Foundation headed by widow of Madoff’s largest beneficiary grants $104 million


Barbara Picower, the widow of Jeffry Picower, the largest beneficiary of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, has awarded $104 million in grants over two years through a new foundation.
The grants from the JPB Foundation have centered on medical research, poverty and the environment, Forbes reported, according to tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
Barbara Picower is listed as president of the Manhattan-based foundation.
Four years ago the estate of Jeffrey Picower agreed to return $7.2 billion to Madoff’s victims. The figure is the difference between the amount of cash that the Jewish investor put into his account with Madoff and the amount he withdrew.
Jeffrey Picower, whose foundation gave to Jewish causes before it was wiped out by the revelation of Madoff’s fraud, was found dead of a heart attack in his swimming pool in October 2009.
Madoff, 76, is serving a 150-year prison sentence in federal prison in Butner, N.C.
The JPB Foundation had $1.1 billion in assets at the end of 2012, more than the Picower Foundation had when it was shut down in 2010, making it one of the 40 largest U.S. foundations.
Tax records show the JPB Foundation has been funded by $1.2 billion in contributions in 2011 and 2012 from the estate of Jeffry Picower, the total after Barbara Picower agreed to return money to Madoff’s victims.

Foundation for Jewish Camp announces four new specialty camps


The Foundation for Jewish Camp announced four new camps to be included in its specialty camp incubator designed to engage Jewish campers.

The Specialty Camp Incubator II, which began accepting applications in March, is part of an $8.6 million grant jointly funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and Avi Chai.

The new camps announced Thursday are intended to engage the 90 percent of Jewish youth in grades 6-12 who, according to the Cohen Center at Brandeis University, do not report memorable summer overnight camp experiences. They are designed to reach demographic and geographic populations underserved in Jewish camping.

Staffs for the new camps are scheduled to be trained with a target launch of summer 2014.

The new camps are Camp Inc., a business and entrepreneurial camp based in Boulder, Colo.; Camp Zeke, an East Coast-based health and wellness camp; JCC Maccabi Sports Camp in the San Francisco Bay area; and the URJ Six Points Science Academy science and technology camp in the Boston area.

They join the five specialty camps created in 2010 as part of a separate grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

Al Levitt, president of the Jim Joseph Foundation, said that 1,255 young Jews participated last summer in the first specialty camps.

“The camps exceeded their enrollment benchmarks and provide a new path to Jewish camp for many children,” he said. “We have the utmost confidence that these four new camps will do the same.”

Judea Pearl wins award for work in artificial intelligence


Judea Pearl, co-founder of the Daniel Pearl Foundation and an internationally renowned expert in computer science, will receive the Turing Award, known as the “Nobel Prize in Computing,” for his path-breaking innovations in artificial intelligence — the discipline probing the partnership between humans and robotic machines.

Pearl’s selection for the award, which carries a $250,000 prize, was announced on March 15, in New York by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The award recognizes Pearl’s work, which “serves as the standard method for handling uncertainty in computer systems, with applications ranging from medical diagnosis, homeland security and genetic counseling to natural language understanding and mapping gene expression data. His influence extends beyond artificial intelligence and even computer science, to human reasoning and the philosophy of science,” according to the ACM announcement.

Pearl’s specialty is the subfield of computer science that aims to discover the fundamental building blocks of thought, creativity, imagination and language — those elements of the mind that make us intelligent.

A professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Pearl, at 75, devotes half of his working schedule to teaching a class at UCLA, guiding doctoral students, and his research.

The other half is devoted to his work as president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which he established with his wife, Ruth, following the 2002 kidnapping and murder of their son Daniel, a Wall Street Journal reporter, by Muslim extremists in Pakistan. Among the foundation’s projects are an annual worldwide music day and a fellowship program for journalists from Muslim countries. Pearl also is a columnist for The Journal.

Pearl was notified of his selection for the Turing Award — named in honor of British mathematician Alan M. Turing — while preparing for a trip to Israel, where he will receive the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.

