Mona Golabek, the keynote presenter for the Oct. 5 Lion of Judah Luncheon at the Arts Condominium Ballroom in Philadelphia, was profoundly influenced by what her maternal grandmother said to her daughter — Lisa Jura, Golabek's mother — as she placed her on board a Kindertransport train to London at the outset of World War II. The move from her Vienna homeland derailed the 14-year-old music prodigy's dreams of becoming a concert pianist.
Golabek's grandmother tried to reassure the young teen that Hitler could not destroy her ultimate destiny as a musician. " 'Hold on to your music. It will be your best friend,' were the words she uttered," Golabek recalled.
This grandmother's story was the inspiration for the nonprofit organization Hold On To Your Music, which Golabek founded and currently serves as president. "The organization strives to expand awareness and understanding of the ethical implications of world events such as the Holocaust, and the power of the arts, especially music, to embolden the human spirit in the face of adversity," Golabek explained, adding that she established the organization in 2003 to share the story of her mother and other Kindertransport survivors.
Golabek's book, The Children of Willesden Lane, captures this story in print. Her organization disseminates both the book and accompanying educational materials to students and teachers in schools across the United States.
As an internationally acclaimed concert pianist, Golabek is following in her mother's footsteps, a career path that has been recognized with such prestigious honors as the Avery Fisher Prize and the People's Award of the International Chopin Competition.
A Grammy nominee, Golabek has appeared in concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Royal Festival Hall and with major orchestras and conductors worldwide. She has been the subject of several PBS television documentaries, including "More Than the Music," and is the creator and voice of "The Romantic Hours" radio program, which combines classical music with readings of poetry, letters and stories, and has been syndicated on the WFMT Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio.
"Mona Golabek is going to be a wonderful keynote speaker who will present many different ways for current Lion of Judah members and their guests to connect with their own Jewish identity," said Robin Zappin, campaign co-chair for Federation's Women's Philanthropy affinity.
Zappin explained that "Mona has an ability to reach women through her words, stories and musical lyrics. She will share stories of despair, hope, triumph and tzedakah through a Jewish perspective … stories and music that each one of us will be able to relate to."
Sara Minkoff, Woman's Philanthropy president, shared Zappin's enthusiasm for the selection of Golabek as keynote presenter and credits the efforts of luncheon Co-Chairs Sheree Bloch, Rosalie Goldberg and Margie Wargon with choosing to bring her to Philadelphia for a program billed as "a concert and conversation."
" 'Hold On To Your Music,' featuring Mona Golabek, is a poignant and entertaining expression of the power of one's legacy. Each of us has a story to tell about our ancestors and the lessons we have learned from our personal history. Mona will entertain us while teaching us the lessons that were passed down to her of courage, inspiration and strength," Minkoff said, anticipating that "her performance and message will be both a tribute to her ancestors and a teaching moment for us."
Minkoff views the "bring a friend" program as an opportunity for Lions of Judah — women who make a minimum gift of $5,000 in their own name to the Federation annual campaign — to invite a friend, family member or business colleague who does not currently contribute to the campaign at this level to join them for an "enlightening afternoon."
She explains that "As Women's Philanthropy strives to broaden its outreach, this luncheon is the perfect venue for introducing a special person in our lives to the work of our Federation," said Minkoff," describing the event as "a room full of philanthropic women with an understanding for the impact and importance — an experience that is both inspiring and energizing."
Zappin sees the Oct. 5 luncheon as "an opportunity for women to have an insiders' view of the power, passion and beauty of Women's Philanthropy." She maintains that Golabek's program provides a forum for W.P. to "connect with new women in ways that interest them," adding that "as women, we often connect together through sharing our passion and emotions for what is important to us. This gives women a vehicle to connect with their Jewish identity, being a Jewish mother, daughter, sister, friend that has not been available in the past."
The event is sponsored by Blank Rome LLP.
The cost of the program is $75 per person. During the program, all guests will have an opportunity to make a commitment to the 2012 Jewish Community Fund.
For more information or to make a reservation, call Marni Davis, director, Women's Philanthropy, at 215-832-0859 or email [email protected]