Moving and shaking
The phrase “30 Years of Saving Souls” stretched across a screen onstage Jan. 22 during the Beit T’Shuvah gala at the Beverly Hilton. It was appropriate as the evening celebrated the Jewish rehab facility’s 30th anniversary and honored founder Harriet Rossetto and the organization’s founding board members Warren Breslow, David Ruderman and Annette Shapiro.
Valley Beth Shalom Rabbi Ed Feinstein — whose son was treated at the organization — emceed.
Beit T’Shuvah, located near Culver City, treats residential patients and outpatients who suffer from substance abuse and other addictions. Its program draws on Jewish spirituality and traditional treatment methods.
During the event, Beit T’Shuvah Senior Rabbi Mark Borovitz presented his wife, Rossetto, with the award. The event raised approximately $1.9 million, according to Borovitz.
The nearly 1,000 attendees included Open Temple Rabbi Lori Shapiro, who is Annette Shapiro’s daughter-in-law; Andrew Cushnir, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ executive vice president and chief development officer; Federation chairman Les Bider and his wife, Lynn; Jewish Journal President David Suissa; real estate developer and philanthropist Stanley Black; Beit T’Shuvah chairperson emeritus Nancy Mishkin; husband-and-wife philanthropists Dina and Fred Leeds; and Beit T’Shuvah Chairman Russell Kern.
The event benefited the Harriet Rossetto Scholarship Fund, which enables the organization to provide free treatment to patients. Rossetto founded the organization after responding to an ad in the Los Angeles Times that was seeking a social worker to work with incarcerated Jewish individuals. A halfway house eventually became the organization that today is Beit T’Shuvah. Not only does it treat substance abusers through music and wellness programs and a supportive community dedicated to Jewish worship, but it also employs them during their rehabilitation.
The national nonprofit Sharsheret, which is dedicated to addressing the needs of Jewish women and families facing breast and ovarian cancer, celebrated the opening of its Los Angeles regional office on Jan. 10 with a drinks-and-dessert reception.
The event — held at the West Los Angeles home of Courtney Mizel, a longtime Sharsheret supporter and a seven-year breast cancer survivor — drew 80 people.
Lisa Hofheimer, co-chair with Mizel of the organization’s L.A. advisory committee, connected with Sharsheret when she was diagnosed 15 years ago. She watched as the organization, which has its headquarters in New Jersey, “developed into an organization with unbelievable outreach.” Sharsheret’s L.A. presence will provide a “community of support to wrap around” cancer patients and their families, she said.
During her remarks, Mizel said Sharsheret is “an amazing resource,” specifically mentioning its Busy Box Program that provides games for children to play while their mothers are at doctor appointments or resting after cancer treatments.
Two other cancer survivors, Annie Spar and Molly Sigel, also shared stories.
Spar, who also is on the group’s advisory committee, praised Sharsheret for advising her husband on how to best support her during treatment and helping her talk to her children about her illness, which she called “the single hardest thing” she had to do.
Sigel said she had a “one in a million” type of ovarian tumor, but Sharsheret was able to match her with a young woman with a similar rare diagnosis for conversation and encouragement.
“Her story was the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Sigel, who has been in remission since September 2015 and is studying for her master’s degree in social work at UCLA.
“What keeps me doing the work I do is the 65,000 women and families we’ve touched,” said Sharsheret Executive Director Elana Silber, who came to Los Angeles for the launch. “We want to anchor ourselves in this community, so everyone knows about us when they need us.”
Additional members of the advisory committee in attendance were Sari Abrams, Sarina Basch, Dikla Benzeevi, Sarah Blitzstein, Linda Blumenfeld, Dr. Amy Kusske and Abbi Hertz.
Sharsheret Regional Director Jenna Fields has already begun working with local health centers, synagogues and other Jewish organizations since the office opened five months ago. Sharsheret L.A. is the organization’s second regional office; the first opened in Florida in June 2013.
— Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer
The European Leadership Network (ELNET), a pro-Israel organization, has hired David Siegel, the former consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, as the CEO of its Israel office, ELNET-Israel.
Siegel’s hiring was announced during the “Turning the Tide for Israel in the EU and Against BDS” gala on Dec. 14, which was organized by Friends of ELNET and held at the Skirball Cultural Center. The event, attended by about 135 people, raised approximately $700,000 for ELNET.
Siegel, who served as consul general of Israel in Los Angeles from 2011 to 2016 and displayed commitment to fostering ties between local Jews and Latinos and leveraging relationships with Hollywood celebrities in bolstering Israel’s image, will be tasked with enhancing “ELNET programming in Israel and build[ing] local networks of leaders committed to the Europe-Israel relationship,” according to an ELNET press release that described Siegel as a “veteran diplomat.”
In the release, Larry Hochberg, chairman and co-founder of Friends of ELNET and founder of the sporting goods chain Sportmart, welcomed Siegel to the organization. “David’s expertise in international policy issues, specifically with regard to Israel’s relationships with key global allies, takes the organization to the next level,” Hochberg said.
Siegel expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity, saying, “There are significant opportunities to strengthen the important relationships between Europe and Israel, and the work ELNET does is more critical today than ever.”
Ines von Behr, executive director of ELNET-EU in Brussels, spoke at the event, which honored Ken Ruby, vice chairman and treasurer of Friends of ELNET.
Founded in 2007, ELNET promotes positive relations between Israel and Europe, which has seen a rise in anti-Israel activity in recent years. The organization closely observed the Jan. 15 Middle East peace conference in Paris, which addressed the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the heels of a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem as a violation of international law.
In regard to the Paris conference, Jonathan Boyer, West Coast director of Friends of ELNET, said: “We were all very nervous and watching it closely.”
Students of Adat Shalom Jewish Education Center, a religious school at a West Los Angeles Conservative synagogue, joined youth from Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church during the 32nd annual Kingdom Day Parade in South Los Angeles on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“At Adat Shalom, we’ve established a new type of religious school that values real-world experience as part of helping to build strong Jewish identity,” Adat Shalom Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz said. “It was a powerful, inspiring experience for our religious school students and their families.”
Rev. John Edward Cager III, senior pastor at Ward AME Church, and Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, a city of Los Angeles appointee to the L.A. Metro board of directors, also were in attendance at the parade, which marked the late civil rights leader’s 88th birthday.
The theme of this year’s event was “Now More Than Ever, We All Must Work Together.”
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