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The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Luncheon Review - A Great Success

By Debra Davy

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On Monday, October 19, 2015, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW Washington, DC, hosted its 20th annual Chicago Luncheon,  the “2015 Risa K. Lambert Luncheon”, its largest yearly philanthropic event, in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton-Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 E. North Water Street, Chicago.


20 years of inspired leadership

This lovely full-scale event, attended by some 2000 people, including 200 local Holocaust survivors, raised $6 million dollars (a startlingly apt yet eerie sum, considering that is the number of Jews slain in the Holocaust) in support of the Museum’s national campaign, “Never Again: What You Do Matters”. These funds will help ensure that the museum will be able to keep the memory of The Shoah (Hebrew for Holocaust) alive. The National Museum does a great deal more, however, than serve as a shrine to one of the darkest episodes of our collective human past; it is devoted, through its educational seminars and programs, to preventing such atrocities from being committed to any people anywhere on the globe. Among the Museum’s worthy goals are the building of a "permanent global platform that transcends borders and cultures, deepening understanding and inspiring action”.

Safeguard their stories


The luncheon was an unqualified success, and a tribute to its honorees, the late Robert Abt and his wife Alice Abt and their family, (Abt Electronics) who have been involved with the Museum since its inception, both as Founders and Legacy of Light Guardian Founders, and more. Robert and Alice’s children have been actively involved with the Museum’s Next Generation group, and their granddaughter Jordan co-chairs the Museum Teen Committee. In fact,  at the luncheon Jordan Abt and her co-chair Angela Gutman launched a a national social media campaign called "#SafeguardTheir Stories” to help preserve the testimomies of victims and survivors.

Honoring the Abt family

Speakers at the luncheon included Honorary co-chairs Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as Moroccan Ambassador to the US Rachad Bouhlal. The featured Speaker, Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View, is a leading national commentator on foreign policy, national security, and the Middle East. Goldberg is an especially engaging and talented speaker. Some of the many moving remarks made at the luncheon are paraphrased below:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan spoke of how the mission of the Museum is to do for others what the world failed to do for European Jewry.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Governor Bruce Rauner stated “Today and every day the struggle continues to make the phrase 'Never again' a reality." He also noted that Illinois is the first state to pass an anti-boycott investiture effort, and said “We are standing strong on our sanctions against Iran”.


With Bruce Rauner

In the tribute to the survivors, and the campaign for the museum, it was stated emphatically that the Holocaust was preventable, that there must be early warning detection systems in place, and that “We can do so much better than we have done” to stop genocidal horrors. The question was raised, “If not now, when and if not us, who?” This reviewer would liken this query to the one often asked to the heavens about the Holocaust, “Where was God?" and the spiritual response from the ether, “Where was Man?”


Tribute to the survivors

Jeffrey Goldberg, in a warm and humorous speech, spoke  about “the fragile situation in Europe.” He spoke eloquently  and at some  length about how half of the world’s Jews live in the United States, 40% in Israel, and the rest have created a presence around the world, and, almost amazingly, especially in Europe. He said to remember it is NOT like 1938, because the leaders of Germany are the world’s foremost proponents of anti-Semitism, now we have Israel, and America leads the most powerful and assertable Jewish Identity in the Diaspora.


Jeffrey Goldberg

His Excellency, Rachad Bahloul, the Ambassador of Morocco spoke with pride of the ancient presence of Jews in his country and how Morocco alone did not surrender any Jewish citizens to the Nazis. Finally, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke briefly but stirringly of “The Great State of Israel” and came out against current attempts to “delegitimize” Israel.


Some of the most heartwarming moments at the luncheon included the young people’s presence as they spoke of their commitment, and, of course, when the Holocaust survivors were asked to stand to be applauded. However, the best moment of all during this great luncheon, all of which flew by, was the lighting of small electric flames in memory of those who perished in The Shoah, and for whom this great museum and all its supporters work so hard to guarantee “Never Again.”


More about the US Holocaust Museum

Photos:Lynn Renee Persin for U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum







Published on Nov 07, 2015

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