N.Y. man accused of hiding mother’s death to collect Holocaust benefits


A New York man was charged with hiding his Holocaust survivor mother’s death in order to collect her reparations benefits.

Gary Jacoby, 61, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday on grand larceny and forgery charges, the Daily News reported. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Jacoby’s mother, Laura, died in 2008 at age 93. Over the next four years, he allegedly collected $56,000 in her benefits from the German government.

Jacoby allegedly colluded with a notary public to forge annual paperwork indicating that his mother was still alive.

He also appeared at the German Embassy in 2012 to testify that his mother was still alive, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Jacoby was released without bail and is due back in court on Oct. 14. He told the Daily News that he expects the charges against him to be dropped.

Sharon Stone, Howie Mandel, Arianna Huffington, William Kristol


Jewish TV Network honors Uni honcho Jeff Gaspin

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(From left) Howie Mandel;  Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer, Universal Studios; Bonnie Hammer; Jeff Gaspin, president and chief operating officer, Universal Television Group; Mark Graboff, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, and Jay Sanderson, CEO, JTN Productions). NBC Photo: Trae Patton

“It’s a groundbreaking week,” Howie Mandel said to some 1,000 guests at Jewish Television Network’s annual benefit at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Nov. 5. “Just yesterday we elected a black man president, and tonight we’re honoring a Jew in show business.”

Mandel hosted the event to bestow JTN’s 2008 Vision Award on Jeff Gaspin, president and CEO of the Universal Television Group, who was honored with the 2008 Vision Award at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Gaspin, who developed such shows as “Deal or No Deal,” “The Apprentice,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Project Runway,” was feted by Jeff Goldblum, Tori Spelling, Dean McDermott, Katee Sackhoff, Billy Bush, Nancy O’Dell, Cory Hardrict, singer Lenka, who performed, and Sean Hayes, who introduced/roasted his longtime friend.

“Jeff is a visionary executive … committed to his family and his community and a real ‘mensch,’” said Jay Sanderson, the CEO of JTN Productions.
JTN announced a $5 million lead gift from co-chair Seth Merrin and aired a portion of its upcoming PBS documentary on genocide, “Worse Than War.”

Zimmer fetes advocates for kids

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(From left) Dr. Charles J. Sophy, Sharon Stone, Esther Netter, Zimmer Children’s Museum CEO, and Jeff Wachtel. Photo by Barry E. Levine

The Zimmer Children’s Museum feted two important people in children’s lives: a doctor and a guy who creates TV programming. The lucky recipients of The Discovery Award, Jeff Wachtel, USA Network’s head of original programming, and Dr. Charles J. Sophy, medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, which is responsible for more than 30,000 foster children, were celebrated on Nov. 6 by an industry-heavy crowd at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Jeff Garlin, an executive producer of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” emceed.

Rock among the rockets

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(From left) Ada Horwich,  L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Elana Horwich, Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan, director Laura Bialis, Avi Vaknin, Ravit Markus and Dan Katzir Photo by Orly Halevy

Ada and Jim Horwich hosted a private film screening of Laura Bialis’ documentary, “Sderot: Rock in the Red Zone,” about the nascent music scene taking hold in the rocket-riven town in Southern Israel. Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan joined the gathering on Nov. 5 to support the resilience of a place where bomb shelters are transmuting into rock clubs.

Westside JCC dives into pool construction

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(From left) Nancy Bell, capital campaign chair; Michael Kaminsky, board president; Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Beryl Weiner, capital campaign co-chair; Lenny Krayzelburg, honorary capital campaign chair; Brian Greene, executive director.

The Westside Jewish Community Center has a hot new commodity. Neighbors and city officials gathered on Oct. 29 for the groundbreaking of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Aquatic Center, a multiphase renovation that will add locker rooms, saline water systems and an environmentally friendly design for the Olympic-size pool. Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg, who trained at the Westside JCC, attended the event, where an expected 1,400 monthly visitors will swim in medal-making waters.

Celebration of Books draws big names

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(From left) William Kristol, Arianna Huffington, Rabbi Robert Wexler at Celebration of Jewish Books.

American Jewish University’s Celebration of Jewish Books brought some big names to town to discuss and debate topical issues of the day: William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post squared off on the aftermath of the nation’s historic election on Nov. 10; two nights later, Rabbi David Wolpe and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens debated the role of religion in society to a full house at the Wilshire Theatre.

