Obama hangs with Spielberg, Springsteen at benefit

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Obama hangs with Spielberg, Springsteen at benefit
President Barack Obama listens to the remarks of movie director Steven Spielberg as he attends the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Obama received an award from the foundation created by Spielberg and planned to spend three days in California where he will raise money for the Democratic Party. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama, right, gets a hug from movie director Steven Spielberg after Obama was presented with the USC Shoah Foundation Ambassadors for Humanity award as he attends the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Obama received an award from the foundation created by Spielberg and planned to spend three days in California where he will raise money for the Democratic Party. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 7: President Barack Obama and Kate Capshaw applaud as Steven Spielberg makes his speech during the Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on May 7, 2014 in Century City, California. U.S. President Barack Obama received the foundation's highest award for his global efforts to protect human rights, according to the foundation. (Photo by Genaro Molina-Pool/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 7: Director Steven Spielberg hugs President Barack Obama after presenting him with the Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors for Humanity, its highest award for his global efforts to protect human rights at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on May 7, 2014 in Century City, California. The president received the foundation's highest award for his global efforts to protect human rights, according to the foundation. Spielberg is founder of the foundation and a USC trustee. (Photo by Genaro Molina-Pool/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 7: Bruce Springsteen performs during the Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the Century Plaza Hotel on May 7, 2014 in Century City, California. U.S. President Barack Obama received the foundation's highest award for his global efforts to protect human rights, according to the foundation. (Photo by Genaro Molina-Pool/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 07: USC Shoah Foundation Honorary Chair Steven Spielberg (L) presents the USC Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors for Humanity Award to U.S. President Barack Obama onstage at USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on May 7, 2014 in Century City, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for USC Shoah Foundation)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 07: USC Shoah Foundation Honorary Chair Steven Spielberg (L) presents the USC Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors for Humanity Award to U.S. President Barack Obama onstage at USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on May 7, 2014 in Century City, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for USC Shoah Foundation)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 07: USC Shoah Foundation Honorary Chair Steven Spielberg (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama, recipient of USC Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors for Humanity Award, pose onstage at USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on May 7, 2014 in Century City, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Lorne Michaels, Steven Spielberg, and George Clooney attend the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) President of the University of Southern California C. L. Max Nikias, Romeo Dallaire and George Clooney attend the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg attend the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Director Steven Spielberg (R) presents honoree George Clooney with the USC Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador for Humanity Award at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) A general view of the atmosphere at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Liz Bommarito speaks onstage at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Mary Helen Immordino-Yang speaks onstage at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Jon Stewart and George Clooney attend the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) USC Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador for Humanity Award winner George Clooney (C) poses with Steven Spielberg (L) and Jon Stewart at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Steven Spielberg and Judith Sheindlin 'Judge Judy' attend the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) President of the University of Southern California C. L. Max Nikias, actor Jerry Seinfeld, Romeo Dallaire, Jon Stewart and George Clooney attend the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2013 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the American Museum of Natural History on October 3, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute)
Barbra Streisand listens to President Barack Obama speak at the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Streisand's husband, James Brolin, sits at left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti Scialfa listen to President Barack Obama speak at the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Kim Kardashian attends the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Bruce Springsteen performs during the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama, right, walks away after receiving the USC Shoah Foundation Ambassadors for Humanity award from movie director Steven Spielberg, left, during the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Obama received an award from the foundation created by Spielberg and planned to spend days in California where he will raise money for the Democratic Party. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Actor Liam Neeson, center, listens to President Barack Obama speak at the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Conan O'Brien, right, talks with Samuel L. Jackson, left, as they attend the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama, left, sits next to movie director Steven Spielberg, right, as they listen to Conan O'Brien during the USC Shoah Foundation’s 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity gala in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Obama received an award from the foundation created by Spielberg and is spending three days in California where he plans to raise money for the Democratic Party. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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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.

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