October 20, 2018

Moving and Shaking: Jeffrey Goldberg talks with Rabbi David Wolpe

American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg is not optimistic that Iran will abandon its nuclear program. 

During an April 1 community event with Rabbi David Wolpe titled “Are the United States and Israel on a Collision Course Over Iran?” the national correspondent at The Atlantic and columnist at Bloomberg View said he anticipates that the United States and Iran will enter into a stalemate on the issue of the latter country’s nuclear ambitions. 

“Two or three years from now, we might be in the same situation we are in now,” Goldberg said, appearing at Sinai Temple in Westwood. “The U.S. won’t give [Iran] what it wants, and vice versa.” 

The world will not see “a de-nuclearized Iran” any time soon, he said.

During the one-hour event, Goldberg and Wolpe talked up a variety of other topics, including Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Jewish-American attitudes toward Israel and imprisoned spy Jonathan Pollard. 

They also discussed Goldberg’s news-making interviews with President Barack Obama, including one that took place this past February in which, speaking to Goldberg about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the president quoted Hillel and said, “If not now, when?” 

Goldberg said he has known Obama since at least 2006, when the president was a U.S. senator. He said that he believes Obama’s tenure in the White House — specifically his experiences with Syria’s Bashar Assad and, most recently, Russia’s Vladimir Putin — has given Obama a more pragmatic view of the world than the one he held upon entering into office.

“I think he is moving toward a more realistic understanding toward the nature of totalitarianism,” Goldberg said, adding that he might be “projecting.” 

Approximately 200 people turned out to the Westwood synagogue in hope of gaining insight into what the esteemed writer thinks about U.S. and Iran nuclear negotiations. Goldberg’s profession puts him in the thick of the action, according to Leeor Alpern, president emeritus of Democrats for Israel-Los Angeles. 

“It’s a real-time update from someone who is in the heart of everything,” he told the Journal.

“He doesn’t stoke the fires,” another attendee, Sinai Temple’s library director, Lisa Silverman, said of Goldberg. “He just tells the reality in a very reasoned away.” 

She was among a crowd filled with news junkies, nonprofit leaders and others, such as Bend the Arc Southern California regional director Serena Zeise; J Street Southwest field director Yael Maizel and J Street Southwest finance director Daniel Rosove.

A Q-and-A with the audience followed Goldberg’s and Wolpe’s casual conversation.  

A National Magazine Award winner, Goldberg writes about the Middle East, mostly, and, through a column in The Atlantic, offers advice on topics as varied as office etiquette and sex. During his appearance at Sinai, he said his next stop would be Kiev, Ukraine. 

From left: JFS board member Shana Passman, JFS board president Terry Friedman, CBS’ Nina Tassler and David Stapf, Josh Groban, JFS CEO Paul Castro, CBS’ Debby Barak, JFS COO Susie Forer-Dehrey and JFS board member Tami Stapf. Photo by River Jordan & Christin Rose.

Josh Groban performed at a March 23 benefit concert for Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) at CBS Radford Studios in Studio City. The singer-songwriter’s star power helped the social service organization raise $200,000 for the “100,000 men, women and children in crisis who turn to JFS … each year,” according to a JFS press release.

Among those in attendance were JFS CEO Paul Castro, COO Susie Forer-Dehrey, JFS President Terry Friedman and board member Shana Passman. They were joined by CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler and CBS Television Studios President David Stapf in ushering in a day of activities that treated the hundreds of attendees to food-truck fare, entertainment and more.

And, reflecting the agency’s commitment to tikkun olam, the day’s program — titled “Day of Hope” — also featured community members putting together backpacks for Tools for School, a JFS initiative that provides school supplies to families in need. Attendees also made stuffed animals for children living in shelters.

Groban performed on the CBS Radford Studios’ New York Street back lot in the afternoon.

“To be in a position where I can come out here and sing for adults and kids on a nice afternoon … [to] come out here and support this wonderful cause, it’s a pleasure,” he told CBS Los Angeles.

Franci Levine-Grater has joined the staff of Pico Union Project.

She said she is excited to join musician and producer Craig Taubman’s interfaith center based downtown.

“I think that as the institution is growing and as Craig’s passion is bringing more and more people through the door — both from his existing networks in the Jewish community and the arts community and increasingly here in the local community in the Pico-Union neighborhood — there’s some infrastructure-building I can help with, and fundraising support,” said Levine-Grater, who has worked in the world of education and nonprofits for more than five years. “And hopefully [I’ll] be another good mindset to bounce ideas off.”

Levine-Grater served as development director at Kadima Day School in West Hills from 2009 to 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, she said, she led a $3 million capital campaign as president of Planned Parenthood of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley. Additionally, she has worked at the bridge-building organization Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative.

The 47-year-old, who is married to Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, began working on Taubman’s team on March 17. As of press time, she did not have an official title. She joins a team of four staffers, not including Taubman.

Taubman, who prefers to avoid official job titles, expressed enthusiasm about Levine-Grater coming onboard. 

“It’s not about the title — it’s about what do you bring, your unique gift that you bring to the table, and her unique gift is that she’s really smart, really rooted in the not-for-profit social entrepreneurship community,” he said.

From left: Milken Community Schools students Neiv Toledano and Sarah Wininger, actor Owain Yeoman (“The Mentalist”) and his wife, anti-bullying advocate Gigi Yeoman, attended Milken’s March 1 charity talent show. The event raised awareness of and funds for efforts to thwart bullying. Photo by Michael Morrow 

A March 1 talent show at Milken Community Schools that sought to raise awareness about the prevalence of bullying on high school campuses brought in approximately $13,000 for Fashion 4 Compassion, a nonprofit that supports anti-bullying charity organizations. 

The event also showcased the diversity of talents of its students. The evening of amateur performances featured a number of students dancing, singing, playing musical instruments and more. 

Emma Maier, a senior, gave a performance of the liturgical tune “V’Shamru” that won first prize at the competition. 

While the Freshman Five’s Jonah Cohen, Brandon Ptasznik, Noah Daniel, Sawyer Kroll and Stevie Gordon a capella medley of contemporary hits won them third place, Shaun Torkan, class of 2017, who won second place, went another direction, performing Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C Sharp Minor.”

Hundreds of community members attended the evening event in Milken’s Robert Margolis Performing Arts Center.

Television star Owain Yeoman (CBS’ “The Mentalist”), Milken faculty member Monica Daranyi, actress Ryan Newman (“See Dad Run”) and producer Cori Malin (“The Voice”) were among the judges. 

“Clearly, Milken only accepts musical prodigies,” Yeoman said midway through the evening.

Milken Hebrew teacher Noa Schechter was the faculty organizer of the evening. The school’s leadership and business ethics class produced the event. Event chairs included juniors Sanam Kohanim, Chanel Broshinsky, Sarah Wininger and Neiv Toledano

Compassion Brands, which sells designer clothing and jewelry to raise funds for anti-bullying efforts, showcased its products during a fair that preceded the show. 

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