Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, having completed its goal of videotaping the testimonies of 52,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses, is now directing its technology and know-how to document genocides in other countries.
In recent months, executive director Douglas Greenberg and senior staff met with officials and filmmakers from Rwanda, Cambodia and South Africa to lay the groundwork for collecting the testimonies of genocide and apartheid victims in those nations.
Eventually, the foundation's experts may return to Europe to document historical persecutions, and may also examine the massacres inflicted on Native Americans in the United States.
The new initiative was announced by Greenberg Monday evening during the Ambassadors for Humanity dinner of what is now formally the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.
Some 600 guests, including leading philanthropists, Hollywood personalities, Holocaust survivors, USC President Steven B. Sample and students attended the festive event at the California Science Center.
Philanthropist Wallis Annenberg was the evening's honoree, Jerry Seinfeld served as the witty host, and Don Henley provided the musical entertainment.
Seinfeld recounted his elation at scoring a dinner date with Spielberg, noting that "Being Jewish, and from Long Island, I was so excited I started to learn my haftarah [recited by b'nai mitzvah boys and girls] all over again."
Spielberg recalled that he started the Shoah Foundation after completing his Oscar-winning movie "Schindler's List" in 1993, explaining, "I realized that the personal testimony of the survivor held a truth I couldn't picture in my film."
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Halberstam Dies in Auto Accident
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam died Monday in a car crash in Menlo Park, Calif., near San Francisco. He was 73.
Halberstam was on his way to an interview with Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle for a book on the 1958 NFL championship game when the car in which he was a passenger was struck by another vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Halberstam, the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, attended Harvard before beginning work as a journalist in the South. His coverage of the civil rights movement earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1964. The New York Times sent Halberstam to Vietnam to cover the war, and he published "The Making of a Quagmire" and "The Best and Brightest" about the Kennedy administration. Halberstam also wrote about the media, the Korean War and major league baseball.
Halberstam's wife, Jean, told The Associated Press that she would remember him most for his "unending, bottomless generosity to young journalists. For someone who obviously was so competitive with himself, the generosity with other writers was incredible."
-- Jewish Telegraphic Agency
OU Essay Contest Offers Israel Trips
The Orthodox Union will be offering free trips to Israel every six weeks in order to strengthen its ties with Jewish-related businesses and other organizations for their mutual benefit. The trips will be sponsored by the Israeli airline Israir, the Renaissance Hotels and Nefesh B'Nefesh, the Aliyah aid organization.
The first Israel trip prize will go to the winner of an essay contest for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. Jerusalem Day is celebrated on the 28 of Iyar (May 16 this year), the anniversary of the day in the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israeli troops recaptured the parts of the city that had been under Arab control since 1948.
The OU's essay contest is open to people age 14 and above (winners under 18 must be accompanied to Israel by a parent or guardian), and the due date is May 13.
For more information on the contest, visit www.ou.org.
-- Amy Klein, Religion Editor