‘David Fighting a CorporateGoliath’

The heirs of a Holocaust victim and policyholder sueItaly’s giant Generali Insurance Company for five decades ofrebuffing their claims

By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Above, Regina, Moshe and Edith Stern; Below,from left, William Palmer, General Council for the CaliforniaInsurance Commission, with Anne, Lisa and Allan Stern and CaliforniaInsurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush. Photo below by Albert J. Winn

One of Europe’s largest insurance companies hasbeen hit with subpoenas by the state of California and a $135 millionsuit by a private family for allegedly stonewalling demands forpayment on policies taken out by Holocaust victims andsurvivors.

In the double-barreled action, announced at a Feb.4 news conference, the Generali Insurance Company (AssicurazioniGenerali) of Trieste, Italy, was charged with five decades of evasiveaction to avoid its responsibilities to Jewish policyholders andtheir heirs.

California Insurance Commissioner ChuckQuackenbush said that after inviting Generali representatives tothree separate public hearings, and getting no response, he hasissued subpoenas to four top officials at Generali’s New Yorkheadquarters to appear at an investigatory hearing on Feb. 19 in SanFrancisco.

“We’re 50 years behind and wasting time, which iswhy I am ordering Generali to come forward…. I demand a publicaccounting,” said Quackenbush.

If Generali fails to cooperate, the commissionerwarned, he was ready to “pull their license” to do business inCalifornia, which currently accounts for $22 million of the $125million the company earns in the United States.

A Generali spokesman, Dan Leonard, reached byphone, said that the company was ready to meet with Quackenbush in aprivate session, as it had with insurance commissioners of otherstates. Leonard added that Generali could not meet before the media,because it is a defendant on similar charges in a class-action suitpending in a New York federal court.

The descendants of Moshe “Mor” Stern and his wife,Regina, gave dramatic, and at times emotional, testimony at the newsconference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Stern, an affluent wine and spirits producer inUzshghorod, Hungary, had six sons and one daughter. Between 1929 and1939, he took out large insurance policies (and a dowry policy forhis daughter) through the Prague office of Generali.

He prepaid premiums through 1944, on policiesworth about $1.5 million. That sum, with accrued interest, is nowworth $10 million, the heirs believe.

Moshe Stern, his wife and three of their sonsperished in Auschwitz. The couple’s oldest son, Adolf, was liberatedin Buchenwald. One month after the war’s end, in June 1945, AdolfStern made his way to the Generali office in Prague to claim hisfamily’s life and annuity insurance proceeds.

His reception by the insurance company’sofficials, as described in an affidavit, was “less than kind.” Theaffidavit further stated: “They mocked me. They were arrogant. Theystated that I would have to produce a death certificate and copies ofthe relevant insurance policies before they would process theclaims.

“I explained that Hitler did not pass out deathcertificates and that all family insurance policy documentation wasconfiscated by the Third Reich. They declined my request to retrievefrom Generali’s own files the insurance and annuity policies thatthey sold to my family. The officials said that Generali could nothelp me, and they had me forcibly removed from the premises by asecurity guard. I was humiliated.”

Over the ensuing five decades, the survivingchildren of Moshe Stern and his grandchildren, living in the UnitedStates, Israel and Great Britain, repeatedly petitioned Generali.They were constantly rebuffed with claims that no records of thepolicies could be found, that the assets of Generali’s Prague branchhad been nationalized, and that the time limit for claims hadexpired.

Then, in 1996, by a fluke, the Sterns found, in alarge Generali warehouse in Trieste, jammed with old policies, a copyof one policy issued to Moshe Stern in 1929. A few months earlier,Generali had affirmed that no such policy existed.

At the news conference, Alan Stern, a Los Angelesbusinessman and grandson of Moshe Stern, and his wife, Lisa, anattorney, described their family’s long legal odyssey, which hetermed a battle of “David fighting a corporate Goliath.”

Lisa Stern, holding up a piece of stone from anAuschwitz crematorium, described Generali’s actions as “the financialcrime of the century.”

Alan Stern’s aunt, Anne Stern, herself a survivorof Theresienstadt, pleaded in a tear-choked voice, “We cannot waitany longer; we beg all of you to help so that justice may bedone.”

