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Obama hangs with Spielberg, Springsteen at benefit

LOS ANGELES (AP) - President Obama shared a table with Steven Spielberg and Bruce Springsteen at a benefit dinner, but broke away to chat with Barbra Streisand and Samuel L. Jackson.

The president was the guest of honor Wednesday at a fundraising gala celebrating the USC Shoah Foundation, which Spielberg established 20 years ago to collect video testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. Inspired by the making of "Schindler's List," the video archive Spielberg created now includes more than 50,000 personal accounts and is available to schools across the globe.

"As long as we fail to learn, our work will be urgent work," he said of the foundation's mission. "This institute exists because we know that the future can always be rewritten."

Obama accepted the foundation's Ambassador for Humanity award at the private event at the Century Plaza Hotel. Springsteen provided musical entertainment, tucking his black tie into his white shirt to perform two songs with his acoustic guitar.

"I think anyone who has a boss wishes it was you," Spielberg told the stalwart rocker, who sang "Promised Land" and "Dancing in the Dark." The filmmaker called Springsteen "this nation's hardest working lyrical poet for our common humanity."

Conan O'Brien hosted the event, speaking in Yiddish and teasing the President for the traffic snarls he causes when visiting Los Angeles.

"You left Washington six hours ago, but I left Burbank seven hours ago," O'Brien joked.

Liam Neeson, who played Oskar Schindler in Spielberg's 1994 film, opened the evening.

But it was two non-famous women who left the audience most inspired. San Diego high school teacher Michelle Sadrena Clark recited a poem about how the Shoah Foundation's work enriches her curriculum and connects her students to history.

"Your institute has literally changed my teaching and my life," she said. Several of her students attended the gala, where they showed guests the multimedia projects they developed using survivor testimonies. They were also introduced to the president.

Celina Biniaz was one of the Jews Schindler saved. At 13, she worked in his factory, cleaning the machinery with her small hands. Now a grandmother whose story is included among the Holocaust testimonies, she said, "Oskar Schindler gave me my life, but Steven Spielberg gave me my voice."

Obama said that genocide survivors and the families they've created are "the ultimate rebuke to evil and the ultimate expression of love and hope."

"You are an inspiration to every single one of us," he said.

Join the discussion

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patriot1too May 08 2014 at 6:20 AM

This obama mess and his liberal extremisist cronies are a disgrace to America. Shameless.

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5 replies
uncloose1 May 08 2014 at 6:24 AM

With this administration's attitude toward Israel, only liberal American jews would give Obama a benefit at the Shoah foundation. Talk about a slap in the face to Holocaust survivors. But hey, anything for a buck, right Barack.

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3 replies
slinebe10p May 08 2014 at 6:25 AM

People need to understand that there are still those who would destroy a people just because of hate. There are those who would stand by and let it happen. We must all be aware that the could happen again unless we learn from the past and people keep a good record of the past and share it with others.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
bachus1369 May 08 2014 at 6:25 AM

Spielberg is an awesome man

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1 reply
rjen164497 bachus1369 May 08 2014 at 6:31 AM

Why? What has he done for the Country, the world and mankind? He is one of the 1% who pays no taxes.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
krug1284 rjen164497 May 08 2014 at 11:49 AM

Thanks to the Grand Ole Party he enjoys low taxes i.e. (bush tax cuts of 2001). The same as the last GOP presidential candidate that hid in the islands money to avoid taxes. You think Spielberg's taxes along with the 1% would have gone up if Mitt had won?

Flag +2 rate up
tbwest84 May 08 2014 at 6:26 AM

So sick of all things Obama.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
aesdsgn tbwest84 May 08 2014 at 6:47 AM

Can't help you.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
krug1284 tbwest84 May 08 2014 at 11:51 AM

So SICK of all things DC. I work 6 days a week have Thursdays off. Yet I pay a higher tax rate then most of these Hollywood people and the investment bankers on wall street. ,ore then likely I pay a higher percentage of my income then the politicians on the hill in DC. I am talking percentage including payroll taxes that the rich have capped and the politicians don't have to pay.

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rphillipsalx May 08 2014 at 6:27 AM

The European Jews could have been saved, as Schidler prooved. Where were the Russian Jews who could have bought their freedom? Not to be found. Shame.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
canoehikebike May 08 2014 at 6:28 AM

While our awesome POTUS works for the betterment of mankind,
low info, conservative Christians & the GOP/TP work 24/7
on their mission, destroying America.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
5 replies
keithj77441 May 08 2014 at 6:29 AM

it was a gaYla

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Lewis keithj77441 May 08 2014 at 6:56 AM

I see a lot of immaturity in this blog. I was tauht to respect the office of the president, And I do. Many dont want to revisit the past administration because it is too painful. So they put on this mantle of "knowledge" as try to re write the past, You can fool yourself into believing a make believe story,but the truth will live on. History,and common knowledge will win every time. This country was on the very brink of a dark hole when President Obama took office, Virtually every step he has taken to make the country rise again has been a battle ground with the republican congress, Yet,in spite of that,we are gaining back the jobs that were sold out during 8 years prior. Unemploymnt is now at 6%, Dont you think you people should shed the hatred as all it will do is eat you up inside?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
nedfarn25 May 08 2014 at 6:29 AM

all 1 per centers--oh wait it's ok for them cuz they carry the nobummer banner--you are all a bunch of frauds phoney and hypocrites

Flag Reply +2 rate up
fran.deluca May 08 2014 at 6:30 AM

Hollywood is still obamastupified!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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