Category Archives: News & Events

“History is About the Future”: Malcolm I. Hoenlein Visited Beit Hatfutsot

“History is About the Future”: Malcolm I. Hoenlein, CEO/Executive VP of the Conference of Presidents presents to Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People Dr. Meir Schwartz’s Book, “Pogrom Night 1938″ Chronicling the Events of Kristallnacht in Germany

Beit Hatfutsot had the honor and privilege to host Malcolm I.Hoenlein, CEO/Executive Vice Chairperson of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations in the US. Hoenlein presented Beit Hatfutsot’s CEO Dan Tadmor a two-volume book by Dr. Meir Schwartz, documenting 1500 synagogues burnt in Germany on Kristallnacht, November 11th 1938. Hoenlein accompanied Dr. Schwartz throughout his research and assisted in the book’s publication.

In May, a special event was held in the US Congress on the occasion of the book’s publication, in the presence of representatives of the Foreign Committees of the US Congress and of Germany, as well as representatives of the Jewish leadership in the US.

Hoenlein came to Israel to present the book “Pogrom Night 1938” – A Memorial to the Destroyed Synagogues of Germany,” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People. The book, whose research took over 15 years, documents the events of Kristallnacht and relates the stories of the synagogues and Jewish communities in Germany – their flourishing and destruction.

Hoenlein, whose family originated in Germany, was particularly involved with the initiative to research the lives of the Jewish people in Germany and to ensure their story is told, “the book depicts how Jews lived, not how they died”, he said.

“It is a natural choice for me to present this book to Beit Hatfutsot”, said Hoenlein, “Beit Hatfutsot is the Museum of the Jewish People and while it is not an academic institution it documents and tells the story of the Jewish people.”

Standing next to the model of the Worms Synagogue, founded in 1034 and burned alongside all the synagogues in Germany on Kristallnacht, Hoenlein commented “History is about the future, not about the past”. The Worms Synagogue model is one of the many models in the renowned collection of Beit Hatfutsot which is currently undergoing major restoration and conservation. The new Hall of Synagogues, scheduled to open by the end of 2015, is made possible thanks to a generous endowment by Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, co-chair of Beit Hatfutsot’s International Board of Governors.

“Beit Hatfutsot is home to the world famous collection of synagogue models. We have learned that every synagogue tells the story of a community whether it still exists or not”, said Tadmor. “This extensive book brings back to life not only 1,500 synagogues but 1,500 communities”.

Beit Hatfutsot is a global center for Jewish communities and serves as a home to five extensive databases. The comprehensive book and its website will be linked to the databases and the online museum (scheduled to be launched by the end of 2014).

Malcolm Hoenlein is the son of German Jewish immigrants. His father, Efraim, a graduate of the Wuerzburg Rabbinical Seminary succeeded in escaping to the US in 1940, where he reunited with his mother who fled three years earlier. Hoenlein accompanied the project from its inception, because of its pronounced importance and because of his own families’ involvement in the reconstruction of the Ermreuth town’s synagogue.

Hoenlein serves in his present position since 1986. Born in Philadelphia, he graduated from Temple University with a degree in Political Science and completed his MA and PhD in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. He is known for his long years of Jewish community service around the globe, and advises the US Government on issues and topics related to Israel – United States relations.

Malcolm Hoenlein has been awarded numerous honors, including honorary doctorates from Yeshiva University and Touro College in the US, and the title “Defender of Jerusalem” from the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

The Jerusalem Post covered the visit – read here

 

Homemade Halva Cake for Shavuot

חלווה_1

Chef Meir Alalof of Tel-Aviv’s renowned “Messa” restaurant offered an exotic halva cake recipe for Shavuot: “My family came to Israel from Egypt and Turkey, as did halva. It is a traditional Turkish confectionary, and it is also well known in Arab cuisine: in Arabic “halva” means “sweet” or “desserts” “.

