Article: Beverly Hills hosts Benefit Gala in honor of Landmark Jewish World Museum set to open in Israel (Santa Monica Observer, 12/1/21)
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
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,
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)”.
Named one of the 500 Most Influential People in Los Angeles in 2016 and again in 2017, Most Influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek and one of the 50 Most Influential Jews in the World by The Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple. Rabbi Wolpe previously taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College and UCLA. A columnist for Time.com, he has been published and profiled in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post’s On Faith website, The Huffington Post and the New York Jewish Week. He has been featured on The Today Show, Face the Nation, ABC This Morning, and CBS This Morning. In addition, Rabbi Wolpe has appeared prominently in series on PBS, A&E, History Channel and Discovery Channel. Rabbi Wolpe is the author of eight books, including the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times. His new book is titled David, the Divided Heart. It was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards, and has been optioned for a movie by Warner Bros.
When asked why he became involved in the World’s Jewish Museum, Rabbi Wolpe replied: “I became involved in WJM because I want people all over the world, no matter what field intrigues them, to see the Jewish contribution to everything from the baseball field to the physics lab. Too often people tell the story of Jews as one of sadness — here is a place to celebrate our extraordinary achievements.”
The World’s Jewish Museum is pleased to thank the Greenberg family of the Ottawa, Canada based The Minto Group for their $2M donation to the WJM. The Minto Group is a fully integrated real estate developer, builder, manager and owner with operations in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, South Carolina and Florida. It was founded by the Greenberg brothers, Gilbert, Irving, Lorry and Louis. The company is now owned by Gilbert’s six children and Irving’s daughter.
As the family developed the business in Ottawa neighborhoods, they began to support local charities and organizations, something the four founders of the Minto Group instilled in their children, nephews and nieces. Members of the Greenberg family and The Minto Group have been strong supporters of many Jewish and non-Jewish organizations throughout Canada, the United States and Israel. The Minto Foundation is now involving the 17 members of the third generation of the family in the decision making.
Roger Greenberg noted, “The Jewish people do a great job commemorating the tragedies of the past, but we don’t celebrate successes of our tremendous achievements — that is what we hope the Museum will give the world. Jews have a great positive story to tell and this is the message we would like to convey to the world!”
Stanley Black is an American real estate investor, community leader, and philanthropist from Los Angeles, California. Stanley and his late wife of blessed memory, Joyce, created the Stanley & Joyce Black Family Foundation with the help of their three children, Jack Black, Jill Black Zalben and Janis Black Warner as well as their grandchildren, to help change the world for the positive. Since the Foundation’s start in 1989, they have provided over $60 million to worthy causes from the family’s hometown of Los Angeles to communities around the world.
Jack, Jill, and Janis, along with their children, have taken their role as stewards of the Family Foundation with great care making sure the values instilled in them by their grandparents and parents are the focus of their work; not just supporting worthy causes but rather investing in communities that make lasting changes. Following by example, each family member sits on various boards that support causes from kidney disease to homelessness and mental health, encompassing a variety of local and international charities. The fundamental focus of the Black family has always been to give back and help others.
The Black family became early adopters of the Worlds Jewish Museum as it has been a pillar of the family’s philanthropy to support Israel. Impressed by the vision of arguably one of the world’s leading architects, Frank Gehry, WJM stands out as an international museum unlike any. The family, led by Mr. Black’s insistence, increased their support by more than doubling their charitable commitment while attending the 2019 inaugural gala in Beverly Hills, in memory of his beloved wife. The family fully expects Gehry’s vision of an Israeli landmark to set the stage for a new global focus on Tel Aviv. The Black family is excited to see the museum come to life in the years to come and is grateful to the team working diligently behind the scenes, especially Shauna Shapiro Jackson, for her guidance in understanding what an important role the museum will hold for Jewish communities near and far.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome Alan Hoffmann as the Executive Chair of the recently established Israel Management Committee of the World’s Jewish Museum.
Alan is the former CEO and Director General of The Jewish Agency for Israel, the largest Jewish non-profit worldwide. He served in this role since 2010 and retired in 2019. Prior to that, Alan served for 10 years as the Director General of the Education Department of the Jewish Agency.
Before the Jewish Agency, Alan was Director of the Hebrew University’s Melton Centre for Jewish Education in which capacity he helped found the Florence Melton Adult School and many other programs at Hebrew University. Alan also served as CEO of the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education in New York and then as Director of the Mandel Center at Hebrew University.
“I am very excited to have become part of this very important initiative. Tel Aviv, Israel and the world will all benefit enormously from this iconic building which celebrates the unique contribution of Jews and Judaism together with the ideas, conflicts and debates which undergird that contribution. For young Israelis this will be an opportunity to connect contemporary Israel to the creative forces which have shaped Jewish existence; for non-Jewish visitors a window into Jewish vitality over the centuries; for Jews living outside of Israel a cultural bridge. This is an institution whose time has come.”
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.
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