Their attorney, William M. Shernoff, a well-knownexpert on insurance consumer rights, said that the present suit, inwhich he is seeking $10 million in actual damages and $125 million inpunitive damages, “is one of the most abusive in my 25 years ofpractice.” He also believes that the case represents the largest “badfaith” suit filed against any insurance company.

Shernoff said that because of the age and physicalcondition of some of the plaintiffs, a hearing in the suit could beaccelerated under California law. He hopes that a trial date will beset within four months and the case submitted to a jury within oneyear.

Generali spokesman Leonard said that the companyhad not received a copy of the Stern suit and that he, therefore,could not comment on it.

Generali, whose net worth is put at $4.3 billion,has a long history of involvement with the Jewish community andIsrael. It was founded in 1831 by a group of Jewish merchants inTrieste and quickly established branches in the major cities of theold Hapsburg Empire.

It employed thousands of Jewish agents and,according to Quackenbush, wrote 80 percent of all policies taken outby Jews in Central and Eastern Europe.

In the 1930s, Generali helped found Migdal, nowthe largest insurance company in Israel, and, last year, it paid $320million to buy a controlling interest in Migdal. According to AlanStern, Generali’s chairman of the board is Jewish.

At the time of the Migdal takeover, Generaliannounced establishment of a $12 million philanthropic fund, “inhonor of Generali policyholders who perished in the Holocaust.” Thecompany publicized the fund through large ads in Jewish newspapersand also established an information center for claimants.

Speakers at the news conference, however, observedthat even this gesture is suspect. For one, said Alan Stern, the onlymoney disbursed so far has been $1 million for advertisements.

In addition, attorney Shernoff stated in hisbrief, Generali, in making future disbursements from the fund,specifically denies any legal or moral obligation to do so andrequires recipients to forgo any future claims against thecompany.

In the separate class-action suit pending in NewYork — initiated with the assistance of the Bet Tzedek legal aidservice in Los Angeles — Generali is among 15 German, Swiss, Frenchand Italian insurance companies named. One of the largest is theGerman firm Allianz AG.

Most of the companies have operations andsubsidiaries in the United States and, thus, may be subject toAmerican courts. Rene Siemens, a lead attorney in the case, thinksthat, ultimately, claims against European insurance companies may runinto the billions of dollars and far exceed the claims of holders ofdormant accounts in Swiss banks.

In a related development, the Jewish TelegraphicAgency reported this week that a Holocaust Victims Insurance Act hasbeen introduced in Congress. The act would require European insurancecompanies to give a full accounting of policies taken out byHolocaust victims and survivors and mandate payments to theirheirs.


The Russians Are Coming

Émigrés overcome cultural differences andhardship to participate in Super Sunday

By Ruth Stroud,Staff Reporter

In the former Soviet Union, asking for charitymoney was a punishable offense. It isn’t surprising, then, thatRussian Jews who immigrate to the United States need some educationon the concept of tzedakah. Add this to the fact that most of themhave little money to take care of their own families’ needs, and itmakes sense that few former Soviet citizens would participate inSuper Sunday — the biggest fund-raising day for the JewishFederation’s United Jewish Fund.

But things are changing, says Maya Segal,resettlement coordinator for the Federation. More and moreRussian-born Jews are participating in this event, both as volunteersand as donors.

“At first, they’re afraid. They say, ‘How can Iask someone to give money,'” Segal says. But after they are trained,start working the phones, and see the response, their attitudechanges. “When their shift is over, they don’t want to leave,” shesays.

Next Sunday (Feb. 22), more than 40Russian-speaking volunteers are expected to gather at the SuperSunday “mega-site” — the Westside Jewish Community Center. Amongthem will be Alla Neyman, along with her husband, Afanasiy,19-year-old son Igor, and 17-year-old daughter Galina. Her mother,who will be 65 this year, has participated in the past and may comethis time as well.

The Neymans arrived in West Hollywood in February1992, after leaving their home near Minsk. Alla hasn’t forgotten howshe was helped by the Federation when she first arrived in theStates. The family didn’t have medical insurance, and a Federationcounselor put them in touch with a doctor. Alla found her first twojobs through the Jewish Vocational Service, a beneficiary of theFederation. One was a baby-sitting job, which her daughter hasinherited. Alla now works as a general office assistant in a CenturyCity law office, and her husband works at a security company nearby.Her children are no longer afraid to say they’re Jewish, and herdaughter plans to bring several friends with her to volunteer thisSuper Sunday.

