Friends in Deed

On Feb. 17, David Nathanson hosted a silent auction at his L.A. home for more than 100 young executives – and special guest 5th District L.A City Councilman Jack Weiss – to benefit nonprofit Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel.

Located just south of Haifa, the 500 children who call Yemin Orde home come from 22 different countries. These immigrant, disadvantaged and refugee children, who have experienced trauma of one form or another, are defined as at-risk youth, and the Village provides them with a home, high-quality care and an education.

“Yemin Orde never closes and we never turn a child away who has nowhere else to go,” said Dr. Chaim Peri, director of Yemin Orde Youth Village, during his two-day visit. “Support from the Los Angeles community will help us to continue our care, and support our alumni.”

“It’s very clear that Angelenos are interested in learning more about the incredible work of the Yemin Orde Youth Village,” Weiss said. “Yemin Orde is turning at-risk youth into productive members of Israeli society. It’s an organization worthy of support, and a model for Los Angeles to study.”

High Hopes

As trumpeters heralded the moment, City of Hope supporters entered the sleek new Betty and Irwin Helford Clinical Research Center in Duarte on Feb. 13. The futuristic hospital replaces a building constructed back in 1937.

“As we open the doors of this magnificent facility, we recognize that we are metaphorically and literally opening the doors to the next century of this institution’s existence and its service to humanity,” said Dr. Theodore G. Krontiris, executive vice president of medical and scientific affairs.

Completed just weeks earlier, the 347,000-square-foot center is slated for patient occupancy this spring and incorporates innovative features to meet the needs of patients with compromised immune systems.

Honorees Irwin and Betty Helford were recognized for providing a $36 million gift that fueled development of the $200 million center.

“We’re very proud to be part of City of Hope, and grateful to have the ability to do this,” said Irwin Helford, chairman emeritus of Viking Office Products. He said he viewed the gift not only as a contribution, but also as an investment in the people of City of Hope, and recounted many acts of kindness and generosity he witnessed by hospital staff over the years. – Nancy Sokoler Steiner, Contributing Writer

A Humbled Humanitarian

In accepting the Ambassador of Humanity Award from Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, former President Bill Clinton described the refusal of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in 1939 to admit 900 Jewish refugees aboard the German ship, St. Louis, as “one of the darkest chapters in United States history.”

Clinton, who addressed a star-studded audience of some 750 on Feb. 17, also apologized and asked forgiveness for his failure to intervene in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which 1 million victims were slaughtered during a three-month period.

Established by Spielberg following the global success of his film, “Schindler’s List,” the foundation is currently processing the last of nearly 52,000 videotaped testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses.

In his brief and thoughtful address, Clinton explored his longstanding concern with the roots of human hatred, thanking his grandparents for “growing up to despise racism” in a small, segregated Southern town.

One of the country’s most accomplished politicians himself, Clinton ascribed the cause of ethnic hatreds mainly to power-hungry politicians indoctrinating their followers with “the fear of the other.”

“How can we survive in a global society in which we have to have enemies?” he asked.

Clinton paid special tribute to assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as “A man I loved as much as anyone I know.”

The annual event, was held on the Universal Studios backlot under a huge tent, occasionally shaken by gusts of rain and wind.

Actor Tom Cruise served as master of ceremonies and such Hollywood stars as John Travolta, Sharon Stone and Scarlett Johansson were in attendance.

Stand-up comic Robin Williams, in one of his patented multiaccented monologues, welcomed the fashionably dressed guests to “Temple Beth Prada” and assured them that the dinner had been prepared under dietary laws separating milchig (dairy), fleishig (meat) and sushidik ingredients. – Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Diamonds Are Forever

Jim and Laura Maslon and Shirley and Edgar Phillips received Lifetime of Service Awards at the Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) 75th anniversary diamond-studded gala on Jan. 29 in front of 400 guests at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel.

The Maslons began their volunteer life together at the Venice Art Walk and Jim Maslon is a former president of JVS. Laura Maslon serves on the JVS Marketing Committee as well as the board of the Contemporary Art Council at LACMA, and the executive committee of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Edgar Phillips has been a board member of JVS since the 1970s and is co-founder of the JVS Jewish Community Scholarship fund. Shirley Phillips is devoted to The Helping Hand that runs the nonprofit gift shop at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The gala event, hosted by Monty Hall, was attended by local elected officials and longtime agency supporters City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo; mayoral candidate and former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg; City Councilman Jack Weiss; L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and his wife Barbara; Jewish Federation President Harriet Hochman; and Michelle Kleinert, deputy director of community affairs for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“We believe that putting people to work and assisting them to have meaningful careers is the key to achieving our core mission,” said JVS CEO Vivian Seigel.

Beyond Rebbitzen

Women rabbis from Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Arizona gathered on Feb. 24 at the University of Judaism’s (UJ) Gindi Auditorium in Bel Air to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Conservative movement’s first ordained female rabbi.

As part of the celebration, “Women in the Rabbinate” was the topic of this year’s Torah Fund Study Day, held by the Torah Fund Campaign for the Pacific Southwest Branch of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.

The day, which focused on what the coming decades hold for women as they make their voices heard, included a panel discussion with Rabbi Leslie Alexander, community chaplain for the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley; Rabbi Sherre Zwelling Hirsch of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles; and Rabbi Sally Olins of Temple B’nai Hayim in Sherman Oaks. Gail Labovitz, Talmudic scholar and assistant professor of rabbinic studies at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the UJ, was the keynote speaker.

The day began with greetings from UJ President Robert Wexler and

Ziegler School Dean Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson.

Real Treasures

Elsewhere on the UJ front: On Feb. 22, the University Women of the UJ presented a check for $30,000 to UJ President, Robert Wexler. The proceeds, raised from sales at the Treasures of Judaica Gift Shop at the UJ, are part of the group’s annual grants allocations program, which supports student scholarships.

After the event, four UJ students discussed their scholarly goals: second-year Gershom Sizoumu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda; first-year Gary Buchler, who has led more than 150 college-age students on their first visit to Israel; first-year Penina Podwol, who graduated cum laude from UCLA and is the daughter of a Chicago-area Conservative rabbi; and fourth-year Michael Werbow, who has worked with Jewish youth programs around the country.