That prize carries a $75,000 honorarium, which, Pearl said, he will divide in three equal parts and donate to the Technion, the Daniel Pearl Foundation and his own grandchildren.

He and his wife have not yet decided how to split the $250,000 Turing Award money.

Pearl’s major contribution to the two-way dialogue between man and machine has been, first, in the area of uncertainty, a constant in every human endeavor, and later in causality, the relationship between cause and effect.

The research on uncertainty occupied Pearl for much of the first part of his career, and when it was finished in the late 1980s, he turned his attention to the theory of causality to further advance a robot’s learning process.

Causality seems a fairly simple concept on the face of it. We step on the gas pedal and the car accelerates, but it’s easy to confuse this with the mere association between certain occurrences.

For instance, the word “malaria” is a contraction of the medieval Italian “mala” and “aria,” meaning “bad air,” because people coming down with the disease had often been near a swamp and breathed its foul air. Only later was it discovered that it was not the air that triggered the disease, but mosquitos that bred in the swamp.

“The rooster’s crowing does not make the sun rise and association does not prove a cause and effect relationship,” Pearl observed, but it took him years to transmit the concept to a robot.

Although his research on causality and causal reasoning “have had a major effect on the way causality is understood and measured in many scientific disciplines, most notably philosophy, psychology, statistics, econometrics, epidemiology and social science,” according to the ACM citation, some economists and statisticians have criticized the approach. Pearl said he sees the Turing Award as elevating his current and future visibility and authority among computer science students.

The Turing Award will be presented to Pearl on June 16 in San Francisco during the annual ACM banquet. Participants will include all past winners of the award, who will also mark the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth. Turing is considered the father of computer science and is credited with devising the techniques for breaking the German code during World War II.

Can Jewish giving weather the transfer from one generation to the next?


Last week’s news that one of the country’s largest Jewish foundations will close in two years, its assets to be divided among the foundations of its founder’s heirs, is shining a spotlight on a major question in the Jewish philanthropic world:

How will Jewish philanthropic giving weather the transfer of assets from one generation to the next?

The San Francisco-based Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, which has given out about $700 million since it was started by Richard Goldman in 1951, with most of the gifts benefiting environmental, health and Jewish causes, will close at the end of 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The foundation, which has about $280 million in assets, will continue to make grants until then, but after the end of next year, its remaining money will be divided among the philanthropies of John and Douglas Goldman and their sister, Susan Gelman—the heirs of Richard Goldman, who died at the age of 90 in 2010, and Rhoda Goldman, who died in 1996.

In 2010, the foundation distributed $12.6 million to Jewish causes, including The Israel Project, the Chronicle reported. The foundation will continue to help Jewish charities until it closes, according to one of the heirs.

“We realized that this time would come,” John Goldman told the Chronicle. “While it will be a transition for all of us, I do feel there is an opportunity for each of us to have an impact in the world and to have our role in tikkun olam,” repairing the world.

It is unclear exactly how much of the assets remaining in the foundation will find their way to Jewish causes after 2012. Of the heirs’ three funds, Gelman’s Morningstar Foundation is the only one that has a primary focus on Jewish causes.

The news about the Goldman fund comes just as several of the most significant foundations in the world of Jewish giving are in the process of spending down their assets ahead of closing.

The Avi Chai Foundation, which donates funds primarily to Jewish education and continuity, is scheduled to give away all of its estimated $700 million by 2020. The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, a family of foundations that helped to found Taglit-Birthright Israel, is set to close in five years.

Both those foundations are taking steps to ensure that the philanthropic wishes of their benefactors are fulfilled. Although Zalman Bernstein, who founded Avi Chai, died in 1999, the foundation trustees he hand picked before his death have been ambitious about coming up with strategies to distribute the foundation’s money in a way that meets Bernstein’s desire to increase Jewish literacy.

