Moving and Shaking: IFF holds annual luncheon, synagogues collect items for refugees, Saban on Walk of Fame
Meir Fenigstein, founder and executive director of the Isra-Fest Foundation, which brings Israeli films to Los Angeles each year as part of the Israel Film Festival (IFF), knows how to thank his supporters. Several months before each festival, he invites them to a luncheon at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills.
Fenigstein made aliyah with his family three years ago after residing in Los Angeles for many years. He continues to run the IFF from his new home in Israel and through frequent visits to L.A.
This year, the luncheon honored David Shore, creator of the television show “House” and a board member at Save a Child’s Heart, with the IFF Visionary Award; Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Artists Agency, who has been instrumental in selling numerous TV shows, including “Seinfeld” and two Israeli series, “The Greenhouse” and “Fauda,” with the IFF Career Achievement Award; and Holocaust survivor and philanthropist Max Webb with the IFF Lifetime Achievement Award.
Webb delivered the most moving speech of the event, recounting his 12 years in labor camps and six concentration camps, and the promise he made to himself, his mother and to God. “I made a vow that if I get out of this hell, I’ll help others in need, the Jewish people and Israel,” Webb said.
After building a real estate empire in California, he kept true to his promise and donated millions of dollars to charity organizations, hospitals and the State of Israel.
During the event, Webb celebrated his 100th birthday (his actual birthday is March 2) and blew out candles on a cake presented to him by Fenigstein, while guests sang “Happy Birthday.”
IFF will take place Nov. 7-22 at various Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles.
— Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer
What began as a partnership between Temple Beth Am and B’nai David-Judea to collect household items for refugee resettlement in San Diego grew into a community-wide effort involving six local Jewish organizations, with a daylong collection effort on March 16 dubbed “Project Hope.”
A rented truck driven by Beth Am member Tyson Roberts began to make its rounds at 7 a.m., stopping at private homes as well as multiple synagogues. Community members donated furniture, toiletries and other everyday necessities. The following day, Roberts delivered the donations to Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFSSD), which helps resettle refugees from around the world. By March 17, some of the items collected already had furnished apartments for two Afghan families, JFSSD said.
Temple Beth Am’s Refugee Taskforce led the collection drive, partnering with Camp Gilboa. Roberts’ daughter, Shoshana Roberts, spearheaded Camp Gilboa’s involvement as her bat mitzvah project, working with the camp’s executive director, Dalit Shlapobersky.
The other Jewish institutions involved were IKAR, Temple Mishkon Tephilo in Venice and Kehilat Israel in the Pacific Palisades.
The effort collected dining sets, sofas, armchairs, toaster and microwaves ovens, a crib and more. It was the second iteration of Project Hope, following a previous collection last August.
Tyson Roberts said he hopes to hold a third donation drive this summer. “A lot of people, as I was loading the truck, were like, ‘Wait, I still have stuff!’ ” he said.
More information and a list of items requested by the JFSSD can be found online at tbala.org/get-involved/project-hope.
— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce honored Haim Saban with a star on the Walk of Fame in front of the Egyptian Theatre at 6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Lionsgate, the film studio behind “Saban’s Power Rangers,” now in theaters, nominated Saban, an Israeli-American media producer, businessman and philanthropist, for the honor.
Saban, the creator of the “Power Rangers” television show, expressed his gratitude to Lionsgate during the March 22 ceremony “for your belief in the ‘Power Rangers’ franchise, and for your unconditional support for the launch of the ‘Power Rangers’ movie … [which,] Baruch Ha-Shem, with God’s help, will be a resounding success.”
The fee for installing a star on the Walk of Fame is $40,000 and the sponsor of the nominee is responsible for the cost. The money benefits the nonprofit Hollywood Historic Trust.
Attendees included Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leron Gubler, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, musician David Foster and former “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell.
Saban is a member in the Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2017 in the Television category, joining Sarah Silverman, Jeffrey Tambor and George Segal.
Bill and Hillary Clinton congratulated Saban for receiving a star on the Walk of Fame in a letter that was published on the website of Variety. “This well-deserved honor is not only a testament to your decades of groundbreaking contributions in the entertainment industry,” the letter from the former U.S. president and his wife, the former senator and presidential candidate, says, “but to your enduring generosity and efforts to advance good causes across America and around the world.”
A Feb. 5 Israel solidarity event titled “Israel 200” — which aimed to draw 200 student attendees — attracted 120 teenage students in grades 8 through 12 to Chabad of North Ranch. The event featured workshops, a buffet lunch and discussions that included “Israel — Why Should I Care?”
Organizers were Rabbi Mendy Friedman and Mushka Friedman, co-directors of CTeen Conejo.
“We may be thousands of miles away [from Israel], but the events going on there are of utmost importance to Jews and people of conscience all over, including teens,” Mushka Friedman said in a statement.
Speakers were from StandWithUs, the Jewish National Fund and other organizations, including Israel Defense Forces (Ret.) Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, founder of Our Soldiers Speak. Additionally, students participated in a boot camp training that “pushed them to discover inner strengths and the ability to go beyond themselves,” a press release said.
CTeen Conejo describes itself as “a community organization under the auspices of Chabad that is dedicated to encouraging teens to make the world a better place.”
More than 1,000 people attended the ninth annual Israeli American Council (IAC) gala dinner at the Beverly Hilton hotel on March 19.
Guests included Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, whose support has helped the IAC open 12 regional offices across the United States since a group of Israeli-American leaders founded the organization a decade ago in Los Angeles.
IAC has grown steadily since its establishment, holding community events such as the Celebrate Israel festival and operating a variety of programs, including Eitanim, which connects high school students to Israel as they prepare for college and develop professional skills.
IAC National Chairman Adam Milstein discussed the importance of the organization for the future generations of Israeli Americans.
“As I think about the future and look 10, 20, 50 years down the line, I’m not sure if I will be here, but I know the IAC will be. We are creating a grass-roots movement that will last for generations for Israel, for America and for the Jewish people,” he said.
Additional speakers included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was introduced as the city’s first Jewish mayor; radio host and Journal columnist Dennis Prager; and Holocaust survivor David Wiener, who was the gala honoree in recognition of his philanthropy and passionate involvement with many organizations that support Israel and Jewish life.
Wiener told his heart-wrenching story of survival, saying, “The best day of my life was the day the State of Israel was established.”
Mentalist Lior Suchard emceed the evening. During his performance, he guessed correctly the name of one woman’s first love, one of his many mind-reading tricks.
During the fundraising portion of the evening, attendees pledged more than $2 million in support of the organization, including IAC board member Naty Saidoff’s pledge of almost $600,000.
— Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer
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