Presenting the Marian Anderson Award to award-winning actor James Earl Jones were (l to r) Terrence Howard and Phylicia Rashad, who had starred with Jones earlier this year in the Broadway revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"; Pamela Browner White, chair of the Marian Anderson Award Committee; Jones; and Phladelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Photo: Bonnie Squires.
— by Bonnie Squires
One of the top cultural events in Philadelphia each year is the Marian Anderson Award gala and concert at the Sidney Kimmel Performing Arts Center. This year's recipient was James Earl Jones, and a star-studded cast of performers was assembled for the occasion.
Jones was selected for his superior acting talents on stage, film and television. A decorated performer with Tony, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Grammy awards, Mr. Jones has also been recognized with the National Medal of Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center Honor, a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Oscar from the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Several members of the Philadelphia Jewish community had personal connections to Jones, like Christina Saler, a vice chair of the gala, who traveled with Jones when he was the voice and the face of Verizon television commercials. And Shirley and Richard Hahn, who have made some films with Jones, were there with Shirley's mother, Lynne Honickman, a benefactor of the gala.
Sylvia Kauders, the veteran star of stage, screen, tv and commericals, appears in "Marty's Back in Town," an original play by Norman Shabel. Photo: Bonnie Squires
— by Bonnie Squires
Sylvia Kauders was having a very busy week. One night she was opening in an original new play, "Marty's Back in Town," upstairs at the Adrienne theater in Philadelphia. Two nights later she was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.
There is hardly a television series or major motion picture which has not featured Kauders in a memorable role. And any television commercial she appears in, like the Pennsylvania Lottery ads, are the most talked about.
In the current production by Norman Shabel, Kauders plays the role of Mama, the matriarch of a New York Jewish family, who is angry with her son for having invited the black sheep of the family, his older brother Marty, to visit the family. Marty deserted the east coast for the west coast ten years before and had barely spoken to anyone in all that time.
The dysfunctional family has some funny moments as well, but the health problems, financial precipices and estrangements are heart-rending. Kauders' character eventually softens toward her wayward son, but the problems of this fictional family will resonate with everyone in the audience.
Some of Sylvia's funniest lines result from her using a Yiddish phrase, usually a derogatory one. The playwright, who has won awards for his novels, thoughtfully includes a Yiddish lexicon in the Playbill to help those who either are not "of the tribe" or who never learned Yiddish.
(left to right) Jeremey Kaplan, Cortnee Doll, Melanie Simon and Liza Mitgang, all students who have returned from studying at the Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, attended the recent Philadelphia Chapter Tribute Brunch held by the American Associates of BGU of the Negev. Photo credit: Bonnie Squires.
— by Bonnie Squires
American Associates, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU), held its Philadelphia Chapter 40th Anniversary Tribute Brunch, honoring Charlotte and Dr. Carroll Weinberg, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Sunday, November 11. More than 170 friends and supporters of AABGU came to celebrate the 40th anniversary of AABGU, including six American students who have spent either a semester or an entire year at the Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program at BGU.
Sam and Connie Katz, co-chairs of the Philadelphia Chapter of AABGU, presented the Tikkun Olam Award to Charolotte and Dr. Carroll Weinberg for their decades of supports for the university.
The family of the late Harry Dozor, founder of AABGU, Dr. Rick Dozor, his mother Shirley Dozor and his son Harry Dozor, named for his late grandfather, received a special Dreidel sculpture award for their continuing support.
Ambasssador Barukh Binah, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC, delivered the keynote address.
Brad Oscar (center), one of the stars of STARS OF DAVID, at the Philadelphia Theatre Company's opening night reception, welcomed his Uncle Jack and Aunt Marilyn Dorris (left), along with his parents Fran and Paul Oscar, who all made the trip from Washington, DC area, to enjoy Brad's performance. Oscar had been nominated for a Tony Award a few years ago for his starring role on Broadway in "The Producers." Photo credit: Bonnie Squires.
— by Bonnie Squires
There were two reasons why I was pre-disposed to enjoy "Stars of David," the original musical production at the Philadelphia Theatre Company's Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia. First, Brad Oscar was one of the stars, and I had seen him in action when he starred in the Broadway version of "The Producers," some years ago. Oscar played the Nazi playwright who had penned the mythical "Springtime for Hitler" and was nominated for a Tony Award for his memorable performance. His "mishpokhe" drove in from Washington to enjoy his opening night performance.
