WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent... to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts...
- Herbert Block – Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
- Richard H. Weisberg – Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
- Gary P. Zola – Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
President Obama said, “These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”
Herbert Block, Appointee for Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
Herbert Block is Assistant Executive Vice-President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a position he has held since 1999. He was first appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in 2011. Previously, he served as Assistant Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs for the New York City Independent Budget Office from 1996 to 1999, and was Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Relations at the Corporation for National and Community Service from 1994 to 1995. Mr. Block was Assistant to the Mayor of the City of New York from 1990 to 1993 and a Special Assistant to the Manhattan Borough President from 1986 to 1989. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Jewish Restitution Organization. Mr. Block received a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
Dr. Richard H. Weisberg, Appointee for Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
Dr. Richard H. Weisberg is the Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, a position he has held since 1976. He was first appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in 2011. Dr. Weisberg began his academic career as Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Literature at The University of Chicago in 1970 and is currently a Visiting Professor of Law. He is the founding and current president of the Law & Humanities Institute and founding and general editor of a periodical, Law and Literature. Dr. Weisberg is a recipient of Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships. In 2009, he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government for his work to provide restitution from France to victims of the wartime Vichy regime. Dr. Weisberg received a B.A from Brandeis University, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.
Dr. Gary P. Zola, Appointee for Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
Dr. Gary P. Zola is the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. He also serves as Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Zola was first appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in 2011. He is a member of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society. From 2002 to 2005, he was Chair of the Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History and from 2006 to 2010, he was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Dr. Zola received a B.A. from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and an M.A., Rabbinic Ordination, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.
Congresswoman Gets Commission Award for Cemeteries Protection Law
Commission Members pose with U.S. House of Representatives Member Grace Meng of New York (fifth from right) during the Commission's meeting in Washington, DC September 10th. Commission Chair Lesley Weiss (light blue jacket) gave Meng the Commission's Cultural Heritage Preservation Award for being the sponsor of a new U.S. law making desecration of cemeteries a violation of religious freedom. Federal law gives the Commission the assignment of encouraging the national governments of Central and Eastern Europe to protect cemeteries containing remains associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens. The law sponsored by Meng gives the Commission a stronger argument for the protection of burial places in the region.
Memorial to Serock, Poland Holocaust Victims Dedicated
Commission Member Lee Seeman speaks during the dedication August 27th of a Commission memorial in Serock, Poland remembering the people of the community who were Jewish. Most were killed during the Holocaust. The memorial is on the site of the town's Jewish cemetery. Nazi German forces destroyed visible evidence of the burial ground but parts of some grave stones were found in recent years. These were incorporated into the memorial, which was primarily funded with monies raised by Seeman. The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) arranged and oversaw the building of the memorial on land donated and made accessible by PKO Bank Polski. It also arranged the dedication ceremony, which included remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, Serock Mayor Sylwester Edwin Sokolniki, Legionowo Powiat Starost Jan Grabiec, Agnieszka Zawadzka of the Mazowieckie province Voivod, Piotr Kadlcik of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, Justyna Borkiewicz of the PKO Bank Foundation, and Hannah Champness, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor from Serock who lives in the U.S. and attended the ceremony. Champness raised funds for the memorial as a Bat Mitzvah project. The memorial was originally suggested by then U.S. House of Representatives Member Gary Ackerman.
Commission Memorial to First Female Rabbi Dedicated
Commission Member Gary P. Zola and Chair Lesley Weiss at the Terezin Memorial in
the Czech Republic in front of a plaque memorializing the first woman to become a rabbi.
The Commission sponsored the plaque recalling Rabbi Regina Jonas of Germany, who
was imprisoned at the Nazi's Thereisenstadt concentration camp before being sent to her
death at Auschwitz. The plaque was dedicated in a ceremony July 24th in which the
women who were the first ordinees of their denominations as well as the first Orthodox
woman to be ordained "Rabba" participated. Representatives of the Terezin Memorial
and the Jewish Women's Archive also spoke. Dr. Zola initiated the plaque project.
Funding was donated by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Memorial to Jews of Bardejov, Slovakia Killed in Holocaust Dedicated
Bardejov, Slovak Republic Mayor Boris Hanuscak shakes hands with Commission Chair
Lesley Weiss and Member Emil Fish at the dedication June 24th of a major memorial to
the 3,262 Jews of the city and the surrounding area murdered in the Holocaust. The three
(and another dedication program participant) are standing in front of the memorial's walls
naming the victims. Fish built the memorial with the encouragement and support of the
Commission through the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee that he founded and
heads. He is a native of the city who was imprisoned at the Nazi's Bergen-Belsen
concentration camp before emigrating to the United States.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) presented Chairwoman Weiss with the Jewish Heritage
Celebration's Jewish Heritage Appreciation Award at the U.S. Capitol May 7th. House
of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Senator Bill
Nelson (D-FL), and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined Cardin in praising
the Chairwoman's work.
Commission Chair Lesley Weiss (right) and Member Jules Fleischer (left) with U.S.
Ambassador to Sweden Mark Brzezinski July 9th before the posthumous award of the
Congressional Gold Medal to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg for saving tens of
thousands of Hungarians who were Jewish during the Holocaust.