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GAIL ASPER's SPEECH INTRODUCING MOE LEVY ON HIS RECEIVING THE SCOPUS AWARD FROM HEBREW UNIVERSITY

June 26, 2014

Ladies and gentleman – thank you so much for joining us tonight for this spectacular evening celebrating the remarkable Moe Levy.  My brothers, David, Leonard, and I are absolutely delighted that Moe is receiving this wonderful recognition tonight and I can’t think of a more deserving individual.

 

We’ve been working together with Moe now for 14 years and I really do believe, although I’m not terribly religious, that Moe was heaven-sent.  Just as Mary Poppins was to the Banks family, so Moe Levy was to the Aspers. 

 

I’ve never met someone who is more hardworking or effective and unpretentious as Moe.  He can literally go from ordering the stationary and setting up a new office to meeting with a Canadian or Israeli Prime Minister all in one day.  Fortunately, he’s also got an outstanding sense of humour and adores Monty Python as much as we do.  No matter how tough things get, Moe can have our whole team laughing, usually at his ridiculous socks, which are audaciously psychedelic. 

 

Under Moe’s leadership, dad’s vision for a national student program on the Holocaust and human rights took its initial shape and is still going strong 15 years later with over 12,000 participants to date.  The Asper Research Institute at the St. Boniface Hospital got started, top notch jazz programs were developed in economically challenged places were created from scratch – all with Moe leading the charge.  Moe routinely does in a week what it takes lesser mortals 6 months to do.

 

Moe also gives generously of his time to all people who need advice.  No matter how busy he gets, his door is always open and he never seems to be grumpy, henpecked or overwhelmed!  Where do you hide the valium?? 

 

Last year, when we were in Israel for the Hebrew U Board of Governors’ meetings at the King David Hotel, Moe, as always, greeted all the staff by name.  When I asked if he was attending one of the Hebrew U dinners, he said no – he had another obligation.  Turns out, the long serving maitre d’ of the King David’s dining room had invited Moe for dinner. 

 

This older, very proper Arab gentleman and Moe had been talking for years and he’d asked Moe for advice about his kids who were going in a bad direction.  Whatever Moe has advised seemed to work because the kids were now all incredibly successful and the maitre d’ invited Moe to go and meet them.  So – off Moe went to the centre of Arab-populated East Jerusalem where he had an absolutely marvelous time.  Moe just connects with people in a way that is totally unique and genuine.

 

Moe has outstanding judgment and diplomatic skills.  I admit I have drafted letters in anger and have occasionally remembered to vet them with Moe.  One letter came back from Moe with a comment: “Dear Gail, this letter looks fine.  I would just take out everything after ‘Dear Prime Minister’”. 

 

And speaking of Prime Ministers – while the Museum will be Prime Minister Harper’s greatest legacy, there’s no question that so far, it will also be Moe’s.  For 8 years, Moe spearheaded The Asper Foundation’s thorough due diligence and developed our business plan, he got land secured for free at the Forks, which was owned by three levels of government, he convinced those three levels of government to contribute unprecedented amounts of money to create the first national museum in 45 years and the first one ever established outside of Ottawa.

 

Moe brought together Canada’s leading human rights experts to hammer out the exhibit plan and then hired the best museum planners in the world to develop those exhibits.  When dad died so tragically and suddenly in 2003, Moe, despite his grief, didn’t miss a beat and 2 weeks after dad died, he dragged my mom and me to a ceremony he organized at The Forks where he launched Canada’s largest international architectural competition with a world renowned jury he selected to pick the most spectacular museum design possible, in which we are now congregating. 

 

He created the Friends of the Museum and oversaw the team that has raised $124 million to date and he ensured that the controversial bill creating the Museum was passed with unprecedented unanimous consent in the most fractious years of Parliament in recent history. 

 

And he did all this while initiating all the countless programs we’ve heard about.  You really are Super Moe!  And if anyone is headhunting out there – NO you CAN’T have him!  He’s very busy working on the next big things for The Asper Foundation.

 

And – through all this Moe has also been committed 100% to his wonderful wife, Barbara, and 3 fabulous kids – Adam, Sam and Sarah.  We thank you guys for sharing Moe with us.

 

Moe – thank you for working tirelessly to improve this world and leave it a better place than the way you found it!  On behalf of David, Leonard and myself, congratulations on receiving this Scopus Award.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Moe Levy. 

 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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