And second, although I never met author Abigail Pogrebin, I had served on the national governing council of the late lamented American Jewish Congress with Abby's mother, Letty Pogrebin, another talented writer.
And the Jewish Mother in me knew how proud Letty must be because of her daughter's success with the book of interviews with famous Jewish people, as well as the musical version which takes fourteen of her interviews and turns them into sketches with song.
Israeli Consul General Yaron Sideman is welcomed to the American Friends of Ben Gurion University of the Negev reception in his honor by hostess AImee Katz and her daughter Kathy Katz-Hall. Photo by Bonnie Squires.
— by Bonnie Squires.
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, held a reception to welcome the new Mid-Atlantic Region Israeli Consul General, Yaron Sideman. Aimee Katz, of Bala Cynwyd, hosted the event, with Julia and Steve Harmelin, Esq., serving as co-hosts. Derek Gillman, President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation, spoke briefly about his pride in the fact that limestone from the Negev had been selected as the building material for the new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Sideman had served previously in Lagos and in the New York Consulate. He told the large group assembled about cooperative ventures between America and Israel, going on right now, particularly with military forces.
The Consul General talked about Israel's concerns, regarding the Arab Spring and the unrest and uncertainty in the region. During a question and answer period, he spoke of Turkey's trying to gain favor with other Muslim countries, asserting that the break in relations between Israel and Turkey was initiated by the latter.
Arlen Specter and his wife, former City Councilwoman Joan Specter, enjoyed the Barnes Foundation opening gala this past May a few months before Specter learned his cancer had returned for the third and final bout. Photo: Bonnie Squires
Barack Obama and Joe Biden attend a press conference welcoming Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party at the White House April 29, 2009. Photo: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images.
Sen. Arlen Specter and Gov. Ed Rendell during Specter campaign rally in Philadelphia, May 15, 2010. Photo: AP.
Sen. Arlen Specter was carried in a flag-bedecked limousine from Temple Har Zion to his eternal resting place at his family's plot in Shalom Memorial Park. Photo: Daniel Loeb.
— by Bonnie Squires
Har Zion Temple was the site of the funeral for Senator Arlen Specter, and the thousands of people who poured into the main sanctuary, which had to be opened up to include the ballroom behind it, represented a cross-section of America.
Judges and lawyers and U.S. Attorneys and academics and heads of charities and former Specter staffers by the score populated the seats at Specter's funeral. Candidates and former candidates from both sides of the aisle came to pay tribute to a mover and shaker who according to every speaker, did the right thing, the fair thing, even when voting for President Obama's stimulus package would cost him his seat in the Senate.
Specter's influence crossed political boundaries, racial differences, and economic backgrounds, as evidenced by the huge diversity of those in attendance to pay their respects to Joan Specter and her family.
Federal officials, past and present, like Senator Bob Casey, former Senators Ted Kauffman and Harris Wofford, and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies; state officers, including Governor Tom Corbett; federal and state judges; leaders of academia; and hundreds and hundreds of other notables, like Gwen Goodman, former executive director of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and Lee Ducat, founder of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Ducat nodded as each speaker mentioned Specter's passionate defense of funding for cancer research and stem cell research, even when various Presidents decided to cut funidng of the National Institutes of Health.
Chief among the notables, however, was Vice President Joe Biden, who teared up as he spoke about Arlen Specter, his dear friend, who always was there for him, especially in times of personal crisis.
Biden and Specter seved in the U.S. Senate, and Biden said in his remarks that he knew he had spent more time with Specter than anyone else in the sanctuary, sitting with him in the Senate and especially in the Judiciary Committee meetings and hearings.
Biden also let people know that he had foregone campaign stops in two critical swing states, Colorado and Nevada, to pay tribute to his dear friend at Har Zion Temple.
President Obama that very morning had ordered all American flags to be flown at half-staff on all government properties, military bases, embassies, etc., in the nation and around the world, to salute Senator Arlen Specter on the day of his funeral.
But the people asked to speak by Joan Specter were close personal friends, like Biden. Like Ed Rendell. Like Flora Becker, widow of Judge Ed Becker. Like Judge Jan DuBois. Like Steve Harmelin, Esq. Like Shanin Specter's long-time law partner, Tom Kline. Like Shanin Specter, the Senator's son, and two of Arlen's four grand-daughters.