Alla and her family first began making calls toother Russian-speaking Jews on Super Sunday a few years ago. It wasdifficult at first. “It’s hard to ask for money from people who don’thave a lot of money,” she said. “I just ask, ‘Please give us as muchas you can.’ Some of them do. Some don’t.” But Alla feels stronglythat “everyone who comes to this country has to do something becausewe got so much help.”

Alla’s neighbor, Galina Tsitrina, who also arrivedin February 1992, and became an American citizen last July, alsoplans to volunteer on Super Sunday. Like many other Russian-speakingJews, Galina, 63, and her 86-year-old mother came to the UnitedStates in search of religious freedom. Her grandfather was a rabbibefore World War II, but in Galina’s native Gomel, like elsewhere inthe USSR, it was illegal to practice Judaism. On Passover, Galinaremembers, no matzo was available, so her mother ate onlypotatoes.

Upon their arrival in the United States, Galinaand her mother received SSI benefits, with the assistance of theFederation. (Galina is unable to work for medical reasons.)

On Jewish holidays, Alla Feldman from JewishFamily Service of Los Angeles arranged for the Tsitrinas to celebratewith American families. Like Alla Neyman, Galina says that she wantsto do something to show how grateful she is for the help she hasreceived and to aid other Jews. “I became free from the Russiangovernment,” she says. “On Super Sunday, I collect money for Israel.It’s very important to me because I am a Jew.”

Facts About Super Sunday


It’s the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’single-most important fund-raising day of the year.


Sunday, Feb. 22.


5,000 volunteers reach out via telephone, directmail and face-to-face meetings with 50,000 people. From preteen to80-plus, all ages can be volunteers.

How Much:

More than $4 million is raised annually in asingle day for the United Jewish Fund.


Super Sunday helps the Federation and itsbeneficiary agencies support Jewish education, immigration, synagogueprograms, Jewish camps and recreation programs; combat hunger,disease, disability, and drug and alcohol addiction in Los Angeles;and assist Jewish organizations nationally, and the American JointDistribution Committee and Jewish Agency for Israelinternationally.


Four sites in greater Los Angeles.

Westside Jewish Community Center

5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

(213) 761-8319

Jewish Federation South Bay Council

22410 Palos Verdes Blvd., Torrance

(310) 540-2631

Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance

22622 Vanowen Street, West Hills

(818) 587-3200

Western Region

University Synagogue

11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

(310) 828-9521

Taking a Pluralistic Path

‘The Pathways in Jewish Spirituality’ series will featurelectures by Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionistrabbis

By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

In a path-breaking outreach to potential converts,rabbis representing four different streams of Judaism will join in aprogram to elucidate the philosophies and practices of theirrespective denominations.

“This pluralistic outreach program is unique inJewish history and is based on the premise that God did not inventdenominations,” says Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis. The rabbi, who ispraised, and sometimes criticized, for his innovative approaches torevitalizing Judaism, said, “I believe that Jews by Choice should beable to choose the beit din (rabbinic court) of whatever branch ofJudaism they find attractive and to choose whatever form of Jewishreligious life they find compelling.”

Schulweis, the spiritual leader of Valley BethShalom, a Conservative congregation in Encino, which is hosting theprogram, believes that the cooperative venture will send an importantmessage not only to potential converts but to the entire Jewishcommunity.

“Given the increasing denominational factionalismthat has broken out and threatens to factionalize Judaism, it isimportant to demonstrate, and not by rhetoric alone, that we are onepeople, that God is one and the Torah is one,” Schulweis says.

“There are many ways of understanding thatoneness; there are 70 faces to the Torah, and we are not amonolithic, sectarian entity. Hopefully, this project will spreadthroughout the country and make a modest contribution to the visionof unity in diversity.”

“The Pathways in Jewish Spirituality” series offive lectures will feature presentations by leading Orthodox,Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis. The lectures areopen to the public at no charge and will start on Feb. 25 with anintroduction to Judaism by Schulweis.

Speakers on subsequent Wednesday evenings will beRabbis Abner Weiss (Orthodox), Daniel Gordis (Conservative), ArnoldRachlis (Reconstructionist) and Steven Jacobs (Reform).

