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Amal and George Clooney Honored at Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance 2020 Gala

Erin is the Digital Content Manager at the Jewish Journal. She also covers Jewish art, entertainment and culture.

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Erin Ben-Moche
Erin is the Digital Content Manager at the Jewish Journal. She also covers Jewish art, entertainment and culture.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance honored Amal and George Clooney with the 2020 Humanitarian Award at its virtual gala on Oct. 28. 

Hosted by film producer and Wiesenthal Center board of trustees member Jeffrey Katzenberg and Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the 40th anniversary event honored the couple for their service to humanitarian causes worldwide.

Jeffrey Katzenberg

Clooney recently narrated the Wiesenthal Center’s latest documentary from its Oscar-winning Moriah Films’ division, “Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres.” The film, acquired by Netflix, is set to stream later this year.

“Amal and George Clooney have shown the world what it means to make a difference,” Katzenberg said. “For them, fame and celebrity are not means to themselves but means to giving voice to the voiceless.”

The couple established the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which focuses on holding accountable those responsible for human rights abuses around the world. The couple also has fought to end global poverty and supported organizations including Feeding America, World Food Programme, UNICEF, March for Our Lives and the Southern Poverty Law Center, among others.  

George accepted the award on behalf of himself and his wife, noting the importance of the word tolerance when it comes to the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance.

“I think that’s right, that word. Tolerance,” he said. “That is the most important word. Then I think about Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia, Myanmar, Darfur and South Sudan, Yazidis. We’ve said time and time again ‘Never again,’ and we mean it. But the truth is we’re not very good at it. We fail more often than we succeed, and that’s part of the problem…Doesn’t mean we don’t try. But if we remember the word tolerance, that’s the key. Tolerance for all races. Tolerance for all religions. That’s what matters. So, I thank you very much for this.” 

Hier spoke about the center’s years-in-the-making relationship with leaders in the UAE, Bahrain and other Gulf and Arab countries. He also discussed his trip to the Vatican Jan. 20 to meet Pope Francis to address anti-Semitism and hate that continues around the world.

Rabbi Marvin Hier

Medals of Valor were also presented to Dame Louise Ellman, the late Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, Francesco Lotoro and Grazia Tiritiello, for their work fighting anti-Semitism and promoting Holocaust education around the world.

Ellman was awarded for her decades-long commitment to fighting anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom. Rodriguez’ wife and daughter accepted the award on his behalf. Rodriguez was shot and killed while trying to protect others from anti-Semitic domestic terrorists who stormed a Jersey City kosher supermarket in December 2019, where he was the grocery clerk.

Lortoro and Tiritiello are husband and wife musicologists from Italy who received medals for collecting, preserving and performing the music of Jewish musicians who were in captivity during the Holocaust.

“Just as it is important to point out the haters and bigots, so it is important to record and honor the good deeds of exemplary individuals who honor mankind,” Hier said, quoting the late Wiesenthal. “That is why each year at our tribute dinner, we present medals of valor to those individuals whose courage and bravery shine a light in the darkest of places.”

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