Moving and shaking: Jeopardy winner, AIPAC gala, YU and more


This local college student is $100,000 richer. The question, “Jeopardy!”-style, would be: “Who is USC student Sam Deutsch?”

The junior political economy major won the game show’s recent college tournament, which culminated on Feb. 12. 

“It definitely has not sunk in yet. I don’t know if it ever will,” Deutsch wrote the Journal in an email from the Netherlands, where he’s spending a semester studying at Maastricht University. The Bethesda, Md., resident plans to go to law school and work in his native Washington, D.C., after graduation.

Deutsch said he played online trivia games, watched “Jeopardy!” episodes using a pen as the buzzer and brushed up on history and geography to prepare. His mother and father attended the show’s January taping, along with his grandmother, uncle and a few USC classmates. The latter held viewing parties when the show aired and sent congratulatory messages and pictures. “Even though I’m halfway across the world, I still feel close to home,” Deutsch said.

He said he plans to use his prize money for law school, travel, and a donation to the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown University in honor of his mother, a cancer survivor. 

At USC, Deutsch, 20, said he has DJ’d at Hillel’s Chanukah party and observes Passover and the High Holy Days. He’ll compete in the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions (TOC) in November for a $250,000 prize. “The fact that I’ve even gotten this far is amazing, so anything that happens in the TOC is a huge bonus,” he said. 

— Gerri Miller, Contributing Writer


More than 1,400 guests attended AIPAC’s Los Angeles Gala Dinner on Feb. 21 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Featured speakers included former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; AIPAC Christian activist Pastor Chris Edmonds, whose father was recently recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for saving Jewish prisoners of war during World War II; Wayne Klitofsky, AIPAC’s regional director; and Julie Munjack, Los Angeles AIPAC director. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) took part in a panel moderated by AIPAC board member Michael Tuchin.

Attendees included a number of Democratic congressmen from California: Brad Sherman, Linda Sanchez, Janice Hahn, Julia Brownley, Alan Lowenthal, Raul Ruiz and Mark Takano. Among the state legislators present were Democrat State Sens. Isadore Hall and Ben Allen and Republican Jeff Stone, as well as Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh and Republican Travis Allen.

Other officials included Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel, Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, and Santa Ana Councilmember Michele Martinez.

AIPAC is a pro-Israel lobby that it urges members of Congress to support Israel through foreign aid, government partnerships and more.

— Jewish Insider


Academy of Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA) has appointed Rabbi Laura Owens of Congregation B’nai Horin as its interim president. Former President Tamar Frankiel, who became the first Orthodox woman to lead an American rabbinical seminary when she was appointed president in 2013, has returned to the position of provost.

Rabbi Laura Owens, interim president at Academy of Jewish Religion, California. Photo courtesy of AJRCA

“She is a remarkably gifted woman and we are so honored and delighted she is staying on as provost,” Owens said.

Owens, who served as chair of the board at the school before being named president, earned her bachelor’s degree in theater arts from USC, and has spent most of her adult career as an actress, appearing on television and in theater, according to her congregation’s website. She was ordained at AJRCA in 2008.

Succeeding Owens is Marlene Canter, who graduated from the school in 2015 and is serving as interim board chair.

The transition in leadership became effective Jan. 1. Meanwhile, a search for a long-term president is underway.

AJRCA is a transdenominational school in Koreatown dedicated to training rabbis, cantors, chaplains and other Jewish community leaders. The school currently serves approximately 60 students, according to its website. 


Some 300 people turned out Feb. 17 at Stephen Wise Temple to hear Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback moderate a debate between Rob Eshman, publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media/Jewish Journal, and David Suissa, president of TRIBE Media/Jewish Journal. 

From left: Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback, Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman and Jewish Journal President David Suissa appear at Stephen Wise Temple for a conversation about Israel, American Jewry and more. Photo by Lisa Ellen Niver

The two outlined their sharp differences over the Iran nuclear deal, how to approach Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and President Barack Obama’s Mideast policies, but also focused on how they work together to create media that incorporate the widest range of viewpoints.


From Jan 17-24, Yosef Kerendian, Ezra Schwarcz and Bella Sebban, three Orthodox or Modern Orthodox Los Angelenos who are currently enrolled at Yeshiva University (YU), participated in a trip to Israel organized by the university during their winter break. 

Participants in the Yeshiva University-organized trip to Israel in January included (seated from left) YU students Manny Dahari of Chicago and Angelenos Yosef Kerendian, Ezra Schwarcz and Bella Sebban. Photo courtesy of Yeshiva University

In total, 20 YU undergraduate students from around the country participated in the trip. 

Kerendian, 19, graduated from Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles; Schwarcz, 22, is an alumnus of Shalhevet High School; and Sebban, 22, is a graduate of Bais Yaakov School for Girls. 

“I had the tremendous privilege of spending seven insightful, emotional and thought-provoking days on Yeshiva University’s 2016 Solidarity Mission to Israel this past week,” Sebban said in a statement provided to the Journal. “After going on this mission, I feel very strongly about spreading the message that no matter where you are in the world, the land of Israel is intertwined in the genetic makeup of a Jew.”

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

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