Stars come out for Big Brothers and Sisters

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(From left) Rising Stars gala honorees Paula Wagner, Abigail Breslin, Michael Sitrick and Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles Guild President Sandy Bilson.

PR mogul Michael Sitrick, producer Paula Wagner and young actress Abigail Breslin were honored at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters biggest annual fundraiser, the “Rising Stars Gala,” on Oct. 30 at the Beverly Hilton. Larry King, Alan Arkin and Cuba Gooding Jr. presented awards and the cast from the upcoming “Forever Plaid” movie entertained the 700 guests. Catch a falling star, anybody?

Milken High students join AIDS Walk

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Milken Community High School’s Kids Who Care AIDS walk team

A group of students from Milken Community High School joined the fight against AIDS with their feet and their finances. The school-sponsored Kids Who Care team participated in AIDS Walk Los Angeles on Oct. 19. Tenth-grade chairs, Michelle Nabati, who raised nearly $2,000 on her own, and Jillian Weyman signed up more than 100 students for the walk and raised $5,000 for AIDS medical research.

Inaugural award goes to volunteer social worker

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Sally Miller and Charlotte Kamenir Photo by Melody Vargas/JFS

Sally Miller, a social worker from New York City who moved to Los Angeles, has spent the past few years caring for lonely and frail seniors living in Park LaBrea. Her volunteer efforts through Jewish Family Service’s L.I.F.E. program earned her the first Charlotte Kamenir Volunteer of Distinction award,presented during a Nov. 5 luncheon in Brentwood.

U.N. kids support Israel

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(From left) Nir Winshtok, Liron Hala, Viviana Artzyeli, Public Affairs Consul Shahar Azani, Dalia Mizrahi, Carolyn Ben Natan and LiAmi Lawrence

The Israeli Consulate staff participated in the 10th annual “Kids Uniting Nations Day” at the Santa Monica Pier. The event, sponsored by Daphne Ziman, brought together 1,000 foster children for an afternoon of L.A. fun. But the best part? A bunch of multiethnic children wearing backpacks that said, “You have a friend in Israel.”

Calendar Girls picks and clicks for June 28 – July 4


SAT | JUNE 28

(FILM)

Operation Moses, the 1985 mission that airlifted thousands of persecuted Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel, was a turbulent endeavor riddled with cultural, religious and personal conflicts. Families were torn apart, identities ” target=”_blank”>http://www.laemmle.com. For more on the film, visit ” target=”_blank”>http://www.loraschlesinger.com.

(COMEDY BENEFIT)

Eager to flex its social and philanthropic muscle, Magbit Young Leadership is combining comedy and altruism during the group’s annual fundraiser, Jokefest 2008. Maz Jobrani, from the “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour,” tops the bill in a show that aims to get young professionals supporting Magbit’s interest-free college loan program, available to students studying in Israel. In the past, Magbit’s party planning has not disappointed — expect long buffet tables stocked with kosher Persian food, open bars and lots of guests in their 20s and 30s dancing the night away. Sat. 9 p.m. $80-$100. 627 S. Carondelete St., Los Angeles. (310) 273-2233. http://www.youngmagbit.org.

(COMIC STRIPS)

Pop culture scholar Eddy Portnoy will show-and-tell the long and turbulent history of Jews in cartoons. Once the breeding ground for anti-Semitic propaganda, comics began appearing in the Yiddish press in the late 19th century and represented new images of Jewish culture. Attempting to expose the hypocrisy and wrongdoing in Jewish civil society, Yiddish cartoonists used the medium to challenge Jewish paradigms, often using religious references, texts or custom to contrast intention with reality. With a colorful slide show and historic context, “Comic Strip Jews: Cartoons From the Yiddish Press” will examine the Jewish presence in this timeless and beloved medium. Sat. 8 p.m. $5 (suggested donation). The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 389-8880. “>newcomers häaut;MAKOR, an energetic Israeli band that mixes rock, electronica and trance with an earthy Jewish message. Sat. 10:30 p.m. $15. The Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 954-9400.

(ENTERTAINMENT)

Itching for a change in scenery, but don’t have the time or money to travel across the country? Temple Beth Haverim’s Cantor Kenny Ellis has the perfect solution for you with a Catskills-style weekend of entertainment. Ellis, who is also Congregation Am HaYam’s scholar-in-residence, is bringing Borsht Belt flavor to Ventura County. Ellis will serenade, entertain and share insights using his powerful voice, piano skills and booming personality during a dessert social and “KCAH: Jewish Radio” breakfast, co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Ventura County. Sat. 8 p.m. and Sun. 9:30 a.m. $18 (suggested donation). Congregation Am HaYam, 4839 Market St., Unit C, Ventura. R.S.V.P required; call (805) 644-2899 or e-mail ebinzie@aol.com.

