Moving and Shaking: ‘Urinetown’ at De Toledo High School, new consul general of Israel and more


De Toledo High School won Best Production for the musical “Urinetown” at the fifth annual Jerry Herman Awards on May 22. 

Also honored for his part in the production was Brennen Klitzner. He took home the “No Small Parts” Award, which goes to an excellent actor from an ensemble.

Held at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, the Nederlander Organization’s Jerry Herman Awards celebrate outstanding high school musical theater achievement in Greater Los Angeles.

Diane Feldman, director of drama, musical theater and vocal performance for the school, said de Toledo won because, “The kids believed in the material and what it had to teach and say. The production really meant something significant to them.”

Feldman added that the production was not just high school musical theater. “This is the real deal,” she said. “We do a lot of deep learning. The students excavate scenes and learn their characters, and figure out how they can relate to these characters through their own life experiences.”

The “Urinetown” cast and crew was made up of 45 people who spent 4 1/2 months working on the musical. The show opened at the end of January and ran for six performances. In the show, citizens of a town face a water shortage and are forced to pay an evil company every time they have to use the bathroom. 

— Kylie Ora Lobell, Contributing Writer


Sam Grundwerg. Photo courtesy of Consulate of Israel

Sam Grundwerg assumed the position of consul general of Israel in Los Angeles on Aug. 17, making him the top diplomat for the Jewish state in the southwestern United States. The L.A. diplomatic mission is responsible for an area that includes seven states, from Hawaii to Wyoming.

“It is a great privilege for me to take on this challenging endeavor,” he wrote in a Facebook post the day he took office.

The Florida-born attorney previously served as director general of the Israel branch of the World Jewish Congress. He moved to Los Angeles from the West Bank settlement of Efrat, near Bethlehem, where he lived with his wife, Julia, who is a nurse, and three children.

Born in Miami Beach, Grundwerg practiced law in Florida before moving to Israel in 1990. There, he served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) armored corps and later in the IDF reserves. 

Grundwerg replaced David Siegel, who served in the post of consul general for five years.

“Los Angeles is considered one of the most important assignments in our foreign service,” Siegel told the Journal in July.

During his tenure, Siegel helped secure a landmark memorandum of understanding between California and Israel and voiced Israel’s ardent disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal.

In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Grundwerg would be headed back to the U.S. to take the job in L.A.

— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer


Projected words from Anaïs Nin's writings augment the performance in a scene from “Anaïs, A Dance Opera.” Photo by Barry Weiss

This fall, de Toledo High School (dTHS) in West Hills will begin looking for a new head of school to replace its founding head of school, longtime educator Bruce Powell, who will be stepping down from his current position on June 30, 2018.

The school’s board of directors has indicated that a search committee will look nationally, and possibly even internationally, for someone to fill the role. The board has enlisted the help of CalWest Educators Placement, a consulting firm that places administrators and teachers in positions at private and independent schools, according to the school’s website.

In a statement to the Journal, Bruce Gersh, de Toledo High School board president, wrote, “Upon Dr. Powell’s announcement this past spring that he will step down as the founding Head of School effective as of June 2018, the de Toledo High School Board formed a search committee and retained a search firm to undertake the process of the search for our next Head of School, anticipated to assume the new role with the 2018-2019 school year. We embark on this process with a clear vision, sound leadership, and are excited about the bright future of de Toledo High School.”

Powell began his journey in Jewish day-school education more than 30 years ago. He was the inaugural general studies principal at the boys and girls schools at Yeshiva University Los Angeles, where he worked for 13 years, and he served as principal of what is now Milken Community Schools, before joining New Community Jewish High School, now known as de Toledo, in 2002. 

— Kylie Ora Lobell, Contributing Writer


After IKAR’s Friday night services and over dinner under the Aug. 19 night sky on the roof of Shalhevet High School, Matt Price, Jesse Schreck, Ian Michael Nelson, Sigi Gradwohl and Ilana Orea told stories on the theme of love as part of an event dedicated to Tu b’Av, the Jewish holiday of love. 

Tales ranged in content: Storytellers told of discovering a different kind of love while being “always a bridesmaid”; of first loves; of the love that someone can have for a house; of second chances; and of doing anything for love even if it challenges your significant anxieties.

It was part of “Love Angeles,” a series of Tu b’Av events around the city spearheaded by NuRoots, a community engagement initiative of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Other events that took place Aug. 18-21 included a full moon hike in Griffith Park and a sunset trip down the L.A. River.

At Temple Beth Israel in Highland Park, Braja Tarletz beamed at the dozen or so people who sat in a semicircle around her for an event called “The Love Train” on Aug. 18. After a collaborative reading on the origins of the holiday, Tarletz invited guests to participate in an “open mic” by sharing an experience of love. Participants used the platform to express their love for the congregation itself.

Longtime congregant Ken Ofgang nicknamed the shul “Temple Beth Haimish,” using the Yiddish word for homelike or welcoming. He shared his experience of falling in love with the synagogue on his first visit. “I visited many different temples in the area, and I found a home here,” he said.

 — Eitan Arom, Staff Writer, and Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer


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

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