Main Events

Rabbi Shira Stern and
Kenneth Bialkin.

Holy City Wonders:
Where Art Thou?

By Tim Boxer


E feel so lonely in Jerusalem,” lamented Ruth Cheshin, international president of the Jerusalem Foundation at the gala dinner at The Plaza.

“It’s very difficult to show the beauty of Jerusalem,” echoed chairman Kenneth Bialkin, “when there are so few visitors.”

Instead of gathering in Jerusalem, supporters from several countries came to New York’s Plaza Hotel for the Jerusalem Foundation gala dinner.

Marvin Leffler and
Charlotte Frank.

Bialkin set the pace for the dinner by affirming that even in the face of terrorist threats, “we celebrate because to do otherwise would surrender to our enemies.”

He added: “We celebrate because we believe in ourselves and in our country and in Israel. We believe in Jerusalem as the center of hope for three major religions and because we believe that one day our efforts will be rewarded with a strong and free Israel with Jerusalem as its capitol standing as a beacon of tolerance, freedom and peace.”

Ruth Cheshin presented a Builder of Jerusalem Award to Alan “Ace” Greenberg, chairman of the executive committee of the Bear Stearns Companies, Inc.

In memory of his mother, Ace helped build the Esther Greenberg High School in Gilo. He also funded a swimming pool and youth club in Jerusalem.

Irving Schneider, ever so

“We took [my wife] Kathryn’s mother to Jerusalem,” Ace said. “It was the most wonderful trip of her life. My granddaughter had her bat mitzvah at Masada. We certainly got our money’s worth.”

John C. Whitehead presented the Builders of Jerusalem Award to Paul A. Volcker,  chairman of the Independent Association of Eminent Persons with Regard to the Distribution of Settlement Funds to Holocaust Victims.

Volcker has been invaluable to the recovery of World War II reparations from Swiss banks.  Whitehead is chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Violinist Gil Shaham and pianist Yefim Bronfman performed together in a tribute to the late Isaac Stern. Shaham wasn’t uncertain if he would make it to the dinner – a few days ago his wife gave birth to Elijah Jacob.

John C. Whitehead, chairman
of the Lower Manhattan
Development Corporation and
Jerusalem Foundation board
member, with daughter
Anne Whitehead.

Bialkin made a special presentation to Stern’s daughter, Rabbi Shira Stern. In a video clip of Stern’s last appearance at the Jerusalem Music Center two years ago, just prior to his death, he remarked, “The greatest thing in life is to die young – but delay it as long as possible.”

Teddy Kollek, who founded the Jerusalem Foundation to help improve the quality of life, made an appearance on video to declare, “I hope to see you all in Jerusalem – the sooner the better.”

Real estate tycoon Irving Schneider told me about some of his own accomplishments in Israel – but don’t write about it.

Ever so humble, he noted that there are only two Jewish children’s hospitals in the world – Schneider Children’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikvah.

Alan "Ace" Greenberg performing
one of his renowned magic tricks
for Israel Supreme Court Justice
Mishael Cheshin.

And he built both of them. Schneider modestly declined to elaborate and refused to be photographed to publicize his charitable accomplishments.

Also among the guests were Marvin Leffler, president of Town Hall, and his wife Charlotte Frank, senior vice president of the McGraw Hill Companies.

Charlotte told me her granddaughter, Sarah Shapiro, is a sophomore in the School of Engineering at Cornell University. What a coincidence! Our son David is majoring in computer science at Cornell. Will they meet on campus? Stay tuned.

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