Political pundits David Frum and Peter Beinart participated in “The Challenges of Trump’s America,” a panel discussion held Sept. 26 at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino and moderated by Rabbi Ed Feinstein.
Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic, spoke about the intense reaction he has received for his prediction that Trump would lose the presidential election and the importance of political involvement to create change. His forthcoming book, “Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic,” focuses on “Trump as a system of power.”
“Donald Trump as a personality is a combination of the disappointing, the dysfunctional, but he is just one man,” Frum said. “The United States is a giant bureaucratic state with all kinds of checks and balances and rules and regulations, and the question is, how much harm can one man do? The question isn’t to ask, who is he? … The question is, what happened around him? How is this system of power possible in a constitutional republic, and how is it enabling it?”
Beinart, a contributor to The Atlantic, a senior columnist at The Forward and a CNN political commentator, discussed the impact of Trump’s presidency nationally and internationally.
“It is very significant that Donald Trump is the first American president since the 1990s who does not publicly support the two-state solution … and has therefore liberated [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu to no longer publicly support the two-state solution, either,” Beinart said. “That, I believe, is going to have profound long-term implications. Once we permanently foreclose the possibility [for] millions of Palestinians who live in the West Bank under Israeli control but without citizenship and democratic rights, we have planted a bomb underneath the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.”
Beinart called out Trump for bigotry and asked for unity among Jews and Muslims in the wake of rising prejudice.
“The anti-Semitism is frightening, but we have to be careful not to become narcissists,” he said. “The anti-Semitism that is rising does not have powerful members of the White House and of the United States Congress egging it on. The anti-Muslim bigotry that is emerging in the Trump era is entirely different than the anti-Semitism cause; it has the active support of some of the most powerful politicians in the United States. [Trump] goes after soft targets; we are not a soft target. Muslims are a soft target, and that’s why we must stand for them.”
Frum ended the presentation on a lighter note, emphasizing the importance of being proactive.
“I’m not an optimist by nature, but I’m determined in the Trump years to be an optimist by conviction,” he said. “The thing I resent about the question ‘What do you think will happen?’ is that it makes me a spectator. I’m a citizen and a participant and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know what I’m going to do.”
— Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer
About 50 young adults turned out for an evening of comedy, cocktails and networking on Sept. 14 at the West Hollywood bar Now Boarding in support of the group Visions, The Next Generation of the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).
The young leadership group attracts individuals dedicated to supporting cancer research in Israel by raising money for ICRF, a North American organization that supports Israel’s educational and scientific resources in the fight against cancer. ICRF describes itself as the largest single source of private cancer research funds in Israel
The event raised about $1,000.
Performers included Iranian-American stand-up comic Tehran Von Ghasri, the son of an Iranian-American father and African-American mother whose Instagram page shows him wearing a T-shirt declaring, “Persian Is the New Black.” Ghasri goes by the stage name “Tehran,” which also is the name of Iran’s capital city.
Comedian and actor Kirk Fox (“Parks and Recreation”); Jewish comedian Leah Lamarr, who was born Leah Goldman; and Sofiya Alexandra (Comedy Central’s “This is Not Happening”) also performed.
Attendees — including Visions L.A. board President Aaron Cohen and Vice President Colin Coggins — enjoyed food from the Feast From the East restaurant.
Cohen, 34, a real estate agent with Rodeo Realty, said he appreciates the opportunity of engaging his peers in philanthropy.
“When you are able to look at your peers and tell them they can actually make a difference in someone’s life — and most young professionals don’t necessarily think about philanthropy — they get interested in it and move forward in it and realize we have made money at an event we can donate to a scientist who can help cure cancer,” he said. “That is the most rewarding for me — knowing my peers and myself can have a say in philanthropy and it’s not just elderly people donating money from their estate.”
Marty Finkelstein, the Journal’s executive director of advertising, serves as the president of the ICRF L.A. board of directors.
Fusion LA, an early investment group for Israeli startups in Los Angeles, held a Sept. 26 VIP reception at the Rose Room in Venice, in partnership with the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles.
About 75 people from the tech and venture capital industry, many of them Israeli, mingled, sipped wine and ate kosher canapés before sitting down to hear about the work being done by Fusion LA co-founders Yair Vardi and Guy Katsovich.
Fusion LA selected six Israeli cutting-edge companies to participate in an intensive four-month program at its workspace in Santa Monica. The process repeats every six months with six new companies.
“Our vision is to connect Israel, which is the biggest startup ecosystem outside of the U.S., with Los Angeles, which is the most growing tech ecosystem in the U.S. after Silicon Valley and New York,” Katsovich said at the event.
Of the initial six startups, one is headed by women. Fuse.it, the brainchild of Liat Sade-Sternberg, enables people to interact with their favorite video content, including movies, music and sports events.
Uniper, another of the companies, is a platform that helps the elderly live more independent lives through interactive TV-based programs. It’s already proved to be a success in Israel, and with $800,000 raised, is looking to tap into the U.S. market.
— Kelly Hartog, Contributing Writer
The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem announced on Sept. 28 that it has reached the $70 million mark in its $100 million capital campaign, thanks, in part, to a $3 million donation from the Los Angeles-based Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation.
Local philanthropists Younes and Soraya Nazarian started the foundation, which is “dedicated to the promotion of education as the most important catalyst for societal change,” according to its website.
The capital campaign is funding a future 400,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art home in the “Russian Compound” area of Jerusalem. Slated to open in 2021 under the name the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Campus, it will bring together the school’s 2,000 students and 500 faculty members. Designed by SANAA, a Japanese-based architectural firm, the academy will feature both a modern glass exterior and Jerusalem stone, “speaking to Bezalel’s vision of bridging the old with the new,” a press release said.
The campus will bear the name of Morton Mandel, a philanthropist and CEO of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, who contributed $25 million to the campaign.
Established in 1906, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is a prestigious art school and Israel’s oldest institution of higher education.
Other contributors to the campaign are the Russell Berrie Foundation, the Polonsky Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, Romie and Blanche Shapiro, and Linda and Ilan Kaufthal.
Professor Adi Stern, president of Bezalel Academy, praised the progress of the capital campaign, saying, “Our new campus in the heart of the city is the most significant project being undertaken in Jerusalem today.”
The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Board of Governors Gala on Oct. 4 at the Beverly Hilton hotel raised $1.3 million for Cedars-Sinai’s Regenerative Medicine Institute.
The event honored Los Angeles Rams owner and Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke with the Board of Governors Visionary Award. Kevin Demoff, the Rams chief operating officer and executive vice president of football operations, presented Kroenke with the award.
“Thanks to Cedars-Sinai and the board of governors. My family and I are inspired by the work of Dr. [Clive]Svendsen and the Regenerative Medicine Institute,” Kroenke said, referring to the institute’s director. “We are so happy to partner with Cedars-Sinai and the board of governors to support them as well as work toward new paths to help those in need and their families.”
Additional honorees were Hollywood producer Gordon Gray and his wife, Kristen, who were presented with the inaugural Luminary Award. The Grays founded the Charlotte and Gwyneth Gray Foundation to Cure Batten Disease for their young daughters, who are suffering from the nervous system disorder, for which there is no cure. Svendsen presented the Grays with the award.
Boyz II Men performed their hits “I’ll Make Love to You,” “End of the Road” and “Water Runs Dry” as well as an acoustic performance of “Free Fallin’ ” as a tribute to the late Tom Petty. The L.A. Rams cheerleaders also performed.
Gala co-chairs were Lisa DeBartolo Miggs, Don Miggs, Nikki DeBartolo and Chad Chronister.
The Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors is the primary fundraising and leadership group of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.