(MUSIC FEST)

West Hollywood will have to take a break from the matrimonial frenzy to pull off its ambitious first Sunset Strip Music Festival, with live performances at famed venues such as the Roxy, Whisky a Go Go, House of Blues and the Viper Room. Besides being a historical mecca of gay pride, WeHo is also a storied musical neighborhood, and this three-day event, which starts Thu., June 26, will pay tribute to the city’s past and present with concerts by Everclear, Soul Asylum, B Real of Cypress Hill featuring Slash, Lisa D’Amato and others. One of tonight’s special events is free and open to all ages. Not only does it feature acoustic performances by Camp Freddie and Louis XIV, but gamers can challenge rock stars to “Guitar Hero” or other interactive games, 1-9 p.m. at 8755 Sunset Blvd., the former Tower Records parking lot. Rock on WeHo! Thu.-Sat. Free-$27.50. (323) 848-6431. For tickets, acts, locations and times visit johnseeman@aol.com.

(THEATER)

Commencing with the climactic scene and working backward, the revival of Harold Pinter’s 1978 play “Betrayal” focuses on Robert and his best friend Jerry, who is also the lover of Robert’s wife Emma. But who is betraying whom in this adulterous triangle? Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m. Through Aug. 3. $25. New Place Studio Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St., North Hollywood. (866) 811-4111.

Federation Faces Underfunded Pension


Faced with a pension shortfall of $20 million, the organized Jewish community’s largest philanthropy finds itself forced to divert millions of donor dollars to employee retirement benefits, rather than to needed social services.

To cover the underfunded pension, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and its 13 beneficiary agencies are slated this year to contribute $5 million to retirement plans, up from $4 million just two years ago. That means about 10 cents of every payroll dollar now goes to pensions, a higher percentage than at many other federations.

By contrast, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia spends about 3.5 cents on pensions, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston about 4 cents, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta about 4.5 cents and the UJA-Federation of New York 6 cents.

In addition to restricting cash that could be used for other purposes, the Los Angeles Federation’s underfunded pension has caused headaches for the agencies gaining their independence from the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCC) , a Federation beneficiary agency. The pension shortfall means that the Westside JCC, the Zimmer Children’s Museum and Valley Cities JCC might be responsible for paying off their share of the pension liability, a financial burden that could saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars in extra costs.

"I’d say it’s a concern, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a big concern," Federation President John Fishel said of the underfunded pension program, adding that the agency would cover all present and future pension payments owed to 120 retirees and 956 current employees.

However, agency heads speaking on background said the pension shortfall had made it more difficult to hire people, give raises or expand programs. They also worried that the relatively high contributions they’re now making could persist for years, putting a long-term financial strain on their organizations.

Whatever size the concern, it isn’t unique to The Federation. Corporate America has also experienced pension problems in recent years. Billions of pension fund dollars invested in the market vanished when the high-tech bubble burst and stocks plummeted.

Although Wall Street has come back some, U.S. businesses recently reported a pension shortfall of $278.6 billion, said Loretta Berg, spokeswoman for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. in Washington, which is charged with protecting private-sector pensions of 44 million American workers and retirees.

California counties and cities are also struggling with pensions. Orange County, for instance, has shortfall estimated at $1 billion.

The amount of an unfunded pension liability often reflects how much money a company would need to pay off all earned retirement benefits if it terminated its retirement package.

Pension expert Lou Kravitz said The Federation’s shortfall, along with many companies’ pension problems, would likely disappear or shrink considerably in the next five to 10 years, as the stock market and interest rates rise as expected. Typically, pension liabilities move in the opposite direction of stocks and interest rates, said Kravitz, a former member of The Federation’s pension committee and head of the retirement plan consulting firm, Louis Kravitz and Associates in Encino.

"The amount of underfunding goes up and down, so it’s not something you necessarily should lose sleep over," he said.

Jack Klein, Federation executive vice president and chief operating officer, said his agency has addressed the agency’s pension shortfall by gradually raising plan contributions over the years and by changing the mix of stocks and bonds in which retirement dollars are invested. He also said The Federation and its agencies have 30 years to pay down the underfunded pension plan, more than enough time.

