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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.