Charles Bronfman, who is 79, is overseeing the final years of his philanthropies’ activities. According to the president of the foundation, Jeffrey Solomon, Bronfman and his children decided during the 1990s that it made most sense for Bronfman himself to continue his charitable endeavors until he saw fit and then simply to close up shop. His children have their own foundations with their own goals.

As trillions of dollars in wealth are transferred from generation to generation in the United States over the next four decades – about 15 percent of which will go to charity – questions linger about what will happen to Jewish philanthropy as younger generations become more assimilated and less connected to the Jewish world.

That has become a primary focus for Bronfman over the past decade. Since 2002, his foundation has engaged in several initiatives designed to encourage the heirs of Jewish fortunes and family foundations to get involved in Jewish giving. The projects, known as 21/64, Grandstreet and Reboot, are aimed at helping young heirs to discover for themselves the value of Jewish giving and to carry on the tradition of their families’ philanthropic choices.

“The first generation of Jewish philanthropists are reaching the end of their life spans, and that manifests itself very differently from foundation to foundation,” Solomon said. “Once you lose the knowledge of the original donor or granter, it becomes a different dynamic at the foundation.”

Solomon pointed to a lack of preparation in the next generation of philanthropists.

Gelman, daughter of Richard and Rhoda Goldman, declined to comment for this story, but Solomon predicted that her Morningstar Foundation will become a much more significant player on the Jewish philanthropic scene in coming years.

Asked if the Jewish world should be concerned about the closing of major foundations like Bronfman’s philanthropies and Avi Chai, Solomon said no.

“For every foundation that spends down, there are three or four or five foundations being created,” he said. “There continues to be growth in the foundation field, and especially the Jewish foundation field, and I believe that as newer business entrepreneurs come into the field, we are going to see greater support.”

Hillel Official Julian Sandler Dies


Julian Sandler, chairman of the Hillel: Foundation for Jewish Campus Life Board of Directors, has died.

Sandler, who served Hillel for 15 years, died Friday after a brief illness. He was 64.

He served as treasurer and vice chair of the Hillel board of directors and as chair of its Strategic Planning Committee.

Sandler recently established The Julian Sandler Endowment for Executive Leadership Development to support Hillel’s training, executive leadership development, mentoring, coaching and evaluation program for new Hillel directors.

He was the founder, president and CEO of Long Island-based national SmartSource Computer and Audio Visual Rentals.

Sandler was a past president and an active member of the Dix Hills Jewish Center on Long Island. He also was a board member of the Fay J. Linder assisted living complex at the Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center and a member of the rabbinical school board of overseers at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

“Julian had a gift for blending his keen analytical abilities with his genuine warmth and humor,” said Hillel President Wayne Firestone. “He believed in the critical importance of transmitting yiddishkeit from generation to generation and modeled what it means to be a proud, knowledgeable, committed Jew with menschlichkeit.”

The Real Madoff Scandal: Charitable Hoarding


Of all the shocks of the Bernie Madoff heist, perhaps none was more stunning than the list of victims. Among them were several Jewish foundations and many of our community’s most prominent nonprofits. The losses were staggering, and in some cases crippling.

Yet the real Madoff scandal isn’t the losses; it’s that our community was sitting on vast pools of accumulated wealth, much of it used to little effect. Madoff had his secrets to keep, but so, in fact, did many foundations and endowments. They had money to spend, and they didn’t spend it. Now it’s gone.

Everywhere in the Jewish community we hear of crises —in Jewish literacy and continuity, in a lack of social action and awareness, in a failure of the synagogue and the rabbinate and so on. Yet all this time, there were individual donors and philanthropy executives sitting on large pools of money that could theoretically have been used to help address many of our biggest concerns. As a community, we now live so much for perpetuity that we fail to deal with the present.

I used to think that the rise of Jewish endowments and foundations represented the pinnacle of our life here in America — financial success combined with organizational stability and careful foresight. Now, it appears, we are simply incompetent as a community, having so badly matched what we have with what we need. Either we refuse to deploy our assets to our needs, or our needs, as we define them, are in fact not that pressing. Either way, it is a stunning indictment.

