Effect’, his Tel Aviv project will also give rise to a new term, ‘The Tel Aviv Inspiration’, where we meld great architecture with one of the greatest stories on earth, the Jewish contributions to humanity.
Indeed, the Frank Gehry design is featured on the cover of the Japanese magazine, GA Document. This publication is one of the highest regarded architecture magazines in the world.
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Ralph Appelbaum and Frank Gehry worked together from the very beginning of the design process to ensure that the spaces capture the stories being told in dramatic exhibits.
The ‘stitch book’ is the journey and experience of the museum in spectacular spaces. Considerable effort has gone into integrating the architecture to the story. The stitch book will begin to be circulated within the next few weeks.
On March 9, 2017, Rosita & Phillipe Weissberg hosted a “friend-raising” event in their home in NYC for a small group of potential donors for the WJM. Ralph Appelbaum spoke on the incredible exhibit plans, including the content that is being developed. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin discussed the importance of why the contributions of the Jewish people, over the past 3500 years, needs to be told. Gail Asper gave an update on fundraising and the Concept Design by Frank Gehry.
Our LA Committee has had the opportunity to take potential donors to the Frank Gehry Studios to meet with Frank and his team and to also receive a first-hand look at the model of the museum. These tours resulted in $1.5 million dollars in donations. Thank you LA Committee! Thank you to Frank Gehry, David Nam and others on the Gehry Team.
On May 29, 2017 the Jewish National Fund Manitoba/Saskatchewan Region honoured Rabbi Alan Green at their annual Negev Gala. Approximately 1300 people attended this outstanding event. The net proceeds raised from the Gala have been directed to the World’s Jewish Museum. Thank you JNF!
Gail Asper and Moe Levy spent two weeks in Israel in June 2017, during which a number of fundraising meetings were held. Further meetings are being held in Toronto, Ottawa and New York.
We have identified international scholars to assist in the ‘white papers’ that will become the platform of the narrative of the galleries. These renowned scholars will be engaged for this two to three year process within the next few months as funds are secured and plans are finalized for Phase 2 of the project.
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