November 15, 2018

Moving and Shaking: Stuart Leviton named MRJ president and TEBH holds gala

Stuart Leviton, a member of West Hollywood’s Congregation Kol Ami, was recently installed as president of Men of Reform Judaism (MRJ), the umbrella organization for brotherhoods and men’s clubs throughout Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) congregations in North America.

His election marks the first time in the organization’s 90-year history that an openly gay man was named its president. As president, Leviton’s goals will include finding lay leadership for the organization, determining and fulfilling the needs of its members and more.

“What we are trying to do is better engage and connect the men of Reform Judaism, organizationally and programmatically, so that we can be more effective in creating ultimately a more cohesive movement,” Leviton said.

The MRJ executive council elected Leviton, who previously served as the organization’s first vice president, as its new leader during the MRJ Biennual convention last June. The vote was unanimous, Leviton said.

The founder of law firm Leviton Law Group, Leviton is a frequent lecturer in business law and business ethics at American Jewish University. He also is a former co-president of Kol Ami and sits on the board at the URJ.

MRJ is responsible for overseeing affiliates that organize events that blend socializing and worship and that provide community service opportunities for Reform men, among other duties.

From left: Temple Emanuel’s Cantor Yonah Kliger, Rabbi Laura Geller and Rabbi Jonathan Aaron.

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) held a festive gala on Oct. 8 in celebration of its 75th anniversary.

More than 200 attendees turned out for a night of music, dancing and drinks at the synagogue’s Greer Social Hall. Longtime members of the synagogue shared brief vignettes of their memories, and state Assemblyman Richard Bloom presented a resolution of congratulations to the congregation.

Founded in 1938 and led by Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Jonathan Aaron and Cantor Yonah Kliger, TEBH is one of the largest Reform communities in Southern California, with approximately 800 member-families. Recently, the synagogue completed an expansive renovation of its campus — including its auditorium and classrooms — following a full remodeling of the Corwin Family Sanctuary and the debut of the Greer Social Hall in 2011.

Event co-chair Toni Corwin and her husband, Bruce. Photos by Aaron Epstein

Chairing the gala were Toni Corwin, Lisa Bochner and Lisa Kay Schwartz, who also is also serving as the synagogue’s 75th anniversary chair. The event, which unveiled a temporary exhibition of memorabilia of objects and icons dating back to Temple Emanuel’s founding, kicked off a yearlong celebration.

From left: Attorney Roger Sullivan; honoree Monsignor Royale Vadakin; Curtis Sandberg, son of honoree Neil Sandberg and former Journal publisher Richard Volpert. Photo by Steven Douglas.

American Jewish Committee of Los Angeles (AJC) and Loyola Marymount University (LMU) recently named community leaders Neil Sandberg and Monsignor Royale Vadakin as the recipients of the Martin Gang Visionary Award, in recognition of their build-bridging efforts among different faith and ethnic groups. A ceremony honoring the pair took place on Oct. 10 at the LMU campus. 

Sandberg previously served as a longtime AJC regional director and is a former adjunct professor of sociology at LMU’s Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. His accomplishments include founding AJC’s Asia Pacific Institute and co-founding the Martin Gang Institute, a partnership between AJC and LMU Extension that promotes understanding between religious and ethnic communities in California. 

Vadakin, a priest and vicar general emeritus of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has devoted more than 45 years to ecumenical and interreligious service in Los Angeles. Working with late Rabbi Alfred Wolf, a pioneer of the interfaith movement on the West Coast, he helped establish the Interreligious Council of Southern California in the wake of the 1965 Watts Riots.

Richard Volpert, founding publisher of the Jewish Journal and past AJC honoree, and Roger Sullivan, an attorney and alumnus of Loyola Law School, served as the evening’s presenters. Sandberg’s son, Curtis Sandberg, accepted the award on his father’s behalf. 

The approximately 100 attendees included Hollywood lawyer and former AJC national president Bruce Ramer; AJC national governor Marcia Burnam; Robert Hurteau, director of LMU Center for Religion and Spirituality; LMU provost and executive vice president Joseph Hellige ;and several officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Among the evening’s speakers were Clifford Goldstein, AJC Los Angeles regional president; Rabbi Mark Diamond, director of the local AJC; and Archdiocese of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar.  

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more, as well as local events that featured leaders from the Jewish and Israeli communities. Got a tip? E-mail it to