6th Annual President's Day Celebration at the Maltz Museum; "Meet and Greet" at Kan Zaman Restaurant
On Monday, February 15th, we went to the 6th Annual President's Day Celebration at the Maltz Museum in which actors portrayed former U.S. Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman who all talked about what they had done to assist the Jewish people and encourage diversity. President Washington (Art Diamond) talked about how, with the help of the French, the colonists beat the British which was the most formidable army in the world at that time. He then on to speak about the letter he wrote to the Rhode Island Congregation which said “every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."
Sitting next to President Washington was Ms. Emma Lazarus (Judy Henning), the Jewish woman who wrote the words that appear on the lower pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Ms. Lazarus talked about her interest in immigration which was inspired by the plight of her own ancestors who had to flee Spain and Portugal to escape persecution and poverty. Among her other accomplishments, Ms. Lazarus helped to create a trade school to help newly arrived immigrants. Ms. Lazarus said that "many immigrants are coming here now. They must leave and leave a lot behind" which is still very pertinent today as it was in her time. President Lincoln (Don Kalish) and his young son Robert Todd Lincoln (Adam Kalish) recalled that prior to the time that he became President no Jewish chaplains were allowed in the armed forces but he worked to change that and was ultimately successful in 1863. signia that Jewish chaplains wear. They also talked about how President Lincoln ordered General Ulysses S. Grant to revoke the infamous General Order #11 which expelled Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
President Theordore Roosevelt (Jeff Kaplan) said that during his tenure as U.S. President from 1901-1909 more people immigrated to the United States than any other time in our history. He talked about the war between Russia and Japan in 1905 and how he challenged the Czar's policy of forcing only Jews to serve in the Russian army and how he helped to negotiate the peace treaty that ended that war which resulted in him winning the Nobel Peace Prize. He went on donate a large portion of the Nobel money to Jewish institutions. On a lighter note, for the benefit of the children on the tour, the President told the story of how the Teddy Bear (named after him) was created by Mr. Morris and Ms. Rose Michtom, two Russian Jewish immigrants after President Roosevelt garnered a lot of publicity over his refusal to kill a bear cub that he encountered while hunting.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Victor Goodman) was there with his wife, Ms. Eleanor Roosevelt (Judy Dunn). President Roosevelt expressed his regrets over having to deal with very strict immigration laws (passed years before he became President) which prevented him from accepting as many Jewish refugees as he would have liked to. This was why in 1939 the ship the "St Louis" containing 1,000 Jews was not allowed to land in Florida. One reason that was given was that it was believed that there were Nazi spies amongst them. True, they managed to let some "British boys" in on a visa program but these were Christians and Jews were very unpopular at that time. Later, in 1944, the War Refugee Act was passed that saved 100,000 Jews from concentration camps.
Unfortunately President Eisenhower who was there in 2015 couldn't be with us again this year but we were shown a statement that President (then General) Eisenhower issued in which he expressed his horror over what he saw when the Ohrduf Concentration Camp was liberated in 1945. "The things that I saw beggar description," he said and went on to say that "I made the visit deliberately in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda."
Lastly we got to meet with President Harry S. Truman (Tony Dreskin) and his personal secretary (Al Bellin). They talked about how President Truman was very supportive of the State of Israel which he recognized only 11 minutes after David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed its establishment on May 14, 1948. Not all people approved of this but President Truman believed that he had to do what was right even though it may be unpopular. It was said that the sign on President Truman's desk, "The Buck Stops Here" signified a commitment to hold firmly to one's convictions.
Our guide for the tour was Ms. Renee Siegel has been involved with the Maltz Museum since "the day that it opened." As the tour was ending she acknowledged that in addition to the six million Jews killed during the holocaust there were millions of Catholics, Protestants, and people of other faiths and ethnic groups in Germany who perished also. Ms. Siegel was proud of an exhibit that showed pictures of notable Jews from Cleveland but she questioned, and most of those standing around us agreed with her, whether or not Mr. Art Modell deserved to be included due to what he did with the Cleveland Browns.
When we arrived we were recognized by Maltz Museum staffers Mr. David Schafer, Director of Development; Mr. Jeffrey Allen, Director of Education and Public Programming; and Ms. Samantha Fryberger, Director of Marketing and Communication, who all walked over to us to say hello. Mr. Schafer said that Ms. Kathy Gottlieb, Volunteer and Visitor Services Coordinator, deserved a lot of the credit for the success of this program.
We spied a young woman wearing clothes that looked like they were from the 1930's. She was Ms. Robyn Marcs, Visitor Services Associate for the Maltz Museum, who took the initiative and created her own costume as a participant at the 1936 Republican convention where Alf Landon was nominated. Accordingly, she had a authentic-looking press badge and a Landon button. Ms. Marcs seems like a very imaginative person who has also authored a baseball-fantasy novel titled "Out of Left Field" which is available on Amazon.
All told, there must have been 400 people at the Maltz Museum to celebrate independence. In additional to the Presidential tour, for the younger people there were tables where one could create a campaign button for himself/herself and to "pay homage to an iconic American leader by creating a Washington or a Lincoln construction paper mask."
After we left the Maltz Museum we moved onward to our next event which was a "Meet and Greet" at Kan Zaman Restaurant on West 25th Street organized by C.A.M.E.O. President Pierre Bejjani for elected officials, candidates for public office, C.A.M.E.O. members, and anyone else who wanted to attend. We estimated that there were fifty people at this gathering including Mr. George Koussa, our colleague from Margaret W. Wong and Associates. Mr. Bejjani praised Mr. Wael Ayyad, who founded this establishment in 2002, by saying that the Kan Zaman Restaurant "represents the Middle East culture more than any other place locally.
Mr. Koussa was very happy to find Mr. Yahya Asiri working there because Mr. Koussa was his international advisor at Tri-C. Soon the program got underway and each of the candidates present was given a minute to introduce himself/herself.
All in all, about twenty people spoke including Mr. Sherrie Miday (Common Pleas Court); Mr. Dave Greenspan (Ohio State Rep. District #16); Mr. Dale Miller (Cuyahoga County Council District #2); Mr. Pablo Castro (Common Pleas Court); Ms. Emily Hagan (Ohio State Senate District #24); Mr. Tommy Greene (Ohio State Rep. District #16); Mr. Matt Dolan (Ohio State Senate District #24); Ms. Mary Bridget Sweeney (Common Pleas Court); Ms. Andrea Nelson Moore (Common Pleas Court); Ms. Tonya R. Jones (Domestic Relations Court); Ms. Candice Miller (Republican State Central Committee ); Ms. Joan Synenberg (Common Pleas Court); Mr. Richard Day (Republican State Central Committee); Ms. Doris Durica (Republican State Central Committee); Mr. Michael O'Shea (Domestic Relations Court); Ms. Diane Pelos (Domestic Relations Court); Ms. Mary Galinas (Cuyahoga County Council District #4); Ms. Francine Goldberg (Domestic Relations Court); and Ms. Kelly Gallagher (Common Pleas Court)...whew!!!
Mr. Bejjani said that if anyone needed help with their voter registration or obtaining a ballot then talk to his wife, Mary, who works for the Cuyahoga Country Board of Elections.
One person who was neither a candidate or passive onlooker was Mr. Jim Jackson, a Magistrate for Common Pleas Court. Mr. Jackson told us that he is not a candidate in 2016 but someday he just might be so he wanted to be here to observe the process of reaching out to people and hopefully gaining some supporters.
We think that he probably learned a lot from being there because, even though a few people would find themselves competing against each other, the mood was upbeat and civil so we look forward to more such events in the 2016 election cycle.