Perhaps most remarkable, in all of their praise of Specter's fairness and acumen, was the telling of how, less than two weeks before his demise, Specter insisted on teaching his class on the Constitution at Penn Law School. I guess that was why Penn President Amy Gutmann was also in attendance.
Probably half the people in the throng owed their careers to Arlen Specter, either through having been hired by him when he was either District Attorney, or having been appointed by him when he chaired the Judiciary committee.
Although each of the speakers, including life-long friends Flora Becker, Judge Jan DuBois, attorney Steve Harmelin, Governor Ed Rendell, Specter's son Shanin, and Vice President Biden shared wonderful anecdotes and memories of Specter, going back to Penn undergraduate and Yale Law School days, it was two of Specter's granddaughters who made the greatest impact. Sylvie Specter, by the way, is a friend and classmate at Penn of Biden's own granddaughter.
Sylvie and Perri Specter told us that their grandfather had spent two weeks before his passing, working on yet another book - one that was a memoir with photographs from his amazing collection. They announced that the family plans to complete the book and have it published, joining the array of Senator Specter's other remarkable books.
Rabbi Kieffer, Rabbi Knopf and Cantor Vogel of Har Zion contributed to the testimonials, making this a remarkable send-off for a remarkable man.
Honorees Bob and Shelby Ford are joined by Gwen Borowsky and Arlene Silver at the National Liberty Museum awards reception and dinner., where the Fords were honored for their devotion to glass sculpture and their support of the museum and its mission. Photo: Bonnie Squires
— by Bonnie Squires
What do you do when your world-class glass scupture collection outgrows your residence? If your name is Irv Borowsky, you buy an historic former bank building in Philadelphia and transform it into the National Liberty Museum. You commission Dale Chihuly to create a four-story glass chandelier which indicates the flame of revolution and the fragility of freedom. And then you hold an annual Glass Art Weekend & Auction Gala, and you honor supporters of the museum who are themselves connoisseurs of glass sculpture. This year's awards reception and dinner honored Shelby and Bob Ford and Inna and Alex Friedman. Artist Therman Statom, who does unique things with glass, was also honored.
Chair of the Philadelphia Museum of Art trustees, the Honorable Constance Williams, joins His Excellency François Delattre, the French ambassador to the U.S., and Michael Scullin, Esq., Honorary French Consul in Philadelphia. Photo: Bonnie Squires.
— by Bonnie Squires
Jules Mastbaum, the Jewish philanthropist who, in the early 20th century, created and donated to the City of Philadelphia his fabulous collection of Rodin sculptures and the "jewel box" of a museum to house it, would have been very pleased with the number of Jewish philanthropists who turned out on September 15 for the Rodin Gala and fundraiser.
Mastbaum, who made his fortune as a movie theater mogul, spared no expense in having his "jewel box" of a Beaux Arts museum designed and built to house his collection.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell (center) was featured speaker at the recent Jewish Leadership Series luncheon. Hosted this time by the law firm Cozen O'Connor, the Jewish Leadership Series brings together professionals interested in politics and elected officials. Seen here with Governor Markell are (left to right) Michael Bronstein, the organizer of the event, and Israeli Consul General Daniel Kutner.
— by Bonnie Squires
The latest in the Jewish Political Leadership Series luncheons, organized by Michael Bronstein, featured Delaware Governor Jack Markell, with the law firm of Cozen O'Connor hosting the event.
A bi-partisan group of Jewish leaders, including the Israeli Consul General Daniel Kutner and several elected officials in Philadelphia and the suburbs were among the attendees.
Governor Markell expressed concern about the state government budget cuts in education, contrary to the initiatives and philosophy of the Obama administration. He pointed out previous working relationships at the federal level, where President Reagan worked with Democrats to pass legislation, and where Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to further his administration's objectives.
Philadelphia area Russian citizens vote in Russian Presidential Election at Klein JCC, Saturday, March 3
Russian citizens residing within the Philadelphia area will cast their ballots in the Russian presidential election through a special voting center set up in Room 218 at the Klein JCC, located at 10100 Jamison Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, on Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Candidates in this presidential election are:
Vladimir Putin (United Russia),
Gennady Zyuganov (Communist),
Sergey Mironov (A Just Russia aka Social Democrat),
Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democrat), and
Mikhail Prokhorov (Independent).
