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Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award 2009

R:Former Secretary of State George Shultz presents the Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award to Kenneth J. Bialkin.
Additional photographs below.


"We must never forget those who went through those terrible trials and tribulations" said former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the glittering 2009 American Jewish Historical Society Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award luncheon held on March 26th at New York’s Rainbow Room. "What is dangerous is forgetfulness." The luncheon, titled "Beyond the Pale," marked two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the global realignment that followed.

Gorbachev, who was awarded AJHS' first Global Leadership Award, was joined at the event by former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz in conversation with PBS' Charlie Rose over their crucial roles in ending the Cold War and the emigration of some 1 million Soviet Jews. (The conversation will be broadcast on a forthcoming Charlie Rose show.)

AJHS gave its 2009 Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award to its chairman emeritus, Kenneth J. Bialkin, for his lifetime of leadership and contribution to the Jewish people and to Israel, and for founding the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement at AJHS.

Shultz praised Bialkin for his persistent advocacy at the highest levels of government on behalf of Soviet Jews saying, when Gorbachev came to power, "we both sensed that change had come." Gorbachev corroborated the effect of American Jewish advocacy on behalf of Soviet Jews saying, "Reagan mentioned it at every meeting."

 "Second only perhaps to the support for Israel which united and continues to unite the Jews of America…the American movement to free Soviet Jews represents an unprecedented achievement of the force of community action to achieve an international political result of remarkable significance," said Bialkin. "The complete story has not been told and many of the experiences, records, pictures and documents remain unknown and uncollected.  We therefore launched our archive project to assure that the story and records of that noble struggle are not lost and that our children and others can know what their parents did and see what united and determined citizens can accomplish in a free and democratic society." 

AJHS President Daniel R. Kaplan produced the event as a warm tribute to Bialkin, his lifelong friend, and in support of AJHS' pivotal role in synthesizing Jewish ideals and American history.

"Jews have enjoyed unprecedented freedoms in this country, symbolized by the Statue of Liberty," Kaplan said. "This year’s event underscores several themes - under the rubric of gratitude - for all that we have and for the good we have effected for Jews worldwide."

Among the 300 attendees were former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill; former New York City Mayor Ed Koch; statesman Elie Wiesel; representatives of the city's great law and financial firms and; and the heads of major Jewish organizations, UJA/Federation, American Jewish Committee and the Center for Jewish History.

The Gorbachev/Shultz/Rose conversation touched on Russo-American relations today, the future of nuclear arms proliferation and negotiations with Iran, optimism for the Obama and Medvedev administrations, and the role of Russian Jews in Israeli politics today.

L to R:
-AJHS Trustee and past presient Justin L. and Genevieve Wyner.
-AJHS President Daniel R. Kaplan.

L to R:
-Former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and AJHS President Daniel R. Kaplan.
-Israeli Consul General Asaf Shariv, Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Chariman Emeritus Kenneth J. Bialkin, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

L to R:
-Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, former Secretary of State George Shultz interviewed by PBs' Charlie Rose.
-AJHS Trustees George Garfunkel and Skip Karetsky.

L to R:
-Chairman Sid Lapidus gives the Global Leadership Award to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
-Anne and Kenneth J. Bialkin.

Dr. Abraham L. Sacha, 1986
Armand Hammer, 1987
Edgar M. Bronfman, 1989
Sylvia Hassenfeld, 1994
Aaron Feuerstein, 1996
Beverly Sills, 1998
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, 1999
Sanford I. Weill, 2000
Ambassador Felix G. Rohatyn, 2001
Elie Wiesel, 2002
Mortimer B. Zuckerman, 2003
Hon. Edward I. Koch, 2005
Hon. George P. Shultz, 2007
Sid Lapidus, 2008

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