In a two-day conference organized by Israel Bonds’ Women’s Division Prime Minister’s Circle, over 100 women from around the U.S. and Canada gathered in New York to attend an enlightening and informative discussion between renowned civil liberties lawyer and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz and high-profile criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman, in addition to a fashion show and briefing with famous Israeli designer Elie Tahari and caught a viewing of the Broadway play, The Prom
. The long-awaited keystone engagement with Dershowitz and Brafman held at the Harmonie Club in New York marked the final event in Bonds’ Women’s Division’s Prime Minister’s Circle program as well as for Women’s Division for 2018, and culminated with Dershowitz affirming the importance of continued investments in Israel bonds and support of the Bonds organization.
Beginning with an uplifting performance of Broadway production, The Prom
, members of the Prime Minister’s Circle and several family members and friends were entertained as the story of four Broadway stars who depart the big city to stand up for LGBT equality in small town America unfolded, bringing about outpours of laughter and drama amongst the crowd. Starring Tony Award nominee Brooks Ashmanskas, Tony Award winner Beth Leavel and two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber, the musical inspired positivity and infused comedic joy as the group observed in amazement. Following the matinee at Longacre Theatre, Broadway producer and friend of the Bonds organization Seth Goldstein provided an overview of the plot and creative vision for The Prom
, which led to an exclusive panel dialogue with the cast on stage explaining their characters’ roles and evolutions. After the presentation, the Prime Minister’s Circle women and their guests made their way to Abigael’s restaurant for dinner and conversation.
Women’s Division Prime Minister’s Circle members and their guests join producer
Seth Goldstein on stage at Longacre Theatre (Photo: Laura Kramer)
The next day featured an intimate meeting and runway show with globally-lauded fashion designer and entrepreneur Elie Tahari in his Fifth Avenue showroom perched above Manhattan’s Bryant Park. Prime Minister’s Circle women gathered and mingled, with passed hors d’oeuvres and gift bags provided to them as they entered the private venue.
Upon occupying their front and center seats, the women watched as four models showcased 14 separate looks accentuating Tahari’s current pre-winter collection. Jewel-toned fabrics in various textures and embellishments prompted expressions of admiration from the crowd.
A model walks the runway at designer Elie Tahari’s showroom on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan
exclusively for the women of Israel Bonds’ Women’s Division Prime Minister’s Circle
(Photo: Shahar Azran)
Following the lively mosaic of designs, Tahari took to the stage and shared his perspective on the evolution of women’s apparel, as well as his personal memoir of emigrating from Iran to Israel as a child and then to the U.S. in 1971 with less than $100 in his pocket. Growing up in an orphanage in Rishon Lezion, Tahari made his way to Manhattan and worked as an electrician at a clothing boutique in the Garment District. Taking interest in apparel, he began designing his own clothing line after popularizing the iconic tube top in 1973, and launched his signature Tahari label in 1974, opening a boutique on Madison Avenue at the young age of 22.
Chairman, founder and designer of Elie Tahari, Ltd., now a multinational brand, Tahari reflected on what it means to be an Israeli and how Israel bonds are a cornerstone of the Jewish homeland’s success, exclaiming, “I’m proud to be an Israeli, I visit every year. Israel is my home and always will be.” He conveyed his gratitude to the women for coming and for supporting the Bonds organization, stating “Israel wouldn’t be what it is today without you.”
Prime Minister’s Circle women join Elie Tahari in a group photo
(Photo: Shahar Azran)
After a delectable lunch in the showroom, the women indulged in shopping at Tahari’s Fifth Avenue boutique and spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the sights of Manhattan.
The last segment of the Prime Minister’s Circle program prompted months of anticipation, as keynote speaker, civil rights attorney and prominent defender of the Jewish state Alan Dershowitz was scheduled to address the women and their guests, and would be interviewed by famed criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman. In an unfortunate circumstance, Dershowitz suffered the loss of his mother-in-law, yet remained committed to the Bonds establishment and held the seminar via videoconference.
The evening opened with a cocktail reception followed by remarks from Michelle Klahr, Women’s Division director, who expressed sympathy to Dershowitz and his family, and thanked him for remaining committed to the talk given such personal parameters. As Jews around the world learned of the recent Gaza attack on Israel and the death of an IDF soldier during operational activity in the Gaza Strip, Klahr turned the microphone over to Brafman, who led the group in prayer.
