November 13, 2018

Moving and Shaking: Temple Israel of Hollywood Cantor, Great Minds Gala, and Mimouna celebration

Temple Israel of Hollywood (TIOH) has announced that cantor and music director Danny Maseng will be leaving the congregation this summer. Maseng took over at the synagogue in 2008 upon the retirement of longtime Cantor Aviva Rosenbloom, making him just the third full-time cantor in the temple’s 89-year history.

“As Chazzan, composer, teacher, performer and director of our dedicated choir, professional singers and musicians, Danny has brought us new awareness and appreciation of the possibilities for music and worship in congregational life,” TIOH leaders wrote in an April 20 letter to its members. “He has generously shared his Judaic and Hebrew knowledge, has touched us with his spiritual teachings, and has helped lead us movingly in Shabbat and holiday prayer.”

Rabbi John Rosove declined to comment beyond the letter, which was co-signed by TIOH President Susan Meyer and the board of trustees. Maseng could not be reached for comment.

Born in Israel, Maseng achieved acclaim as an actor and singer at an early age. He traveled to the United States in 1971 to star in the Broadway musical “Only Fools Are Sad,” immigrating just a few years later. Since then, Maseng has released numerous albums and appeared in theater and on television. He has also served as director of the Spielberg Theater Fellowships for the Foundation for Jewish Camp, director of Hava Nashira for the Union of Reform Judaism and in other capacities.

Maseng will continue in his current position until June 30, after which TIOH will employ interim cantors and guest soloists while it conducts a search for a new full-time cantor.

“Danny has made a unique contribution to Jewish music, and his contributions have enriched our community,” the letter reads. “We have been privileged to have him here with us.”

— Aron Chilewich, Staff Writer


From left: Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, Holocaust survivor Maurice Polar, Rabbi Joshua Aaronson (Temple Judea) and L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz. Photo courtesy of City of Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield, Mitchell Englander and Paul Koretz joined Israel Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel, Temple Judea Rabbi Joshua Aaronson and other city officials in commemorating Yom HaShoah during a ceremony on April 15 at City Hall.

“Each year, on Yom HaShoah, on the anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, we remember. We remember to guard against future atrocities, to mourn more recent ones,” Blumenfield said. “We remember so the lives that were lost so senselessly will not be lost in vain. And we remember those whose lives were lost, and we mourn the generation of  lives that will never be.”

The event began with a reception and welcoming comments in the City Hall rotunda, and then moved into council chambers for an official presentation. Helen Freeman and Maurice Polar, both Holocaust survivors, spoke before council. The councilmembers, during their remarks, invoked their own families’ histories as testament to the need to bear witness. Koretz, for example, spoke of the terrible emotional toll his aunt’s death in the Holocaust had on his father up until the end of his life.

Siegel expressed gratitude to the City Council for its commitment to education and remembrance. “It is a commitment to reaffirm our values and to stand up to injustice regardless of the enormity of the evil in our own times,” he said.

— Aron Chilewich, Staff Writer

From left: The Friends of the Semel Institute honorees Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy.. Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage

With more than 600 people in attendance at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, including some of this town’s top TV writers and producers, The Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA held its Great Minds Gala on April 19.

The institute raises money to support research and treatment at UCLA for mental and neurological illnesses, and the approximately $1 million raised at the gala went to the Semel Institute’s Scholar Program, which funds the research of young scientists who work on treatments for mind and brain disorders.

The evening kicked off with comedian Paula Poundstone and went on to honor four people: UCLA Chancellor Gene Block received the Visionary Award for his commitment to maintaining UCLA as a major research university and for his own research into biology and sleep circadian rhythms at the Semel Institute; former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy received the Humanitarian Award in part for his creation of ONE MIND, a group dedicated to curing mental illnesses and removing their social stigma; and Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa — executive producers and writers of “Homeland” — received the Artistic Award of Courage for their creation of the show’s lead character, Carrie Mathison, who is bipolar and played by actress Claire Danes.

The gala’s attendees were shown a scene from “Homeland” in which the Mathison character breaks down, a striking portrayal of one manifestation of bipolar disorder.

“We described her as brilliant, slightly broken, obsessive, charismatic — but it wasn’t until our 18th or 19th draft of the script that we realized that those behaviors were actually connected, that Carrie suffered from bipolar disorder,” Gordon told the crowd. “The response to Carrie has been extraordinary, especially from people with bipolar disorder.”

— Jared Sichel, Staff Writer

Bazaar Ensemble. Photo by Alison Warshal. 

Live music, traditional dance and food and drink marked the Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) Mimouna celebration for young professionals on April 14, an event that was billed as “L.A’s largest post-Passover block party.”

Mimouna is a North African cultural tradition that takes place every year after Pesach. David Suissa, president of the Jewish Journal, addressed the crowd at a studio space on West Pico Boulevard and discussed how Mimouna is an opportunity for young people to fall in love.

The event featured a performance by the versatile musical group Bazaar Ensemble that rocked the venue. A henna artist was on hand; a bar served wine and beer; and Natalie Farahan, program director of JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), one of the event’s many organizational sponsors, manned a booth that offered cookies and other treats.

Rabbi Sarah Bassin, associate rabbi at TEBH who oversees YoPro, the group for TEBH members in their 20s and 30s, was in attendance, along with comedian Danielle Soto and Web personality Yael Tygiel, who are involved with YoPro.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email