"I think The Federation, agencies and lay leadership have done a very good job of managing the pension fund," Klein said.

Agency executives agree — to a point. The Federation’s pension plan is "a great benefit that has kept people in the Jewish community, but it might be proving too expensive to maintain at its current level," said Andrew Diamond, president and chief executive of Aviva Family and Children’s Services.

Mitch Kamin, executive director of Bet Tzedek, another benificiary agency, said the plan has been great for worker retention. However, the costly benefit could be less appealing to more junior workers who might prefer the flexibility and portability offered by other options.

In an attempt to cut pension costs, The Federation has proposed modifying retirement plans for new employees, although benefits for current staff would remain intact.

Instead of offering new hires so-called "defined-benefit" plans, which guarantee an annual fixed income, The Federation now favors "defined-contribution" plans. Under those plans, employers set aside money for workers to invest in stocks and bonds of their choosing.

However, with defined-contribution plans, "the risk of the pension is in the hands of the employee," said Brett Trueman, a professor of accounting at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. In other words, if the market falters and wipes out workers’ nest eggs, corporations and nonprofits have no obligation to make up the losses, he said.

Locally, most nonprofits appear to have retirement plans that are both less generous and less costly than The Federation’s. A recent survey of 252 mostly Southern California nonprofits found that nearly four out of five offered benefits, but only 6 percent had defined-benefit plans like The Federation’s, said Pete Manzo, executive director and general counsel for the Center for Nonprofit Management in Los Angeles. That’s down from 13 percent a decade ago, he said.

"Nonprofits want to maximize their program activities, just like for-profits want to maximize shareholder value," Manzo said. "So they want to cut or contain costs."

Federation President Fishel said a lack of consensus among The Federation and beneficiary agencies led the organization to stick with the defined-benefit plan until now. Beginning in the early 1990s, The Federation reduced contributions from 6.6 percent to 3 percent and later to 1.5 percent. At the time, organization executives believed that the pension fund was flush or overfunded.

Jon Lepie, chief negotiator for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 800, the union representing about 450 Federation and agency workers, said it appeared The Federation may have acted irresponsibly by lowering contributions. Without that tinkering, The Federation might have avoided the underfunding problem and the need to move away from defined-benefit retirement plans, which give workers more security and often more money than other options.

Fishel said the philanthropic agency used the savings from the lower rates to help "stabilize" Federation and agency programming that experienced significant funding cuts in the early 1990s. Later, The Federation and the agencies dipped into that money to raise salaries across-the-board. Klein, The Federation’s COO, added that the organization’s pension contributions have always exceeded legal requirements.

Union officials representing The Federation and beneficiary workers have reacted unenthusiastically to The Federation’s proposal to scrap defined-benefit pensions for new workers, although they have not ruled out accepting the offer as part of larger negotiated settlement.

"If we’re forced into cutting employment benefits because of management incompetence, shame on them," Lepie said.

Local 800 President Jeff Rogers said that The Federation had failed to live up to its contractual obligation to invite a union representative to pension committee meetings over the years. The presence of a union member might have "protected the pension," he said.

Klein declined to respond to Rogers’ charge, saying that it was inappropriate to do so at this time, because of the ongoing negotiations with the union.

Officials at the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization for the nation’s federations, said they had no information on the types of pension plans offered by individual members. However, several federations appear to have healthier retirement funds than the Los Angeles Federation’s.

The Atlanta Federation offers defined-benefit pensions like the local Federation’s but has no shortfall.

The Philadelphia Federation offers defined-benefit pensions to its employees and workers at 13 beneficiary agencies. The plan, which is underfunded by $1.5 million, offers benefits that are in some cases about half as generous as the Los Angeles Federation’s. Still, four agencies have recently dropped their defined benefits in favor of defined contributions, said Angela Falcone, Philadelphia’s chief financial officer.

The United Jewish Federation of San Diego County, like Atlanta, Boston and New York, has no underfunded pensions. The organization offers its employees a 403(b), the nonprofit version of a 401(k), and a defined-contribution plan.

Reflecting on the Los Angeles Federation’s situation, Elias Lefferman said change is in order. The president and chief executive of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Care Services said beneficiary agencies could no longer afford to set aside an increasing percentage of donor and grant dollars for underfunded pensions.

"We need a new plan," he said.

JFSHelps Holocaust Survivors


A grant of $120,000 over three years from the newly established PIMCO Foundation will help Orange County’s Jewish Family Service (JFS) expand its services to about 45 elderly Holocaust survivors who reside locally.

