Moving & Shaking: Valley Beth Shalom, American Friends of Hebrew University and more
Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) honored Richard Sandler with the Harold M. Schulweis Humanitarian Award at the Encino synagogue’s annual gala on May 7 at VBS, which drew approximately 300 attendees.
Sandler, son of founding VBS members Helen and Ray Sandler, “has been instrumental in the growth of the community,” according to a VBS statement. He previously served on the VBS board of directors. His current leadership positions include serving as executive vice president and trustee of the Milken Family Foundation; as board chairman at Milken Community Schools; and as chair of the board of trustees at the Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella organization for Jewish Federations. He is a partner at the law firm Maron and Sandler.
Attendees included Sandler’s wife, Ellen; Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles CEO and President Jay Sanderson and his wife, Laura; Malkah Schulweis, widow of Rabbi Harold Schulweis, who was one of the best-known pulpit rabbis in America before he died in 2014; and VBS Senior Rabbi Ed Feinstein.
The Harold M. Schulweis Humanitarian Award recognizes “an individual who transcends the ordinary and recognizes the highest level of social conscience,” a VBS statement said.
The event featured a Champagne welcome, the award reception and a dinner.
The American Friends of Hebrew University (AFHU) Western Region held its Evening of Tribute at Brentwood Country Club on May 3 and honored outgoing regional President Brindell Gottlieb and outgoing regional Vice President Renae Jacobs-Anson.
Regional Vice Chair Mark Vidergau installed Mark Genender as the organization’s new regional president.
AFHU raises funds and awareness for The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Established in 1918, it is Israel’s second-oldest university.
Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg, among the the evening’s guest speakers, shared his perspective on “the important role of Hebrew University in Israel’s past, present and future,” according to an AFHU statement.
More than 130 people attended the event, including longtime donors and supporters Patricia Glaser, Bari and Steve Good, Shirley and Lou Gram, Hella and Chuck Hershon, Corie and Michael Koss, Ronda and Barry Lippman, and Janet and Marvin Jubas.
About 5,000 people turned out May 14 for the Great Lag b’Omer Parade in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles.
“It showed unity from all walks of life,” said parade chairman Rabbi Mendel Duchman, spiritual leader of Kol Yakov Yehuda. “It was Mother’s Day. We had the local Orthodox community from Pico, the community from Hancock Park, and people who were still celebrating Israel.”
The street fair, rides, carnival games, live music, kosher food and more delighted those who turned out to Pico Boulevard, which was closed between Doheny Drive and Robertson Boulevard. Entertainers included children’s performer Uncle Moishy and Eli Marcus, a Crown Heights-based musician who fuses Chasidic soul melodies with influences from around the world.
Kol Yakov Yehuda and Chabad of California co-organized the event, which drew representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department. Sponsors included Meshuga Sushi, Chabad Century City and the Jewish Journal.
Among many leaders and families in the Orthodox community, the attendees included Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, director of Chabad of California, and Chabad of Century City Director Rabbi Tzemach Cunin.
“The unity that stands before us today — thousands of souls united — brings true joy to our rebbe,” Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin said. “As I look out to this crowd … we celebrate 50 years of spreading the mission of the rebbe on the West Coast.”
At a symposium of the Genocide Coalition at Adat Ari El in Valley Village on May 24, several speakers addressed the current state of genocide in the world and what can be done to stop it.
“We can’t fight genocide alone — that’s the message of tonight,” Amy Friedman Cecil, director of community engagement for Jewish World Watch, said to the diverse audience of about 100 people, which included Muslims, Jews and others. Drawing from the words of Pirkei Avot, she added: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
Genocides discussed during the event ranged from one that began in 2003 in Darfur to the current torture and imprisonment of gay men in Chechnya allegedly ordered by the country’s Kremlin-backed leader. Speakers also discussed the genocides of Cambodia, Rwanda, the Holocaust and others.
Mike Brand, director of advocacy and programs for Jewish World Watch, discussed the current South Sudan conflict, a crisis with a “100 percent man-made famine” that has put more than 1 million people at risk of starvation.
Friedman Cecil said 65.3 million people, roughly the population of France, are displaced throughout the world. “The only way to stop genocide is to take preventable action before [the perpetrators] start,” she said.
Brand added that, unfortunately, “one thing the international community is horrible at is stopping genocide.”
Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, a member of the spirituality commission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, delivered the invocation. Other speakers included Paul Wilder, organizer of the event and the child of Holocaust survivors; Daniel Tamm, the Westside area representative for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti; L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz; and Steve Zimmer, outgoing president of the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education.
Rev. Cecil Murray, a fellow at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, delivered closing remarks. Additional participating clergy included Father Cyril Gorgy of Holy Resurrection American Coptic Orthodox Church.
A video presentation featured messages from U.S. Reps. Judy Chu, Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman.
The nonprofit website Israel21c launched an online video network, 21see, which will seek to highlight arts and culture from the Jewish state, at a May 10 event in West Hollywood.
It celebrated the launch by screening videos from the new network at Soto House, an exclusive penthouse club known for its Hollywood crowd.
The lights went dark in the plush screening room of the Soto House and upbeat music blared over the speakers as a promotion for “21see with Kathy Cohen,” one of the network’s inaugural series, came on the screen.
Yogi Roth, a college football analyst who hosts “We All Speak Ball” for the new video network, attended the launch. Between videos, Roth conducted an onstage interview with Sam Grundwerg, Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles. Grundwerg shared that he had played in the Israel Football League — featured in “We All Speak Ball” — and even earned a spot in the league’s hall of fame.
He shared some advice he said he received from Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States and a fellow Israel Football League hall of famer: “The secret to being a successful Jewish athlete is to play with Jews.”
Television producer Jonathan Baruch, an Israel21c board member and the driving force behind the new video network, attended the launch, as did Israel21c President Amy Friedkin. The video website, Friedkin said, would hew to Israel21c’s goal of revealing a dimension of Israel not often seen in the mainstream media.
“This is what we do,” she said. “The culture and the exciting things in Israel — that’s our mission, to present it to the world.”
— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer
Moving & Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email email@example.com.
This article was edited June 1 to reflect the annual Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) gala was held at VBS, not the Skirball Cultural Center.