Tanenbaum President & Founder, Georgette Bennett Named Forbes 50 Over 50

Friends – 

I am excited to announce that Tanenbaum’s President and Founder, Dr. Georgette Bennett, has been named one of Forbes Women 50over 50 for her promotion of human rights around the world!

Georgette has been featured in the Forbes article Dr. Georgette Bennett And The Women Over 50 Fighting For Human Rights Around The World and on MSNBC Morning Joe show The Women Over 50 Making a Difference in Foreign Policy.

As founder of both Tanenbaum and the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, Georgette described in a recent podcast how she leans on her Jewish values when working to forge interfaith alliances. “This idea that every human being is made in the sacred image of God and worthy of infinite respect and dignity—it’s a foundation of all human rights.”

Dr. Bennett is also the inaugural recipient of Tanenbaum’s Visionary Award, given to those who exemplify the expansive vision for a more peaceful world. Dr. Bennett and her husband, Dr. Leonard Polonsky, serve as Co Chairs of Tanenbaum’s Peace Made Possible Gala to be held virtually on Thursday, June 3rd.

We applaud Georgette’s honor and remain grateful for her vision of Tanenbaum!

With my warmest regards,

Rev. Mark Fowler
CEO, Tanenbaum

Photo Credit: Georgette Bennett, Ph.D., accepts the 2019–20 AARP Purpose Prize award, on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, in Washington, D..C. PAUL MORIGI/AP IMAGES FOR AARP PURPOSE PRIZE/ASSOCIATED PRESS


Thanks for Helping Make Peace Possible

Last week, Tanenbaum’s Peace Made Possible Gala celebrated the people and places that are making inclusion of our religiously diverse country a reality.

Hosted by Sandra Bookman and brought to life by Chuck Nice, this year’s gala honored champions of human rights through inclusivity, respect and education.

  • Target received our CORPORATE BRIDGE BUILDER AWARD for its work in creating faith inclusive environments among its team members and guests.
  • The Henry Luce Foundation received Tanenbaum’s PHILANTHROPIC BRIDGE BUILDER AWARD for its investment in creating a more nuanced, contextualized and dynamic understanding of the power of religion in the international sphere.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals received the ADAM SOLOMON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE as innovative leaders who are educating health care providers to further enhance their care of the religiously diverse patients they serve across NYC.

And Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker in Action, Rev. Bill Lowery spoke about his work fighting for peace and reconciliation in Sudan and South Sudan for over 25 years. His words helped us understand the horrors of the conflict there, and how local leadership and interfaith coalitions were working every day in that fraught region.

Tanenbaum is grateful for the gracious support of many our Corporate Members and long-time and newer friends including Dr. Georgette Bennett & Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE, Target, DTCC, FJC, Howard P. Milstein and The Russell Berrie Foundation. The evening was made possible because because of our Honoree Committee members Carla Harris, Brian Lehrer, Soledad O’Brien, Fareed Zakaria, Maz Zouhairi and Libra Group, the Co-Chairs Georgette Bennett, DTCC, Justin Foa and Holly H. Weiss, and the Gala Committee Mary Jane Brock, Reverend Gregory Johnson, Sara Pandolfi, Marni Selman and EmblemHealth for their work.

In a world marked by growing bigotry, the evening’s theme was timely — because peace is not only a far off dream. There is much we can do now. And we must.

If there was ever a time to support Tanenbaum’s work combating religious bigotry, that time is now. We must not wait until it is too late to conquer this hate!

Thank You! 25 Years of Making Peace Possible

Dear Friends,

On May 23rd, we celebrated an important moment in Tanenbaum’s history, our 25th Anniversary Gala: Peace Made Possible. In an evening highlighted by moments of profound reflection and celebration, we fortified our commitment to justice – and to never, ever forget.

The evening began with a moment of silence to remember victims of another random act of terror, in Manchester. Then founder and president Dr. Georgette F. Bennett was recognized as an Inspiration Circle honoree and she introduced 11 other friends and supporters who’ve helped Tanenbaum grow from a one-woman initiative to a vibrant, internationally-in-demand organization. The applause couldn’t even be held back as His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America was honored, along with Angelica Berrie, Ted Childs, Ilan Kauftal, Howard Milstein, Amelia and Adebayo Ogunlesi, Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky CBE, Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka, Judy Thompson, Scottie Twine and Maz Zouhairi.

Our Corporate Bridge Builder Award went to the Libra Group and was accepted by its Chairman and CEO, George Logothetis. Libra Group is a diverse international business with a commitment to giving back embedded in its culture. It’s latest philanthropic venture is the HOME Project which is dedicated to providing shelter and support for refugees, especially unaccompanied children in Greece. Everyone listened intently as Logothetis spoke about the HOME Project’s impact so far and how crucial it is to ensure people’s beliefs and sources of hope are respected and “oxygenated with dignity.”

Former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon received the 2017 Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding. By video, he described the rise of terrorism as one of the world’s greatest threats, and spoke to the urgent need for humanity to remain committed to peace. Our 2017 Adam Solomon Award for Excellence was awarded to Lycée Français de New York, a bilingual school that teaches respect, because today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders.

