Marking the first day of Hanukkah, the Los Angeles City Council and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles held a menorah lighting ceremony on Dec. 13 at City Hall.
“The Federation was honored to partner with our elected officials to host and celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, at City Hall,” said Alisa Finstein, Federation’s senior vice president of community engagement. “This event brings all corners of our community together each year to light candles, sing songs, eat sufganiyot and remember the miracle that happened long ago.”
Among the elected officials and Jewish community leaders who attended the morning event in the City Hall rotunda were City Council members Paul Koretz, Bob Blumenfield, Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Krekorian, Monica Rodriguez and David Ryu; Becky Sobelman-Stern, Federation’s executive vice president and chief program officer; and Federation board member Jesse Gabriel. Rabbis Joshua Hoffman and Jaclyn Cohen led the celebration.
Shalom Institute, the home of Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu, honored four leaders’ contributions and commitment to its organization and to the Jewish community.
About 330 people attended the Dec. 2 event at the Skirball Cultural Center that celebrated the achievements of Adam Weiss, Linda and Michael Bennett, and Arthur Pinchev.
The gathering also raised nearly $200,000 for the Shalom Institute’s Sherut L’Olam Teen Leadership and Advocacy Program, the Marla Bennett Israel Discovery Center and Garden, and Camp JCA Shalom scholarships.
Weiss, president of the Shalom Institute, received the Rae and David Finegood Leadership Award. He has helped the organization secure its land in Malibu, solidify its financial position and begin to implement its strategic plan.
The Bennetts were honored with the inaugural Marla Bennett Inspiration Award, named for their daughter, a Camp JCA Shalom camper, counselor in training, unit head and program director who was killed in a 2002 bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “Linda and Michael’s unwavering support and vision ensures that future generations can benefit from all Marla was passionate about,” a Shalom Institute statement said.
Pinchev, director of Shalom Institute’s Sherut L’Olam: Teen Leadership and Advocacy Program, which trains students to become leaders on environmental and social justice issues, received the Vision Award. He was recognized for improving the program and engaging more teens from bar and bat mitzvah age through high school.
Shalom Institute staff who attended included Executive Director Bill Kaplan and Development and Community Engagement Director Marsha Katz Rothpan. Other attendees included Jacob Knobel, recipient of the Shalom Institute’s 2013 Emerging Young Leaders Award; and David Spieser, who serves on the Shalom Institute board of directors.
Camp Ramah in California, which operates a Jewish summer camp in Ojai, held its annual gala celebration on Dec. 3 at Sinai Temple.
More than 530 Ramah families, friends and community members celebrated the evening’s honoree couples: Roz and Abner Goldstine, and Abby and Jonny Mars. The Goldstines are involved in a number of community organizations. Jonny, who is a member of the organizaton’s board of directors, and Abby Mars received the inaugural Alumni Leadership Award.
Proceeds from the evening established Camp Ramah in California’s Mercaz Yisrael: Endowment for Israel Programs, to enhance programs that include Ramah’s Israel Seminar summer experience in Israel for campers, and Mishlachot, a program bringing Israeli counselors to Ramah for the summer.
The event began with cocktails, followed by dinner and the program.
The Conservative camp in Ojai draws young Jews from around the world, who become known as “Ramahniks.”
The fifth annual American Israel Gap-Year Association (AIGYA) Fair was held at YULA Girls School on Nov. 16.
Participants included Masa Israel Journey’s Project Manager, Julia Smelensky, and its new southwest regional director, Avital Khaazanov; AIGYA founder and Executive Director Phyllis Folb; The Israel Experience at Bar Ilan University’s experiential education director, Meir Balofsky; and Artzi Executive Director Yishai Ashkenazi.
Students attended the event to learn about gap-year opportunities in Israel after they graduate from high school. They spoke with representatives of various Israel-based gap-year programs.
The Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California held its JCPSC Honors 37th annual dinner on Dec. 14 at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, honoring the contributions and achievement of eight outstanding Jewish communal professionals.
The event honored former Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman with the Career Achievement Award.
“I’m proud to say that for a good period of my life I was a Jewish professional, and it is so humbling to count myself among people who have dedicated their professional lives to serving this community, upholding its values and making those values come to life every single day,” Eshman said upon receiving the award from Uri Herscher, founding president and CEO of the Skirball Cultural Center.
The other honorees and their awards were: IKAR Executive Director Melissa Balaban and MAZON President and CEO Abby Leibman, the Alan J. Kassin Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement; Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Executive Vice President Carol Koransky, the Bobbi Asimow Award for Professional Mentorship; Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Senior Vice President of Philanthropic Services Dan Rothblatt, the Award for Professional Excellence in Fundraising; Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles Director of Community Engagement Ashley Waterman, the Mark Meltzer Young Professional Award; and Jewish Federation and Family Services of Orange County Director of Senior Care Cally Clein and Senior Director of Program Impact Terri Moses, the Dora and Charles Mesnick Award for Achievement in Senior Adult Programming.
“We all stand on the shoulders of the people who came before us,” Rothblatt said. “Recognition from one’s peers is sweet and rare.”
The approximately 230 attendees included Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; Rabbi Sharon Brous, founder and senior rabbi at IKAR; Marvin Schotland, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles; and Becky Sobelman-Stern, Federation’s executive vice president and chief program officer.
JCPSC Co-Presidents David Bubis and Randy Lapin delivered opening remarks.
— Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer