Last night, ORT Toronto hosted its annual fundraising gala “Unfinished Business of the 20th Century – Restitution of Looted Art” at the Design Exchange in Toronto with a dinner and dessert reception plus a silent art auction. Thanks to my friend and PR colleague, Danielle Iversen who publicized the gala, I was invited to attend and help celebrate this year’s Honourees including Paul E. Bain (pictured below) partner at Dickinson Wright LLP, who was honoured for his work protecting artists’ rights and his dedication to several not-for-profit art organizations.…as well as Honourees for the ORT Recognition Award – Janis & Kenny Finkelstein, for their many years of dedication and support to the organization (below).Then the evening’s MC, Michael B. Miller (below) introduced the Keynote Speaker for this year’s gala…..….Donald S. Burris, one of the men behind the “Woman in Gold” case where a Nazi-appropriated Gustav Klimt masterpiece was returned to its rightful owner decades after the theft. Mr. Burris is a senior partner in the L.A. firm Burris, Schoenberg & Walden LLP, and he spoke about that case (recently told in the Helen Mirren/Ryan Reynolds feature film “The Woman in Gold”) and his pursuit of other art works stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Talk about a fascinating presentation and what a riveting brush with history I experienced.
Mr. Burris spoke at great length about the numerous trials, the international legal wrangling and ultimate triumph that brought the Klimt portrait of Ms. Altmann’s aunt back to the family, as well as comments regarding the other recent movie “The Monuments Men” which sadly did not tell the full true story of the Allies’ attempt to rescue and protect the greatest artworks in Europe’s private Jewish family collections.
Although the speech was a sobering reminder to all what happened seven+ decades ago, the evening was full of promise and positive celebrations for ORT Toronto which is an arm of World ORT, founded in 1880, the largest non-denominational, non-governmental organization providing “Education for Life” each year to over 300,000 disadvantaged students in 60 countries. The name is an acronym based on its original Russian name. Through its International Cooperation programs, ORT supports non-sectarian economic and social development in under-developed parts of the world, with vocational training and the provision of technical assistance. ORT operates a global network of schools, colleges, training centres and programmes in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the CIS and Baltic States, Israel, Latin America, North America and Western Europe. ORT schools are highly regarded and are open to all children regardless of religious backgrounds. http://www.ort-toronto.org/
ORT Executive Director, Lindy Meshwork says: “In these challenging times, we believe the key to a better world lies in education. Since 1880 ORT has been providing the necessary skills and training to succeed, providing hope and the opportunity for a brighter future for students around the world.”
The evening also featured a delicious buffet dinner with a dessert reception after the awards presentations. There was a silent auction featuring artworks by renowned painters & photographers to help raise funds for ORT Toronto. Here are some candid photos of the guests, honourees and VIPs …and mazel tov to all for a fantastic night!
ABOUT THE EVENT:GALA MASTER OF CEREMONIES: Michael B. Miller, Partner, Dickinson Wright, LLPHONOURARY CO-CHAIRS: Carrie Katz + Ellen Miller
TRIBUTE COMMITTEE: Madeline Avedon, Rose Baum, Jeanne Beker, Joyce Chapnick, Justice Sandra Chapnik, Hedy Frisch, Edie Glazer, Julianna Greenspan, Marlene Hait,
Elise Kalles, Barbara Kingstone, Michelle Maderer, Laura Walsh & Israel Mida, Tom Mihalik,, Aviva Morgenstern, Harriet Morton, Marlene & Martin Rochwerg, Irene Reingold, Mary Richmond, Serafima Roll, Dorothy Cohen Shoichet, Elise Sieradzki, Justice Gertrude Speigel, Bella Tal, Sam Wales, Florence Weinstock, Liora YakubowiczORT Canada – Charitable Number: 118834910 RR0001Co- Presidents: Carrie Katz, Jacob Kincler & Arthur SilberORT TorontoPresident: Janis Finkelstein, Past President: Florence WeinstockExecutive Director: Lindy MeshworkDirector of Admin: Roni MadererSponsored by BMO, Tom Mihalik: Tom’s Place and Janis & Kenny Finkelstein