Remembering Tanenbaum Board Member, Lester M. Crystal

Remembering Les Crystal

Yesterday Tanenbaum has lost a unique and wonderful leader. And I lost a dear friend. Because yesterday, Les Crystal’s long battle with brain cancer came to an end.

The eulogies will be many, and Les will be remembered for a life of kindness, brilliance and accomplishments as a newsman extraordinaire—including his groundbreaking work on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

Tanenbaum will remember him as a valued Board member and special friend, who deeply understood our commitment to building a more just and respectful society that includes people of all religious beliefs and none. He was always there, with wise counsel and a helping hand. A gentle leader who respectfully would share his own views, Les also knew how to listen and honor the perspectives of others. Les moved Tanenbaum forward and his passing is an immeasurable loss.

For me, this is a personal loss. I think of Les, remember him. And the word that keeps coming to mind is “beloved.”

I first “met” Les when he called Tanenbaum to talk to our President and Founder, Georgette Bennett. I told him she was away, and he requested her phone number. I responded that I’d pass on a message. I then called Georgette (who was trying to be on vacation) to tell her about the man who wanted her number. She was quick to respond. “What? You didn’t give Les my number? OF COURSE, always give Les my number if Les calls—wherever I am!”

When Les joined our Board some years later, he immediately agreed to become Chair of our Communications Committee. Being Les, he rolled up his sleeves and dug in, and asked to meet with the Communications staff. When I told one of them that he passed, she recalled, “I remember meeting Les during my first few weeks at Tanenbaum, and he made such a great impression. That was six years ago, and I still remember it clearly.”

For Tanenbaum, Les often invited the best journalists to consider accepting our Media Bridge Builder Award. Brian Williams was one of them. I remember telling Brian how honored we were that he was with us and had accepted our award. His response was like everyone else’s. “Anything for Les.”

Beloved. I have my own stories but Brian Williams’ refrain is the bottom line. I would have done anything for Les. Because he was that special—to everyone who knew him.

After the great sadness passes, I know I will remember Les with a smile and great gratitude that he was in my life.

For now, I simply know that his memory will be for a blessing,

Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq.,
CEO Emerita, Sr. Strategic Advisor, Tanenbaum

2020 Gala Journal

Confront Hate on Holocaust Remembrance Day

In a 2005 resolution, the U.N. designated January 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day—and condemned without reserve all manifestations of religious violence.  Today, our remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust is unavoidably followed by more recent memories—of Jersey City, of Halle, of Pittsburgh—but also a convicting desire to combat their source.  In a recent evening of our “Courageous Conversations” series, we applied a variety of perspectives—religion, media, ideology, politics—to reach the same conclusive response: a key way to confront anti-Semitism is to start with a conversation.

A bigotry as pervasive as anti-Semitism requires a multi-layered analysis to grasp—and even then, its roots go much deeper than many realize. But the panelists for our Confronting Hate event provided helpful insights to begin this process of understanding.

Georgette Bennett, our President and Founder, opened with a moving speech on the new biography of Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum[1] and how Marc’s work fighting hate is relevant to this critical moment in history.

For example, Georgette described Marc’s emphasis on the link between verbal violence and physical violence. She also denounced silence in the face of atrocity as implicit permission for these kinds of hate crimes, and challenged the audience to imitate Marc’s practice of engaging with people holding opposite viewpoints in open—and respectful—conversation. She noted, Marc was slow to call someone an “anti-Semite” but quick to condemn “anti-Semitism.”

A stimulating panel discussion followed. Judy Banki, an expert in Jewish-Catholic relations, discussed her work with Rabbi Tanenbaum including Nostra Aetate at Vatican Council II. TM Garret shared his personal story as a former white supremacist, and Muslim investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed explained how the far-right white supremacist movement affects politics around the world.

Judy spoke of her encounters with Catholic anti-Semitism, both personally and professionally, from pre-Vatican II to now.  She explained how it was present in textbooks, films and even prayers, and how Nostre Aetate helped start a process of changes. She detailed how this has changed, how it has not—and the work it took to get here.

TM’s powerful sharing revealed how he progressed from hateful jokes, to hate speech, to white supremacy, and into full-blown anti-Semitism. He made the distinction between leaving a hate group and leaving hate—how his bigotry did not end fully for over a decade after resigning as a leader of a KKK group and leaving the white supremacy community behind. It was only then, that he was finally able to confront his anti-Semitism.

Nafeez discussed how he investigated the shift in far-right movements on both sides of the Atlantic from their traditional anti-Semitism to their adoption of Islamophobic positions as well. He explained that far-right political groups often make a point of publicly denouncing anti-Semitism and Nazism (i.e., publicly disassociating from their historical, anti-Semitic roots), but then continue to support neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semitic stereotypes. Nafeez thus concludes that contemporary prejudice against racial and religious minorities, no matter what is said on the surface, is still deeply rooted in anti-Semitism.

[1] Confronting Hate: The Untold Story of the Rabbi Who Stood Up for Human Rights, Racial Justice, and Religious Reconciliation is sold by Tanenbaum at a discounted price, to make it available to people who wish to read it.


 

Capitalizing on Inclusion – Our Religious Diversity Symposium with Ted Childs

Tanenbaum and Ted Childs LLC hosted our fourth annual Religious Diversity Symposium on September 19th – 20th, 2019. This fall conference, designed for high-level diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders, focused on the theme of “capitalizing on inclusion.”

