Moving and shaking: Ordination, graduation, The Learned Hand Award and more


Local seminaries were in full ordination and graduation mode last month, celebrating a combined total of 30 new rabbis among them.

For the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, this year’s ordination took place May 17. Rabbi Aaron Panken, HUC-JIR president, served as the ordination speaker. Twelve students were ordained as rabbis. 

A day later, the school awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Rosalie Silberman Abella, a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and a certificate of recognition to Richard Siegel, graduation speaker and retiring director of HUC-JIR’s Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management. Seven students received master’s degrees in Jewish nonprofit management, 12 received master’s degrees in Jewish education, and eight received master’s degrees in Hebrew letters. Both ceremonies took place at Temple Israel of Hollywood.

The American Jewish University (AJU) Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, which is affiliated with the Conservative movement, ordained 10 rabbis during a May 19 ceremony at its Bel Air Familian campus. 

Rabbi Aaron Alexander, outgoing associate dean of the Ziegler School, delivered the invocation, and AJU President Rabbi Robert Wexler gave opening remarks. Additional speakers were Rabbi Bradley Artson, Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School; new ordinee Rabbi Ari Averbach, who spoke on behalf of his class; Reb Mimi Feigelson, masphiah ruchanit (spiritual mentor) and lecturer of rabbinic studies; and Rabbi Cheryl Peretz, associate dean of the Ziegler School.

The Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA) 2015
ordination and graduation ceremony took place May 31 at Stephen Wise Temple in Bel Air.

The transdenominational institution, which is based in
Koreatown, had eight rabbinic ordinees and four cantorial ordinees. There also were two chaplaincy graduates and the school’s first master of Jewish studies graduate. A dessert reception followed the event. 


The American Jewish Committee, Los Angeles (AJC-LA) Learned Hand Award ceremony honoring Scott Edelman took place June 3 at the SLS Beverly Hills hotel.

Learned Hand Award honoree Scott Edelman (left) and former American Jewish Committee President Bruce Ramer.  Photo courtesy of American Jewish Committee

Edelman, an attorney, is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and a current member of the board of directors at the pro bono legal aid agency Bet Tzedek. He recently took part in an AJC advocacy trip to Israel, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Cyprus. 

“The recent resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is yet another reminder that we can never be complacent about the freedoms we enjoy and the need to protect them,” Edelman said, accepting the award, as quoted in an AJC-LA press release. The award — established in memory of the late Judge Learned Hand — recognizes outstanding persons in the legal profession. 

More than 300 people turned out to celebrate Edelman, including AJC Executive Director David Harris, who delivered the night’s keynote. Others in attendance included Victoria Gerrard Chaney, an associate justice of the California 2nd District Court of Appeal, who presented the award to the evening’s honoree; and AJC-LA President Dean Schramm. Attorneys Wayne Barsky and Kenneth Doran, former Congressman Mel Levine and former AJC President Bruce Ramer served as dinner chairs. 

AJC describes itself as an organization that advocates for Israel and the Jewish people as well as for human rights and democratic values across the globe. 


Community members gambled for a good cause at Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation poker tournament and casino night, organized by Cancer Free Generation (CFG), the young adults division of Tower Cancer Research Foundation (TCRF).

Israeli television star Ori Pfeffer (“Dig”) and  Nancy Mishkin, chair of the board at Tower Cancer Research Foundation. Photo courtesy of Tower Cancer Research Foundation

The June 6 event’s 320 attendees were able to enjoy rows of Texas Hold ’Em tables in a courtyard at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, or, if they preferred, blackjack tables beside the cocktail bar. Rick Aronow won the night’s poker tournament, which, along with a live auction that included an electric guitar signed by members of the rock band Green Day, helped raise approximately $150,000 toward cancer research.

Among the participants in the grand poker tournament were Israeli television star Ori Pfeffer (“Dig”), as well as Dennis Haskins (“Saved by the Bell”), Verne Troyer (the “Austin Powers” films) and Rich Sommer (“Mad Men”).

Other attendees included Nancy Mishkin, chair of the board at TCRF, a grant-providing nonprofit based in Beverly Hills, and Casey Federman, a longtime supporter of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and CFG president, who announced during the event that CFG had selected UCLA’s melanoma research department as a grant recipient.

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

+