American Friends of Yahad-In Unum is an American 501 ( c ) 3. Founded in 2009, American Friends of Yahad-In Unum’s (AFYIU) mission is to expand the awareness of YIU’s programs in the United States and to help fundraise to meet the financial needs of YIU activities.

Board of Directors

  • David Black, President

(Board member as of April 2009) is the Executive Director of the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center of Long Island. He was formerly the Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Yeshiva University and also previously held positions as the Director of the JCC in Manhattan and was the Executive Director of the Alliance Française in New York.

David was first introduced to Father Desbois through then French Consul General and subsequent Ambassador to the United States, Francois Delattre in 2007. Understanding the urgency of Father Desbois’ work, David founded American Friends of Yahad-In Unum. As President of AFYIU, he has worked tirelessly to raise awareness, expand the reach of the organization and develop its board.

  • Esther Safran Foer, Vice President and Treasurer

(Board member as of September 2012). Esther Safran Foer is the director of the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, DC, recognized as one of the most vibrant religious and cultural centers in the United States.   Under her leadership, Sixth & I has been a five-year recipient of a Slingshot Award, presented by the Charles Bronfman Foundation to the most innovative Jewish organizations.

Esther spent most of her professional life as a public relations/public affairs executive, eventually running her own public relations firm, where she formulated and executed strategies for Fortune 500 companies, experience she has been able to utilize in helping to create and transform a unique Jewish institution in the heart of the Nation’s Capital.

In 2008, Esther was recognized as one of “The Forward 50,” a group of fifty individuals whose leadership and creativity have an exceptional impact on the American Jewish community.

Esther was born in post-war Europe to parents who were Holocaust survivors. She has visited Ukraine and interviewed neighbors and relatives of the family who hid her father from the Nazis.  She is the wife of Albert Foer, the president of the American Antitrust Institute, and mother of Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic; Jonathan Foer, bestselling novelist and author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close;  and Joshua Foer, US memory champion and author of Moonwalking with Einstein.

  •  Oscar Schachter, Vice President and Secretary

(Board member as of April 2009) is an attorney living in Brooklyn and Paris. He has corporate directorship at, Inc. and is on the Advisory Board of the Software Industry Group, which is affiliated with the Computer History Museum in Mountainview, California.

Oscar is a founding board member of American Friends of Yahad-In Unum and is the pro bono lawyer for the organization.

  •  Ann Curry, Board Member

(as of August 2014). Ann Curry, the former NBC News national and international correspondent, now runs an NBC Universal backed media start-up, which focuses on incubating and producing content of national and global relevance with a multi-platform distribution approach. Curry continues to report for other platforms and networks, including NBC News.

Curry served as co-anchor of NBC News’ “Today,” from June 2011 to June 2012 and as news anchor from March 1997 to June 2011. She served as the anchor of “Dateline NBC” from May 2005 until September 2011. Curry graduated from the University of Oregon, School of Journalism in 1978.

Curry has distinguished herself in global humanitarian reporting, frequently traveling to remote areas of the world for under-reported stories. She has earned seven Emmys Awards, four Golden Mikes, several Associated Press Certificates of Excellence, three Gracie Allen Awards, a Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications, and an award for Excellence in Reporting from the NAACP. In 2003, she received the National Journalism Award from the Asian American Journalists Association. In June 2007, Curry was honored with the Simon Wiesenthal Medal of Valor for her extensive reporting in Darfur. She has been awarded by Americares, Save the Children, Women of Concern and the Anti-Defamation League as a Woman of Achievement. She has also won numerous awards for her charity work, primarily for breast cancer research.

  • Father Patrick Desbois, Board Member

(as of April 2009). Father Desbois serves as Director of the Episcopal Committee for Catholic-Judeo Relations, under the auspices of the French Conference of Bishops. He also advises the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris, and is an advisor to the Vatican on the Jewish religion. He served as personal aide to the late Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger.  His book, The Holocaust by Bullets, published by Palgrave-Macmillan, documents his findings and is the winner of the 2008 National Jewish Book Award.  Fluent in Hebrew and English, Father Desbois was awarded the Medal of Valor by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Humanitarian Award of the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and Honorary Doctorates from Hebrew University, Bar Ilan University in Israel, Yeshiva University and New York University amongst other honors.