The social services agency, which also provides counseling services, assists survivors in obtaining social services and benefits, says Mel Roth, JFS executive director.

The award is the first from the Newport Beach-based foundation and was recommended by an employee of PIMCO, the money management company bought out by Munich-based Allianz. The foundation’s assets of $5 million all came from 20 PIMCO partners, who contributed a portion of their Allianz retention bonuses, says Mark Porterfield, the foundation director. They intend to make a similar contribution to a foundation endowment this year, he says.

While grant recipients reflect the interests of employees, Porterfield received a treat of his own. Roth provided a personal introduction to a survivor, who shares with schoolchildren her story of hiding in Holland with her parents.

Other VoicesThe Dating Game


By Teresa Strasser

A

brief synopsis of my recent dating history.

Bring Kleenex.

The Comedian

This man had obvious benefits: I laughed, I laughed till I cried, and I laughed until a spaghetti noodle came out of my nose. Really. With all his impressions, it was like dating 20 men. The fun died when The Comedian’s car was towed from outside my apartment. It seems Mr. Funny was too busy yukking it up to “bother with a bunch of stupid parking tickets.” Or insurance. Or registration. Thinking that was one of those “relationship red flags” people talk about, I put the pedal to the metal and high-tailed it out of there.

The Stockbroker

Did you know that stockbrokers could be poor? I didn’t — until I met one. This guy was more like a broke stalker. The poverty didn’t bother me nearly as much as his persistence; he “showed up” everywhere I happened to be, making me understand why restraining orders were invented. At first, the attention was flattering, but The Stockbroker had a bad habit of launching into hour-long monologues about the importance of IRAs. I was so bored that I was reduced to compiling mental grocery lists while he blathered on about the Dow Jones.

The Editor

Now this was promising. The editor was smart, considerate and working on the cutting edge of Internet journalism. Too bad I scared him off by mentioning my ex-boyfriend (for whom I’ve been pathetically pining) about as often as Robert De Niro squints. “We’re breathing air. (Sigh) Tom and I used to breathe air….” Oops.

The Unemployed Surfer/Musician Guy from Toronto

Cute, cute, cute. It didn’t work out. Refer to above headline.

The Waste Management Guy

This nice young man was very concerned with the environment and working to help others recycle. Unfortunately, he had a conniption fit when I littered one little candy-bar wrapper. Ease up, tree-hugger. Stop crying for every blade of grass and worry more about personal hygiene. Deodorant is one of the few products that actually works. When I uttered the phrase “Ozone, shmo-zone,” it was over.

The Consultant

On our second date, The Consultant got down to business; he administered the Myers-Briggs personality test, a four-page questionnaire developed to determine basic personality type and often used in business. Each of 16 personality types comes with a descriptive little catch phrase.

It seems I am one who “gives life an extra squeeze.” According to the test, I am an optimist who has trouble finishing things. So I guess I’m supposed to feel really good about the trail of unfinished projects I supposedly leave in my wake.

“And what are you?” I snidely asked The Consultant.

“Me? Why, I’m ‘one of life’s natural leaders,'” he said.

Our only similarity is that both of us are Jewish, single, in our mid-20s — and have never seriously dated other Jews. In short, we represent the demographic that Jewish community groups are so worried about. We are the young premarital Jews who have a good chance of falling into that “50-percent intermarriage” abyss.

I honestly don’t know why I haven’t dated more Jews. Maybe it was that bad experience with Zack Pearlman in Hebrew school. Maybe it’s a proclivity toward blue eyes and a WASPy face — a desire to look into the face of The Other. But as I chug lethargically toward “mating age,” I’ve begun to have visions of children with crucifixes around their necks, clutching Easter baskets and yelling, “Mommy, Mommy, why did the Jews kill Jesus?” It’s a scary vision.

I have to say, it was nice dating a man who could toss off the occasional Yiddish phrase or casually mention Maimonides. At only 3 percent of the population, however, single Jewish men are hard to find. Unless you know where to look. I thought hard about this, for you, my single readers who might be looking. So, a question: Who truly sees the perhaps hidden virtues of a man who might be too shy or too busy to cross your path?

Answer: A Mother.

So to all mothers of single Jewish men: Tell us about your son in 50 words or less. Send a description and photo for my next column to: The Jewish Journal, 3660 Wilshire Blvd., Suite ‘204, Los Angeles, CA 90010–Attn: Singles Column.