חלווה

Dough:
1 kg all-purpose flour
120g sugar
50g fresh yeast
200g soft butter, cut onto cubes
4 eggs
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons brandy
350g milk

Vanilla cream:
200ml milk
200ml cream
150g sugar
2 vanilla beans, split
140g egg yolks – 7 egg yolks
50g cornstarch

For the filling:
200g halva
400g crème patisserie
1 tablespoon of instant coffee

Sugar water:
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

Directions:
1. Combine all dough ingredients except butter, leave for seven minutes. Then gradually add butter. Let rise for two hours in a cool place, then place in the refrigerator for another hour.
2. Prepare sugar water: mix water and sugar, bring to a boil in a small pot, stir well. Allow to cool.
3. Place cream, milk and sugar in a small pot. Scrape the contents of the split vanilla beans with a knife and add to liquids. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Then add a little of the hot liquid to the egg yolk mixture, stir, and repeat until all the cream mixture has been incorporated. Return to the stove on a low heat, beating constantly until the mixture thickens. Crumble the halva into the hot cream mixture and stir well. Finally add the instant coffee, and stir. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
4. Roll out the dough into a thin, elongated shape. Spread the filling over the dough and roll up. Cut the roll into pieces about 5 cm each and arrange the “roses” in a mold or heat resistant pan. Let rise for half an hour, spread with beaten egg and bake the cake in 180⁰C oven for approximately 35 minutes until golden brown. Pour the sugar water over the cake immediately.

President Shimon Peres Lays the Cornerstone for the New Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot

Beit Hatfutsot welcomed Israel’s President Shimon Peres for a special event to lay the cornerstone for the new Museum of the Jewish People. The museum is currently undergoing a comprehensive renovation, and the laying of the cornerstone marked an important milestone in the process of its renewal.

Approximately 400 guests from Israel and abroad, including 100 students and young adults, arrived to mark the historic laying of the cornerstone for the new museum, scheduled to open in 2017. The evening was also an opportunity to thank the guest of honor, His Excellency President Shimon Peres, for his lifelong efforts and commitment in service of the Jewish People.

 

Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Chair of the Board of Directors of Beit Hatfutsot, said, “Throughout his life President Peres has dedicated himself to the entire Jewish People. His remarkable story makes him the natural choice to lay the cornerstone for the new Museum, which will inspire and connect the Jewish People in Israel and around the world.”

“The laying of the cornerstone for the new museum is a unique opportunity to thank President Peres for his enormous contribution and his lifelong efforts for the Jewish People,” said Dan Tadmor, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot.

During his remarks at the event, President Peres said: “The Museum of the Jewish People brings together Jews from across the world, allowing us to gather together and celebrate our history and culture. I’m proud to support this iconic institution and its important future”.

President Peres was presented with a unique gift – a leather parchment displaying his family tree, specially created by the artist Ira Obolski. Obolski was able to draw upon research that Beit Hatfutsot had undertaken into President Peres’ family, with the assistance of the President’s daughter, Dr. Zvia Valdan.

The audience had the opportunity to enjoy a short film produced exclusively for this event, showcasing the President’s life story and his contribution to Jewish communities around the world. The evening’s program also included performances by a children’s choir from Holon, the renowned Israeli singer Harel Skaat and leading choreographer and dancer Ido Tadmor.

Guests also enjoyed a first glimpse of Beit Hatfutsot’s new core exhibit, which was beamed on to the outside walls of the museum. The new core exhibit of The Museum of the Jewish People will take visitors on a fascinating journey of Jewish life from biblical times until today, with an increased emphasis on contemporary Jewish life and modern expressions of Jewish identity. The museum will inspire a sense of belonging and identification with the Jewish people and enable any Jew to find his or her own personal narrative within the shared Jewish story.

Following the cornerstone event, the next milestone in the museum’s multi-stage renewal project will take place at end of 2014, with the launch of Beit Hatfutsot Online. This interactive tool will make the use of Beit Hatfutsot’s extensive research databases, accessible to any user, anytime, anywhere. President Peres was the first person to enjoy the use of this system, by creating and uploading his own family tree from his residence via his own computer.

By the summer of 2015, the public will also be able to enjoy the renovated Synagogue Gallery, displaying models of various synagogues from around the world through the use of immersive multimedia technology

President Shimon Peres, Irina Nevzlin Kogan, the "Stage Center" children from Holon

President Shimon Peres, Irina Nevzlin Kogan, the “Stage Center” children from Holon

President Shimon Peres and Irina Nevzlin Kogan (Chair of the Board of Directors, Beit Hatfutsot)

President Shimon Peres and Irina Nevzlin Kogan (Chair of the Board of Directors, Beit Hatfutsot)

Amb. Al Moses, Dan Tadmor (CEO Beit Hatfutsot), President Shimon Peres

Amb. Al Moses, Dan Tadmor (CEO Beit Hatfutsot), President Shimon Peres

Amb. Al Moses and President Shimon Peres, holding the unique family tree made for President Peres at Beit Hatfutsot, created by the artist Ira Obolsky

