April 16, 2010
Chancellor Merkel, Heidi Klum, Seal and the Holocaust
It was a moment that spoke volumes.
On Wednesday, April 14, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hosted a luncheon for German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Getty Museum. The agenda of the event was no more than a eet and greet, a chance for the Chancellor, whom Forbes named as the world’s most powerful women, to interact with leaders of the entertainment community, promiment LA-based Germans, officials and benefactors.
The guests gathered for the noon luncheon right on time, mindful of the vaunted German punctuality. Among those in attendance: producers Arthur Cohn and Sid Ganis, businessman and philanthropists Haim and Cheryl Saban, Stewart Resnick and Eli Broad, CAA agent Chris Andrews, entrepreneur Jay Penske, film critic Kevin Thomas, attorney E. Randol Schoenberg, Fox studio’s Jim Gianopolous and German Consul General Wolfgang Drautz.
It was an hour before the Chancellor herself arrived. She swept in wearing a bright orange-red dress, setting off her ginger hair and deep blue eyes. The chancellor moved through the rather chaotic press of guests, stopping to chat for a moment with each one.
When I pushed myself into the throng to introduce myself, I happened to be carrying that week’s Jewish Journal, which I had brought to give to a friend there. The chancellor took it from my hand—she assumed it was a gift for her. She looked down and unfolded it to see the gates of Auschwitz and the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” on the cover.
“It’s our Yom HaShoah issue,” I explained. I immediately doubted she knew the Hebrew, so I fumbled a quick translation. “It’s Holocaust Week.”
She looked up at me quizzically—a whole week?
(I know, Yom HaShoah means Holocaust Day, but… we’;re a weekly… never mind.)
Still, how remarkable: a chancellor that has no equal in Europe in reaching out to Israel and on behalf of Israel, 70 years after her father’s generation tried to kill every last Jew, and almost succeeded, now outspoken in recognizing Germany’s great crime, and in repairing relations with the Jews… an she was holding The Jewish Journal.
For a moment: then she passed it to an aid, and asked me questions about the Jewish community in LA. The mayor, who guided her, jumped in with answers—few politicians know more Jews than him.
After a bit, the singer Seal and his model wife Heidi Klum appeared, and sucked every bit of energy into a vortex of beauty and charisma.
At lunch (delicious, by the way), the mayor toasted the chancellor and the chancellor toasted the mayor and LA. Then it was on to Warner Bros., where a different kind of magic gets made.
A full report on her itinerary comes from the German consular web site:
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