The Shmooze

Philanthropist Lily Safra Honored by Museum of Jewish Heritage

By Masha Leon

  • Print
  • Share Share

The Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s 18th Annual Heritage Dinner — held on site — was an evening-long effusive “thank you” to philanthropist extraordinaire, Lily Safra whom museum CEO “David Marwell” credited with “infusing the museum with financial oxygen.” Looking out at the guests in the museum’s Edmond Safra Hall, Marwell enumerated the museum’s “ world class content” and touted its “proximity to powerful and poignant symbols of American history—[Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty].”

“The museum is home to a history that is not ossified in the pages of a textbook, but rather lives in its galleries, classrooms,” said Marwell. “My European colleagues are in awe of the challenges that confront us…. Unlike their institutes [who] received the majority of their funding from the government — we rely almost entirely on the generosity of individuals.” Effusive about the Safra Theatre which “Lily bestowed on us in memory of her beloved husband Edmond,” Marwell enumerated the roster of “presentations by sages, klezmer…rabbis, rabble-rousers and risk-takers.”

Karen Leon
Lily Safra

As for the spectacular grand on stage, he thanked Safra for “perhaps the finest piano in the country” and noted “she included us when she auctioned off her jewelry and with that gift underwrote all of our programs for four years!”

Museum chairman-elect Bruce Ratner, declared: “Teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to new generations is an awesome responsibility.” Museum chairman Robert Morgenthau (who assumes chairman emeritus in June) expressed his gratitude “for all you and Edmond did to support [the museum’s] groundbreaking exhibitions and educating programs. “

Stunning in a black silk dress, with huge pearl necklace and matching pearl earrings, petite Lily Safra — up at the mic — turned to Morgenthau at her side and in her signature whispery voice said: ”My dear Bob — I am touched and humbled by your words…. I know how proud my husband Edmond would be to have his name so closely associated with such a remarkable place…inspiring thousands of visitors…countless teachers and students from around the country and throughout the world benefit from the museum’s educational programs.”

By evening’s end, the “finest piano in the world — a 9’ or was it a 10’2” long FAZIOLI — I couldn’t tell from where I sat —was center stage as award-winning violinist Giora Schmidt, accompanied by Rohan de Silva at the keyboard, delighted the audience with a spirited program that included works by Brahms and Massenet.

Recipient of honorary doctorates from universities around the world, Lily Safra has chaired the foundation, which assists hundreds of organizations in over 40 countries, since 1999. She built the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital outside Tel-Aviv and has provided thousands of scholarships, funding professorships, research centers…and more.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: museum, heritage, lily safra, jewish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.