Klahr then introduced Bonds President & CEO, Israel Maimon, who himself served in the IDF’s elite Golani Brigade and worked as government secretary for two prime ministers, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. Maimon emphasized the significance of the dangers facing the Jewish nation, as well as the tragedies encountered by American Jews amidst the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, noting, “We shall rise above, and turn darkness into light.”
Bonds Vice President for Sales Stuart Garawitz addressed the assembly, praising them for their ongoing support of Women’s Division and strengthening the Jewish state by investing in Israel bonds, while Cathy Distelburger, Prime Minister’s Circle chair, subsequently expressed condolences to Dershowitz and expounded on his professional background as well as Brafman’s.
Brafman, principal of Brafman & Associates, P.C. in Manhattan and a fierce public advocate on behalf of the State of Israel and the greater Jewish Community, began by offering compassion to Dershowitz and appreciation for the Bonds organization, then progressed with his initial explorative into the upbringing of Dershowitz which influenced his dedication to human rights, civil liberties, Israel and Jewish values. Growing up in Brooklyn, in a Zionist, modern Orthodox family, Dershowitz studied at Yeshiva Elementary and Yeshiva University High School, and learned to argue persuasively through his environment as well as through his academia, pursuing a degree in Political Science at Brooklyn College and then a law degree from Yale Law School. He also recalled his family’s support of Israel Bonds early in his childhood and remains committed to Bonds mission.
Responding to Brafman’s next inquiry as to how being Jewish and a Sabbath observer impacted his ability to find work, Dershowitz explained many firms would not hire him, yet he determinedly secured a position at Harvard Law School, where in 1967 at the age of 28 became the youngest full professor of law in its history and spent much of his career there until retiring in 2013. Now a regular CNN
and Fox News
contributor and political and legal analyst, Dershowitz explicated the need to make the case for Israel and stand up against anti-Semitism and the BDS movement, stating, “No country has done more for humanity in 70 years than Israel,” while underscoring the unfortunate hostility being directed at one of the most progressive nations in the world.
In consideration of the recent violent acts against Jews and Israel domestically and abroad, Dershowitz stressed the essentiality of heightened security to be a vital component in the safety of the Jewish people against such brutal attacks. He explained physical action should only be approached as a last recourse, and Israel and the United States will act as needed through direction of government officials to defend themselves and their citizens.
An avowed supporter of the Democratic Party, Dershowitz acknowledged the criticism he has received in siding in several cases for the opposing constituency, yet believes that the topic of standing for Israel must be a bi-partisan issue and dual-party advocacy is imperative for the Jewish nation’s prosperity. He is hopeful that individuals will recognize the achievements of Israel in regards to the progressiveness of liberal freedoms, with inclusion and tolerance at the forefront of its objectives.
In concluding the 45-minute session, Brafman drew attention to the purpose of the evening’s appeal, and proceeded to ask Dershowitz his thoughts on investments in Israel bonds. Dershowitz emphatically stated, “I invest in Israel bonds, a lot of my retirement is in Israel bonds and they’re a great deal. It makes me feel so good to know that I’m helping Israel at the same time that I’m securing the future of my family.” He opined, “I’m going to continue to invest in Israel bonds in good times and in bad times, and the best vehicle to support Israel is through Israel bonds.”
The crowd emerged with applause and expressed appreciation to Dershowitz for his time, especially given his personal circumstance, while also evoking the same sentiment to Brafman.
Laura Orzy, chair of Israel Bonds’ Women’s Division, culminated the night by conveying sympathy to Dershowitz and thanked both gentlemen for their efforts and their devotion to the Women’s Division and to the Bonds movement. Orzy correspondingly shared her praise for all who attended to support the Women’s Division and the Bonds organization, explaining that their unwavering dedication to investing in Israel bonds is essential to the vitality of the Jewish state, and without their commitment Israel would not have the means to prosper and flourish.
From left to right: Director of Israel Bonds’ Women’s Division Michelle Klahr,
Bonds President & CEO Israel Maimon, Women’s Division chair Laura Orzy,
Principal of Brafman & Associates, P.C. and guest speaker, Benjamin Brafman,
Women’s Division Prime Minister’s Circle chair Cathy Distelburger and
Bonds Vice President for Sales Stuart Garawitz gather at Harmonie Club in New York
at the Prime Minister’s Circle keynote event (Photo: Shahar Azran)