Thanks to tax incentives that encourage their growth, philanthropic foundations have ballooned over the past decade. According to a report from New York’s Foundation Center, foundation assets doubled from $330 billion in 1997 to $669 billion only 10 years later. In their 2007 monograph, “A Study of Jewish Foundations,” Gary Tobin and Aryeh Weinberg note that Jewish foundations have experienced similarly rapid growth. (Full disclosure: Tobin has been a client of mine.)

Most foundations, however, do not spend the bulk of their money, instead storing it away, granting only a small portion to charities each year. “Most foundations with larger assets give away about 5 percent, the minimum required by federal law, which most foundations see as a ceiling, not a floor,” Tobin and Weinberg write.

Similarly, endowments, which also expanded with flush economic times, “rarely withdraw more than 5 percent or 6 percent of their assets per year,” as The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported.

True, endowments have their value. James Tisch, who has previously served as president of the UJA-Federation of New York, defends them strongly. “Endowments allow institutions to survive in bad years,” he told me. “Most organizations don’t have nearly enough after their annual campaigns to make it.”

I don’t disagree. There are many institutions that would close if not for their endowments, which most, thankfully, diversified.

But having an endowment of large enough size to do what Tisch describes is a double-edged sword. It does let you out of the annual campaign rat race. But it also removes your sense of urgency.

If Jewish donors were truly ambitious, they would demand philanthropic extinction. They would give money to organizations only if endowment funds were also put to work. They would launch foundations with a built-in ticking clock: Perform, or else. In short, they would operate as if Madoff were managing their money and that one day it would all be gone, anyway.

That model would involve more risk, more spending, more activity and certainly less for future generations. It would be akin to taking away trust funds from the grandchildren so they actually have to work for a living.

Fine. Jewish donors know that you don’t gain reward without some measure of risk. That’s true in philanthropy, just as it is in business. Yet many Jewish donors still give to the same old causes, the same old institutions, in the same old ways. No wonder so many got burned by Madoff. They followed the crowd on everything.

In Judaism, every 50th year is considered a jubilee year, when we are commanded to return land to its original owner and to let our fields lie fallow. Why not transpose that commandment to our endowments and foundations?

Let us resolve: Every 50 years, our community’s stored wealth must be spent, and its charitable assets depleted. After that, we can begin the work anew — yes, with fewer assets, but with a greater capacity for creativity and success.

Reprinted by permission of The Forward

Noam Neusner is the principal of Neusner Communications, LLC. He served as President George W. Bush’s principal economic and domestic policy speech writer from 2002 to 2004.

More Jewish teens attacked in Paris, Adelson gives $30 million to Birthright


Jewish Teens Beaten in Paris Attack

Three Jewish teenagers were attacked in the same Paris district where another Jewish teen was beaten severely in June.

The victims, who were wearing kippot, were temporarily hospitalized for minor injuries on Saturday in what some officials are describing as another anti-Semitic attack in the 19th District.

Badly bruised and with some fractures, the three were shocked and worried about their safety, said Raphael Haddad, president of the French Jewish Student Union, who spoke to the victims on Sunday.

“Their attackers were also from the neighborhood,” said Haddad in a telephone interview, “so they are worried about what will happen if they see them again.”

The three reported the incident to Paris police on Saturday after going to the hospital. The attack took place at about 6:30 p.m. in the low-income, heavily Jewish and Muslim northeastern Paris neighborhood, where 17-year-old Rudy Haddad was beaten on June 21 by a group of young people.

Two of Haddad’s assailants were charged with “attempted murder and group violence aggravated by their anti-Semitic character.”

Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF, told Jewish Radio RCJ on Sunday that he was “certain” the three were targeted because they were identified as Jews.

“There isn’t a shadow of a doubt” concerning the “anti-Semitic character” of the crime, said Prasquier. “Let it be made clear — the boys who were walking by had a kippah.”

