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Jewish-American Hall of Fame commended

On June 15 Gail Steele, supervisor of the Second District of Alameda County, Calif., presented a county commendation to Mel Wacks, founding director of the nonprofit Jewish-American Hall of Fame, to commemorate its 40th anniversary on June 15.

The commendation notes, “in its more than 30 years association [1969-2001], it raised $171,045 for the Magnes Museum.” In addition, “over 20,000 Jewish-American Hall of Fame medals have been acquired by individuals, synagogues and museums around the world … ambassadors of good will that will not decay or disappear with time.”

The document states that the Jewish-American Hall of Fame’s Web site,  www.amuseum.org/jahf, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually and that the organization has issued the longest series of art medals produced in the U.S.

The commendation concludes: “Therefore, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors … does commend the Jewish-American Hall of Fame for its forty years of promoting unique and accomplished Jewish Americans and sharing their life history with Alameda County residents, and express great appreciation to its founder and director, Mel Wacks, for making the County of Alameda a better place in which to live.”
The Magnes Museum is located in Berkeley, Calif., of Alameda County.

Wacks thanked Supervisor Steele and the Board of Supervisors by saying, “This was a wonderful day that I will always remember.” He also expressed his appreciation to Mark S. Weinberger, legislative affairs aide to Steele.

Seymour Fromer, founder and director Emeritus of the Magnes Museum, who is also singled out in the commendation for his enthusiastic mentoring of The Jewish-American Hall of Fame, attended the ceremony in the council chambers of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Following the presentation, Wacks and Fromer drove to the nearby residence of Victor Ries, who is in his 101st year, to share the honor with him.
The commendation describes how “the unique shape of Jewish-American Hall of Fame medals was created by long-time Berkeley resident Victor Ries, who designed the Judah L. Magnes and Touro Synagogue medals.”

Since 2001 The Jewish-American Hall of Fame has been a division of the American Jewish Historical Society. A special medal commemorating its 40th anniversary will be issued later this year. For more information, call (818) 225-1348 or e-mail directorjahf@yahoo.com.

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