Later in the evening, Michael Bornstein, author of Survivors Club, powerfully introduced 2017 Media Bridge Builder Awardee Soledad O’Brien. He quietly shared recollections as a Holocaust survivor and later how he was “ruthlessly bullied” as a student in post-WWII Germany for being Jewish. As Soledad O’Brien concluded in her speech, Peace is made possible when we don’t stop working at it. We celebrate tonight, and tomorrow we’ll get back to work.”

And now, we’ll do just that.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

P.S. Our gala raffle winner for 2017 is Sam Matino of Concordia, Inc.! Thanks again to all who participated, see you next year!


  • Nadine AugustaGlobal Head of Diversity and Inclusion & Corporate Social Responsibility, DTCC
  • C. Justin Foa, President and CEO, Foa & Son Corporation International Insurance Brokers, Tanenbaum Board Chair


Ban Ki-moonFormer Secretary-General, United Nations

Libra Group, Accepted by George Logothetis, Chairman and CEO

Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group, Host of Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien

Lycée Français de New York

Inspiration Circle
Longtime Friends & Supporters

  • Dr. Georgette F. Bennett
  • Angelica Berrie
  • Ted Childs
  • His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America
  • Ilan Kauftal
  • Howard Milstein
  • Amelia and Adebayo Ogunlesi
  • Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky CBE
  • Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka
  • Judy Thompson
  • Scottie Twine
  • Maz Zouhairi

A Piece for Peace

Tanenbaum’s MFA Speaks Out – Don’t Demonize Refugees!

Dear Friends,

At Tanenbaum, we know that many of the people who are today’s refugees are just like us. People of many different cultures and beliefs, and ways of practicing them. They are orphans. They are parents with children.

Our nation is now in the midst of a debate about these individuals. The undertone is divisive, suggesting that only Christians should be brought in, that refugees can be equated with rabid dogs, and that all people who follow Islam (i.e., 1.6 billion people) must be treated as prospective ISIS activists. Tanenbaum objects to the hate-mongering that is going hand in hand with legitimate cries for appropriate security measures. And our President, the founder of Tanenbaum’s Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees project, had something to say about it.

Take a look.
Please stand with us, and fight the hatred that breeds violence and hate,

Joyce S. Dubensky,

Click here to stand with us and support our work

Peace Made Possible: 2015 Tanenbaum Annual Awards Gala

Thank you to everyone who helped to make the 2015 Tanenbaum Annual Awards Gala the most successful Tanenbaum Gala to date!

The night at the Mandarin Oriental was riveting, and the passion for making peace possible could be felt in the room! Against the backdrop of Central Park and iconic New York City architecture we were gifted with two inspiring speeches by this year’s honorees, Brian Lehrer, Host of The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC and Monika M. Machon, Senior Vice President and Treasurer at AIG, Inc. They each highlighted the difficulties in fostering religious respect and also the great need to endure in the task. From the rhythm and blues of Cover Story to stories of interreligious understanding and your generous donations, the evening was filled with great appreciation and hope.

We are deeply grateful for your support. Thank you!

Balancing Public Health and Religious Freedom: The Debate on Vaccinations

In July, the Brooklyn-based U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York rejected the claims of a Long Island couple who, beginning in 2007, asserted a religious basis for their refusal to immunize their daughter who was then almost 4 and an applicant to pre-kindergarten” The court’s decision was based on the fact that the church that the woman belonged to did not instruct her that she could not get her children vaccinated and that the woman was generally concerned about the vaccinations due to their possible link to autism.

Vaccinations are among some of the most powerful illness-prevention tools available to clinicians. There is a general consensus in the United States that children should be immunized, where possible, against infectious diseases. While the federal government has no laws mandating vaccination, all 50 states require certain vaccinations for children entering public schools. Each state has different regulations regarding valid exemptions but many of these laws relate to religious beliefs. 
A recent article published by Gotham Gazette discusses the recent increase in parental refusal to vaccinate children: “In the last decade, the number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children or who delay their vaccinations has risen. An increasing number of parents who object to inoculating their children are relying on the religious exemption in refusing immunization” Those parents citing religious objections to vaccination have been criticized for using religion as an excuse when there are other underlying reasons for refusal.  For example, some parents object to vaccinations due to the risk of autism, diabetes, asthma and other ailments. The links between vaccinations and these conditions have either been disproven or proven to be extremely rare and almost always occurring in people with already compromised immune systems.
Unsurprisingly, the increase in refusal of vaccinations in a country where they are made readily available has provided food for debate. Proponents of immunization argue that religion is not a valid reason to refuse immunization, pointing out that doing so jeopardizes public health overall: "People who can't get vaccinated because of a medical reason really rely on everyone else to protect them".  What is the right balance between freedom of religion and the public good? Should parents have the right to refuse vaccination for their children on religious grounds or otherwise? As the refusal rate for vaccinations rises, these questions are increasingly important ones for health care practitioners to be asking themselves across the U.S.
Clinicians can play a key role in decision-making regarding vaccination: “In focus-group discussions, several parents who were not certain about vaccinating their child were willing to discuss their immunization concerns with a health care provider and wanted the provider to offer information relevant to their specific concerns”. By remaining sensitive to religious beliefs, listening to parents fears or concerns, and correcting any misconceptions about vaccinations, physicians can help parents make an informed decision. Practitioners do need to address these often challenging and sensitive topics, and with the right tools made available to staff, it may be a great deal less difficult to do so.
Rachel Maryles
Assistant Program Director
Religious Diversity in Health Care