From a small idea came a grand event.
More than a year ago, a member of the Daniel Pearl Education Center committee at Temple B’nai Shalom (East Brunswick, NJ) learned that Paramount Vantage Films was in production – with the financial and moral support of Academy Award-winning actress and activist Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt – on a movie based on the memoir of Mariane Pearl, the wife of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. “It’s only fitting that we should host the US premier of ‘A Mighty Heart’,” the committee member suggested.
Nearly a year later, in June, more than 300 “Friends of the Daniel Pearl Education Center” filled MegaMovies in East Brunswick for the US advanced showing of “A Mighty Heart,” which covered the kidnapping and eventual murder of Daniel Pearl in October 2002 from the perspective of his wife, Mariane.
The special premier even had a red-carpet roster of notables. Prior to the showing, greetings were offered by Dr. Andrew Boyarsky, chairman of the Daniel Pearl Education Center, and Rabbi Eric Milgrim of Temple B’nai Shalom. Special messages followed from Gabriela Sadote Sleppin, Jewish Community Relations Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, and Dr. Paul Winkler, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. The Township of East Brunswick was represented by Councilman David Stahl, a temple member.
A letter of support from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was read by Mada L. Liebman, Director of Community and Constituent Relations in the New Jersey Department of State. Gov. Corzine wrote, “This film, based on Mariane Pearl’s memoir, defines both Daniel’s life and his legacy. It is a legacy we are privileged to inherit and compelled to advance.”
Dr. Boyarsky read a letter from Judea and Ruth Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s parents, who wrote, “Frankly, no movie can faithfully capture Danny’s character – his gentleness, integrity and resilience, his music, humor and love of humanity. We nevertheless hope ‘A Mighty Heart’ will radiate some of these qualities and that the millions who will watch it will be inspired to join us in fighting the ideology of hatred that took Danny’s life.”
This was the latest in a series of outreach initiatives from Temple B’nai Shalom’s Daniel Pearl Education Center, which was the first school-based center in the US dedicated to the ideals of the late Daniel Pearl – tolerance, understanding and coexistence.
Activities of the Daniel Pearl Education Center have included an annual trip to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum for Temple B’nai Shalom’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah class and the eighth grade class at East Brunswick’s St. Bartholomew’s parochial school; in celebration of Daniel Pearl World Music Days, a global celebration, sponsorship of a unique musical program; a videotaping program of area Holocaust survivors by temple teens; and the awarding of Daniel Pearl scholarships to graduating seniors at East Brunswick High School and Temple B’nai Shalom.
“We wanted to bring the community more than a movie,” Dr. Boyarsky said. “We were committed to giving everyone the opportunity to understand the senseless brutality that inspired us to form the Daniel Pearl Education Center. What happened to Daniel Pearl cannot and should not ever be forgotten. We owe that much to Danny and his family.”