Roland Arnall, Philanthropist and Ameriquest Founder, Dies at 68

Roland E. Arnall, a Holocaust survivor who used his fortune to found or support numerous Jewish institutions, died March 17 of cancer at 68.

Arnall became the first Los Angeles supporter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center when its founder, Marvin Hier, arrived here as a young rabbi from Vancouver, Canada.

“Our first office was a desk in Roland’s small real estate office, and when I decided to fly to Vienna and approach Simon Wiesenthal about naming the center in his honor, Roland immediately offered to come along,” Hier told The Jewish Journal.

Arnall was born in Paris in 1939. He was was raised Catholic until the age of 6 to escape the dangers of being Jewish.

After World War II, he moved to Canada, then Los Angeles. He parlayed a flower stand into a real estate business, eventually pioneering the field of sub-prime mortgages. The business he founded, Ameriquest Mortgage, eventually made him one of the richest men in America.

Arnall served for 16 years on the Cal State University Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Dawn, donated money to numerous politicians of both parties, though in recent years he became one of the largest donors to President Bush, who nominated Arnall as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.

Arnall was an indefatigable fundraiser who never forgot his Jewish roots, and Hier cited one example of his sometimes unorthodox style.

“We were a small group of people who had come to Bilbao in Spain in 2002 to look at Frank Gehry’s famous Guggenheim Museum design, before the architect tackled our Museum of Tolerance project in Jerusalem,” Hier said.

“Roland offered to fly us to Israel in his small private plane and a few hours into the flight, we ran into a terrible turbulence, which lasted a terrifying 20 minutes,” he said. “While the plane was being tossed about, Roland got up and started soliciting each passenger for donations, saying, ‘The Good Lord wants you to do the right thing.’ When the turbulence finally died down, Roland got up again and intoned, ‘You can be proud of yourself. The Good Lord is pleased with you.'”

Arnall was also instrumental in funding Shalhevet, a coeducational, Centrist Orthodox, Jewish day school, in Los Angeles.

This year Arnall and his wife funded the annual Stuart Buchalter Distinguished Student awards through the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, granting second-year graduate students scholarships of $20,000 in recognition of academic excellence.

“Roland was one of the most generous people I have ever met — he was one of the smartest and a true financial wizard,” said Jack Slomovic, a Shalhevet board member, as well as Arnall’s former business partner. “Not many people did as much locally, nationally or even internationally for Jewish causes as much as he did. He will be missed.”

In addition to his wife and son, Daniel, survivors include his daughter, Michelle; and nephew, Adam Bass, vice chairman of Ameriquest.

— Tom Tugend contributed to this obituary

Rabbi David Lieb, Leader of Temple Beth El for 30 Years, Dies at 65

The following are remarks from a eulogy given by Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark of Temple Beth Ohr. Rabbi Lieb died March 8.

I stand here today not only as David’s friend and colleague but also representing my family as well as the other 22 rabbis who were ordained with David in 1969 at the Hebrew Union College [HUC] in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also represent the 250 Reform rabbis on the West Coast of the United States. All of us join you who loved, respected, and yes, laughed with David for many — but not enough — years.

When we think of David, we picture a man of quick wit�” a humorist of the pulpit. But, in truth, David was also one of the most serious people I have ever known. He was seriously in love with you Estelle�”or as he called you, “Dear.” He was seriously devoted to you, Amy and Jacob and Adam. He seriously adored his four grandchildren: Leah, Alana, Maxine and Sadie.

Also, David took his rabbinate seriously. He wrote out every sermon, every eulogy, every wedding talk. What appeared to be off the cuff and spontaneous was most often thought out and carefully crafted.

The president of the HUC when David and I were there was the late archaeologist Dr. Nelson Glueck, who was married to Dr. Helen Glueck, a renowned hematologist. A few years ago the graduating class at HUC invited Helen Glueck to give the ordination. In her remarks on the need a rabbi as a friend, she said: “I need you when I am happy, I need you when death takes my beloved. I need you when I am rich and can help you with the building fund. I need you when I am old and poor, living on Social Security, or in a nursing home, when my children have gone and I am alone in this world. I need you for my children as their rabbi, their teacher. I need you to help me face death when it is inevitable, to sit by my bedside, to hold my hand, and yes, if I so wish it, not to be afraid to talk to me about death and about its meaning…. There is no greater joy than service to others.”

And David was the role model par excellence of a rabbi who loved to serve his people�”you, the members of Temple Beth El. He was not interested in becoming famous nationally. He just wanted to serve you and care for you and love you. And you truly returned his love for you back to him measure for measure.

I loved David. We did a lot of fun things together like sharing a room when we went to rabbinical conventions and trips to Israel as well as having our families come together for Thanksgiving Day dinner and our major lifecycle events.

I am devastated by his death�”but I am overwhelmed by his legacy of mitzvot and mentschlichkeit and yes, his eternal dream of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. We will keep dreaming your dream.

David — we will miss your voice, your heart, your uniqueness. But, rest assured my dear friend — we will always remember you. You, who has given us a deeper thirst for life. For this we will remember you best. May your memory live for a blessing — just as you were a blessing to all of us here and to so many others during your wonderful life.

Eliezer Benjamini died Feb. 14 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Leslie; son, Ethan; daughter, Lori; stepdaughter, Carrie Bullock; stepson Jeff Bressler; grandsons, Joshua and Matthew; stepgranchildren; brother Eddi (Dorit); and brother-in-law, Bruce Hackel. Hillside