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It is always inspiring to see how the WJM resonates around the world with its transformational and positive messages.  A perfect example is the feedback from Daniel Kimmel Q.C., who along with Stephen Victor, Q.C. and Murray Ages, Q.C. made a major pledge to the World’s Jewish Museum.  Dan practiced Business/Commercial and Real Estate Law in Ottawa at Kimmel.Victor.Ages.  He is the past President of Congregation Beth Shalom, past general chairman of UJA/Federation campaign and past President of the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation.  Dan is married to Marilyn and they have two children and four grandchildren.

“I first learned of the proposed Museum from an article in The Times of Israel about 2 years ago.  I liked the idea of a museum of Jewish accomplishment throughout history and Jewish contribution to the world in every important field of endeavour.  Coincidentally Gail was coming to Ottawa the same week and invited me to join her for coffee.  Her enthusiasm for the project was contagious.  The fact that world renowned architect, Frank Gehry, would design the buildings in a superb location in Tel-Aviv was the icing on the cake.”


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

Photo Gallery


Joelle Aflalo Maman was born in Fes, Morocco and lived a few years in Belgium prior to moving to Luxembourg where she currently resides.

She is a founding member and the General Manager of Gestman SA, and founding member of Cofidom-Gestman SARL, a regulated company established in Luxembourg and specializing in corporate structuring and investment engineering.  Her professionalism has allowed companies to quickly develop their activities and her name is renowned in the financial profession.  She acts as Executive Director for a number of private finance and real estate companies.

She serves as the board member of several charities including Educating for Impact Europe (EFI), Conference of European Rabbis (CER), The Boris Mints Institute (BMI).  She also serves on the boards of several corporate and philanthropic organizations including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 2006, as testimony of her devotion and interest to be engaged in philanthropy to improve the world and fitting with her spirituality and her sense of responsibility, she, along with Mr. Gad Boukobza, founded The Matanel Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to bring direct aid and organizational support to the Jewish people and Jewish causes around the world.

Additionally, The Matanel Foundation advocates and works toward the development of innovative, flexible and effective solutions to social, economic, educational, scientific, cultural and environmental challenges of our time.  An incubator for new projects, The Matanel Foundation works with project initiators until they ultimately achieve full operation with the benefit of public or other support.

We gratefully acknowledge the Matanel Foundation for funding the cost for the WJM interviews with 50 leading Israeli citizens who provided their input and insights into the project.


Viviana Goren Kasam is a journalist and has collaborated at length with the leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and Rai, Italy’s state broadcaster. She was among the founders of Canale 5, where she worked on the concept and participated in the start-up of Italy’s leading commercial channel. She has organized institutional events for the municipality of Milan and Roma, for the President of the Italian Republic and the Prime Minister’s office, as well as for theatres and festivals all over Italy.

In 2008 she gave up for profit activities to devote herself full-time to non-profit activities.  Her field of work both in neurosciences and for the Union of Italian Jewish Communities is to promote, through music, a better mutual understanding and respect for religious, political and cultural diversity.

In 2010 she founded, with Nobel prize recipient Prof. Rita Levi Montalcini, and presently chairs, the non-profit Associazione BrainCircleItalia, created to make the general public – and youth in particular – familiar with brain research.  In 2019, she founded BrainCircleLugano, together with a group of scientists and supporters in Ticino, which is based on the experience of BrainCircleItalia. BrainCircle has organized more than 100 events in Italy and abroad, which includes festivals, lectures and exhibitions.

Since 2014 she has organized in Rome, the Institutional Concerts for the Holocaust Memorial Day.  These concerts were patronized by the Prime Minister of Italy and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), in order to bring awareness to the music composed in concentration camps. All the concerts were broadcast live by Rai, national Italian Television, and received great praise by media and the public. The 2020 concert was dedicated to the theme of exile.

She was asked by the World’s Jewish Congress to present in Venice at the official ceremony in Teatro La Fenice  for the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venice Ghetto.