A Paris police spokeswoman said an investigation was launched to determine whether the incident was anti-Semitic, adding that the attackers reportedly did not speak to their victims.

The victims’ names were not made public by the French press, but the Jerusalem Post identified them as Bnei Akiva youth group counselors Kevin Bitan and David Buaziz, both 18, and Dan Nebet, 17.

Foundation to Give Birthright $30 Million

The Adelson Family Foundation has pledged another $30 million to the Birthright Israel Foundation.

Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who is chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, have now contributed nearly $100 million in gifts over the past two years to the foundation that supplies private funds to Birthright.

The latest pledge consists of a $20 million contribution for 2009 and $10 million for 2010, said Michael Bohnen, president of the Adelson Foundation, in a news release Tuesday announcing the gift.

Adelson said in the release that Birthright Israel “has proven to be the best vehicle we have to strengthen the Jewish community and our people’s connection with the State of Israel. We are honored to have helped Birthright Israel establish a track record of effectiveness on an unprecedented scale, and we look forward to its continued success.”

He called the gift a challenge to other philanthropists to step up during difficult financial times.

Adelson in September 2007 was ranked third on the Forbes magazine list of wealthiest Americans, with a net worth estimated at $28 billion.

Bronfman Prize Seeks Nominations

The Charles Bronfman Prize is seeking nominees for 2009. The prize, which includes a $100,000 award, celebrates the accomplishments of individuals, 50 years old or younger, whose Jewish values have infused their efforts to better the world.

The prize, named for the Birthright Israel co-founder, was launched in 2002 by his children, Stephen Bronfman and Ellen Bronfman Hauptman. Past Bronfman Prize winners include Jay Feinberg, founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, and Israeli environmentalist Dr. Alon Tal.

Deadline for nominations is Nov. 30.

For nomination forms or more information, visit www.thecharlesbronfmanprize.com.

— Staff Report

Entire Quebec Town Invited to Wedding

Jewish couple Hana Sellem and Moshe Barouk, invited hundreds of residents of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts to their wedding Tuesday as a gesture of good will after a series of anti-Semitic attacks in the town this summer.

Sellem, 26, an immigrant from France who follows Lubavitch-Chabad teachings, is vice principal of a Jewish teacher’s college in the town.

The couple printed wedding guides in French and English explaining the ceremony. About 300 residents attended.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Sherry Lansing’s epiphany


By 8 a.m. last Wednesday, when Sherry Lansing took the stage at the downtown Bonaventure Hotel, the women of Hadassah were hollering as if they were in a gospel service.

“Sixty is the new 40,” said TV anchor Rikki Klieman to shouts and cheers swirling through the crowd.

Lansing disagreed. “I used to think 60 is the new 40, but now I say, 60 is the new 60!” More cheers erupted from the 1,800 delegates at the Hadassah Convention, who were munching on bagels and lox during a conversation between Klieman and Lansing, gal pals from Northwestern.

“We are younger, healthier — and, statistically, people in their 60s are the happiest group demographically,” Lansing continued. “We’re not competing anymore, we’re just enjoying.”

Lansing has good reason to enjoy the prime of her life: Since retiring as chairwoman of Paramount Pictures and her historic role as the first female to head a major movie studio, Lansing has “shifted priorities” and is now devoted — full time — to her new thrill and philanthropic enterprise, the Sherry Lansing Foundation.

As she describes it, on the eve of turning 60, she had an epiphany.

“Suddenly, I cared less about a hit movie or making money than I did about giving back. That was the legacy that I wanted,” Lansing said.

Indeed, she achieved her Hollywood dreams, is financially secure and, she says, equally passionate about the new chapter of her life advocating for education and healthcare. Through her foundation, the one-time movie mogul responsible for such critical and box office hits as “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart” and “Titanic” is working with the Los Angeles Unified School District to place qualified retirees in either volunteer or paid positions in local public schools.