Amb. Al Moses and President Shimon Peres, holding the unique family tree made for President Peres at Beit Hatfutsot, created by the artist Ira Obolsky

[FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE FAMILY TREE]
Dr. Zvia and Dr. Rafi Valdan

Leonid Nevzlin, Chemi Peres

Leonid Nevzlin, Chemi Peres

Sergio, Kuky and  Mariella Grosskopf (Businessman and contributor to Beit Hatfutsot's educational project "My Family Story")

Sergio, Kuky and Mariella Grosskopf (Businessman and contributor to Beit Hatfutsot’s educational project “My Family Story”)

Younes, Soraya and Dr. Sharon Nazarian

Younes, Soraya and Dr. Sharon Nazarian

Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Leonid Nevzlin

Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Leonid Nevzlin

Amb. Al Moses (Associate Chair of the International Board of Trustees of Beit Hatfutsot), Dan Tadmor (CEO Beit Hatfutsot)

Amb. Al Moses (Associate Chair of the International Board of Trustees of Beit Hatfutsot), Dan Tadmor (CEO Beit Hatfutsot)

General (Ret) Eitan Ben Eliyahu ( Associate Chair of the International Board of Trustees of Beit Hatfutsot), Major General Orna Barbivai (Head of the Manpower Directorate in the IDF)

General (Ret) Eitan Ben Eliyahu ( Associate Chair of the International Board of Trustees of Beit Hatfutsot), Major General Orna Barbivai (Head of the Manpower Directorate in the IDF)

Gad Zeevi, Sallai Meridor, Reuven Adler (Chair of the Israeli Friends of Beit Hatfutsot)

Gad Zeevi, Sallai Meridor, Reuven Adler (Chair of the Israeli Friends of Beit Hatfutsot)

Rabbi Avraham Skorka from Argentina, who accompanied Pope Francis l on his recent trip to Israel, and whom he knows personally for over 20 years

Rabbi Avraham Skorka from Argentina, who accompanied Pope Francis l on his recent trip to Israel, and whom he knows personally for over 20 years

Yossi and Daniela Beilin

Yossi and Daniela Beilin

 

Miri and Sami Azury

Miri and Sami Azury

 

Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Amb. Al Moses, Ofra Strauss

Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Amb. Al Moses, Ofra Strauss

 

Dan and Ronit Lahat

Dan and Ronit Lahat

 

Harel Skaat

Harel Skaat

 

The "Stage Center" children from Holon

The “Stage Center” children from Holon

 

 

PERES TREE

Details regarding the artwork created by the artist Ira Obolsky:
An illustrated family tree, cut on parchment, size 75 X 50 cm.
The card is processed manually, a tradition preserved for 2000 years, produced uniquely in Israel, on skins of kosher animals only.
The work utilizes the “parchment cut” technique and illustrations in ink.
It incorporates Jewish symbols: Pomegranates (tree fruit), symbolizing the fertility of the Jewish people:
Pomegranate: One of the seven species mentioned in the bible, adorned with a crown and 613 seeds (according to the sages), corresponding to the number of mitzvoth (commandments).
The pomegranate fruit unites its different seeds under one peel, symbolizing the Jewish people who observe their traditions and customs despite multiple ethnic groups in Jerusalem (Illustrations on tree trunk):
Man creates his life, as a stonemason whose work is preserved for future generations.
The tree is supported by lions
Lion: King of the beasts, a symbol of power and glory, as well as a symbol of Jerusalem (and the sign under which Shimon Peres was born.
A winged lion: King not only on land, but also in the heavens.
The Soul Bird:
An image found in all persons, who desire to understand its meaning. [BACK]

 

Irina Nevzlin Kogan condemned the brutal attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium

Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Chair of the Board of Directors of Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People, in Tel Aviv, condemned Saturday’s brutal attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium, which left four dead. Nevzlin Kogan wrote to the museum’s President, Philippe Blondin, to “offer her sympathies and support at this difficult time.” Observing that two of the deceased were Israeli tourists, Emmanuel and Miriam Riva from Tel Aviv, Nevzlin Kogan stressed that “this attack was aimed at the entire Jewish people, which needed to respond to such incidents with unity and solidarity.”