Viviana has won many awards, both for her activity in the press, radio and television, and has been honoured with the title “Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana” for her work.

She is a board member of the Cukier Goldstein Goren Foundation, of which she was President from 2010 to 2014, President of the Lilah Foundation, Vice-President of the Fondazione Federica Spitzer in Lugano, where she continues to popularize science and promote intercultural dialogue.

She sits on the scientific committee of the Fondazione Prada and is presently involved in the organization of HumanBrains, a series of international seminars with the most prestigious scientific institutions and neuroscientists around the world and in a Brain exhibition in Venice during the Biennale 2022.

For the past ten years she has been sitting on the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


At the content heart of this ambitious project is a commitment to highlighting the Jewish contribution to the world while avoiding Jewish hubris and self-aggrandisement.  Around this very general idea emerged an early articulation (2014) of the content domains of the institution which was wide-ranging and very extensive both in terms of areas of Jewish contribution, historical periods and outstanding Jewish figures.

In 2018 and 2019, at the initiative of the Matanel Foundation, a series of 50 interviews were conducted in Israel by Dr. Noa Shashar.   A booklet containing the central ideas which emerged during the interview process will appear shortly in Hebrew. While participants provided much valuable commentary on the idea of the WJM, they were not asked to help provide the narrative we are currently seeking. The leadership of the WJM therefore decided to embark on an expedited content deliberation process in order to develop the core content.  This will ultimately enable RAA (Ralph Appelbaum Associates) to move forward on the internal design of the institution and provide more clarity for the fundraising efforts worldwide.

Joseph Schwab, the father of modern curriculum theory, developed in the 1970’s at the University of Chicago the concept of a ‘Curriculum Deliberation’.  Following John Dewey, this is a process of carefully considering competing content alternatives from a variety of perspectives in order to deliberately define and then hone the ultimate product.

The process calls for a relatively small group of outstanding thought leaders, content specialists, and experts in representation of ideas, who each write a short paper (no more than 5 pages) and then come together to brainstorm based on the written papers, in order to create a well-crafted narrative that is to become the basis for the next stage of content planning and of fundraising.   Their task is to create a thoughtful, focused narrative which makes it possible for museum designers to produce an exciting experience or experiences which help visitors reflect on ‘what makes the Jewish people tick’, which articulates core ideas and values which have kept this people together, and which connects between our ancient past and the modern pulsating State of Israel and city of Tel Aviv.

RAA is accompanying this process in order to provide experience, expertise and a ‘feasibility test’ of some of the ideas that emerge.

This takes place right at the height of the Covid-19 worldwide crisis.  Any plans that involved bringing groups together, first locally and then internationally, seem a pipe dream today.  On the other hand, Covid-19 may just have offered us not only a severe challenge but also a great opportunity.  One of the concerns which all of us had regarding the prominent names the project sought to involve was their availability and the very long lead time which is so often necessary in order to bring these individuals together.  We have, over the past 2 months, been able to recruit 16 outstanding thought leaders, from Israel, Europe and the North America, scholars and museum practitioners who have committed themselves both to write an initial ‘narrative’ and then participate, by Zoom, in a series of intensive consultations and brainstorming.

The group is currently at work developing their individual papers while the Zoom-based consultations will take place at the end of June and into the first two weeks of July.

It is still our hope that in the early fall it may be possible to convene a final face-to-face meeting of the thought leaders in order to refine and finalize the proposal for the ‘Content Narrative’ of the Museum which will be brought to the Board of Directors for discussion and approval.

Dr. Noa Shashar holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, (Department of Jewish History) and is a professor at the Department of Cultural Studies at the Sapir Academic College (from 2012).   Her academic research focuses on the history of the Jewish family. Noa holds a B.A. in History of the Theatre from the Hebrew University and a Masters in Gender and Judaic Studies from the JTS branch in Jerusalem.  Born and raised in Israel, she lives in Jerusalem and is a mother of five and grandmother of 2.