For Lansing, turning 60 was not about retirement — it was an opportunity to start over from a different place. With years of vitality left, she is encouraging other 60-somethings to give back too. Why waste the expertise and talent of successful individuals on golf courses?

Lansing’s inclination toward social work has been a part of her dream fabric since she was a child growing up in Chicago. After her father’s death when she was 9, her mother chose to learn the family real estate business instead of passing off responsibility to some male friends who offered to manage it. Her mother’s work ethic and determination is the source of Lansing’s drive and inspiration.

“I watched my mother never be a victim. I watched her never show me her tears, and like she used to say ‘pull up her socks’ and take care of her life.”

When other girls dreamed of marriage and family, Lansing thought of work. In 1984, when she became head of 20th Century Fox, she discovered that being a woman had its setbacks — but it also had benefits.

“No one knew how to handle a woman. I could be myself. I didn’t have to follow any rules. All I did was work. I overworked,” she said.

After three decades in the upper echelons of showbiz, Lansing shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to her work with her foundation, she is also on the board that governs California’s $3 billion stem cell research fund. When husband and filmmaker William Friedkin was directing an opera in Israel, Lansing went from hospital to hospital encouraging Israeli doctors to apply for California grant money. When she mentioned that Hadassah Hospital in Israel is a leading stem cell research institution, the crowd cheered again.

Lansing is an impressive icon in many circles, but in this room, she was among hardcore fans.

‘Top 400’ misses full picture of Jewish philanthropic giving


Jewish groups annually look to The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of top 400 fundraising organizations the way the business world looks to the Forbes Fortune 500 list — to see how well Jewish philanthropy is doing.

This year’s list, called

Education Giant Simha Lainer, 100


Simha Lainer
Simha Lainer, a diminutive centenarian who cut a towering figure in Jewish education in Los Angeles, died Tuesday, Aug. 8. He was 100.

“He was a giant,” said Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) Executive Director Gil Graff. “What he did was singularly remarkable: he established scholarships for children to attend Jewish schools, he created a program fund to recognize excellence in Jewish education. The Bureau of Jewish Education sits on the Sara and Simha Lainer floor of the Jewish Federation building, and it couldn’t be more fitting than that. Everything you envision in Jewish education, this is what Sara and Simha Lainer were all about.”

Lainer was born in Ukraine in the town of Bar in 1906. He moved from Ukraine to Palestine in 1925, then to South America and to Mexico until settling in Los Angeles with his wife Sara and three children in 1951.

In Los Angeles, Lainer founded Lainer Development, specializing in industrial warehouse type properties in the San Fernando Valley. Lainer’s sons Mark, Nahum and Luis joined him in business.

“Simha once told me his three rules for business success,” Graff recounted. “His first rule was, ‘Treat your workers like family.'”

From establishing funds through the Jewish Community Foundation in Los Angeles to starting the Simha and Sara Lainer Fund for Jewish Education through the BJE of Greater Los Angeles to supporting Israel, Lainer and Sara were key supporters of the Jewish community.

The Simha and Sara Lainer Fund for Jewish Education, which Simha and Sara Lainer established in 1989, has awarded close to $1 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 children at 37 Jewish day schools of all denominations across the city.

“When you do something for Jewish life, you do it for the good of the Jewish people,” Lainer told The Journal in a 2003 interview. “For 3,000 years the Jews have lived. Other people have disappeared in that 3,000 years, but we Jews have continued to survive primarily because of Jewish education. We need to continue our existence. Not that many Jewish families understand that Jewish education is critical for the continued existence of the Jewish people.”

Lainer is survived by his sons, Mark, Nahum and Luis; daughters-in-law, Ellie, Alice and Lee; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. at Mt. Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Donation Match


Call him a personal shopper, a matchmaker or a boutique investment adviser. However he is described, Joseph Hyman is trying to chart a new course in the world of Jewish philanthropy. A longtime Jewish organizational professional and fundraiser, Hyman last year launched the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy (CEJP) to support and advise philanthropists who are considering major gifts to Jewish and Israel-related causes.

