Thursday, April 23, 2015

Honoring E. Randol Schoenberg

Published by MOVIECLIPS Trailers
Published on Dec 23, 2014
Academy Award winner Helen Mirren stars in the incredible story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee who is forced to flee Vienna during World War II. Decades later, determined to salvage some dignity from her past, Maria has taken on a mission to reclaim a painting the Nazis stole from her family: the famous Lady In Gold, a portrait of her beloved Aunt Adele. Partnering with an inexperienced but determined young lawyer (Ryan Reynolds), Maria embarks on an epic journey for justice 60 years in the making.
The movie is about the legal miracle of Maria Altman and her lawyer E. Randol Schoenberg won the return of the portrait of her Aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer painted by the renowned artist Gustav Klimt completed in 1907 and stolen by the Nazis circa 1938 after Austria was annexed by Hitler’s Germany forcing owner Jewish millionaire to flee Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer.
Ari Bussel’s largely photo essay about a night of honoring the lawyer E. Randol Schoenberg against all odds winning the Lady in Gold back to the rightful owner and descendant Maria Altman.
E. Randol Schoenberg at the premiere of the Lady in Gold (from

JRH 4/23/15
Honoring E. Randol Schoenberg
By Ari Bussel
Sent: 4/22/2015 8:57 PM
The very fact that the event was over-subscribed beyond the imagination (about ten times the normal attendance) was explained not by the screening of the BBC documentary about the late Maria Altmann and her family's looted paintings, rather than by "Randy-of-the-Klimt-paintings" being there.  So much so, that the place was a life safety hazard, and had anything happened, the hand would have been pointed squarely at Cedars Sinai for allowing it to take place at all.
Randy of Woman in Gold
Schoenberg has become "Our Randy."  We know his every feeling, manner of behavior and willingness to risk all that is dear to him while pursuing the cause.  But it is the "Randy" of "Woman in Gold:"
 Helen Mirren & Ryan Reynolds
Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds as Maria Altman and Randol Schoenberg
 Katie Holmes and Ryan Reynolds as Pam and Randol Schoenberg
Katie Holmes and Ryan Reynolds as Pam and Randol Schoenberg
 Ryan Reynolds, Helen Mirren and Daniel Brühl (Hubertus Czernin)
Ryan Reynolds, Helen Mirren and Daniel Brühl (Hubertus Czernin)
 Woman in Gold movie poster
Woman in Gold Poster
[Pictures by The Wienstein Company]
Gary Ratner - Georgette Gelbard
Some years ago, my friend Gary Ratner (today a top executive at Stand With Us, an Israel advocacy group headquartered in Los Angeles) hosted a special evening honoring E. Randol Schoenberg for bringing the case.
Gary then headed the local American Jewish Congress (a non-profit since defunct).  The program at the Four Seasons at (not in) Beverly Hills was well attended, but nothing similar to today's.  Then it took very hard work to get people to show up.  Now, they stood in a very long line, waiting patiently one after the other for the anticipated event.  (Neither "standing patiently" nor "standing in line" is something many Israelis and Jews standing there actually understand).  Again, unusual in so many respects.
All roads lead to one place:  The Power of Movies.  The immense power of movies.
For their own connection with funding, distributing and promoting movies, I recently dedicated my weekly column to the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of the Tolerance.  Even if they did nothing else, it is this element that has by far the greatest reach and effect.
I asked Gary Ratner about his AJC event all these years ago.  Why?  Because I vaguely remembered Mr. Schoenberg and Mrs. Altmann at the end, with a few of the organizers, going to have their pictures taken.  The event itself did not otherwise leave an imprint in my mind.  Another event by the same organization, same organizer and at the same location is remembered much more vividly:  honoring R. James Woolsey, Jr., the former head of CIA (1993-1995).
Another good friend, Georgette Gelbard, headed the event alongside Ratner, and knows to tell that it was one of the most meaningful events she has ever organized.  It turns out that it was the first time Mr. Woolsey was invited and recognized by a Jewish organization.
All roads lead to Rome, but both the Roman Empire and the Vatican have lost their standing.  Contrary to them, we, the Jewish People, have persisted and survived, and we are still today a Light Unto the Nations.  [Please be warned thought, that when Isaiah talks about a Light Unto the Nations, say in 49:6, the context is most disturbing - see for instance verse 17.]