The “Pathways” series will be followed by 12additional lectures on “The Wisdom of Judaism,” in which differentrabbis and scholars will explore the teachings, ritual and meaning ofJudaism, its relationship to Christianity, and the impact of theHolocaust. There will be a fee for attendance, by individual lectureor for the entire series.

The 17 lectures in the two programs, coordinatedby Rabbis Edward and Nina Bieber Feinstein of the host congregation,are by no means limited to potential converts, Schulweis stresses.Equally welcome are Jews who seek a deeper connection with theirreligion, or non-Jews interested in a better understanding of Judaismwhile remaining in their own faith.

“What we are aiming for is to broaden the circleof inclusion, to reach out and to reach in,” says Schulweis.

In preparation for the two lecture programs,hundreds of Valley Beth Shalom congregants have been participating ina Mentor-Keruv study program. The mentors will befriend participantsin the lecture series, host them for Sabbath or Passover meals,accompany them to Jewish events, and sit with them in the synagogueto acquaint them with the flow of the service.

The mentors will gain as much as they will give,Schulweis believes. “There is no better way to learn Judaism than toteach it,” he says.

For program information and registration, call(818) 788- 6000, ext. 655.


BeverlyHills Confidential

The city is hardly all glamorous, all wealthy or allJewish

By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

When 19-year-old Stephanie Middler, a product ofBeverly Hills schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, is askedby new acquaintances where she is from, she answers, “LosAngeles.”

“If I say I’m from Beverly Hills, I getstereotyped right away — you know, rich, superficial and spoiled,”says Middler, who graduated from Beverly Hills High School a year agoand is now a music major at USC.

People, from Bombay to Buenos Aires, who haven’tbeen within a thousand miles of California, know all about BeverlyHills High. Thanks to the TV melodrama “Beverly Hills 90210,” theyare certain that the town’s teen-agers talk only about sex, clothesand cars. Films such as “Pretty Woman” and “Down and Out in BeverlyHills” prove that the kids’ parents readily flaunt their ostentatiouswealth and sexual escapades.

The people who know Beverly Hills close up resentthe stereotyping of their city, and their sensitivities are sometimesexpressed in a kind of reverse ostentation.

“Many kids from affluent homes will dress down sothat they won’t stand out, including my daughter, who buys herclothes at a thrift shop,” says Middler’s mother, Lillian Raffel, whohas been a member and president of the board of education for thelast six years.

On the other hand, Middler says that she had a fewclassmates who never wore the same outfit twice during the schoolyear.

Naturally, there are some pressures on BeverlyHills youngsters, such as living up to the expectations of highlysuccessful, hard-driving parents, but the same holds true forself-made wealthy families anywhere else, says Dr. Jeff Blume.

Blume, a psychologist at the Maple CounselingCenter, has worked extensively with Beverly Hills students andparents, and he believes that “it’s a very large stretch” to linkMonica Lewinsky’s present White House predicament to her BeverlyHills background.

The assessment is emphatically seconded by MilkenCommunity High School President Dr. Bruce Powell, who has taught inand administered Jewish and public schools in Los Angeles for thepast 28 years.

Comparing the backgrounds of Bill Clinton andLewinsky, Powell notes that the president grew up in a poorProtestant family in Hope, Ark., and Monica, in a wealthy Jewishfamily in Beverly Hills.

“If their alleged relationship actually existed,they arrived there by making individual ethical choices,” saysPowell. “The notion that the Beverly Hills milieu makes for eithermoral or immoral people is nonsense.”

As in most stereotypes, there are kernels of truthin the Beverly Hills image, but the “golden ghetto” of the fabulouslyrich and famous no longer exists. The gap between illusion andreality is nicely illustrated by the fact that television’s “BeverlyHills 90210,” which has done so much to feed the fables, is shot notin Beverly Hills but mainly in the prosaic town of Torrance.

What about Beverly Hills’ storied wealth? Far frombeing the richest city in the world, Beverly Hills placed eighth inLos Angeles County alone, and 83rd in the United States, according toa 1996 national survey of per capita income.

Veteran newsman Rudy Cole, who has covered thecity for 35 years, notes that in Beverly Hills, whose populationstands at 34,000, half the residents live in apartments andcondominiums rather than in palatial mansions.

“Very few residents will shop on Rodeo Drive, withits upscale stores,” says Cole. “We leave that to thetourists.”

Cole has also read the foreign reports about theglamorous beaches of Beverly Hills, an unlikely attraction in alandlocked community.

