Moving and shaking: The Israeli Philharmonic, Beit Issie Shapiro and more


The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performed at a Nov. 10 concert gala that raised more than $1.6 million for education programs in Israel and Los Angeles. It also honored Bram Goldsmith, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of City National Bank, with the “Founders Award for a lifetime of philanthropy and leadership,” according to a statement by David Hirsch, American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (AFIPO) board president, and Jerry Magnin, chairman of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

David Hirsch (left), president of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and actor Josh Malina were among attendees at an Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance Nov. 10 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Ryan Torok

The event drew 900 people and took place at the Wallis, which co-organized it with AFIPO.

“In an era when everyone seems to be competing with each other for philanthropic dollars, the Wallis and the Israel Philharmonic want to be leaders in exemplifying what we can achieve by working together and what organizations can accomplish by sharing sources and creative competencies,” Danielle Ames Spivak, AFIPO West Coast director, said in a Nov. 12 phone interview. 

Zubin Mehta, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra music director and co-chairman of AFIPO, conducted the orchestra in back-to-back performances. A dinner followed the first performance, featuring remarks by Helgard Field, a board member at AFIPO; Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel; and Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold. Siegel and Gold used the occasion to formalize a partnership between the City of Beverly Hills and Israel focused on water, cybersecurity and more. Beverly Hills City Council voted in support of the agreement on Sept. 1.

“Through this partnership we’re committed to bringing the best of Israel to Beverly Hills,” Siegel said.

Attendees included former California Gov. Gray Davis; actor Josh Malina (“Scandal,” “The West Wing”); Les Bider, chairman of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; and Stephen Sass, president of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California.

A nonprofit, AFIPO raises funds and awareness for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which was founded in 1936 by Jewish refugees.


The American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro (AFOBIS) West Coast region held its 13th annual gala on Nov. 8 at Sinai Temple, honoring regional board members Klara and Martin Shandling with the Excellence in Leadership Award, and Ernest Katz with the Humanitarian Award.

From left: Benjy Maor, director of international resource development at Beit Issie Shapiro; Klara and Martin Shandling, recipients of the American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro (AFOBIS) Excellence in Leadership Award; Errol Fine, chairman of the West Coast region of AFOBIS; Jean Judes, executive director of Beit Issie Shapiro; and AFOBIS Humanitarian Award recipient Ernest Katz (right), with wife Frieda. Photo courtesy of American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro 

Marking the organization’s bar mitzvah year, the event raised approximately $50,000 toward a program providing iPads to children living with disabilities. According to Beit Issie Shapiro, an Israeli-based organization serving children living with autism and other developmental disabilities, iPads are useful tools for children with autism and similar conditions. 

Money raised at the gala is part of an ongoing capital campaign, according to Benjy Maor, director of international resource development at Beit Issie Shapiro.

About 180 attendees turned out, including Beth Jacob Congregation Rabbi Kalman Topp and Jean Judes, executive director of Beit Issie Shapiro.

“I’m thrilled to share the story of Beit Issie and its many successes for children with disabilities, not only in Israel but across the globe,” Shani Smith Fisher, a board member of the regional chapter of AFOBIS, said in an interview. Her husband, television writer Seth Fisher, was among the evening’s speakers. Mark Goldenberg served as master of ceremonies.


Entertainment icons Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand were among the 17 winners of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom, announced Nov. 16 by President Barack Obama. The awards will be presented at the White House on Nov. 24, according to a press release.

Steven Spielberg. Photo from Wikipedia

“I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor. … These men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans,” Obama said in a statement. 

Spielberg, an award-winning filmmaker and successful Hollywood businessman, is known for creating blockbuster movies such as “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” as well as serious, historical productions, including “Schindler’s List.” 

The Brooklyn-born Streisand is an award-winning actress, director and singer. She’s a philanthropist, as well, endowing the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. Both Spielberg and Streisand live in the Los Angeles area. 

Among those joining the pair in receiving the award this year are Stephen Sondheim, whose wide-ranging body of work as a theater composer and lyricist includes “Company” and “West Side Story,” and Itzhak Perlman, the Israeli-born violinist.


Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl recently presented retiring media relations deputy Joel Bellman, 60, a member of Temple Israel of Hollywood, with a scroll marking 26 years of “dedicated and conscientious service to the people of the Third District and the County of Los Angeles.”

L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl presents retiring media relations deputy Joel Bellman with a scroll marking 26 years of “dedicated and conscientious service to the people of the Third District and the County of Los Angeles.” Photo courtesy of County of Los Angeles

The Oct. 27 ceremony was held at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, the headquarters of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Bellman served under former L.A. County Supervisor Edmund Edelman beginning in 1989 and worked for Zev Yaroslavsky from 1994 to 2014, when he joined Kuehl’s staff.

“From Ed Edelman, who recruited me, to Zev Yaroslavsky and Sheila Kuehl who retained me, it’s been a privilege and an honor to serve three thoughtful, idealistic, committed, and dedicated progressive officeholders,” Bellman wrote in an Oct. 1 article at laobserved.com. He is retiring to pursue some of his passion projects on a full-time basis, he wrote.

“It’s been an incredible experience to be part of,” he said of his service in county government. “But now it’s time to say goodbye to all that.”

Barbara Osborn, Kuehl’s director of communications, succeeded Bellman on Nov. 2.

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