ו  וַיֹּאמֶר, נָקֵל מִהְיוֹתְךָ לִי עֶבֶד, לְהָקִים אֶת-שִׁבְטֵי יַעֲקֹב, ונצירי (וּנְצוּרֵי) יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהָשִׁיב; וּנְתַתִּיךָ לְאוֹר גּוֹיִם, לִהְיוֹת יְשׁוּעָתִי עַד-קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ.  {ס}
6 Yea, He saith: 'It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the offspring of Israel; I will also give thee for a light of the nations, that My salvation may be unto the end of the earth.' {S}
יז  מִהֲרוּ, בָּנָיִךְ; מְהָרְסַיִךְ וּמַחֲרִיבַיִךְ, מִמֵּךְ יֵצֵאוּ.
17 Thy children make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth from thee.
Gary Ratner replied he honored Mr. Schoenberg for bringing the case.
I wanted to honor him because of the guts (for lack of better term) of doing this when he was told there was no hope of ever winning.  Schoenberg did it because it was "just the right thing to do and for justice to be served."
The years have passed.  Mr. Schoenberg won the case.  Mrs. Altmann passed away four years ago.  There is a movie that follows a very well-written script, based mostly on the actual events but incorporating elements that may hold true (but not exactly in the way or sequence as in the movie) and omit other stories that are equally as intriguing (although did not lead to proceeds of almost $330m for five paintings, to be split among five family members).
There are several documentaries and books, and likely at least one or more in the future ("Randy" himself did not write a book, and from the presentation he gave, it is clear he knows how to captivate a very demanding audience).
Charuzi - "Esphir"
Something unique happened in that evening at Cedars.  Dr. Yzhar Charuzi and Esther Blau created a most memorable event.  Dr. Charuzi has dedicated his life to doing good for Israel.  For over a quarter of a century he brought Israeli doctors to Cedars for a two year stay.  In Israel today there exists a full contingency of "Save A Heart" doctors, Dr. Charuzi's doctors.
Standing by Yzhar's side, Esther (Esphir) has continues to promote the Cedars-Sinai Alumni Association and Medical Staff with regular events and programs.  This was only one in a long sequence.
A day earlier, Mr. Schoenberg spoke at "the event at the [Pan Pacific] Park."  Mayor Garcetti, Consul General Siegel and many other dignitaries were there.  But unlike at Cedars, there were no lines there.  In fact, there were rows and rows of empty seats.
The empty seats, the life going on around the event and completely ignoring it and the tiny number of Holocaust survivors who are still with us struck me.  When the survivors were asked to stand, there were so few of them, that Israel's Consul General could have just walked to each one, shake her or his hand, and still be back at his seat before they all sat down.
Remembering and "Never Again"
After my parents’ generation, only we be left - the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.
After us, there will only be books, movies, curricula taught here and there and a few museums.  But more than anything, there will be the findings of a scientific conference convened by a sovereign country at the beginning of the 21st Century that proved, beyond any doubt, that the Holocaust has never happened.  It simply did not take place.  [A few years after that Scientific Conference, a competition among 56 countries was held for the best caricature about the Holocaust-that-never-happened.]
Another point will be remembered, some decades from now, for it is repeated time and again - at the halls of the United Nations and in every possible venue:  Israel came into being only because the world was raped to allow the Jews to steal a land not theirs.  The world was made to feel so bad by the invention of the Holocaust that it had to sacrifice the so-called "Palestinians" on the altar and give away "their" land.
The Holocaust that did not happen (logic and rationality do not have to enter into the picture) was just another scheme by the Zionists.  (Another was the 9/11 attacks perpetrated by them - the Mossad - to blame the innocent Muslims.)
We already hear today the calls for us - Israelis - to return to our home countries - Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, ....  After the Charlie Hebdo massacres in France, at a Muslim outreach program in Irvine, I was told quite specifically to go back to Poland, for "the Jews from Poland, like Menachem Begin, were the worst!"
As my friend, Dr. Daryl Temkin, often reminds:  A lie told often enough, with such strength and conviction, becomes truth, no matter how removed it from reality.
