By COLlive reporter
Photos: Itzik Roytman/COLlive
Friends and supporters joined the 17th Gala Dinner of the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights on Tuesday evening, celebrating the positive impact of the landmark institution.
The gala evening brought together members of law enforcement, government officials and community leaders in a VIP-filled event paying tribute to the Museum’s contribution to New York City, combatting hate and antisemitism through education and awareness.
A highlight of the event was the unveiling of plans for the museum’s magnificent new state-of-the-art exhibit which is currently being planned.
“Ari’s Exhibition – Sharing our past, shaping our future” will be built on the fifth floor of the Museum at a projected cost of between $5 to $6 million. It is being designed by the world-famous exhibit company Compugraphics.
The new exhibit will explore antisemitism through the ages, and its impact on the Jewish people and the world. It is being created in memory of Ari Halberstam, who was murdered by a terrorist simply because he was a Jew.
Speakers at the Dinner highlighted the recent terrible acts of violence and hate which have been perpetrated against Jewish people and other minorities and praised the Museum for its mission to educate and inspire people of all faiths, colors, and backgrounds about the Jewish heritage and culture.
Devorah Halberstam, co-founder of the Museum, and mother of Ari Halberstam, whom was murdered in a terror attack in 1994 and who the Museum is named after, led a moment of silence for the victims of the recent shooting in Buffalo.
“We are shocked at the sheer horror of it,” Halberstam said. “But what is most astounding is that this perpetrator was a teenager – 18 years old. A child committing an act of such unimaginable terror.”
Halberstam contrasted it with her beloved son Ari, who was murdered at 16 years old.
“I recall how he dropped what he was doing to help a pedestrian hit by a car on this parkway soon after being certified in first-aid and CPR. And how he would give up his own bed for a guest. And especially his very last act of kindness visiting his sick rabbi before he was gunned down on the Brooklyn Bridge,” she said.
Halberstam pointed out that the Museum is the answer to some of the big questions we all have about the horrific hate and violence.
“We are sitting here tonight surrounded by answers. Right under the dreidel is carved the proverb from ethics of our fathers: teach a child when they are young so when they grow old it will not leave them.
“The very mission of this museum is to teach and to educate. Because knowledge is power, and this museum was built with answers in every creative space. This museum was built at a moment in time but is timeless, because this is the antidote for hatred. Because we must learn about each other in order to accept and understand each other. It takes opening oneself to embrace and appreciate the other. It takes courage and perseverance to embrace and accept one another,” Halberstam said.
The evening’s Guest of Honor was New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who received the leadership award. He was introduced by Chancellor David C. Banks – Chancellor at NYC Department of Education. The award was presented by Serge Hoyda, Board Member at the Jewish Children’s Museum. The evening’s MC was the entertaining Tony Aiello, reporter for CBS NY.
VIDEO: Mayor Eric Adams remarks
Other honorees included Loretta Preska – Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, who received the Ari Halberstam Memorial Award from former US Attorney General Judge Michael Mukasey, Joseph Sprung and Diane Lempert of Beargivers, who received the Lamplighters Award, and Alana Newhouse, Editor in Chief of Tablet Magazine, who received the ambassador of hope award.
Crown Heights’s 71st Precinct Commandor Inspector Joseph Hayward said that the event deeply impacted him and the way he views hate crimes.
“I thank the entire NYPD executive staff for appearing here tonight. I know the extremely busy schedules you all have. Your appearance at this event speaks volumes of the respect you have for the entire Jewish Community.
“Devorah is a great leader, with many earned titles. Devorah fights for this community every single day. She has an open door to the Precinct Commanders because her opinion is valued and appreciated,” he said.
In attendance were: New York City Council members Rita Joseph and Crystal Hudson, Kalman Yaeger and Darlene Mealy, Laurie Cumbo – Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Michael Driscoll – ADIC for NY FBI, Chris Donoghue – SAC of Civil Rights Division FBI, Chief Kathleen M. O’Reilly – NYPD Chief of Patrol, David C. Banks – Chancellor at NYC Department of Education, Brendon McGuire – Chief Counsel to the Mayor, Edward Caban – First Deputy Commissioner, Chief Juanita Holmes – NYPD Chief of Training, Inspector Joseph Hayward – NYPD 71 PCT, Inspector Richard S. Taylor – NYPD Community Affairs, Chief Kenneth Corey – NYPD Chief of Department, Chief Michael Kemper – NYPD Borough Commander Brooklyn South, Deputy Inspector Andrew Arias – NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, Chief James Essig – NYPD Chief of Detectives, Deputy Chief Francis A. Giordano – NYPD Crime Control Strategies, Chief Jeffrey Maddrey – NYPD Housing, Jumaane Williams – NYC Public Advocate, Ms. Ingrid Martin – Chief Advisor of Mayor Eric Adams, Joel Eisdorfer – Senior Advisor of Mayor Eric Adams, Inna Vernikov – NYC Council Member, Chief Judy Harrison – NYPD Borough Commander Brooklyn North, Commissioner Keechant Sewell – Commissioner of the New York Police Department, Eric Gonzalez – District Attorney for Kings County, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik – FDNY Chaplain, NY Board of Rabbis, Judge Michael Mukasey, Hon. Brad Lander – Comptroller for the City of New York, Hon. Fred Kreizman – Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, Antonio Reynoso – Brooklyn Borough President, Pinnie Hikind – Comptroller Office, Jake Adler – Governor Kathy Hochul Office, Eli Slavin – Congresswoman Yvette Clarke Office, Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of the CHJCC, Moshe Indig – Williamsburg.