The Shmooze

Chelsea Clinton Receives Interfaith Award from AJC

By Masha Leon

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A poised in a black suit and white shirt Chelsea Clinton, recipient of the American Jewish Committee’s Interfaith Award at its Spring Luncheon, brought back the memory of the 16-year old First Family daughter when I first met her in August 1996 at President Bill Clinton’s 50th birthday-cum-Democratic Fund raiser trifecta.

At the ($1500 ticket) crush which took place at the New York Sheraton Hotel, a poised, smiling Chelsea in a black silk satin dress — next to mom (Hillary Clinton) in an all pink ensemble — made the first cut into the $14,000 vanilla 300 lb. (kosher by William Greenberg, Jr.) American-flag-shaped cake.

This was followed by a Radio City Hall star-studded extravaganza emceed by Whoopi Goldberg at which 6000 people ($300-$600 ticket) sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President!” and ended with a late night $15,000/plate private dinner. Teenage Chelsea was poised and never stopped smiling.

This time around, 350 guests at The Pierre looked on as a blonde Clinton and Prof. Linda Mills —co-founders of the Of Many Institute at New York University — received the AJCS’ Interfaith Leadership Award for their program which offers academic courses and dialogue events to “deepen understanding among different faiths on campus and in the NYC community in general.” The Institute was inspired by the “increasing cooperative relationship between Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, NYU’s Muslim and Jewish chaplains.

Ellen Dubin Photography
Chelsea Clinton

During the 30-minute conversation with AJC Executive Director David Harris, Clinton — who serves on the boards of the School of American Ballet, Weill Cornell Medical College and “Common Sense Media,” (among others) and mommy-to-be, amplified: “I am deeply optimistic that this work will be taken up on other campuses and in other communities.”

Mills, Vice Chancellor for Global Programs and University Life at NYU, co-produced and co-directed the documentary film “Auf Wiedersehen: ‘Til We Meet Again,”exploring the intergenerational transmission of trauma from the Holocaust to 9-11. Mills is also directing (along with with Chelsea Clinton) a new documentary short called “Of Many,” about a friendship between an Orthodox Rabbi and Imam that unites a community around multi-faith dialogue and action.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, president of Merck Vaccines, was presented with the AJC’s Women’s Global Leadership Award by its president “Stanley Bergman.” A passionate advocate for sustainable solutions for global health, Dr. Gerberding served as Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2002-2009 and led the agency through more than 40 emergency responses to public health crises including anthrax bioterrorism, SARS, food-borne disease outbreaks and natural disasters. She was named to Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in the World in 2005-2008 and to TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2004.


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