Contrary to common assumptions, Beverly Hills isnot an all-Jewish enclave, but is split about half-and-half betweenJews and non-Jews.

“Jews, however, are most active in civic andcharitable activities,” says Cole. “All five city councilmen areJewish, as are four of the five school board members.”

In any case, “even my non-Jewish classmates atBeverly Hills High knew about the Jewish holidays and understood whatJews are like,” says Middler. “It’s only since starting USC that Iget the feeling of being a minority.”

During the past two decades, there has been aheavy influx of foreign immigrants, many of whom will strain tightbudgets and live in one-room apartments to qualify their children forBeverly Hills’ excellent public schools.

Lillian Raffel of the board of education estimatesthat 45 percent of the current public-school students require Englishas a Second Language instruction. Their predominant home languagesare Farsi (Persian), Korean, Russian, Hebrew and Chinese.

If many Beverly Hills residents resent theHollywood version of their lifestyle, they admit that it’s not badfor business.

For instance, when Julia Roberts, as the hooker in”Pretty Woman,” cavorted in the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel,”tourists booked all the rooms for months on end,” says Cole.

Indeed, Beverly Hills’ enterprising Chamber ofCommerce has no scruples in playing up to the town’s popular image toattract free-spending visitors.

To mark the city’s 75th anniversary, the chamberthrew a party for “America’s most glamorous city,” which included afashion show with 1,100 models, and a gigantic cake studded with2,500 real diamonds.

Also featured was an homage to ostentatiousshopping, which described Beverly Hills as the kind of place “wheresomeone from London can call and get fingernail polish that matchesthe color of her Rolls Royce.”

Chefs from the Four Seasons Hotel stand infront of the one-and-a-half ton cake baked for Beverly Hills on theoccasion of the city’s 75th birthday


Community Briefs

Jackson Shares His Dream

By Shlomit Levy

Proclaiming, “When we dream together we change thewhole world!” Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke before large, appreciativeaudience at Temple Kol Tikvah Sun. night . The community forum washeld to celebrate the life of Jackson’s friend, the late RabbiAbraham Joshua Heschel and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Rabbi Heschelfaced extreme rejection in the Jewish community,” said Jackson, “andDr. King faced rejection in the black community.” Jackson said hisdream is for “one big tent America where all of us are in the tentand none are in the margins.”

Before his speech, Jackson held a press conferenceat which he expressed his support for President Bill Clinton and hiscondemnation of White House Independent counsel Kenenth Starr. Thepress conference was cut short by shouts from Anti-Defamation Leagueprotesters who demanded Jackson speak out against Minister LouisFarrakhan.

At the end of his lecture, Jackson made afundraising pitch for his Rainbow/PUSH Coaltion and asked hisappreciative audience to participate in the “Save the Dream” March onFeb. 23 in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Jacobs presented Jesse Jackson with Abraham JoshuaHeschel “The Prophets.” Photo by ShlomitLevy


A True Public Servant

Scott Svonkin, the 32-year-old chair of theValley Alliance’s JCRC, brings experience beyond his years and newideas

By Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer

Last fall, Scott Svonkin, now 32, became theyoungest chair of the Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance’s JewishCommunity Relations Committee.

It wasn’t the first time he was the youngest atsomething: He was the country’s youngest professional tennis umpireat age 16. His political involvement started even earlier, when, at13, he campaigned for independent candidate John Anderson in the 1980presidential election. As a student at Cal State Northridge, Svonkinspearheaded the creation of a task force to deal with the problem ofhunger among students. On his 30th birthday, he raised money for acomedy benefit to support Hillel at Pierce and Valley colleges.Svonkin attended the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago,wearing a yarmulke with Clinton’s name hand-painted on by his olderbrother. It ended up in the Smithsonian.

Svonkin’s knack for getting noticed, and gettinginvolved, is a family trait. His mother, Paula, is the kosher catererat USC Hillel. His father, Stan, taught for years in East Los Angelesand was president of the family’s Alhambra synagogue. His oldestbrother is youth director at Valley Beth Israel; his second-oldestbrother, a professor at Cal State Los Angeles, is the former Far Westregion director of United Synagogue Youth; his oldest sister isactive in her synagogue. Svonkin’s great-great-uncle was a shamas atCongregation Talmud Torah on Breed Street in Boyle Heights.

