J.B. Pritzker was the target of anti-Semitic tweets this week during a discussion about the presidential election.
Pritzker is the Chicago venture capitalist whose fundraising efforts helped build the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in 2009. He’s a primary fundraiser for Democrat Hillary Clinton. He’s immersed in the tech community and thus active on social media. And he’s well familiar with receiving threats by detractors.
Still, the Twitter barrage surprised him. “It was stunning. I’m surprised at how openly people are putting out this kind of hate,” he said, referring to a tweet that called for him to “go to the ovens,” a symbol of the horrors of the Holocaust.
The bullying started after CNN correspondent Brian Stelter reported on Twitter about Republican Donald Trump. On Oct. 13, Stetler wrote: “Trump’s talk of a secret banker/media/politico conspiracy has echoes of anti-Semitic tropes. The ADL is weighing in.”
Pritzker responded, tweeting: “Trump’s anti-Semitic undertones are now open declarations. Alt-right is all-wrong. Thx for being an upstander, Brian.”
That prompted the vitriol, including comments and cartoons about ovens; one featured Clinton.
Pritzker blames Trump’s campaign for providing “some cover” to people with anti-Semitic views.
“I know this happens,” Pritzker says. “I’ve seen it before but never in quick succession in a single day by a lot of people.”
Trump’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Filmmaker’s legacy gives Chicago nonprofit a boost
A Chicago nonprofit that counsels children exposed to gun violence has been awarded $1 million from a foundation started by the late filmmaker Saul Zaentz, who produced “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next,” “Amadeus,” “The English Patient” and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”
Karen G. Foley, president and CEO of Juvenile Protective Association, calls the gift a game-changer. “It’s going to allow us to expand from three schools to 13 schools. We’ve found that therapy early on leads to positive relationships with teachers and positive education experiences for the future.”
The three-year grant also enables JPA to train more teachers in how to work with traumatized kids.
The donation came about when Chicago real estate broker and JPA board Chair Meredith Meserow attended a West Coast wedding and met a member of the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation.
JPA’s annual budget is small at $2 million, but its history is large. The organization was started by Hull House co-founder Jane Addams in 1901.
Arne Duncan joins pal John Rogers’ corporate board
Arne Duncan, a former U.S. secretary of education, has joined the board of Ariel Investments, founded by his friend John Rogers Jr., who called the move “a homecoming of sorts.”
The two have known each other since their student days at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. “We are honored to have him join our board and look forward to reaping the benefits of his insights, perspective and experience,” Rogers said in a release.
Duncan and Rogers also count President Barack Obama as a friend. The three played basketball together back when their knees and hips could handle it.
Yoko Ono’s complicated Chicago history
Yoko Ono visited Chicago this week to unveil her “Skylanding” public art project. It’s a bright spot in an otherwise dark and complicated chapter of Ono’s connection to Chicago.
Before becoming a muse to Beatles frontman John Lennon, Ono was married to Tony Cox. She left him for Lennon, and Cox took their then-8-year-old daughter and vanished. There was a national search but it was years before father and daughter re-appeared. They had lived in seclusion in the Jesus People USA commune in Chicago.
Ono and her daughter are in touch now, and Ono is a grandmother.
Ono has since talked about visiting Chicago in the 1970s (maybe in search of her daughter?) and has said that the icy waters of Lake Michigan inspired the lyrics to her “Walking on Thin Ice.”
The singer-artist also has a Chicago connection in Mayor Rahm Emanuel — the two both studied at Sarah Lawrence College, albeit years apart.
Big names, big fundraisers
Richard Price and Melvin Katten, two big names on Chicago’s business scene, headline nonprofit fundraisers this week.
Price, the CEO of Mesirow Financial, is being honored Oct. 22 by Foundation Fighting Blindness, a nonprofit he started supporting after his nephew, Atlanta wealth adviser David Price, was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease at age 29. Now, 16 years later, David has lost all but about 15 percent of his sight.
Fighting Blindness is based in Maryland but has an active Chicago office. David Brint, co-founder of Brinshore Development, is board chairman.
Katten, the senior counsel and founding partner of Katten Muchin Rosenman law firm, is being honored Oct. 21 by Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation.
He’s a good honoree as he’s been involved in so many organizations in town. “I’m for anything that promotes Chicago,” he says. The Loop Alliance is focused on keeping State Street a vital business organization. Katten has served on its board for years.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.