Veteran generals address day school students

“Judaism, the Jewish religion and the history of the Jewish people are steeped in values,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Fridovich, who also served in the U.S. Army as a Green Beret. Addressing a crowd of elementary and middle school students from Sinai Akiba Academy and Brawerman Elementary School, Fridovich explained how Jewish values helped him succeed in the armed forces. 

“Giving everything” of yourself is fundamental to thriving in the Army — and to Judaism, Fridovich added.

Fridovich spoke at Sinai Temple on Nov. 5 in advance of Veterans Day, which falls on Nov. 12. Retired Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, a Holocaust survivor, also participated in a panel discussion introducing the students to Jewish American heroes as well as spotlighting American patriotism and the armed forces.

More than 350 fourth- through eighth-graders from Sinai Akiba and fourth- through sixth-graders from Brawerman Elementary attended. Sarah Shulkind, head of school at Sinai Akiba, moderated the discussion. The panelists also took questions from the students. 

Attendees included Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles businessman and Israel benefactor; Lenny Sands, chairman of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Western region; and Jeffrey Gunter, a parent alumnus of Sinai Akiba who helped organize the event. 

Fridovich and Shachnow drew on their vast experience in service during the discussion.

Fridovich currently serves as director for defense and strategies at Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a nonprofit that advocates for a strong U.S. security relationship with Israel. Shachnow is on JINSA’s board of advisers.

Shachnow, 78, was born in Lithuania and was imprisoned for three years in a concentration camp during World War II. In 1950, he immigrated to the United States and enlisted in the Army. 

A highlight of his military career was serving as a commanding general in Berlin — “what used to be the Nazi capital,” Shachnow said.

“I don’t think it ever occurred to them [the Nazis] that a Jew would be there doing [that],” Shachnow said.

During his long career, Fridovich commanded Special Forces units and counterterrorism forces throughout the world. The scariest thing he has done lately: Speaking in front a crowd of 13- and 14-year-olds, he said.

Inaugural Brawerman scholarships awarded

Five Los Angeles teenagers have been awarded $40,000 in college scholarships as part of the inaugural Brawerman Fellowship of the Geri and Richard Brawerman Leadership Institute. The fellows, who applied for the scholarships through The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, will receive their scholarship in four annual installments and will participate in a Birthright trip, several Shabbatons and four weeks of community service projects each summer.

The winners were Josh Cahn of Culver City High School, Leigh Evans of Milken Community High School, Mitchell Handler of Venice High School, Evan Lowell of Cleveland Humanities Magnet and Harmony Richman of Santa Monica High School.

The Brawerman Leadership Institute was started with a multimillion-dollar gift from Geri Brawerman, on behalf of herself and her late husband, which will enable the Brawerman Fellowship to become an annual scholarship.

“The fellows we’ve chosen represent the finest young leaders in our community,” Geri Brawerman said. “It is extremely gratifying to be able to make this unique program possible. I’ve personally gotten to know them and am excited that they will be leading our community in the future.”

The Brawerman Fellowship was open only to graduating high school seniors who intended to enroll in college this fall. Eligible applicants included those who were Jewish, excelled academically and showed a commitment to leadership and community service as well as a demonstrated financial need.

Cahn and Handler are enrolled at University of California, Berkeley; Evans is at University of California, Santa Barbara; Lowell is at Boston University; and Richman is at Barnard College.

Jewish Federation President Jay Sanderson said that although the fellowships will be limited to four or five students for the first few years, the Federation hopes to add more in the future.

“We’re going to be able to help create the next generation of Jewish leaders,” Sanderson said. “These are the most extraordinary kids who are so committed to the Jewish people.”

For more information on applying for the Brawerman Fellowship, contact