Since he’s come aboard as chair of the ValleyAlliance JCRC, the organization has grown younger — with the averageage now in the 30s, instead of the 50s and 60s. That was a primarygoal of Svonkin’s, both at the JCRC and at the Federation/ValleyAlliance, where he is also a board member. “It’s time for theestablished leaders to mentor us young people,” he says. “It’s nottime for them to disappear, but it’s time for them to hand over thereins.”

In December, Svonkin took a group of 25 JCRC youngleaders on a trek to City Hall to find out how things work downtown.Mayor Riordan showed up unexpectedly to lunch with them. Also onSvonkin’s JCRC watch: A rabbinical advisory council was formed todiscuss issues affecting communities in the Valley Alliance’sfive-valley territory, and a Hispanic-Jewish women’s dialogue is inplace.

Another of Svonkin’s aims is to strengthen therelationship between the Jewish community and electedrepresentatives, particularly those who represent portions of thefive-valley area. “I want to make sure that whoever is elected isaware of the issues that face our community.”

Rebuilding public education and fostering closerrelations with other ethnic and religious communities is foremostamong those issues, he believes.

Svonkin’s own political involvement includesserving for two years in Mayor Tom Bradley’s office as assistantWestside area coordinator. He was appointed to Los Angeles CountyCommission on Insurance last fall by Los Angeles County SupervisorZev Yaroslavsky. He is also a member of AIPAC’s Congressional ClubExecutive Committee.

Svonkin works at Prudential HealthCare in WoodlandHills, where he’s been the past 6 1/2 years. Most recently, he wasoperations manager for the New York sales office, which he convincedto donate 250 computers to the local public schools.

SWC Film Nominated for Oscar

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s film “The Long WayHome” has been nominated for an Academy Award in the documentaryfeature category.

Through archival footage and interviews, the filmdramatizes the fate of post-Holocaust refugees between 1945 and 1948,and their desperate attempts to reach the Jewish homeland.

“The Long Way Home” was written and directed byMark Jonathan Harris. It was produced by the Wiesenthal Center’sMoriah Films division, under Rabbi Marvin Hier and RichardTrank.

The center’s first production, “Genocide,” won anOscar as best documentary in 1981. — TomTugend, Contributing Writer

Cutting Down to Size

The Federation restructures its board of directors and executivecommittee for the first time in nearly 40 years

By Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles hasapproved the first restructuring of its board of directors andexecutive committee in nearly 40 years.

Born of a 1959 merger between the Jewish CommunityCouncil and the United Jewish Welfare Fund, the organization hadnever resolved the issue of how its board should be formed. Createdout of the two boards, it kept accommodating itself to communitychanges, growing to its current size of about 200 members. Over thepast 18 months, a Strategic Planning Implementation Committee,chaired by former Federation President Irwin Field, has created whatField says is a board seated through “a unified nominatingprocess.”

Key changes will include:

* Initially, a smaller board of 159 members; afterfive years, 149.

* A smaller executive committee of 39 (sometimes40). Currently, it can be as large as 60.

* Specifically named seats on the board to includerepresentatives of the four major streams of Judaism — one each forthe Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist movements –as well as two seats for the Hebrew Union College and theUAHC.

* Five criteria for nominations, including anannual gift to the United Jewish Fund and active Federationinvolvement.

In reducing the size of the board, the aim was notto exclude people but to create a body that is “more representativeof what Los Angeles looks like today and will begin to look liketomorrow,” Field said.

The current policy-making process of theFederation is sometimes cumbersome, he said: “It takes a long timebefore anything moves.”

In the future, things may speed up somewhat, withthe executive committee able to take some actions that will notrequire board approval, although the board will still havejurisdiction over critical matters, such as major policy changes andimportant financial transactions.

The reorganization is expected to go into effectin September, when the next Federation president, Lionel Bell, takesthe helm.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services Dinner

Seen at the annual Bet Tzedek Legal Servicesdinner at the Century Plaza Hotel were (from left): honoree EliBroad, chairman and CEO of SunAmerica Inc.; Vice President Al Gore,who presented an award to Broad for his support of Bet Tzedek; JayWintrob, president of the Bet Tzedek Board of Directors; and DavidLash, executive director of Bet Tzedek. Also honored at the dinnerwere the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, whichreceived the Commitment to Justice Award.