  • Hon. Elizabeth Holtzman, Board Member

(as of December 2010).  Elizabeth Holtzman is of counsel at and serves as the co-chair of Herrick, Feinstein LLP’s Government Relations Practice, concentrating her practice in government relations at the federal, state and local levels, and in litigation. She joined Herrick after 20 years in government. She served for eight years as a U.S. Congresswoman and won national attention for her role on the House Judiciary committee during Watergate. She chaired the Immigration and Refugees Subcommittee and dealt directly with many foreign governments over refugee issues.

Liz was subsequently elected District Attorney of Kings County (Brooklyn), the only woman ever elected DA in New York City, serving for eight years. Liz was also the only woman ever elected Comptroller of New York City. She was responsible for the management of $50 billion in the city’s five pension funds and the issuance of more than $20 billion in city debt.

Liz was appointed by President Clinton to the Nazi and Japanese Imperial War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group, which is overseeing the declassification of the U.S. government’s secret Nazi war crimes files.

  •  Uri Kaufthal, Board Member

(as of October 2012) is the Executive Director of Investments at The Bravmann Group of Oppenheimer & Co., Inc.  Uri has been a member of the corporate finance industry since 1975, has worked at iconic financial services firms such as American Express and MasterCard. In 1984, he joined Bankers Trust and rose from a position as Vice President of Global Operating & Information Services to Senior Managing Director and Partner.

In 1997, Uri became President and CEO of a privately held financial services firm and led it through a period of explosive growth and to a successful merger with its primary competitor, Citigroup. The increase in the company’s value during Uri’s management created a twenty-five-fold return for investors. Most recently, he served as President of AST Equity Plan Solutions, a division of American Stock Transfer and Trust Company LLC. In 2008, the Company, including the division of which Uri was President, was successfully sold to Pacific Equity Partners.

Uri has been involved in many philanthropic endeavors. He currently serves on the Board of Overseers of The Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Uri is also on the Board of Directors of the National Yiddish Theatre and the New York Chapter of Stand With Us. Previously, Uri served on the Board of Directors of SAR Academy, the Riverdale YM-YWHA and The Israel Tribute Committee, of which he also has been Treasurer.

Uri continues to actively support many other charitable organizations as well. Uri earned his BA in economics from City of New York College and his MBA in finance from the Stern School of Business of New York University.

  • Alan Zekelman, Board Member

(as of December 2010) of Bloomfield Hills, MI, is president of various companies founded by his late father, Harry, in 1984, including Atlas Tube, Inc., a leading Canadian manufacturer of steel construction and industrial tubing.  In 2006, Atlas Tube was partially sold to the Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm.  That same year, Atlas merged with John Maneely Co., a U.S. steel producer owned by the Carlyle Group.  A native of Windsor, Ontario, he holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto and a Master of Science in Applied Economics from the University of Rochester (1987).

He has long been involved in charitable activities; among the groups he has supported are the United Jewish Appeal of Windsor, the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI, and the Canadian Friends of Yeshiva University.  Alan is on the Board of Directors of Yeshiva College.  Alan is on the board of the Holocaust Memorial Center and an active member of Mishkan Israel, a synagogue in Oak Park, MI.

Alan met Father Desbois in 2009 when they both received honorary degrees from Bar-Ilan University in Israel.  He is the Treasurer of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan.

Advisory Council

  • Ambassador Jean-David Levitte

French diplomat, formerly French ambassador to the United States, and Senior Diplomatic Adviser and Sherpa to President Sarkozy from 2007-2012.

Ambassador Levitte is a Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Professor at Science Po (Institut de Sciences Politiques) and Senior Policy Advisor at Rock Creek Global Advisors, an international economic policy advisory firm, where he focuses on European policy issues and foreign relations.

Advisory Council

  •  Hannah Rosenthal

CEO/President of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. From November 23, 2009 until October 5, 2012, Hannah served as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State.

Executive Director

  • Robin Massee

Robin Massee became Executive Director of AFYIU in 2013. She focuses on fundraising, PR, and developing projects with universities and Holocaust centers in the U.S.A. An American who grew up in France, she served as VP of External Affairs at the French-Institute Alliance Française, Director of Communications for French Tourism and for the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. She directed “A Hero’s Welcome-A Story of Friendship, Gratitude and Remembrance”, showcasing the impact of D-Day on French-American relations and is producing “Angels in Our Midst” about American nurses in France in WWII. She received the French Legion of Honor from the French Government in 2014. She holds an M.Ed from the University of Massachusetts.


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