October 19, 2018

Moving and Shaking: Bet Tzedek gala, USHM LA dinner, Project Chicken Soup celebrates

The Bet Tzedek Legal Services annual gala drew a capacity crowd of 1,500 guests to the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel ballroom March 5 to celebrate its 40th anniversary and honor attorneys Bruce Ramer, Stanley Gold, five past Bet Tzedek leaders and other lawyers. 

The organization, whose fundraiser grossed more than $2.5 million, provides free legal services to the needy and has led the way nationally in litigating for Holocaust survivor rights and providing free legal services to those in need.

USC President C.L. Max Nikias introduced Ramer and Gold, saying they embodied the idea that “those who live by enduring values make lasting contributions.”

Former law partners at Gang, Tyre, Ramer and Brown (Gold is of counsel to the firm), the pair have been leaders in numerous philanthropies, including USC, American Jewish Committee, USC Shoah Foundation-The Institute for Visual History and Education, and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. They began their acceptance with some gentle back-and-forth ribbing, Gold admitting that after 40 years he has yet to sway his conservative friend to his liberal outlook.  

From left: Bet Tzedek former executive directors Mike Feuer, Terry B. Friedman, Luis Lainer, Mitch Kamin and David Lash received the Rose L. Schiff Commitment to Justice Award. Photo by John Dlugolecki.

“Each and every one of us who is fortunate enough to achieve a level of success in this society needs to use that success to help others less fortunate,” Gold, president and CEO of Shamrock Holdings, said.

“I’m proud to be a lawyer,” Ramer said. “I’m proud of this profession. The basis of freedom and democracy is the law. It’s incumbent on all of us to support Bet Tzedek as it provides the law to everyone.” 

The official program focused on the good works done by the organization and its honorees. Current Bet Tzedek president and CEO Sandor Samuels presented longtime Bet Tzedek attorney José “Joey” Alarcon with the Jack H. Skirball Community Justice Award, and Aaron Spiwak and Andrea Ambrose Lobato were honored with the Rebecca Nichols Emerging Leader Award, which honors the legacy of a Los Angeles attorney who died in 2012 at the age of 29.   

Longtime Bet Tzedek supporter Art Bilger presented the Rose L. Schiff Commitment to Justice Award to five past executive directors: attorney Luis Lainer, retired judge Terry B. Friedman, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, and attorneys David A. Lash and Mitch A. Kamin.

“Our lives have significance to God,” Jose Gomez,  archbishop of Los Angeles, said at the evening’s benediction. “What we do in this world matters. That’s what we are honoring here tonight.”

Bet Tzedek’s co-founder Rabbi Stan Levy; vice president and general counsel, Elissa Barrett; and chairman of the board of directors, Robert Schwartz; attended, as did Rabbis Sharon Brous, Laura Geller, Gary Greenbaum and William Cutter; Jewish Federation President and CEO Jay Sanderson; Milken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Director of the School of Nonprofit Management Richard A. Siegel.

Kate Beckinsale presents the National Leadership Award to Sir Ben Kingsley during the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2014 Los Angeles Dinner. Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Stars such as Kate Beckinsale, Morgan Freeman and Rosanna Arquette turned out to the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 6 to honor Sir Ben Kingsley at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2014 Los Angeles Dinner: “What You Do Matters,” where Beckinsale presented Kingsley with the museum’s National Leadership Award.

The Oscar-winning actor received the award because of his support of the museum as well as his unforgettable portrayal of Holocaust victims such as Itzhak Stern in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” Simon Wiesenthal in HBO’s “Murderers Among Us” and Otto Frank in the ABC miniseries “Anne Frank: The Whole Story.” 

“[Kingsley’s] inspired storytelling has impacted how audiences across the globe understand the Holocaust and the responsibility to act,” said Lenny Rosenblatt, one of the dinner’s chairs along with his wife, Janet Rosenblatt.

Speakers also included the museum’s director, Sara J. Bloomfield, Rabbi David Wolpe and Arquette, another chair of the event along with her husband, Todd Morgan.

Actor Joe Mantegna, Martin Scorsese, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Steven Spielberg lauded Kingsley in videotaped interviews: “Ben Kingsley is a mitzvah,” Spielberg said.

In his award acceptance speech, Kingsley described his meetings with Wiesenthal, said he carried a photograph of Anne Frank on the set of “Schindler’s List” and quoted his friend Wiesel: “Let us tell tales so as not to let the executioner have the last word.”

Proceeds from the event will support the museum’s national campaign to help keep Holocaust memory alive in the 21st century.

 — Naomi Pfefferman, Arts & Entertainment Editor

From left: Project Chicken Soup gala attendees Anna Ress, Fortunee Cohen and Tami Ruth are volunteers at the charity organization, which delivers nutritious kosher meals to the needy. Photo by Gary West Productions

Project Chicken Soup (PCS) celebrated its 25 years of service to the community with its annual awards brunch commemorating past achievements and acknowledging its supporters, including volunteers, donors, community organizations and others.

“We were honoring our community of support for the last 25 years,” PCS executive director Cathryn Friedman said of the March 2 event, which took place at Temple Beth Am, during an interview with the Journal. “So many names — it’s an extensive community of support. … It was pretty incredible.”

The program featured live music, PCS chefs showcasing their signature dishes and a multimedia presentation highlighting the charity organization’s history. Gay Men’s Chorus of  Los Angeles; Cantor Juval Porat of Beth Chayim Chadashim;
and PCS medical adviser Dr. Mike Katz participated.

A nonprofit organization, PCS prepares and delivers free, nutritious kosher meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other illnesses. It prepares and gives meals to 125 clients two Sundays a month and operates with only one paid staff member.

PCS organized the brunch so that it can aid even more people. It hopes to raise $60,000, aiming to grow its clientele to
250 to 300 people every month, according to Friedman.

Sponsors of the lunch included Porat, Booh Schut; Mark Miller and Brett Trueman; Steven and Gail Friedman; Michael and Ellen Opell and Arthur and Mady Jablon.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? E-mail ryant@jewishjournal.com