13th Tikkun Olam Award to Simon Wiesenthal Center

 Dear Friends,

Our first Tikkun Olam Award of 2011, honors all those who are engaged in the enormously important transformational work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

We are deeply grateful to the three truly exceptional rabbis who lead with moral courage, wisdom and spiritual vision which has helped to put Jews everywhere on a fundamentally different trajectory. Our heartfelt thanks to Rabbi Marvin Hier, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Meyer H. May.

The HAITI JEWISH REFUGEE LEGACY PROJECT shares the determination of the Center, to break the cycle of anti-Semitism in all its complexities. Part of our work on the blog is to shine a bright light on the injustices we have been forced to endure in the past and to address current concerns.

As we were preparing this blog post, to our surprise two rabbis on Bill’s family tree came to our attention. We learned Rabbi Isaak Löwi (1803-1873), Chief Rabbi of Fürth, Germany is a relative, through marriage, on the Mohr side of the family. Another new addition to Bill’s family tree was revealed by a previously unknown woman, who turned out to be a distant relative on the Midas side. His name is Rabbi Isaak Levi (1747 – ?) and he lived in Kunreuth, Bavaria, Germany.

We were immediately struck by the coincidence of these discoveries because they are vivid reminders of the strand running through the mystery of the unfolding of the Project. We can see how our efforts relate to illuminating the spiritual force present in the history of our people. As we move forward, with a sense of passionate advocacy, we hope the collective memories of our spiritual legacy help us face the daunting challenges before us today. 

A particularly profound memory is of European Jewish refugees, who while in exile in Haiti, during the Shoah, gathered in a private home for Shabbat services. Despite confrontations with shocking evil in Europe and tremendous losses and pressure, their spiritual identity remained strong. 

Our full March post will be sent out on Monday, March 1st and we welcome your input. As we approach the second year of the blog, we will be thankful if you share your knowledge of our work with people you think will find it interesting. With nearly 10,000 hits in the first 11 months, we hope to double the number of views in the next year.

All the best,

Harriet and Bill

(Click on image to enlarge)

“Thank you for the great honor – it’s something that makes working here that much more meaningful.” 
 – Marcial Lavina
   Assistant DIrector, Public Relations
   Simon Wiesenthal Center

Per our request, the following was received from the Center for posting on the blog in connection with the award:

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global Jewish human rights organization that confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. With a constituency of over 400,000 households in the United States, it is accredited as an NGO at international organizations including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Simon Wiesenthal Center maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Miami, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.

The Wiesenthal Center, which has been called “the most visible Jewish organization in the world” by the Los Angeles Times, has long confronted such challenges as the plight of Soviet Jewry, justice for the victims of the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, and the scourge of terrorism, including lobbying world leaders to urge the United Nations and other international bodies to designate suicide bombing a ‘crime against humanity.’ In its effort to confront recent increases in global anti-Semitism, the Center uses its NGO status to convene international conferences at UNESCO, to consult at OSC meetings and more recently, to help the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) to draft a resolution that will be the first acknowledgment of the dangers of anti-Semitism in Latin America. The Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project was among the first to identify how hate and terrorist groups co-opted the Internet and social media and it annually releases its interactive Digital Terror and Hate report based on findings from monitoring thousands of websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts. The Center still continues to bring the last remaining Nazi war criminals to justice including most recently, Sander Kapiro, who has been indicted for the brutal massacre at Novi Sad.

The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles is the Center’s educational arm, founded in 1993 challenges visitors to confront bigotry and racism, and to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts. The Museum has served over 5 million visitors with 350,000 visiting annually including 150,000 students. Over 1.5 million children and youth have participated in the Museum experience and its programs. Over 200,000 adults have been trained in the Museum’s customized, professional development programs which include Tools for Tolerance®, Will I Will You, Teaching Steps to Tolerance, Task Force against Hate, National Institute Against Hate Crimes, Tools for Tolerance for Teens in Bridging the Gap. Because of the success of the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the Center also opened the New York Tolerance Center in midtown Manhattan. Under construction is The Center for Human Dignity — Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem.

Moriah Films is the Jack and Pearl Resnick Film Division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Our documentaries focus on the 3,500 year old Jewish experience as well as contemporary human rights and ethical issues. Moriah’s goal is to produce theatrical documentaries on a regular basis that both enlighten and educate while at the same time reach national and international audiences. Two of Moriah’s films have been recipients of Academy AwardsTM for Best Feature Documentary, Genocide (1981) and The Long Way Home (1997). Many noted actors have narrated Moriah’s productions including the late Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Douglas, Sir Ben Kingsley, Nicole Kidman, Kevin Costner, Brooke Shields, Morgan Freeman, Anne Bancroft, Martin Landau, Richard Dreyfuss, Sean Astin, Michael York, Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ed Asner. Currently in production is a documentary on Theodor Herzl.

The Campus Outreach division was created to forge strategic alliances with campus groups, faculty, staff and students, to foster a new word awareness of contemporary human rights, social justice and ethics. in today’s college and university students. By exposing the truth behind anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, by promoting human rights and dignity, by standing firmly with Israel, and by celebrating our unique identity as Jews, Campus Outreach is creating a strong and effective presence on campuses nationwide and giving a voice to the next generation of global human rights activists.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is headed by Founder and Dean, Rabbi Marvin Hier, who’s been voted “The Most Influential Rabbi in the United States” in a Newsweek article. He’s joined by the Center’s Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who oversees the Social Action agenda and Rabbi Meyer H. May, the Executive Director.


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