Moving & Shaking: Jewish athletes celebrated, NFL players visit home shul, AIPAC holds gala
Fourteen athletes and sports media members were inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 28, during the organization’s 18th annual induction ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center.
The 2016 inductees were Andrew Lorraine (baseball); Andy Hill (basketball); brothers Mitchell and Geoffrey Schwartz (football); Erik Aff-holter (football); Stanley Tarshis (gymnastics); Glenn Diamond and Marc Stein (media); Ramona Shelburne (softball); Andi Murez (swimming); Steve Kuechel (tennis); Andrew Bailey and Ashley Grossman (water polo); and Jerry Weinstein, a sports broadcasting producer who was awarded the Eli Sherman Pillar of Achievement Award.
The event also recognized as high school athletes of the year Allyson Rosenblum, a member of the Mater Dei High School girls basketball team, and Ben Goldberg of the Palisades High School tennis team. Henry Vogel, a student at Harvard-Westlake School, received the Allan Malamud Memorial Scholarship.
The Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame spotlights distinguished amateur and professional athletes and people in sports-related activities and careers.
A long list of artists donated performances on Jan. 29 to the Symphony of the Heart concert, benefiting the Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) organization, at the Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge.
The Israeli-based international humanitarian organization has provided lifesaving heart surgeries for children from 53 developing countries and creates centers of medical competence in those countries. The children are screened by volunteer doctors from SACH and then flown to Israel, where they are treated at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
More than 4,000 children have been treated at the Israeli center. One of those kids, Benjamin Baldwin, 7, was found in an orphanage in China, suffering from multiple heart problems. He was flown to Israel and had several heart operations. The little boy, who was adopted by a couple from Orange County, Melissa and Larry Baldwin, was all smiles during the gala event.
Producer and television writer David Shore and his wife, Judy, who are supporters of SACH, attended the event. Holding Benjamin in his arms, David Shore, who created the TV series “House,” told the touching story of the boy, who was not able to run and play like other kids his age due to his illness but is now healthy and physically active.
“So, what do you like to do best?” Shore asked Benjamin, expecting an answer along the lines of “Run, climb and jump.” Benjamin hesitated for a moment before answering,“Play with my iPad,” eliciting a roar of laughter from the audience.
Among the performers at the concert were Israeli singer Rita; her daughter, singer Meshi Kleinstein; singer Melissa Manchester; singer Liel Kolet; the Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble; and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.
Pianist Emily Bear, 15, stole the show while performing a piece she composed three years ago, along with a jazz rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Bear started playing at age 2 and already has 10 years of experience as a professional concert pianist.
The concert ended with the audience standing and singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” along with the performers onstage.
Among the 1,500 attendees was astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 87, the second man to walk on the moon and a supporter of SACH.
— Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer
Pico-Robertson Orthodox congregation Pico Shul held its Dinner Party Charity Soiree at the Mark for Events on Jan. 31.
During the event, which drew about 160 attendees, Pico Shul Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and his wife, Rachel, presented philanthropic husband and wife Allen and Deanna Alevy with the 2017 Bubbe and Zaide of the Year award. The Alevys have underwritten Bookstein’s position at the shul, “so that all funds raised during the year are for Pico Shul overhead, staff and programming,” according to the event website.
The evening featured Pico Shul resident yogi Marcus Freed leading meditation sessions in a “Soul Revival” tent while a guitarist fingerpicked “Jerusalem of Gold” on the opposite side of the room. Meanwhile, Simon Wiesenthal Center co-founder Rabbi Marvin Hier, Chai Center Vice President Mendel Schwartz and others mingled over glasses of kosher wines from Shirah Wine Co. and appetizers prepared by, among others, Mexikosher chef Katsuji Tanabe, Kosher Latin chef Deborah Benaim and organic kosher food expert Sarah Zulauf.
Artwork by Fabian Lijtmaer decorated the walls; members of the band Moshav played upbeat traditional music. Lijtmaer, when not discussing his artwork to admirers, staffed a carnival-style game testing players’ Torah knowledge.
Founded three years ago, Pico Shul operates in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood out of a former fish market. The community comprises 20- and 30-somethings interested in leading observant lives while participating in activities such as Shabbat celebrations at music festivals and camping trips in the mountains.
Pico Shul’s Bookstein has led Jewish communities all over the world, including in Poland, Long Beach and Los Angeles.
NFL players Mitchell and Geoffrey Schwartz appeared at congregation Adat Shalom on Jan. 29 to discuss their book, “Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family and Faith,” in a conversation with the synagogue’s Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz.
The visit to the West Los Angeles synagogue was a homecoming for the brothers, who attended religious school and became b’nai mitzvah at Adat Shalom. Geoffrey, the older of the two, is a free agent who has played for five NFL teams, while Mitchell plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. The two offensive linemen are the first pair of Jewish brothers to play in the league in nearly 100 years.
“We were overjoyed to have them back,” Lebovitz said in an email following the event, which drew more than 120 people. “The entire community had a ton of fun with them.”
The pro-Israel lobbying organization American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Los Angeles held its gala dinner Feb. 1 at the Beverly Hilton.
Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, a former NATO commander and the evening’s keynote speaker, appeared in an interview with AIPAC Los Angeles Director Julie Munjack. The two discussed the importance of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
The event also featured appearances by Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter Ben Arnold, who leads the Emergency Volunteers Project, an Israeli-backed organization that trains emergency responders abroad to assist in Israel in times of need, and AIPAC Regional Director Wayne Klitofsky, who delivered the “State of AIPAC” address.
The event also commemorated late Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres, who died in 2016.
Attendees included California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Sam Yebri, president of 30 Years After.
Moving & Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.