JFS, Aish Galas, Women for Israel
Outreach organization Aish Los Angeles held its 2018 gala on May 8 at the Taglyan Complex.
The event recognized Sarah and Peter Weintraub as Partners of the Year for helping build Aish LA into the organization it is today. Sarah has served as executive producer of Aish galas for the past 25 years and Peter has supported many of Aish LA’s outreach projects.
The theme of the gathering was “Tap Into Greatness.”
The evening also honored the Bel Air Class. Started by Barry and Candace Weisz in their home, the Bel Air Class has come together for learning the past 25 years. Students in the class, including Avi and Rhona Wacht, Bruce and Marilyn Mandel, and Alain and Myra Gabbay, honored educators who have guided them over that span: Rabbis Nachum Braverman, Shlomo Seidenfeld, Carmi Gross and Daniel Grama.
Additionally, Aish LA launched its newest seminar, “The Hero’s Journey,” with the help of its partner, Mitch Julis.
The program featured businessman, author and inspirational speaker Charlie Harary as the keynote speaker. In line with the theme of the night, Harary discussed how to achieve greatness.
Emmy-nominated television writer David Weiss served as emcee. He opened with a tap dance ensemble and his lively energy never let up.
The program also acknowledged Sharon Litwak and her husband, Roberto, who have dedicated their lives to developing mobile playrooms for children in hospitals all over the United States.
The evening paid tribute to the loss of David Wilstein, one of the founders and supporters of Aish LA.
Attendees included Sunny and Debbie Sassoon, Todd Morgan, Richard and Ellen Sandler, Aish Global Director Steve Burg, Adam and Gila Milstein, Roz and Jerry Rothstein,Kharlene Boxenbaum and Rabbi Aryeh Markman, executive director of Aish LA.
“Aish LA is about connecting people to their innate greatness, connecting them to the power of being Jewish,” Markman said. “People are thirsting for it.”
Temple Isaiah celebrated its 70th anniversary on May 12 with a 1970s-themed party at Playa Studios in Culver City.
More than 350 members of the West L.A. Reform synagogue attended the event, which honored Rabbi Zoë Klein Miles for her 18 years of service to the community and recognized Temple Isaiah’s longest-standing members, including Bobbie and Ben Allen, Lucienne and Jerry Aroesty, Sandra Bernstein, Hannah Cahn, Bella Desser, Gail and Terry Feigenbaum, Steve Fox, Sheila and Rabbi Robert Gan, Roberta Gillerman, Stuart Goldurs, Renee and Chuck Hurewitz, Stephanie and Mel Kay, Jackie Rosner, Lorraine Trogman, Betty Wallis, and Diane and Chet Widom.
“Isaiah has been my home for over 60 years, and this evening brought back so many cherished memories,” Bernstein said. “We demonstrated respect for our rich history and celebrated a community that every member from their 20s to their 90s can be proud of.”
Sherrie Zacharius and David Levine served as honorary chairs of the evening, which featured servers on roller skates, an auction, a 70th anniversary retrospective created by Allen Zipper and a performance by the Boogie Knights.
Jewish National Fund held its annual Women for Israel Luncheon celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday, on May 23 at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills.
Guests enjoyed a panel moderated by attorney Honey Kessler Amado, with a discussion of “Three Women, Three Stories and One Zionist Dream.”
The panelists included Gabriella Karin, a Holocaust survivor from Slovakia and an educator and sculptor; Elham Rad, a Judaic studies teacher at Sinai Temple’s Lainer School; and Titi Ayenew, an Ethiopian-born Israeli who won the Miss Israel contest in 2013.
The three women shared how Israel played an integral role in saving their lives and shaping them into the women they are today.
Around 200 attendees were on hand when Orthodox synagogue Westwood Kehilla honored long-serving Los Angeles politician Zev Yaroslavsky on June 10 at Sephardic Temple.
The event, chaired by Greg Smith, a co-founder of Westwood Kehilla, and his wife, Andy, also honored Westwood Kehilla congregants Asher and Jackie Shalom with the Ner Tamid Award.
Westwood Kehilla Rabbi Avi Stewart sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem.
“When the Shaloms came to the Kehilla six years ago, it was clear these people were not wallflowers,” Smith said. “Besides Jackie’s hospitality, Asher was a fountain of ideas. ‘Get more music into the service,’ Asher said. ‘Rabbi Stewart has the most beautiful voice. Use it.’ You heard it tonight. So did 30,000 people at Dodger Stadium when he sang the national anthem [in 2015].”
Retired Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman said Yaroslavsky’s public service accomplishments, which included 39 consecutive years on the L.A. City Council, had been enhanced by “five human qualities: consistency in fighting for the underdog; courage in taking on the Soviet Union as a teenager, forming organizations that demonstrated everywhere a Soviet official or athlete went; honesty in telling it like it is; optimism; and effectiveness.”
Smith gave Yaroslavsky a mounted piece of Jerusalem stone with the words from the Torah, “Justice, justice you shall pursue, that you may live.”
Yaroslavsky also received the Kehilla’s Community Visionary Award for being a prominent face in the free Soviet Jewry movement.
“It is estimated that 2 million former Soviet Jews and their descendants today live in freedom, mostly in Israel and America, as a result of this historic movement” Yaroslavsky helped lead, Smith said.
— Ari L. Noonan, Contributing Writer
Nearly 900 people gathered at the Beverly Hilton for Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Los Angeles’ 25th annual fundraising gala on May 30.
One of the city’s oldest charity organizations, JFS honored Scooter Braun, talent manager to Justin Bieber and other music stars, and his wife, Yael Cohen Braun, founder of parenting community Motherlucker, with the Spirit of Humanity Award. They were recognized for their generous support of JFS and dedication to helping the city’s most vulnerable communities.
“The idea of family, of fostering the ties that bind us all together, whether we are clients, volunteers, staff, board members or donors is exemplified in our honorees tonight,” JFS Board Chair Shana Passman said. “To Scooter Braun and Yael Cohen Braun, thank you for being shining examples of what we can accomplish when we make giving a central value in our lives.”
JFS also honored Barbara Mack and Norman Levine with the Anita and Stanley Hirsh Award. The evening also included remarks from Valley Beth Shalom Rabbi Ed Feinstein and stand-up comedy from Jeff Garlin of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“Tonight is a night of celebration for us, but for so many people in our city, there is little to celebrate,” Nina Tassler, a JFS board member and the evening’s emcee, told guests. “Every day they navigate the existential threats of poverty, hunger, violence, apathy and isolation. But every one of us here is part of a family that we call JFS, and our family sees the suffering of our neighbors and we respond with compassion and action.”
Donations from attendees totaled $1.3 million, which will continue to support the array of services JFS staff and its volunteers provide, including social programs and financial support for the city’s aging Holocaust survivor community, food drives, care and shelter for domestic violence victims and their children, and treatment for people who live with mental illness.
“I like to think of us as L.A.’s good Jewish mother,” Tassler said. “What good Jewish mother could turn away from suffering in her own family, in her own home?”
— Oren Peleg, Contributing Writer