Moving and Shaking: Multifaith Harmony, Run for Hope and Cal State L.A.
Los Angeles Jewish and Muslim leaders gathered April 19 at the gold-domed and blue-mosaic King Fahad Mosque in Culver City for a multifaith harmony program that reflected on the recent holiday of Passover.
Organizer Mohammed A. Khan, the mosque’s director of interfaith outreach, welcomed participants, pointing out that the world we live in makes such gatherings even more important. Invoking the Creator, Khan said, “We are here out of love for you and out of love for Moses.”
The program began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by youth members of the mosque. Then a succession of Jewish speakers offered their insights into the importance of Passover. The Jewish speakers included Rabbis Yitzchok Adlerstein, Yonah Bookstein, Shlomo Einhorn and Abraham Cooper. Holocaust survivor William Harvey, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer Bob Rothman, Jewish Journal Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Rob Eshman, Dov Cohen and Isaac Hertz were there as well.
Muslim speakers included Imam Ayman Abdul-Mujeeb, Imam Abu Ishaq Abdul Hafiz, Nida Maqsood and Soraya Deen.
“The message we have in common,” said Einhorn, dean of Yavneh Hebrew Academy, “is that religion is here to bring people light.”
“We have much to learn from our Muslim brothers and sisters,” added Bookstein of Pico Shul.
“The most important lesson,” said Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “is to treat the stranger with dignity.”
Khan took time to introduce his host committee of Muslim leaders, as well as eight officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the LAPD active in interfaith relations.
“Passover is a reminder of the mutualities between our two faiths,” Maqsood, a law student, said.
After short speeches from the participants, the mosque hosted a dinner featuring a halal buffet and a separate kosher buffet.
The Our House Grief Support Center’s sixth annual Run For Hope on April 26 at the West L.A. Civic Center raised more than $370,000 for the California-based nonprofit.
Melissa Rivers, the daughter of late comedian Joan Rivers and a supporter of the organization, presented awards to the largest and most successful teams at the benefit for grief support for adults and children.
“The Run For Hope was even more meaningful for me this year as I participated in memory of my mother,” Rivers said, as quoted in a statement. “Coming together with others in a large group commemorating memories of loved ones is a powerful reminder that you’re not alone and can seek support from others, something Our House does beautifully.”
Nearly 1,600 participants turned out, many of whom wore personalized T-shirts with their loved ones’ photos printed on them. The event featured a 5-K run/walk, an in-memory walk and a family fun run.
Grief specialist Jo-Ann Lautman, who has run support groups at Stephen Wise Temple and worked in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center hospice care, founded the nonsectarian organization in 1993. Rabbi David Eshel of Wilshire Boulevard Temple and Cantor Chayim Frenkel of Kehillat Israel are among its advisory board members.
Local philanthropist Erika Glazer has donated more than $1.6 million in endowment money to a Cal State L.A. resource center that opened last October and that serves students who are undocumented immigrants.
“Cal State L.A. is grateful for the generous support we have received from Erika J. Glazer and her family. They realize that one of our greatest assets is our youth and that investing in them is investing in our future,” Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino said in an April announcement. “Her gift helps keep the promise of higher education alive for dreamer students.”
Glazer’s donation will “underwrite staff costs and maintain a dedicated space to provide academic guidance, referral assistance and other support to undocumented students. The center will be named the Erica J. Glazer Family Dreamers Resource Center,” according to a statement. The name of the center refers to the DREAM Act — the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.
Since 2006, the Glazer family has donated more than $2 million to the university toward assisting undocumented students, $700,000 of which has funded scholarships for such students. Helping illegal immigrants who are enrolled in college is a passion of Glazer’s.
“Fortunately, in recent years, there is less need for private scholarships but definitely a growing need for a center where students can get help working their way through a difficult legal process and assistance in powering through a four-year university on time,” she said in a statement. “My hope is that this resource center will be obsolete in a few years and the funds can go toward other programs at Cal State L.A.”
Richard Siegel, director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (ZSJNM) of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), was honored during a retirement luncheon April 23 at the school’s Los Angeles campus. His retirement takes effect July 1.
Hired as the interim head of school almost eight years ago, Siegel “immediately undertook a strategic plan, with the signature aspect being the name change from the School of Jewish Communal Service to the School of Nonprofit Management,” said Joshua Holo, dean of HUC-JIR’s L.A. campus. “That gave clarity and strength to the school’s mission. The other aspect to it was a stroke of genius: He turned a strategic plan into an educational plan by having the students themselves help develop the plan.”
When the school was slated to close as a cost-cutting measure in 2008, Siegel headed the effort to save it and, afterward, was asked to stay on as permanent director.
“I have a great deal of optimism about the future of the school,” Siegel told the Journal.
With more than 100 people in attendance, luncheon guests included HUC-JIR President Rabbi Aaron Panken; former advisory council chairs for the school Rhea Coskey; Marcie Zelikow (who made a $6 million naming gift with her husband, Howard, to support the school last year); and Siegel’s wife, Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. The school’s associate director, Mandi Richardson, organized the luncheon.
Prior to coming to Los Angeles, Siegel was the director of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture in New York for 28 years. A successor at ZSJNM has not yet been determined, however a search committee is active, according to officials.
— Sarah Soroudi, Contributing Writer
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