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The Museum at 30. Unleashing the Power of Truth Beyond Our Walls.

30th Anniversary Northeast Tribute Dinner

Honoring Richard Born and Rita Born Distenfeld

Thanks to supporters like you, the Museum has accomplished so much in the 30 years since we opened our doors. But we can’t be complacent. Just as we are losing the eyewitnesses, antisemitism is rising and conspiracy theories and misuse of the Holocaust are taking hold. We must respond by ensuring the truth and relevance of the Holocaust for new generations—far beyond our walls.

Our 30th Anniversary Northeast Tribute Dinner will honor Richard Born and Rita Born Distenfeld—in memory of their parents, Esther and Robert Born, who were Holocaust survivors with a longstanding commitment to the Jewish community and to Holocaust remembrance.

Please join us as we mark 30 years of impact and discuss how the Museum is empowering new generations with the crucial lessons that Holocaust history can teach.

Tickets start at $1,200. Call 212.983.0825 or email for more information.

Dress code is cocktail attire. Dietary laws will be observed.

Featured Guests


  • Richard Born

    The son of Holocaust survivors Esther and Robert Born, Richard is a real estate developer, hotel owner, and philanthropist with a long-held commitment to Holocaust remembrance.

    Richard’s business ventures began in 1985, after deciding to step away from his burgeoning career as a surgeon in New York City. With several early real estate successes in hand, Richard founded BD Hotels, in partnership with Ira Drukier, and focused on developing a series of hotels in Midtown Manhattan. In 1996, Richard and his partners turned a landmark industrial building in SoHo into the renowned Mercer Hotel. From there, they went on to develop several other iconic boutique hotels in Manhattan—including The Maritime, The Bowery, The Greenwich, The Marlton, and The Ludlow hotels—as well as a chain of properties called The POD Hotels. Their most recent addition is the restored Chelsea Hotel. In 1980, Richard married Deborah Hammerman. Together, they have three children: Caroline (Zachary) Gleser, Jennifer (Benjamin) Gerut, and Max Born. They also have six grandchildren: Julia, Abigail, Beatrice, Noa, William, and Robert. Richard and Deborah serve as benefactors to numerous charitable organizations, including Colel Chabad, New York University, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the International Center of Photography, Yad Vashem, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the Ramaz School. Richard sits on the board of the Hotel Association of New York City and NYU Hillel and is the chairman of Colel Chabad. Richard’s involvement in Holocaust remembrance began early in life. From the age of five, he participated in the annual commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization, of which his father served as vice chairman. Likewise, his involvement in Yad Vashem and the Museum of Jewish Heritage stems from his parents’ dedication to both organizations. Photo: Richard Born. Michael Olsen

  • Rita Born Distenfeld

    Inspired by her parents, Holocaust survivors Esther and Robert Born, and their longtime support of the Jewish community and Holocaust remembrance, Rita has spent more than 40 years working as a philanthropist and volunteer fundraiser in New York City.

    Early in her philanthropic career, Rita lent her time, resources, and talents to supporting critical fundraising efforts at the Ramaz School, which her children attended, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She served as vice president of the school’s Parents Council and, for many years, as its Dinner and Auction Committee chair. During this time, she was also deeply involved in the Yeshiva University Women’s Organization, serving as co-chair of the annual auction. Today, Rita continues to perform countless acts of chesed in the community. She and her husband, Fred, have been active members and supporters of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (CKJ) since joining the shul in 1978. Over the years, she has served as a board member and social secretary of the CKJ sisterhood, spearheading major fundraising events, and her husband, Fred, has served as president of the synagogue. Rita and Fred are also major supporters of Friends of Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), an organization founded by her parents and other Holocaust survivors. Most recently, they co-chaired two highly successful Chairman’s Leadership Missions to Israel for FIDF. Rita and Fred are proud parents to Michael (Erica) Distenfeld and Claire (Michael) Olshan and enchanted grandparents to Lucy, Sophie, Joe, Maxwell, and Colette. Photo: Rita Born Distenfeld. Fred Marcus Photography


  • Dana Bash

    Anchor and Chief Political Correspondent, CNN Reported the network’s recent special, Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America

    Dana Bash is CNN’s chief political correspondent, anchor of Inside Politics with Dana Bash, and co-anchor of State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. The great-granddaughter of Holocaust victims and granddaughter of refugees from Nazi-dominated Europe, Dana has spoken and written widely on antisemitism and discrimination in America.

