[VIDEO & PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]
The Following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Remarks as Delivered in Jerusalem, Israel Sunday Evening
“Good evening and happy holidays to all of you. I hope the New Year brings you great success and many blessings Minister Yishai, Mayor Barkat. It’s an honor to be here with you today and what I want for the year 5772 is the New York Yankees and New York Mets to do a little better than the 5771.
“Anyway, it is an honor to be here with you for the dedication of this beautiful new building – and for Marjorie and me, it’s a day that has been a long time in making.
“We both first became supporters of MDA in the late 1990s, thanks to Mark and Patti. And Diana Taylor has listened to me go on and on about how this building was being built- but not fast.
“Mark, for those of you that don’t know, really has been a long-time champion of the American Friends of MDA – and were it not for him, I don’t think that we would have known about this great organization, and certainly wouldn’t have gotten focused on it.
“One of the reasons that we were attracted to the MDA was its spirit of volunteerism and its commitment to treating all people, of all religions and nationalities, absolutely equally.
“And that commitment unites the men and women of this great organization into a true community of service.
“And today I join the MDA community, as does my sister, in mourning the tragic passing of a man who so completely embodied MDA’s values – and in expressing our sorrow to his loving family and many friends: MDA Carmel regional deputy director Meir Vanish.
“His more than 30 years of devotion to MDA’s life-saving mission represented the spirit of public service at its very best.
“And while he can never be replaced, he will always be remembered.
“All the men and women who, as he did, dedicate themselves to the MDA mission deserve to have the very best facilities.
“And now I’m happy to say thanks to so many people who supported this project, they do and Meir Vanish lives on in this wonderful building. The new training facility and blood donation center will help MDA staff and volunteers save lives. And it was designed not only with their needs in mind – but also with the needs of blood donors and the community. We wanted to create an experience that would be welcoming for everyone who comes here.
“And that’s why we’ve built a beautiful new visitors center, and an interactive exhibit about the history of MD, a 100-seat auditorium for programs and films, and an observation deck with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. It’s also why we’ve made public art an integral part of the facility – both on the outside plaza, and on the walls inside.
“And I did want to thank the designers for their vision in creating this facility, which will do so much to further MDA’s mission. And the Public Art Fund of New York City for its leadership in selecting and commissioning the magnificent art, with a special thanks to Susan Freedman, Richard Griggs, and Tom Eckles – as well as Nanette Smith of my team, for her invaluable support.
“Marjorie and I also want to especially thank the artists for contributing their work including Fronds West, for his magnificent new sculpture. Frederick Brenner, who so generously contributed his amazing photographs which I saw. Naomi Leshem, for her beautiful works – the two beautiful pictures you should see upstairs. And James Snyder and Savan Eran of the Israeli Museum, for their incredible partnership on this project.
“This is a great day for MDA and its supporters, a great day for the people of Jerusalem, and a very special day for Marjorie and me, and our entire family. I don’t think our father could ever have imagined that we would one day have the opportunity to travel to Israel – no less dedicate a major medical facility in his name.
“I don’t think he ever left the United States, or well he may have gone to Canada to see the waterfalls. Oh they went to Cuba? Did he really? First I heard. Always, my sister always tells me these new things. When did they go, to Cuba?
“Well he almost never left America. But he certainly didn’t think about flying overnight to Jerusalem to dedicate a building in his name, having a quick dinner, and then flying back to New York as I’m going to do. That much I’m sure of. And he certainly would not have imagined a major medical facility in his name.
“But for him, and for so many Jews of Margie and my parents’ generation, the birth of the State of Israel in 1948 represented the promise of the new world that he wanted for his children:
“A world where your last name would not be cause for discrimination, which he did experience, where his son and daughter would have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
“My father’s sense of justice went hand-in-hand with his quiet commitment to charity. He believed in giving back – in helping those most in need. When my sister and I would have dinner with my mother and father, charity was one of the things we talked about. He believed that one of the most important lessons that history can teach us is by your action- to live by your actions and not by words. And so there is really no better way, I think, to honor our father than by dedicating a center that will help those most in need here in a country that embodies his belief in the promise of a better world and equality for all.
“Four years ago, as Mark mentioned, Marjorie and I helped our mother lay the cornerstone for this facility. And today, our mother and father are united in peace and our family is united in gratitude for all that they gave us. And we are deeply honored that our father’s name will be associated with one of the world’s finest health care organizations.
“And we want to thank everyone who has been involved in this project – the architects and designers; the medical professionals and government leaders; the construction workers and funders; and all the leaders of the MDA here in Israel, and all your supporters back home in Israel. We will be eternally grateful.
“Thank you for this honor.”
Credits: Avraham Zuroff – Kuvien Images
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(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)