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Murray Palay, CFHU National Chair

Albert Einstein

Einstein Legacy Project Is Launched In Winnipeg-An Initiative of the Hebrew University

by Rhonda Spivak, November 20, 2016

The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem just hosted the Winnipeg launch of a very exciting global initiative known as the Einstein Legacy Project and the establishment of the Albert Einstein Foundation.


Murray Palay, Chair of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University explained the background to this initiative: "Albert Einstein was one of the founders of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one of its first lecturers. Einstein, who was named by Time Magazine as person of the century, left Germany as the Nazis rose to power and lived in the United States, teaching at Princeton University. When Einstein died in 1955, he left his estate to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem comprising some 80,000 documents, including the original manuscript to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. A lot of people don't realize that Einstein chose to leave his estate to the Hebrew University."


Palay added, the practical implications of Einstein's theory of relativity are profound. "For example, the GPS in your car is based on his theory of relativity." Einstein's archive at the Hebrew University has already been digitalized and a book has been published containing the archived material.


Palay explained how the project first took shape. Ido Aharoni, Israel's ambassador to New York, came to realize that to associate Israel with leading scientific innovation and education, as opposed to associating it with political conflict and tensions opened many more doors. Aharoni experienced that the name Einstein, which represents science and innovation, reduced barriers when talking about Israel. He began asking, “why isn't something more done about Einstein?". Aharoni contacted Rami Kleinmann, CEO of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University to discuss this opportunity. Rami immediately saw the potential of this unique opportunity. In December 2014, Ambassador Aharoni invited several guests including Kleinmann, Palay and others to his home in New York to brainstorm about raising the profile of Einstein. The Einstein Legacy Project grew out of this focus group. Leading philanthropist Judy Tannenbaum from Toronto is Co-Chair of the Einstein Legacy Project, along with Jeffrey Martin, former Apple Executive and CEO of Tribal Planet. Martin was in Winnipeg to speak at the launch of the project earlier this month at Teo's and Mano A Mano Restaurant on Corydon.


There are four components of the Einstein Legacy Project (ELP) which are as follows: 1. The Einstein Archive and Visitor Centre on Hebrew U's Edmund J. Safra (Givat Ram) Campus in Jerusalem 2. A 3D Printed Book, "Genius: 100 Visions Of The Future" 3. Dinner of the Century at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington 4. The STEM Summit in Washington. Palay outlined each of these four components of the ELP (which will be explained below) and indicated that donors who donate $100,000 become founders of the Albert Einstein Foundation. The first 85 founders receive a copy of the 3D printed book as well as six (6) tickets to the Dinner of the Century.

1. The Einstein Archive and Visitor Centre.

As Palay laid out, the first aspect of the ELP is to build an "interactive" Einstein Archive and Visitor Centre in Jerusalem on the Hebrew University's Edmund J. Safra (Givat Ram) Campus, which "will be near the Israel Museum." As the website of the Albert Einstein Foundation states, "It will be the first and only institution to celebrate the life, history and vision of Albert Einstein. Built around the unique collection of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where Einstein bequeathed his entire personal archive, the archive will be a global attraction dedicated to science and humanitarian ideals."

There will be a Founder's Wall at the Visitor's Centre.

When asked how much the building of the Visitor Centre could cost, Palay told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that" to re-fit and re-purpose an already existing building will cost $ 5 million (US) , but if we build a new building for the visitor centre it will cost several times that."

The objective is to start modestly and expand the facility as required.

2. Genius: 100 Visions Of The Future

 Palay indicated this will be the world's first 3D printed book in which 100 of the world’s greatest thinkers in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Literature, The Arts, Entrepreneurship and more share their visions for the future. Palay is one of six people who are sitting on a special international committee to approve the final 100 visionaries, "who will write approximately 200 words each as to what the future will be" in this "limited edition" once in a century publication.

Palay mentioned that the candidates approved and who consented to date include four Nobel Laureates: Sir Harold Kroto (Chemistry), Dr. Stephen Chu (Physics), Roger Kornberg (Chemistry), Danny Schechtman (Chemistry), and other visionaries include: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, Guy Laliberte (Canadian entrepreneur and co- founder of Cirque du Soleil), Ruth Baader Ginsburg (Assoc Chief Judge of the US Supreme Court), American singer-songwriter John Bon Jovi, Bob Weir, (founder of Grateful Dead), and jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis. To see others who will be in the book go to:


"We are hoping to have the book completed within the next year”, Palay said.

3. Dinner of the Century

 This will be an unforgettable dinner on September 9, 2017 at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C which will be the official launch of the Albert Einstein Foundation. "The dinner is being hosted to recognize the founders of the Albert Einstein Foundation. A donor of $100,000 will become a founder of the Albert Einstein Foundation and will be listed at the founder's wall at the visitor centre and the first 85 donors will get a copy of the Genius 100 3D book and six (6) tickets to the Dinner.

Palay explained that globally the Albert Einstein Foundation is looking to ultimately enlist 1000 donors of $100,000 each but only the first 85 will get a table at the dinner and a copy of the Book. He also noted that some people are joining together to become a donor of $100,000 and share a table at the event.

4. Stem Summit

The Hebrew University and The Smithsonian Institution signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2016 and have agreed to co-host a global STEM summit on September 10, 2017 in Washington, DC (which is a day after the Dinner of the Century). STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The summit will serve as an opportunity to showcase the incredible innovation and scientific work of both institutions and allow the general public to hear from some of the leading minds and innovators on the planet, including distinguished visionaries nominated to the Genius: 100 Visions of the Future book. The Summit will also help promote STEM to a younger generation and inspire young people to realize the many exciting opportunities available to them in STEM related fields. The STEM Summit will play out in front of the hundreds in attendance, and be celebrated by the many participants via all media available. "

This promises to be a unique opportunity for two world-class institutions to share ideas and build partnerships," Palay says. It will be a way to celebrate human excellence, curiosity, and imagination in the spirit of Albert Einstein.

Palay added that along with the Stem Summit there are affiliated initiatives such as the next Einstein Competition and an IMAX 3D film about Einstein.

Palay explained that although the Einstein Legacy Project is being led by the American Friends and Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, it is truly a global project that all of all the friends of Hebrew University, including the European Friends and the Australian Friends and South American Friends are involved in.

"This is the first time that we have all come together for one project, which has given it incredible synergy."

Note that 2016 is just over 100 years after Einstein developed his theory of relativity! To learn more about the Einstein Legacy Project and the Albert Einstein Foundation go to :


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.