    Earlier this year, Dana reported from Auschwitz, the concentration camp and killing center in German-occupied Poland where the Nazis systematically murdered approximately one million Jews, including her maternal great-grandparents. Last year, Dana took an in-depth look at the increasingly mainstream presence of antisemitism in the digital age, as part of CNN’s special report Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America. She called the report, “one of the most important things I’ve ever done” and insists, “the way to combat antisemitism is to educate.” Based in Washington, DC, Bash also covers both campaigns and Congress and regularly serves as a moderator for CNN’s town hall specials. In 2021, Bash launched her CNN series Being…, which goes beyond her Sunday morning news-making interviews. The series features in-depth conversations with individuals affecting American policy, politics, and culture—giving viewers an understanding of the human being behind the public face. In 2017, Bash launched her digital CNN series Badass Women of Washington, highlighting women from a wide range of backgrounds and generations to show how they have shattered glass ceilings on their way up the ranks.

  • Sara J. Bloomfield

    Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    Sara J. Bloomfield has led the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for 25 years, working to build a global institution that raises Holocaust awareness, deepens understanding of the lessons of the Holocaust, confronts denial, and advances genocide prevention.

    She serves on the International Auschwitz Council and is a recipient of the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and five honorary doctorates. She joined the planning staff of the Museum in 1986 when it was a project in development and served in a variety of roles before becoming director in 1999. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Bloomfield holds a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in education from John Carroll University, and has studied business administration at the graduate level. Ms. Bloomfield is the 2021 recipient of the Roger E. Joseph Prize, which is awarded annually for exceptional work done in the field of human rights and Jewish survival. Photo: Sara J. Bloomfield. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Event Leadership

Tribute Dinner Board Chairs

Ira Drukier Rena Hoffman Gary Jacob§ Elisa and Alan Pines§

Regional Co-Chairs Andi and Tom Bernstein Debrah Lee Charatan Eva Cooper§ Laura Gurwin Flug Marcia and Alan Lazowski§ Howard M. Lorber§ Stacey and Marc Saiontz§ Betty Pantirer Schwartz and Howard Schwartz§ Susan and Jeffrey Stern Caryn and Howard Unger§ Diane and Howard Wohl

§denotes past tribute dinner honoree

Program Agenda

A Memorial Tribute To Our Honorees' Parents

Esther and Robert Born

Richard Born and Rita Born Distenfeld, honorees at the 30th Anniversary Northeast Tribute Dinner, grew up with the lessons of the Holocaust. Their parents, Esther and Robert Born, both experienced the German occupation of Poland and survived the Holocaust. Esther Born (née Wittlin), grew up in Żółkiew, Poland (present day Zhovkva, Ukraine), and survived the Holocaust with the help of local non-Jews. Esther and her mother hid with a Polish couple, but when a neighbor unexpectedly caught sight of them, they fled to the woods, where they met up with Esther’s father, Abraham, and older brother, Harry. At one point, several locals came upon the family in the woods, threatened them, and planned to turn them in, but the family escaped. They remained in hiding until the Soviets liberated them. Then, in 1949, the family immigrated to the United States with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Robert Born was born in Warsaw, Poland, the son of a wealthy businessman. After the Nazis invaded Poland in the fall of 1939, German authorities forced the family to give up their business and home and move into the Warsaw ghetto. Authorities then sent Robert, after surviving the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, to a series of concentration camps, including Lublin/Majdanek, Buchenwald, and Mauthausen. After liberation, Robert learned that his sister Regina had survived, but the rest of the family had been murdered at the Treblinka killing center. Robert immigrated to the United States in 1951 and began investing in real estate. Esther and Robert met in New York at a Purim ball in 1952. Later, on March 14, 1954, they married. Their children, Richard and Rita, donated their mother’s diary, as well as a number of other mementos of their parents’ wartime experiences to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for safekeeping in its state-of-the-art conservation center. You can view the Born family’s artifacts and learn more about their story in our online collections search. Our Collection of Holocaust Evidence The Museum’s David M. Rubenstein National Institute for Holocaust Documentation houses an unparalleled repository of Holocaust evidence that documents the fate of victims, survivors, rescuers, liberators, and others. Learn more here. Today, the Museum faces a race against time to rescue evidence like Esther’s diary. Artifacts documenting the truth of the Holocaust are at risk of being lost forever if they are not preserved and protected. You can help us share this history by contributing to the Museum’s unparalleled collection of evidence. Contact a curator at 202.488.2649 or, or fill out our online form. Photo: Esther and Robert Born on their wedding day, March 14, 1954. Courtesy of Richard Born and Rita Born Distenfeld

Event Sponsors


Gifts of $100,000 or more Madelyn Bucksbaum Adamson and Allen Adamson Debbie and Richard Born Rita and Fred Distenfeld Laura Gurwin Flug Leslie and Roslyn Goldstein Foundation Marsha and Henry Laufer Howard M. Lorber Jane and Daniel Och Madaleine and Arnold* Penner Shari Redstone The Howard Unger Family


