Oftentimes a funny story can make a penetrating point. Mark Sofer said that when he was Israel’s ambassador to India he attended a performance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The program included Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, commonly known as the Unfinished Symphony.
He noticed that in the first movement there were 20 violinists playing. “Only 10 would do,” he concluded. “If Schubert had taken seriously what I’m saying, he would have finished the symphony.”
Sofer, appointed president of the Jerusalem Foundation in October, commended his guests at a dinner last month at Sotheby’s in New York: “You’ve built up Jerusalem, but it is still an unfinished symphony. We must strengthen the city as a metropolis for everyone—and not let the extremists take over.”
James Snyder, who once went to an Ulpan to learn Hebrew, said when he met legendary Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek he proudly engaged in conversation to exercise his newly acquired Ivrit.
“Oh for God’s sake,” Teddy sighed, “speak English or I‘ll die before you finish a sentence.”
Snyder is doing quite well these days with his Ivrit. After serving as deputy director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, he’s been director of the Israel Museum since 1996.
The dinner, which celebrated the late Teddy’s 100th year of his birth, benefited the Jerusalem Season of Culture, which will hold its second annual showcase in July featuring its flourishing arts scene.
Event chairman Alan Hassenfeld presented Builders of Jerusalem Awards to his mother, Sylvia Hassenfeld, who helped raise $100 million to renovate the Israel Museum, and to James Snyder. Among the appreciative guests were Charles Bronfman, Uzi Zucker, Jeffrey Solomon, Burton Resnick, Sanford Batkin, Rosalind Devon, Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni, Lynn Schusterman and Barry Cohen.