The special election center is being established through the Russian consulate in New York City. Voters in Russia will go to the polls on March 4.
David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, admires the 1975 simultaneous Springsteen covers of TIME and NEWSWEEK magazines, part of the new exhibit, "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen."
— by Bonnie Squires
The National Constitution Center is the only venue to host the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's must-see exhibition, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen, outside of Cleveland, where the exhibit has been housed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. The first major exhibition about the American songwriter will run at the Center from February 17 to September 3, 2012.
The opening reception attracted 1100 friends and supporters of the Center, including the Honorable Joan Specter, who serves as Director of Major Grants for the Center, and her husband, Senator Arlen Specter. Mayor Bob Johnson, of Asbury Park, New Jersey, was also in attendance and greeted the guests from the bandstand.
The B Street Band entertained party-goers with rousing Springsteen renditions, and the food was typical boardwalk-seashore variety, including hot dogs, pop corn, cotton candy, and hamburgers.
For the first in 140 years, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, now has two Democratic Commissioners, making the Honorable Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards the first Democrats to hold the majority posts. In addition, both Shapiro and Richards are Jewish, another historic first for the county seat in Norristown. Shapiro had served for years as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, once serving as Deputy Speaker, and Richards had served as chair of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Commissioners.
Liberty Medal award-winner Secretary Robert Gates and David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center
Presenting the Liberty Medal to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were SFC Dana Graham of the Liberty USO, Anthony Odierno, representing the Wounded Warrior Project, and David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center.
After a lifetme of public service, in the CIA, and ending with serving as Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Robert Gates was awarded the Liberty Medal on September 22 at the National Constitution Center. The word "liberty" took on added meaning as David Eisner, the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, had invited Iraq war veteran Anthony Odierno, representing the Wounded Warrior Project, and SFC Dana Graham of the Pennsyvalnia Army National Guard, representing the USO of Pennslvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO), to present the actual Liberty Medal to Dr. Gates.
Al Berger and Carol Auerbach, husband and wife, each heads up a private family foundation. The Auerbach Agency at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia was founded by Auerbach when she lived in Philadelphia. Now, as a board member of the Jewish Funders Network, she divides her time between New York City, Seattle, and Jupiter, Florida.
For the twenty-first year, the Jewish Funders Network convened its annual international conference, this time in Philadelphia at Loews Hotel. The theme this year: What's Your Story? The Power of Narrative to Drive Change.
Andy Goodman, the keynote speaker, entertained the audience while transmitting very important points, about how to inspire others to support the various philanthropies represented by the 315 attendees.
Dorit Straus shared the story of her chance encounter on a New York subway with the famous violist Joshua Bell, learning that Bell was the proud owner of a Stradivarius violin which had once belongs to an earlier generation's highly regarded violinist, Bronislaw Huberman, who had a dream of creating an orchestra in Palestine. Huberman managed to collect hundreds of professional musicians, saving them from the Nazis, and eventually establishing the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power -- it must be the purpose behind it. In South Sudan -- with our assistance -- the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war. Thousands lined up before dawn. People danced in the streets. One man who lost four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: "This was a battlefield for most of my life. Now we want to be free."
We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.
We must never forget that the things we've struggled for, and fought for, live in the hearts of people everywhere. And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country.
My husband, a native of Tunisia, who has been following events there minute by minute with great interest, using the internet, Skype, and emails to communicate with family and friends in that North African nation, certainly perked up when he heard President Obama stand with the democratic desire of the Tunisian populace.
Earlier in the evening, before hearing the President's speech, we had been to the Dona Gracia chapter of Hadassah in center city, where our friend Jerry Sorkin, who runs a touring agency called TunisUSA, and who was flying to Tunisia the very next day, gave an edifying lecture on the history of the Jewish community in Tunisia and the unique nature of the Tunisian psyche.
Unlike other Arab countries, Tunisia has always lived side by side with their Jewish citizens. In fact, there is a Jewish senator in the Tunisian Parliament. And Tunisians who have migrated to France and Israel feel comfortable in returning to Tunisia once or twice a year to celebrate Jewish holidays.