We brought together representatives from 30 different organizations and corporations for two days of robust learning and discussion. Programming included a presentation from Robby Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, a panel of Chief Diversity Officers from two multi-national companies, and a session lead by Sumreen Ahmad, Global Change Management Lead at Accenture, focused on moving through your organization’s religious diversity journey.

Attendees called the sessions “raw and eye-opening,” and filled with “invaluable insights.” Tanenbaum and Ted Childs are proud to partner on a conference that builds the knowledge, skills, and competencies of DEI leadership on religious diversity in the workplace.

 

Laughter, drinks & hitchhiking clowns: We took a night off!

On October 3, 2019, Tanenbaum friends (new and old) came together to take a night off. We had a wonderful time together in laughter and community.

We were thrilled to welcome back some familiar faces, and this year, our comedians brought the funny, along with newcomer Greg Radin, who was an excellent host. Amid raucous bouts of laughter, we all shared in the importance of taking the time to understand one another and the follies of miscommunication in everyday life – in funny (and unfunny) ways.

Thanks to Mike Rakosi, the comedic line-up and the Comic Strip Live crew, our sponsors and attendees, and our host committee for helping to make it a successful night in support of our work.

Have a look at our gallery to get a glimpse of all the fun, and if you missed it this year, hope you don’t miss out in 2020!

Tanenbaum’s 2019 Religious Diversity and Inclusion Summit

Tanenbaum held its fourth annual Religious Diversity Leadership Summit (the Summit) on June 19, 2019, tackling the theme of “innovating religious diversity in the workplace.” Programming included dynamic speakers and engaging panel discussions that highlighted the work of leaders in the religious diversity and inclusion space.

Missed this year’s Summit? Keep an eye out for additional content and details about next year’s event!

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!

Controversial Conversations

Friends-

Yesterday was #GivingTuesday and we’re thankful—for all of you who made donations. So, to show our appreciation, we’re making today Tanenbaum #GratitudeWednesday. Because, notwithstanding all that plague us, including religious bigotry and hate, there’s much to be grateful for, including a pair of Tanenbaum friends who exemplify how to move beyond hatred to love.

As part of #GratitudeWednesday, we’re sharing some clips and photos of Arno Michaelis, a former White Supremacist, and his Sikh partner for peace, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, taken during one of our recent events, Controversial Conversations. And we thank you, because we can only hold these learning conversations with your support.

For the first time ever, we live-streamed the discussion on Facebook and Instagram! And we learned a lot about white supremacy, Sikh beliefs in our humanity, and how Pardeep began healing after his father was killed (by another white supremacist).

And again, my thanks,

Joyce S. Dubensky
Tanenbaum CEO

LALIQUE offers Tanenbaum supporters a chance to frost themselves

The walls of the LALIQUE boutique were lined with crystal buddhas, bowls and butterflies during last week’s event, in which Tanenbaum partnered with LALIQUE to host an exclusive night for Tanenbaum supporters—a mix of history, museum, art and fabulous shopping!

Joined by Justin Foa, Amine Hachem and Holly Weiss – to name a few in attendance, the beautiful boutique was full of cheerful faces, all in a shopping mood. LALIQUE’s North American President & CEO, James Mun also joined the event, along with the leading Rene Lalique historian, Nick Dawes, who gave an informed talk about Rene Lalique’s life, work and art—how it still influences all current LALIQUE pieces.

Not only were a portion of the proceeds from the evening donated to support Tanenbaum’s work to systematically dismantle religious prejudice, hatred and violence and promote justice and respect for people of all religious beliefs…but everyone got a 10% discount too! And LALIQUE is extending that offer through October.                                                            

So for those who realize the December holidays will be here soon…take a look at LALIQUE’s unique treasures and think of your loved ones. If something catches your eye, give Folashade Kornegay a call at 212.967.7707 x129 and she’ll connect you to our friends at LALIQUE.

And while you’re at it, take a look at the photo gallery from the frosted crystal night.

Thank you for a hilarious night off!

Friends,

In a night full of laughs, Tanenbaum’s annual comedy show supports a cause that is deadly serious. Together, we had a great night as everyone from lawyers to race car drivers laughed together, at what is happening in the world, at ourselves, and with each other! Have a look at our photo gallery to glimpse the fun!

With jokes on every aspect of society including the perils of growing older and white privilege, Eric Neumann, Akash Bhasin, Sasha Srbulj, DF Sweedler and our very own Holly H. Weiss, put on a fantastic show! Tanenbaum thanks each and every one of them for keeping us in stitches the whole night!  

Once again, Tanenbaum Takes a Night Off proved that laughter is food for the soul!

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

P.S.: Special thanks to Mike Rakosi, who again partnered with us to bring this show to you and who helps it grow year after year. Huge thanks to our partners, Whole Foods Market for the fabulous food and Comic Strip Live.

Thanks again and always to our generous sponsors, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett & Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE, Foa & Son Corp., Karlinsky LLC, John Miller, Sara Pandolfi & Co., Marni & Jeremy Selman, Ari Storch, Holly H. Weiss and Mary Jane Brock. And a huge Thank You to our fantastic inaugural Comedy Show Host Committee!