Shauna Shapiro Jackson is a Director of the American Friends of the World’s Jewish Museum (WJM) and heads the Los Angeles office. Currently Shauna is heavily involved in developing a virtual event for the WJM in October 2020. She is also chairing the second annual Los Angeles WJM Gala in 2021, after a successful inaugural Gala in 2019.

When asked why she chose to get involved with the World’s Jewish Museum, Shauna noted: “When Gail Asper first told me about the World’s Jewish Museum, I knew that I had to be a part of this transformational project.  While most Jewish museums around the world focus on the important issues of Holocaust or “what is a Jew,” I knew that it was time to also focus on the positive – Jewish contributions to humankind.  Celebrating the Jewish people’s remarkable and deeply impactful contributions to humankind over the past 3500 years in the areas of medicine, technology, science, the arts, entertainment and philanthropy will demonstrate how Jewish values have served as a foundation upon which Jews have helped change the world for the better throughout the ages. I believe that it is extremely important for our children to feel connected to their past, and that our children and future generations be inspired and proud of who we are as a people. I also love the overall idea of the power of one – how just one person can change the world for the better.  Last, but certainly not least, I am also proud of being instrumental in bringing Frank Gehry on board. Having the first iconic Frank Gehry structure in Israel is exciting and will make the World’s Jewish Museum a landmark destination. If the World’s Jewish Museum has anywhere near the impact in Tel Aviv that Gehry’s Guggenheim had on Bilboa, Spain, this museum will likely be an enormous boost to the Israeli economy.  Overall, I very much look forward to having the World’s Jewish Museum as a symbol of pride for both Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.”

Shapiro Jackson has enjoyed a long career in the entertainment industry and has produced, distributed and marketed over 300 feature films throughout the world in all media.  She is Vice President of the SC Group of companies. She is married to David Jackson, her business partner and former Vice President Business Affairs at MCA Records.  They have three children – Drew, Brandon and Riley.


Given the state of the world pandemic, I feel it’s important that I bring you an update on the current situation in Tel Aviv.

In these difficult times we face challenges as never before. They require us to continually refine and reshape our activities and ensure that every public action we perform is aligned with the new situation.

Tel Aviv-Yafo has multiple facets, comprised of diverse populations, and we needed to be there for All, operating with humbleness and sensitivity.

COVID-19 has introduced us to a new, ever-changing dynamic, in which we are required to give an immediate, good response in a reality full of restrictions. But in the midst of all this, from an urban perspective – the epidemic created an opportunity for implementing Multi-system City-Making, which was manifested in establishing the Mayor’s Emergency Relief Fund.

As soon as the health restrictions were published, Municipality professionals identified 8 of the city’s most vulnerable populations, and the Emergency Relief Fund began raising funds to assist in the form of food security, digital food vouchers, medicines, games, tablets for foreign community children for distant learning, and financial grants to artists. The assistance was carried out through the municipality professionals on-the-ground.

In addition to money raised by the Emergency Fund to fund all relief efforts, it also gave residents the opportunity to practice solidarity and social responsibility: Youth volunteered for the elderly, creative kits and games were distributed for special education children, and tablets for foreign children. The food vouchers were digital – with no need for physical contact, while supporting local food chains and grocery stores.

Many of the city’s residents are small businesses owners as well as customers. On the economic level, we have allowed them to support each other through the City Coin campaign, which encourages buying from local businesses by rewarding shoppers with a partial refund. We set up an Artist Fund to assist the city’s residents employed in the cultural and performing arts sectors – an industry that has been severely damaged. The aid applicants received grants and loans and were encouraged to give back to the community through their art. A similar request was also made to the student recipients of scholars who were encouraged to come and volunteer as part of the joint effort.

A welcome trend was observed among the Arab sector – which not only cooperated with the authorities at the national level, but also, for the first time, made its own donations to the Emergency Fund.

