On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Russell Simmons hosted a benefit for The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU)'s 28th Anniversary. The Foundation, led by Simmons (Chairman), President Rabbi Marc Schneier and Secretary of the Board Ken Sunshine, is a New York based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting racial harmony and strengthening inter-group relations. FFEU is the global address for the strengthening of Muslim-Jewish relations and the national address for the strengthening of Black-Jewish relations. At Wednesday's event, FFEU honored distinguished business and philanthropic leaders who support this mission.
Honorees: Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning show creator and media executive Ben Silverman (Propagate Content Co-Ceo) was the Guest of Honor and recipient of the Joseph Papp Racial Harmony Award. Emmy nominated producer Will Packer (Founder of Will Packer productions) was the recipient of the racial Harmony Award. Scooter Braun, entertainment industry’s iconic power broker and founder of SB Projects along with Comedian and Daily Show Senior Correspondent Hasan Minhaj, received the Children of Abraham Award. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, was the recipient of the Global Muslim-Jewish relations Award.
The Award Ceremony was fun and moving.
Ms. Bana Hilal, a community Muslim activist and humanitarian who was honored by FFEU in 2014 opened the program thanking FFEU for being at the forefront of the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry. “We have a compassionate meal, it’s Vegan, Kosher and Halal” said Russell Simmons greeting the honorees and the 150 distinguished attendees. He then introduced his lifelong partner and friend Rabbi Marc Schneier adding “FFEU’s work is a piece of my life for 28 years”. The Rabbi stressed the focus of the Foundation to stand up for the American Muslim and other communities who are scapegoated.
Each honoree gave heartfelt remarks. They pointed out how FFEU’s work was important in this time of divisiveness. Ben Silverman, whose family was deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement, noted “We as a community have to lead that outreach because we are not afraid to get punched in the face. People say no to us all day long”.
Will Packer concurred: "Right now it is very popular to be divisive. FFEU has dedicated its mission, its purpose to bringing people together. One thing that I would say, there is far more power in love and in loving each other and coming together”.
Hasan Minhaj stated that "for me as a Muslim American what has been really cool to see is a lot of people in the Jewish community, my Jewish brothers and sisters reaching out and say 'hey we see this persecution is happening to you guys and we want to extend our hands to help you because civil liberties is an all or nothing game'.
Scooter Braun shared a positive message with the distinguished attendees saying “I am firm believer that there is more love in this country than there is hate. The hate is loud and I want to remind you that things like Charlottesville, the reason why they were out there with the tiki torches, it’s because the statue was coming down. And the statues are coming down all over this country and change is happening”.
In his video message from his Doha office, Hassan Al Thawadi thanked FFEU and declared “I believe that today the work that you do is essential in a world where a divisive dialogue is at the forefront, where conflict seems to reign supreme. We need to recognize the humanity in each individual regardless of difference of ethnicity, religious belief, political ideology, whatever they may be”.
Closing out the program was FFEU's dynamic and youngest Trustee Jason Kampf, who thanked all of the supporters for their generosity and time and then switched the event into party mode!
WHO: Usher, Charles Oakley, Norman Lear, Jamie Camil, Affion Crockett, Consul General of Azerbaijan Nasimi Aghayev, Oneal McKnight, Hasan Piker, Mike Manning.
Event sponsors: Ory Capital Partners, Ben Silverman, Azoff Msg Entertainment, NBC Universal, CBS Studios, Norman Lear, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Peter Lowy, Sir Lucian Grainge, Mohannad Malas, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Maurice Marciano, HBO, Michael Meldman, Bana Hilal, Propagate Content, Hulu, Jordan Schur, Jimmy Iovine, Unifund CCR, Eisner Jaffe, A Professional Corp., Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg, Keith Barish, Jason Kampf, Celsius, Guy Oseary, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Ken Sunshine, Adam Fogelson, United Talent Agency, Julie Greenwald, Youtube, Green Hasson Janks, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, 21st Century Fox, Quincy Jones, Clarence Avant, Hassan Minhaj, Barbara Cane, Alan & Susan Patricoff, Ryan Egypt, Twitter, Eduardo Elsztain, Barry Weiss, David Glasser, Daphna Ziman, Jason Flom, LL Cool J, Lionsgate Entertainment, Greg Meidel, Patti Kim, Ron Meyer, Stan Lathan, Paramount Pictures, Josh Luber, Peta, Todd Lubin, Gillian Sandler.