Israel Forever
And so, as we gathered to hear the lawyer of the Klimt paintings, as we look at the pictures below and possibly think of our children and their children and the legacy that we are to leave, let us remember this:
As long as deep within the heart
A Jewish soul stirs,
And forward, to the ends of the East
An eye looks out, towards Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free people in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
[Israel's National Anthem, English from:]
Photo- As long as deep in the heart
For millennia we craved a return to our homeland, to the Land of Israel.  For the past sixty seven years we have a modern country in our ancient homeland.  We must do all we can to protect it.  We must stand and fight, against all odds.  This seems to be our destiny.  As in the past, so in the future.
Faith and Action
We must fight for what is right.  Not only in word but in deed.  We must not let go, we must not give up.  The fight is never easy.  There are very few moments that encourage us and even fewer people who will stand by us at the time of need.  But that is exactly what makes what one does meaningful.
When Pastor Andre Trocme ( of the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France, was asked toward the end of his life why did he do what he did, saving thousands of Jews at a great risk to his congregants and himself, he looked straight at the camera and did not understand the question.  He did the obvious, and he would do it again.
Pastor Trocme lived the way he preached.  For him "Faith" and "Action" were one.
He was a Righteous Among the Nations, what we call in Hebrew Yechidei-Sgula - the few of the few, of a very special character.
And now, join me please to pix from the event:
Cedar Sinai
 L-to-R-  Dr. Charuzi, Esther Blau, E. Randol Schoenberg
L-to-R:  Dr. Charuzi, Esther Blau, E. Randol Schoenberg
Dr. Charuzi, Esther Blau, E. Randol Schoenberg & Susanne Reyto
Also in the picture:  Susanne Reyto, activist, speaker and author
 Esther Blau at Speaker’s Podium
Esther Blau at Speaker’s Podium
 Maria Altmann
Maria Altmann
 E. Randol Schoenberg at Speaker’s Podium
E. Randol Schoenberg at Speaker’s Podium
 Dalia Ulmer, a most gifted writer [in audience]
Dalia Ulmer, a most gifted writer [in audience]
My father, Dr. Bussel, who along with my uncle, Capt. Hillel Yarkoni, escaped the Warsaw Ghetto before the uprising, are fighting for decades in the Polish courts to reclaim the family property.  The case went all the way to the Polish Supreme Court and back, and there is no end in sight.  The Poles do not want a resolution, lest the flood-gates be opened.
The modus operandi seems to be:  It is easier to fight, until the survivors are gone.  Eventually they will give up (or they will die and their descendants will give up).
And for that, the Bible teaches us a phrase:  Haratzachta ve gam Yarashta (to murder and to inherit)
Kings 1:21:19
יט  וְדִבַּרְתָּ אֵלָיו לֵאמֹר, כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה, הֲרָצַחְתָּ, וְגַם-יָרָשְׁתָּ; וְדִבַּרְתָּ אֵלָיו לֵאמֹר, כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה, בִּמְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר לָקְקוּ הַכְּלָבִים אֶת-דַּם נָבוֹת, יָלֹקּוּ הַכְּלָבִים אֶת-דָּמְךָ גַּם-אָתָּה.
19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying: Thus saith the LORD: Hast thou killed, and also taken possessions? and thou shalt speak unto him, saying: Thus saith the LORD: In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.'
E. Randol Schoenberg (L) & Dr. Joseph Bussel (R)
E. Randol Schoenberg (L) & Dr. Joseph Bussel (R)
E. Randol Schoenberg (L), Dr. Charuzi (C) & Dr. Joseph Bussel (R)
E. Randol Schoenberg, once a lawyer, now a major philanthropist-activist (L), Dr. Charuzi (C) & Dr. Joseph Bussel (R)
Thank you Esther and Yzhar.  Thank you Gary and Georgette.  Thank you, Randy Schoenberg and Maria Altmann Z"L.  And most of all, it is my grandparents and parents’ generation - survivors who rose from the ashes of the Holocaust - for whom Israel was everything.
It is the love of Israel that they instilled in me that drives me forward, to do, act, and then do even more.
On this Eve of Yom Ha-atzmauet, Israel's Independence Day, Happy Birthday Israel!
Ari Bussel
Edited by John R. Houk
Some photos from the original submission were not included.
© Ari Bussel

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