All actions we did under the Fund, in addition to providing financial aid to the needy populations, also enabled social mobility and a relationship of cooperation where the giver is also recipient, thus not perpetuating the poor, but empowering the cooperative. The Mayor’s Emergency Fund is a multi-system response that brought to light the human cause. In that aspect, the crisis allowed us to respond to ALL residents of Tel Aviv-Yafo, applying and communicating from the ground the City’s values of embracing, openness, tolerance, and innovation.

As a board member of the World’s Jewish Museum’s project, I am encouraged by the activity been produced at this time given the global pandemic, as we seek out supporters world-wide.

Dr. Hila Oren


Greetings from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada!

It is my hope that everyone is safe and healthy during this global pandemic.  While I always look forward to my trips to Israel, unfortunately due to the pandemic, I have been unable to visit Israel and attend the meetings and donor and volunteer reception we have  been planning for the World’s Jewish Museum.  While this is very frustrating, these are unprecedented times and we recognize that patience is required.  The one saving grace is the ability to stay in touch long distance via ZOOM calls with our WJM teams, volunteers and donors in Israel, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Mexico, Vancouver, Ottawa and Europe.

And happily, as you will see in this newsletter, work on the content continues.  Thanks to Noa Shashar and Alan Hoffmann, the WJM Scholar’s Committee recruitment is now complete and the scholars are busy completing the assignments.  I would like to extend our special thanks to Jean de Gunzburg for taking on the position of Co-Chair of the Content Committee with Alan Hoffmann.

While we have approached many individuals to support the WJM with their donations, it was felt by most of our campaign team that now isn’t the right time given the turmoil in the investment markets and the pressing needs of many charities that are directly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.  We will however continue to connect with everyone to keep you informed about the progress of the WJM.  Given the environment we are in, our second major gala for the WJM in October 2020 in Los Angeles will be rescheduled to June 2021.  While we had plans for a big event in Miami for members of the Mexican Jewish Community, coordinated by our volunteer ambassador Jessika Slovik, this will be on hold until further notice.  In the meantime, to continue to build awareness of the WJM, we will be holding a world wide virtual event in October 2020, coordinated by Shauna Shapiro Jackson and Judy Levy.  More information to follow.

Thank you for your continued interest in the WJM.  Stay safe and healthy!

With warmest regards,
Gail Asper


By Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

“Jewish ideas have changed the world without the world knowing it. Now it will.” This expression has become the watchword of Hamakom: The World’s Jewish Museum. But what exactly do these words mean? Have Jewish ideas – the ideas of a people constituting about one-fifth of one percent of the world’s population — really altered the world’s destiny? Remarkably, they have. In dozens of ways. For example, a verse in the opening chapter of Genesis, the Torah’s first book, in telling of the creation of humankind, declares: “And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Some 3,000 years after this verse was made known to the ancient Israelites, and through the Israelites to the world, the most famous line in the American Declaration of Independence was written: “All men are created equal.” Where indeed did this electrifying idea come from? From Greek philosophers? From Roman scholars? Certainly not. The notion that all human beings are inherently equal would have struck Hellenic and Roman thinkers as ridiculous. It was a simply worded biblical verse asserting that there is a spark of divinity in every human being that introduced this idea into the world – an idea that eventually culminated in the declaration “All men are created equal.”

This, of course, is but one example of the power of just this one verse. During the middle of World War II, a war fought to stop Hitler, the Nazis, and their notion of Aryan supremacy from taking over the world, US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared: “The whole reason we are fighting this war can be summed up in one in the Bible,’ And God created man in His image’.”

These few words written in the Torah over 3,000 years ago, have reverberated ever since. And the remarkable thing is that they have the power to continue to reverberate and protect humankind for the next 3000 years.

This is the goal of Hamakom, to share with Jews and non-Jews alike, those uniquely Jewish ideas, inventions and innovations that have elevated the whole world. And by doing so to fulfill another biblical verse, the one that defines God’s mandate to Abraham and to all his future descendants: “And you shall be a blessing [to all humankind] (Genesis 12:2)”.