Gifts of $50,000–$99,999 Max Born/Caroline and Zachary Gleser/Jennifer and Benjamin Gerut Gale and Ira Drukier Katherine Farley and Jerry Speyer The Feil Family Victoria and Lloyd Goldman Cathy and Gary Jacob Paula and David Menche Stacey and Marc Saiontz The Sidley Austin Foundation


Gifts of $30,000–$49,999 Gerald Barad/Shimmie Horn Stefany and Simon Bergson Andi and Tom Bernstein Debrah Lee Charatan Eva Cooper The Ronald and Susan Domb Foundation The Family of Jakob and Anna Erlich The Halpern Family Rena and Scott Hoffman Ruth and Steven Katz/Ann and Bernard Sklar/Deborah and Wayne Zuckerman  Ivan Kaufman Harry Krakowski/Lili Stawski LPZ Management (Levenstein, Pantirer, Zuckerman) The David and Nathan Mandelbaum Families National Basketball Association Reva and Martin Oliner Claire and Michael Olshan The Olshan Family Elisa and Alan Pines and Family Pfizer Inc. Robin and Steven Rotter Betty Pantirer Schwartz and Howard Schwartz Laurie and Sy Sternberg Diane and Howard Wohl


Gifts of $18,000–$29,999 Anonymous Louise and Sid Banon The Barry Family Ruth M. Bernstein Aviva and Charles Blaichman/Bella Sekons Blavatnik Family Foundation Erica and Michael Distenfeld Jay Domb Extell Development Company Susan and Kenneth Greif Jay Hanflig and Donna Sinden Shelley Erlich Holm and Senia Erlich Feiner and Family The Lee and Murray Kushner Family The Landis and Birnbaum Families Longfellow Properties, Inc. Ira and Diana Riklis Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg 1992 Charitable Trust Susan and Jeffrey Stern Joyce and Daniel Straus Vector Group Ltd./Howard M Lorber The Wilf Family


Gifts of $12,000–$17,999 Anonymous The Frances and Benjamin Benenson Foundation Lauren Cassell Blinbaum and Jacques Blinbaum Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Edward A. Chernoff Continental Ventures/Jane Gol and Amir Chaluts Sam Domb Lisa and Ed Friedland Bernard Friedman/Robert Friedman Dale and Saul Goldberg Lorelei Hammerman/Judy and Larry Weiss/Caren and Hillel Hammerman Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Patti Askwith Kenner The Pomeranc Family Diane and Richard Ross Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Wells Fargo Bank Harry Wittlin/Lisa and Tommy Nadler/Abby and Gabriel Tolchinsky Barbara and Michael Zimmerman


Gifts of $5,000–$11,999 Anonymous Renee and Leon Adams Ellen and Irwin Adelsberg Daniel Adler Iris and Peter Arest Mallory Brenner Sandra and Stewart Cahn Susan and Michael Castle Debbie and Mark Cooper Mary Ann Ehrlich Nancy and Henry Elghanayan Faith Fina and Family Mary Ann Fribourg Sarah and Martin Goldman and Family Laureine and David Greenbaum Micheal Gross Suzanne and Barry Gurvitch Rochelle and David A. Hirsch Ruth Kestenbaum Richard and Susan Lampen Susan and Alan Leavitt Denise and Enrique Lerner Wendy and Jon Mechanic Susan and Michael Mukasey Lilly and Avner Naveh Gail Propp/Wilma and Stephen Kule Anna and Barry Rosenbaum Anita and Mark Sarna Sheira and Steve Schacter Janie and Robert Schwalbe Ruth and Fred Schwalbe Debbie and Daniel Schwartz Joan Serchuck Gabriela and Jack Shnay Naomi and Robert Spira Beth and Marty Statfeld Susan B. Stearns Arlene and Daniel Stein Ellen and Peter Weintraub Dr. Marc Zimbler


Gifts of $2,500–$4,999 Anonymous Jessica and Joseph Ainsberg Deborah and Barry Berg Sherry and Neil Cohen Suzanne and Jacob Doft Carol and Ira Fishman Paula and Jeffrey Gural Yonina and Eric Gomberg Helene and Harvey Kaminski Alice and Jacob Klein The Litwin Foundation Esther and Bill Schulder Jill and Sandy Sirulnick Bonnie and Tom Strauss Richard S. Weber


Northeast Regional Office

The Northeast regional office serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, metropolitan New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Find out more about past programs and how to contact us.

Thank You to Our National and Regional Partners and Donors