In analyzing the unfolding events of the Tunisian revolution, Sorkin pointed out that there have not been any examples of Tunisian turning against Tunisian, no example of hostility against other countries, no incidents of anti-Semitic behavior.
Senator Bob Casey spoke to members of the media by phone after the President's remarks, and I got a chance to ask him his reaction to the President's comments on Tunisia.
Senator Casey is the Chairman of the Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee which has jurisdiction over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel and the Middle East. So he must be watching events unfolding in Tunisia with particular interest.
Senator Casey said that, regarding the Tunisia question, there was "bipartisan consensus." He continued,
Whether it is Tunisia or democratic movements in Iran or around the world, we've always been a beacon of light for the democratic forces. And that continues in our support for the people of Tunisia - it's a situation in a place that bears a lot of watching and vigilance. I think it was very important that the President, with the full support of the Congress, as you saw, is in full support of Tunisia.
President Barack Obama will lead the nation in amoment of silence this morning at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time to honor the innocent victims of Saturday's horrific shooting senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. The victims ranged in age from 9 to 76. In addition to the six dead, there are 14 wounded including those still fighting for their lives. The President also signed a proclamation calling for flags to be flown at half-staff.
The shooting's aftermath will reverberate for a long time related to issues of access to public officials and their attendant safety, as well as the issue of words having consequences. These are issues which Israel has painfully dealt with since the first Intifada and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
Remember that silence, too, can be powerful. As Obama said,
"It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart."
Please take a few minutes at 11 this morning to remember those who lost their lives, and that all of our lives have been changed forever from this. Nothing good ever comes from hatred and random violence.
The President will observe the moment of silence with White House staff on the South Lawn.
Announcement on the Pima County Republican website promoting an event last June organized by Republican challenger Jesse Kelly. There is nothing wrong with holding a gun-themed campaign event, but the way they worded the ad is just sick and encourages borderline personalities to engage in this kind of violence.
Betsy R. Sheerr, former President of JAC-PAC, a pro-choice, pro-Israel advocacy organization:
I've had the privilege of knowing Congresswoman Giffords since she first ran for office six years ago. Even then, we knew were in the presence of a rising star: knowledgeable, passionate about public service, unafraid to take a bold stand politically, and genuinely warm and approachable. Supporting her candidacy has been gratifying: she is a devoted Member of Congress and a thoughtful, bright woman.
This tragic shooting is an affront to all Americans. Perhaps, just perhaps, it will shock our country into reexamining our accepted standards of civility and the ways we permit extremism and hatred to fester in our midst.
Pennsylvania State Representation Josh Shapiro (D-Abington and Upper Dublin)
The attack on Rep. Giffords was an attack against all who serve and our democracy. My thoughts and prayers go to each of those injured and the families of those slain.
Our country was founded on the promise and hope of words from common people. We need to restore a sense of civility and purpose in our public discourse by encouraging all points of view be heard and consensus be sought.
Marcia Balonick and Gail Yamner, Executive Director and President of the Jewish Women's Political Action Committee (JACPAC)
Yesterday Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), was shot while at an event known as "Congress-on-your-Corner" in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson, AZ. Eighteen other people, including six members of her staff, were also shot. There were six fatalities, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old child. Giffords survived surgery at University Medical Center in Tucson. Although she is in critical condition, her surgeon stated he is as "optimistic about her recovery as it is possible to be" given the extent of her injuries.
The shooting of Congresswoman Giffords has caused shock and dismay in many quarters. One of 27 Jewish members of Congress, she is a special friend to JAC. Marcia Balonick, executive director, said the JAC contingent that attended the Congressional swearing-in ceremonies on Wednesday attended a reception in her honor. "I met and spoke with her mother and we talked about how special she is. Her mother told me how lucky she was to have such a wonderful daughter and that life was 'always an adventure with Gabby.' The attempted murder of any member of Congress would be tragic to me, but this is personal."
In 2009 Giffords spoke for JAC at the Detroit chapter's membership event. She was extremely well received. Lisa Lis, chair of that event, also considers the shooting a personal matter. "This is truly heartbreaking. She is a bright star in the Congress, passionate about bringing positive changes to the country. When she spoke at our meeting, we were so impressed by her dedication to public service. She was genuinely approachable and touched everyone's heart."