“Museums, by their very nature serve as symbols of tolerance, openness and dialogue in the face of violent extremists who wish to see these values eradicated”, said Nevzlin Kogan.  “While we wish to celebrate the historic contribution of the Jewish people to humanity, we are also reminded at times like these of the challenge our people face in expressing their identity in safety and security.” Nevzlin Kogan called on all members of the European Association of Jewish Museums to increase their collaboration on security matters.

Congregation Shearith Israel – Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue 360th Anniversary


Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, with which Beit Hatfutsot is enjoying profound partnership, celebrated its 360th anniversary.

Beit Hatfutsot’s cooperation with the oldest Jewish congregation in America, will be reinforced with the renewal of The Museum of the Jewish People Core Exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot, to which the congregation has contributed artifacts and knowledge.

“We are proud to bring you our special program, made possible through our partnership with Beit Hatfutsot. In conversation with Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, our honorees David and Rebbeca Nathan are going to talk about their family’s history in our congregation. Thanks to generous donation from the American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot”.

 

Chaja Gravina – A Surprising Discovery in the “My Family Story” Project

When Franco Anza, a pupil attending the “Tarbut” school in Mexico, began preparation of his roots project this year, in the framework of “My Family Story” at Beit Hatfutsot, he already had a family tree. His sister, Valentina, had prepared it two years ago using My Heritage software, which Beit Hatfutsot recommends to participants of “My Family Story.”

Franco wanted to update the tree and expand upon it, as well as to rewrite and design the work as his own.

In the course of his research, an Argentinian boy, who he never before met, told him of his Great Grandmother, Chaja Gravina , who he said was also Franco’s Great Grandmother.

The story did not end there. Franco’s family knew of Chaja Gravina and always recounted that she died in the Holocaust. However, thanks to the family link in Argentina it became apparent that she survived, immigrated to Argentina and established a new family!

Chaja never knew that her mother survived and that subsequently after WWII immigrated to Israel. In fact, she never knew that any of her family had survived.

How sad that these two women, who lived a long and full life, never knew one of the fate of the other!

If it wasn’t for the “My Family Story” project and the My Heritage software, the Anza family would never have discovered this new and exciting information.

The two families today maintain warm and friendly relations.

 

 

“The Success of the Storytellers” by Mordechai (Max) Shatner

shatnerIn his new book Mordechai (Max) Shatner, Israeli philosopher and artificial intelligence expert, suggests a fresh explanation of the famous Jewish success secret. Apparently, the ancient Jewish art of creating stories is the main source of Jews’ phenomenal success.

The diversity of Jewish success led the author to the conclusion that it depends on some basic intellectual skill, which characterizes the Jewish culture and shared by all Jews wherever or whenever they lived. Although all the people in the world are quite the storytellers, Jews are different: our stories are more like movie scripts. For example, most of the Jewish holidays have a fascinating “Hollywood” story behind them.

Shatner insists that telling a convincing and engaging story is the foundational key to success. So this national narration ability was extremely useful to many Jews in various fields: from sience to busyness. As we always say at Beit Hatfutsot: Never underestimate a good Jewish story!

Mordechai (Max) Shatner, “The Success of the Storytellers”, published (in Hebrew) by Yedioth Books.

The Mighty Don and His Descendants

The decree expelling the Jews from Spain was signed in the Alhambra palace of Granada. By Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain, in the presence of the chief  inquisitor Torquemada and the Jewish representative Don Isaac Abrabanel. Spain, March 31, 1492. Diorama at the core exhibition, Beit Hatfutsot (photo: Yaacov Brill)

The decree expelling the Jews from Spain was signed in the Alhambra palace of Granada.
By Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain, in the presence of the chief
inquisitor Torquemada and the Jewish representative Don Isaac Abrabanel.
Spain, March 31, 1492. Diorama at the core exhibition, Beit Hatfutsot (photo: Yaacov Brill)

These days in 1492 were fateful and busy for Don Isaac Abrabanel. This prominent philosopher, statesman and financier left nothing undone to convince Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon to revoke the Alhambra decree.  But despite all his efforts, including a huge bribe he offered the monarchs, the Edict of Expulsion went public, and Jews were forced to give up their faith or leave the country.

Isaac_Abrabanel

The Abrabanels joined their brethren in faith and left Spain, where this distinguished Jewish family, which traces its origin from King David himself, settled right after destruction of the First Temple. 

Since then the Abrabanel family – poets, physicians, financiers, and scholars – lived in Italy, Holland, England, Turkey and other places. They were so brilliant and successful that some Ashkenazi Jewish families were happy to adopt their surname and become proud Abrabanels by themselves.