Hyman acts as the middle man between donors and organizations, working with philanthropists to understand their particular interests, then he hits the pavement to locate worthwhile organizations that meet their philanthropic requirements.

The center’s goal is simple: to attract dollars to Jewish groups that might otherwise have gone elsewhere.

“If successful, we believe that CEJP will help to create a new paradigm in Jewish giving,” said Hyman, who is going public about his organization for the first time. “One that empowers and inspires a new generation of philanthropists to participate because they want to, not because they have to.”

His endeavor comes at a time when wealthy American Jews make a disproportionately high number of large gifts in United States but overwhelmingly make them to non-Jewish institutions. It also comes as philanthropists are increasingly looking to have a say in exactly where their dollars go.

The approach seems to be working.

Since its launch 19 months ago, the center already has facilitated more than $10 million in philanthropic donations to Jewish and Israel-related causes. Recipients include some well-known projects, such as Birthright Israel, which provides free, 10-day trips to Israel for young Jewish adults. They also include some lesser-known ones, including Meshi, a center in Israel offering the parents of special-needs children a break from child care, and Project Kesher, a group devoted to Jewish education and advocacy for women in the former Soviet Union.
“CEJP is revolutionary,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president and founder of The Israel Project, which has received two six-figure, multiyear commitments from donors working with the center.

“What it is doing,” she said, “is taking the desires of the philanthropists to heart and saying, ‘What is the outcome that you want? What is the investment that you want to make so that you can make positive change? And what’s the most cost-effective, reliable way to achieve those goals?'”

“There are people out there who are not giving to the level that they’re capable of giving,” said Adam Frieman, a longtime investment banker on Wall Street and a financial sponsor of the new center, said, Some portion of that group would give meaningfully more if somebody were able to connect with them on a personal level and make the giving personal.”

Hyman hopes that his efforts to eliminate much of the work involved in finding worthy causes will attract new dollars to Jewish groups.

“Beginning with the creation of Birthright about 10 years ago, it has been a core group of committed Jewish philanthropists who have challenged the community to move forward,” said Hyman, who stresses that his work is meant to complement that of the federations and other more traditional fundraising arms, not replace them.

“We are now beginning to see a new generation of megadonors emerge whose support is crucial to our future.”

The center today is working with nine North American philanthropists, including real estate developers, senior management of Fortune 500 companies and hedge fund managers, according to Hyman. And while all have donated to Jewish causes before, some now are giving at a much higher level.

Hyman likens the philanthropists “to world-class athletes who, with the proper support and coaching, can become Olympic gold medalists.”

Donor-advised funds are not new, say philanthropy insiders, and in fact have become increasingly popular over the last number of years in Jewish philanthropic circles.

However, said Sue Dickman, executive vice president of The Jewish Communal Fund, which facilitates and promotes charitable giving through donor-advised funds, the center is doing something different.

“What we do and what other donor-advised funds do is simply facilitate people’s philanthropy,” she said. “We don’t provide advice and input into the direction of their philanthropy. What Joe does is help people think strategically about their philanthropy and maximize the input that they can have.”

Other Jewish groups, notably the Jewish Funders Network, offer some donor advice. And several organizations are doing similar work in the general philanthropic world – among them the Wealth and Giving Forum, Rockefeller Advisory Services and the Philanthropic Initiative in Boston.

The center is also seen as attractive because it is supported by investors and does not charge for its work. Donors say that for this reason, they feel the group’s advice is objective.

“We felt that he could offer us something that we needed” because Hyman is “not connected to any particular organization but very well connected in the greater Jewish community both here in the U.S. and in Israel,” said the administrator of a private family foundation in the Chicago area, who requested anonymity for reasons of privacy.

