Byline: Joshua Greene

NEW YORK — Nearly 3,000 candles cast a somber mood Monday night in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where the American Friends of the Israel Museum held their annual gala to benefit the Jerusalem-based institution.
Each October, the group raises money to support a different department at the museum. But in contrast to last year’s elaborate Venetian Ball, the gala, focused on the Contemporary Art department, seemed quite fitting for this year’s world climate.
“I was happy we did a minimal gala, instead of an elaborate one,” said Barbara Lane, president of the American Friends of the Israel Museum. “I’ve done a lot of galas, but for me, this was the hardest I have ever had to do. We certainly delivered something very different this time and it was the right mood. It felt very appropriate.”
As the 600 guests dined, eight oversized screens projected images of the museum’s collection, including work from Warhol, Damien Hirst, Charles Ray, Barbara Kruger and Anselm Kiefer.
“Now more than ever, we need this support from our friends,” said James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The event raised $1.5 million. Among the guests were: Yoko Ono, Ruth Westheimer, Judith Leiber, Fred Leighton, former Nine West chairman Jerome Fisher, Newline Cinema’s Michael Lynne and artists Joel Shapiro, Andres Serrano, Fernando Botero and David Webster.
“I would love to be able to wear a dress like all these beautiful women,” said Westheimer. “I think I’m going to start a clothing line for older ladies.”