Hannes Richter

The Vienna – New York Connection

Hannes Richter

Sister City Partnership Brooklyn-Leopoldstadt

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Last year a partnership between Vienna’s district of Leopoldstadt and New York’s borough of Brooklyn was launched to intensify the cultural exchange between the two districts. During a recent visit to New York from January 23-28, 2008, Vienna’s Deputy Mayor Renate Brauner met with Brooklyn President Marty Markowitz to discuss possible follow-up projects including the field of educational cooperation. She also held meetings with the City of New York’s Finance Commissioner Martha Stark as well as with NY Governor Eliot Spitzer.

Twinning of Brooklyn and Leopoldstadt
The sister city partnership agreement, which was signed on March 6, 2007 by Deputy Mayor Brauner and Brooklyn President Markowitz in the presence of Vienna Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg, pays tribute to the strengthening relationship and intensifying exchange between the two districts. Leopoldstadt - Vienna’s traditional Jewish center for centuries, and Brooklyn - with its 500,000 Jewish inhabitants share close, historical ties and the rapprochement of the two Jewish communities is a central element of this partnership.

During the recent visit of Deputy Mayor Brauner to New York in January 2008, which was dedicated to furthering this partnership, an agreement was reached to enhance cooperation between the schools of both districts and to foster artist exhibitions and performances, such as the appearance of Topsy Küppers during Booklyn’s festival in September and the exhibition by the New York artist, Hank Blaustein, in Vienna during the month of October.

Brooklyn in Vienna 2007
Last year, on the occasion of the presentation of Vienna in New York, Deputy Mayor Renate Brauner had invited young representatives of New York’s Jewish community to visit Vienna. Representatives from the fields of business, media, financing and banking followed the invitation at the end of June 2007. Many of the visitors who were between 20 and 30 years of age only knew Vienna through stories they had heard. The program of events included visits to international organizations based in Vienna as well as to the Office of the Austrian President. Some of the guests also took time to engage in personal research of their ancestry or to look for traces of their grandparents’ youth in Vienna. Feedback was extremely positive and during their four-day stay, the participants found out not only about Jewish life in Vienna but also about Vienna’s capabilities as a finance and economic center, cultural metropolis, hub between East and West and venue for international meetings.

N.Y. Governor with Austrian Roots
During her visit in New York, Vienna Deputy Mayor Renate Brauner also met with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. At this meeting, New York Governor Spitzer was presented with a painting by the Austrian artist, Max Gangl, depicting the residential birthplace of Spitzer’s grandfather, who was born in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district. It was in the 800 year-old building in which his ancestors lived until 1921.

In celebration of the 53rd consecutive U.S.-Austria Chamber of Commerce Viennese Opera Ball on January 25th, Wall Street’s NASDAQ stock exchange honored Austrian Ambassador to the U.S. Eva Nowotny who was asked to preside over the ringing of the bell, opening the day’s stock market. A sign at Times Square depicted the Austrian red-and-white flag, welcoming the Austrian Ambassador.