Gabrielle Giffords is a positive force on issues of concern to JAC. She is a staunch advocate for Israel, reproductive rights and separation of religion and state. Her door is always open to JAC and the PAC's relationship with her is very close.
She stood on principle when it came to health care reform even though it could have cost her her re-election. As a member of the Armed Services committee, she is well respected and well liked even by her political opponents. Gail Yamner, JAC President, said "You cannot help but like her. She is a warm, caring woman who wants only to serve her country. She is an incredible woman who believes in an America that is for everyone."
We do not fully know the shooter's motivation, but Arizona's laws that permit easy access to guns make it too easy to commit a heinous crime such as this one. His violent act is likely to have a chilling effect on the public's access to elected officials. American democracy is ill-served by a violent gun culture and by security barriers erected between the people and their government. Neither is consistent with Gabby's modus operandi.
The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a personal affront, an affront to the Jewish community, to her Arizona constituents and to the country.
I am sickened by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and others today in Arizona.
"Gabby is one of my closest friends and my thoughts and prayers are with Mark, Gabby's parents, and their family as they struggle to get through this unimaginable tragedy. I pray for her full recovery and the recovery of the other victims of this horrific act of senseless violence.
Anyone who knows Gabby, knows that she is one of the nicest people you will meet. I've never heard her raise her voice in anger or express anything but optimism for our future and our nation.
Just two days after she stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and read from the 1st Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing free speech, she was shot while speaking with her constituents. The interaction of a Member of Congress with the people they represent is one of the greatest tenets of our democracy. I know how strongly Gabby feels about being accessible to the people that she represents.
I know from our many hours spent together that Gabby ran for Congress for one reason, to make America a better place and after her recent reelection, she made the following statement: 'Our country must be strong enough to solve problems and that means we must learn how to work together again. Our children are counting on us.'
To her staff and the family members of her staff and Judge John Roll killed in this shooting I extend my deep sympathy and prayers. No one, not a Member of Congress, nor a dedicated public servant should have to fear for their safety while working to uphold our democracy.
And to the people and family members of the public attacked at this event, you are in my thoughts and prayers. The American public should not have to worry that they will suffer a violent attack while carrying out their right to petition their government.
My husband and I will be praying as hard as we can that Gabby pulls through this and makes a full recovery so she can be the bright light that she has always been to her family and friends.
Nancy Gordon, Pennsylvania Coordinator, Million Mom March (2000), Co-founder, CeaseFirePA
This a terrible tragedy, but it is not the first and it will not be the last. Also tragic are the shooting deaths of Chief Judge John Roll, the other victims of this shooting (including a 9-year-old girl), and the 13 Americans, on average, who lose their lives to gun violence every single day. An effective way to reduce the incidence of gun deaths and injuries would be to restrict access to guns, through meaningful background checks, licensing of gun owners, registration of guns, and a prohibition on civilian ownership of assault weapons. Most of our legislators have refused to take these steps. While this shooting was horrifying, anyone who's been paying attention should not be shocked by it; with over 300,000,000 guns out there in civilian hands, and virtually no regulation of who's allowed to have them, we are all at risk, all the time. No wonder that 13 people are killed each day, and almost 300 people are shot and injured every day, according to the Brady Campaign.
It is a terrible tragedy and our prayers are with her and the familes of all the victims. Once again, it demonstrates how easy it is for guns to get in the wrong hands in this nation.
Anti-Defamation League, Arizona Chapter
Phoenix, AZ, January 9, 2011 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the tragic shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed and wounded more than a dozen innocent bystanders in Tucson, with reports of six dead and 14 wounded.
Miriam Weisman, ADL Arizona Regional Board Chair, and Bill Straus, ADL Arizona Regional Director, issued the following statement:
We are shocked by this unconscionable and horrific act of violence against one of our highly respected public servants. We agree with President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner that this was more than an attack on one member of Congress - it is an attack on all public servants and the very fabric of our democracy.
During her years in the statehouse, Rep. Giffords served on the ADL Arizona Regional Board. Her affiliation with ADL, which monitors and exposes hate and extremist groups, contributed to her awareness of the nexus between hate ideology and violence. It is a testament to her dedication to her constituents that despite past threats against her, Rep. Giffords has always been so accessible to the people she represents. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims and their families.
