By Shauna Shapiro Jackson
After the enormous success of last year’s American Friends of the World’s Jewish Museum Beverly Hills Gala, we were all set for a 2020 gala, but life took a left turn when the worldwide pandemic hit.
As in most of the world, Los Angeles was inundated with business closures, medical concerns, fear, and isolation. Soon, however, virtual events began to pop up as people were growing weary of being at home and wanted to be informed and entertained.
Accordingly, the American Friends of the WJM, decided to pivot to a virtual event which allowed us to raise money during a year where fundraising and awareness building was otherwise very difficult. The Los Angeles based virtual event was spearheaded by AFWJM Director of Development Shauna Shapiro Jackson, event designer Judy Levy, and Tony Award winning producer, Scott Mauro.
The concept of the evening was a virtual flight to “see” the museum, and the iconic El Al came on board as our airline to virtually “fly” our guests to Tel Aviv. Our captain was the wonderful Howie Mandel, and he was joined by Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) and comedian David Steinberg who all enthusiastically came on board to share the vision of the World’s Jewish Museum. We also heard from Gail Asper, Moe Levy, and Frank Gehry who talked about their vision and why this is a transformative project.
In addition to El Al, our sponsors included Kind, Pearson Brothers Organic Wine, Johnny Was, Oro Gold, Orly Cosmetics, Qmadix, Blumenes, and more.
The evening turned out to be a great success and was attended by people from around the globe including the US, Canada, Mexico, England, France, Australia and Israel. Not only was the evening itself successful, but it allowed us to reconnect with many of our worldwide friends, share the WJM vision with new viewers, and invigorate our current supporters resulting in additional pledges and giving.
The evening ended with the wonderful visionary and philanthropist, Isaac Larian, announcing that he is pleased to be our 2021 live gala honoree at a date that will be set as soon as it is once again safe to gather indoors in a ballroom. We can’t wait to see you all there!
We are pleased to share some of the kind notes we received after the virtual event that included the following:
- “That was the most emotional gala I have ever been to!!!” Stephanie Levaton Cobos, Los Angeles
- “I’m so impressed” Ruti Kapon, Weizman Institute, Israel
- “It’s an excellent project” Hemant Vyas, Houston, Texas
- “Very much enjoyed the gala – My other invitees said it was very well done and informative” Max Steinkopf, London
- “I loved the program. I didn’t want it to end! Congratulations! Well done!” Daniel Kimmel
- “Really great event tonight!” Dr. Sam Fink, Los Angeles
- “What a beautiful production – I am moved, touched, no words …Let’s make this happen!” Jessica Slovic, Mexico City
- “It was an exciting informative presentation. Bob and I enjoyed seeing-before-our-eyes the visions, creative talent and hard work (so far) of those involved. Since that evening, we have spoken to many friends and acquaintances regarding this wonderful museum” Cathy Tallman