Moving and Shaking: USC Shoah Foundation, Israeli American Council, Danielle Berrin and more


For those eager to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty, a great place to be was the annual Ambassadors for Humanity gala, benefiting the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education.

Where else could you see Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Harrison Ford and Kerry Washington among many other famous people onstage, while feasting on a dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck as composer John Williams conducted an orchestra in selections from his own work, starting, of course, with the “Star Wars” theme?

The Dec. 8 dinner at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood was a mixture of high spirits and laughs, courtesy of “Late Late Show” host James Corden; appreciation for the Shoah Foundation’s work; and anxious references to America’s future under President-elect Donald Trump (though his name was never mentioned).

The Shoah Foundation is an outgrowth of the phenomenal impact of the movie “Schindler’s List” and, in just one aspect of its work, has collected some 54,000 video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and of the Armenian, Darfur and other genocides.

One of the most eloquent speakers was Mellody Hobson, a leader in finance and education, who was honored alongside her husband, filmmaker and entrepreneur Lucas. She praised the Shoah Foundation for “giving a face to the faceless,” and observed that in America, “we are now frozen in time, waiting to see what happens.”

Despite the foundation’s impressive accomplishments, founder Spielberg, pointing to the endless slaughter in Syria, said, “We have not come far enough.” He ended his remarks with the clarion call, “There can be no more bystanders.”

The more than 700 guests at the event contributed about $3.5 million to the Shoah Foundation, according to Anne-Marie Stein, the foundation’s director of communications.

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor


From left: Actor Rob Morrow, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Director Amanda Susskind, ADL Humanitarian Award recipients Curtis and Priscilla Tamkin, ADL Jurisprudence Award recipient Gary Roberts and ADL Regional Board Chair Ivy Kagan Bierman. Photo by Michael Kovac

The Pacific Southwest region of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored Priscilla and Curtis Tamkin and Gary Roberts during its annual gala on Dec. 6 at the Beverly Hilton.

The Tamkins, who received the Humanitarian Award, are committed to the arts, animal welfare and tikkun olam, according to ADL National Chair Marvin Nathan, who introduced them.

Roberts, executive vice president at Fox Group Legal at Fox Entertainment Group, received the Jurisprudence Award. He spoke of his recent trip to Auschwitz and the need to push back against the rise of anti-Semitism.

Attendees included actor Rob Morrow, who emceed the event, which raised nearly $1 million for the ADL; regional board chair Ivy Kagan Bierman; ADL Pacific Southwest Regional Director Amanda Susskind; former ADL National Executive Director Abraham Foxman; and Jewish Journal President David Suissa.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO Jim Gianopulos and attorney Gerson Zweifach served as honorary co-chairs. The Los Angeles Master Chorale provided the entertainment.

The ADL combats anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.


From left: Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg, Jewish Journal President David Suissa and Julia Grundwerg attend a commemoration for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Photo by Michael Kovac

The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles sponsored an event called Commemoration of Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands and Iranon Dec. 8 at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel. 

The event highlighted the story of the more than 850,000 Jewish refugees of Arab lands and the need to educate the world about how this story must be recognized in conversation about the State of Israel and the history of the Jewish experience.

The program’s participants included Senior Rabbi Tal Sessler of Sephardic Temple, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg and Jewish Journal President David Suissa. A musical performance featured Yoni Arbel and Asher Levy of Bazaar Ensemble and Baba Sale Congregation chazan-cantor Liran Shalom Kohn.

Nov. 30 is the official day when Israel and the Jewish world remember the fate of the more than 850,000 Jews who were forced out of Arab countries and Iran in the 20th century. This day of memory commemorates the tragedy of people who were forced to flee from their homes and to leave the countries where they had lived for millennia. 

During his remarks, Suissa said the Jewish Diaspora’s support for Jewish refugees underscores how Jews stick together.

“Today is a day of solidarity, and it’s a day that reminds me of how good Jews are at taking care of each other,” Suissa said. “I hope for the day that our Arab neighbors could do as well as we do when it comes to taking care of each other. I want to tell them to look at our story.”

Among the more than 250 attendees were Sephardic Temple President Alexander Rachmanony; Nathaniel Malka, vice president of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA); and Iranian American Jewish Federation President Susan Azizzadeh.

The gathering followed a Dec. 7 commemoration of Jewish refugees from Arab countries at Los Angeles City Hall, where participants included L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz; Israeli philanthropist Adam Milstein and his wife, Gila; Farah Shamolian, Los Angeles program coordinator at JIMENA; Rabbi Raif Melhado of Kahal Joseph Congregation; and Shanel Melamed, executive director at 30 Years After.

— Mati Geula Cohen, Contributing Writer


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