ADL remains in contact with law enforcement as investigators endeavor to establish a motive for the attack. It is critical to determine whether the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, acted alone or with others, and whether he was influenced by extremist literature, propaganda or hate speech. While it is still not clear whether the attack was motivated by political ideology, the tragedy has already led to, as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik put it, "soul searching" about the connection between incivility and violence. We applaud Sheriff Dupnik's statements
condemning the volatile nature of political discourse in America and for taking this investigation seriously.
Lynne Honickman, Founder, Moms Against Guns (now merged with CeasefirePA)
It was the worst of times! devastating... unbearably sad...senseless... a beautiful young representative reaching out to her constituency...a child beginning a proud life of service...a judge who had devoted 40 years to our benefit, and many others who had come together to dialogue for the welfare of all. But, in the way of all evil acts, there is its opposite side, the best in our country will rise above politics and self serving rhetoric -and will demand not only justice but a new kind of civility that will not tolerate illegal guns, automatic weapons in wrong hands and anyone or anything that jeopardizes our hard fought and hard won freedoms.
We are all heartsick----- but, non-the-less hopeful Americans, praying for Gabby Gifford's recovery as well as her companions and the families of all those stricken....May G-d Bless them and our country...and keep us all strong and just.
One of the great mysteries surrounding the evolution of the new National Museum of American Jewish History site was solved at a press preview right before the official opening and dedication of NMAJH. For months I had been wondering - how could Patrick Gallagher, the "interpretive designer" who worked so closely with Gwen Goodman, Executive Director Emerita, the board of trustees, and the new CEO Michael Rosenzweig, have translated the vision of Goodman and her board into the amazing new building on Inde
I mean - you don't have to be Jewish to love bagels and lox. But do you have to be Jewish to interpret the history of Jews in America into a museum which will speak to all ages, all ethnic groups, all different expressions of Judaism, all the immigrant groups in American society?
Some of the older artifacts in the new museum, like this pile of immigrant suitcases, look outstanding in their new home.
So I asked Gallagher, as he stood next to Goodman, after the press conference. And he answered, "I'm Jewish!" Now at first I thought he was joking - until Goodman confirmed that yes, indeed, Patrick was Jewish. Gallagher had converted to Judaism in his twenties when he was getting married.
And like other people who have studied their way into Judaism, instead of simply having been born into the religion, Gallagher probably knows a lot more about Jewish history, traditions, customs and practices than many of those born Jewish.
Gwen Goodman, Executive Director Emerita of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and Patrick Gallagher, the interpretive designer of the new museum.
For ten years, Goodman and her board worked with Gallagher & Associates, in creating the core exhibition. The new museum has been designed by the internationally acclaimed architectural firm Polshek Partnership Architects.
The grand opening gala will feature performances by Bette Midler and Jerry Seinfeld, along with seminars by academics and a ribbon-cutting featuring Vice President Joe Biden. Nearly one thousand patrons and sponsors will attend the gala concert and dinner, with national figures flying in from around the country.
And as Polshek explained, the beacon atop the glass and terra cotta structure will act as a reflection of the Statue of Liberty's torch, a call to freedom; a reminder of the Eternal LIght which shines in every synagogue around the world; as well as a reflection of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, American icons of freedom, just across the street from the new National Museum of American Jewish History.
The move to Independence Mall included the 19th century statue, now situated on the Caroline and Sidney Kimmel Plaza, which was a gift from the Jewish community of Philadelphia.
President Barak Obama points to Joe Sestak and praises him for his decades of service to the country.
Convention Center Democratic fundraiser
President Barack Obama is getting his groove back, and Joe Sestak, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, was the beneficiary last night. Hundreds of party faithfuls bought $250 tickets to see Obama and Sestak at a huge reception in the Convention center, while well-heeled supporters were escorted into the $1000 VIP reception. Then there was a private dinner for the very highest-priced tickets. While waiting for Obama to land in Philly, a string of luminaries spoke to the crowd, reiterating what has become a disciplined Democratic theme: get out the vote, hold onto the House and the Senate, support Obama's initiatives, and make certain that Pennsylvania ends up with two Democratic Senators after this November's election. Making the point and leading the crowd in energetic chants of "Go, Joe!" were Pat Croce, the ultimate cheerleader; Governor Ed Rendell; Senator Bob Casey; Congressman Bob Brady; and Mayor Michael Nutter.
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