This is a bit of a catch-up. The past year (I still think in terms of School Year, since last September) has been monumental for me, as I have accomplished what I set out to achieve (with lots of time invested and lots of work). For that, I am delighted, actually quite thrilled. I could not have made any of it happen without teams of leaders who joined together with me, out of a common commitment in each case.
September 11 was significant to me, as many of you know, as I spent the first days in the staging areas of Ground Zero, and as a result, years with fragile health. I am so thankful every day, now that I am back to 100%. So, putting together a 9-11 Sunrise Ceremony on the 10th Anniversary in The Batteryt was not only a completion for me, it was a recognition of so many incredible people who gave of their lives to help us all recover from the devastation of 9-11. And NYC has made it back. And what a team it was from Downtown who made this Sunrise Ceremony a most memorable event. You can see the tape under Videos on this website.
Last September I also took on the Chairmanship of the Arts Horizons’ Leroy Neiman Center in Harlem, an organization that uplifts children’s life experience through the visual arts. We created a great Council of Advisors, and together with a most extraordinary person who is the Executive Director of the Center, we built the effort towards bringing LNAC into being of service to the Mainstream of the Greater Harlem community, and we succeeded. Take a look on the LNAC Art Splash website, www.neimancenterevents.com, or click on LNAC on my Organization page, and you will learn more about the Center, and get a view of our terrific Art Splash event in June. We are now starting the preparation for Art Splash 2 in September, 2012.
Last Summer my NDD co-chair and friend, Tom Acosta and I put great effort into revitalizing the Board of New Democratic Dimensions, a civic/ political organization I founded thrity years ago. Well, we succeeded, and the line of programming including our Ambassador Club meetings with International diplomats, and our Mayoral Series, have been exceptional, and most promising for the future of the organization during its next thirty years.
My commitment to the human rights of all people was directed to the treatment of Christians in Iraq, as a dialogue group of Evangelic Christians and the New York Board of Rabbis, of which I am on its Advisory Board, met on several occasions with the Iraq UN Ambassador to express our concern, and look for greater understanding of the issue, and to explore the possibility of making a difference for the Iraqi Christian community. Clearly this is a very difficult, and expanding issue, in the Islamic countries of the Middle East.
An interesting outgrowth of the Evangelic Dialogue was my meeting Paul deVries, director of the NY Divinity School. I wrote a published article commenting on the book, Kosher Jesus, by Shmuley Boteach with my thoughts on Jesus, and then Paul wrote an article commenting on the book and my article, and we then had two dueling articles on Jesus published in a Christian media outlet. You can read the articles in the Writing section in my Website.
And after several delays, the 3I Council on Human Rights which I co-chair with Brian O’Dwyer and Randy Mastro, had a wonderfuil event in March at the Irish-American Historical Society three NY media legends, Juliet Papa of WINS, Gabe Pressman of WNBC, and Mary Murphy of WPIX, representing the Italian, Jewish and Irish communities.
For the first time, I performed in a play, actually a reading of an extraordinary play by Fred Newman, co-Founder of the All Stars Project with Lenora Fulani. I had the good fortune to meet and speak with Fred on several occasions, and wanted to participate in this 24-hour marathon tribute to him after his death this past year. NHot only did I learn to “see” through someone else’s eyes as I prepared for my charcter, I learned to be someone I am not, with passion for the part, for that was my role, and I was told I was pretty amazing in the role. A break-out for me, and I really enjoyed it.
I am ever-conscious of legacy and filling vacuums, and when I chaired JHNY I realized that the Jewish community of New York, with all its institutions, had not effectively recorded its history in NYC, one of the greatest civilizations in the entire history of our Jewish people. So, after seeing Queens and Staten Island start-up while I was chairing JHNY, once leaving the position, I was still determined to get this project done. So, several years ago I set out to establish a Brooklyn Jewish Historical society, and we created BKHI. The “we” is the most extraordinary team, from Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz, who I first reached out to, to Councilman Michael Nelson, who gave us the necessary seed funding, to Deborah Schwartz, director of the Brooklyn Historical Society, who co-chairs the Initiative with me, and the amazing people who have been at every meeting and so committed to making it happen. We launched a first-ever website in June, and with great thanks to Paco Levine, a terrific web-designer who has done my website as well. You must go to www.brooklynjewish.org, or go to my Organization page and check on the Logo. Manhattan is next, and I have spoken to Manhattan BP Scott Stringer, and the first meeting is tentatively set for the end of July.
Yes, in between I did have time for my professional career, and to make a living, and that’s a different blog for a different time. As is my participation on the Board of the National Museum of the American Indian, on the Advisory Board of the Association on American Indian Affairs, the Board of Ecominga, and my involvement with the All Stars Project, among other things.
Now, I am back to running and exercise, feeling great, and even expecting to take some time off. To me, it is Summer vacation (truly, I have never outgrown this system). And I also expect to make a lot of time to spend with people, one-on-one, and not just in planning for events and in groups. So, if you are reading this, and we haven’t gotten together for a while, now’s the time.
And you might want to stay tuned to my Blog, as I will be putting up pieces I wrote about my experience of these events, and I will be writing now on a continual basis about my points of view, that I want to write to create discussion. And take a look at my Events Page during the Summer, as I plan to have a major schedule of activities this Fall, 2012, and do hope you will be at some of them.