Nearly two years ago, shortly before the center was launched, Hyman sat down with a Chicago-based private investor Robert Sklare to chat about philanthropy. They spent about 10 hours talking, Sklare said, discussing the Jewish philanthropic interests he and his wife, Yadelle, shared, the areas that got them excited and the problems they hoped to help solve. Then Hyman got to work tracking down a series of organizations that fit their bill.

Several did. In fact, Sklare said, since then, he’s donated a “substantial” amount of money to Israel-related organizations – certainly more than he’d have given had he never met Hyman.

He has since funded, among other groups, Birthright Israel; Karev, an after-school enrichment program for inner-city youngsters in Ashkelon, and Meitarim, a group of pluralistic schools that attempt to bridge the gap between religious and secular students.

According to Jeffrey Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, general philanthropy has nearly doubled in the last decade, and the growth of Hyman’s center reflects that trend.

“I think we’re going to see more and more different kinds of approaches to specialize it, make it more strategic, capture it,” he said. “This is the first one that is specifically aimed at Jewish philanthropy.”

Still, asked if this sort of philanthropy is the wave of the future, Solomon demurred.

“It’s hard to know what would have happened had CEJP not been there,” he said. “Would that money have gone to different Jewish organizations? To general charities? Would it have been given at all? While helping to direct millions of dollars is very impressive, it’s hard to know what would have happened had it not been there.”

Rabbi Irving Greenberg, president of the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation, said that Michael Steinhardt, a megadonor to Jewish causes, was not initially convinced about Hyman’s efforts, but after he demonstrated that “he had a little bit of a track record, Michael became a funder.”

“I think it’s very significant,” Greenberg said of Hyman’s approach. “My guess is that this has not only got legs, but that this is the wave of the future.”

Warren Buffett’s Jewish Connection


Warren Buffett is not a Jew; in fact, he describes himself as an agnostic.

Still, the billionaire investment guru, who made big news in May when his Berkshire Hathaway corporation bought an 80 percent share in the Israeli metalworks conglomerate, Iscar, for $4 billion, for years has been making his mark on the U.S. Jewish community back home — although sometimes in a roundabout way.

“Proportionally, if you look at the number of Jews in this country and in the world, I’m associated with a hugely disproportionate number,” said Buffett, the second-richest man in the world. His life, he added, “has been blessed by friendship with many Jews.”

The Israeli government stands to reap about $1 billion in taxes on Buffett’s purchase of Iscar. Shortly after announcing the deal, Buffett said he was surprised to learn that a Berkshire subsidiary, CTB International, was purchasing a controlling interest in another Israeli company, AgroLogic.

In Israel — which Buffett plans to visit in the fall — the hope is that the deals will have longer legs: Buffett himself has not ruled out future purchases there and, considering his status as a leading investor, observers say others also may take a look at Israeli companies now that Buffett has done so.

“You won’t find in the world a better-run operation than Iscar,” Buffett says. “I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s run by Israelis.”

Among the first companies Buffett acquired after launching Berkshire Hathaway, the Omaha-based investment and insurance giant, was The Sun Newspapers of Omaha, then owned by Stan Lipsey, one-time chairman of The Jewish Press, Omaha’s Jewish newspaper.

“At the time, the Omaha Club did not take Jewish members, and the Highland Country Club, a golf club, didn’t have any [non-Jewish] members,” Lipsey recalled. “Warren volunteered to join the Highland” — rather than the Omaha — “to set an example of nondiscrimination.”

Buffett happily recalls the fallout from his application.

“It created this big rhubarb,” he said. “All of the rabbis appeared on my behalf, the [Anti-Defamation League] guy appeared on my behalf. Finally they voted to let me in.”

But that wasn’t the end of the story, Buffett said. The Highland had a rule requiring members to donate a certain amount of money to their synagogues. Buffett, of course, wasn’t a synagogue member, so the club changed its policy: Members now would be expected to give to their synagogues, temples or churches.

But that still didn’t quite work, Buffett recalls with a laugh, because of his agnosticism.

In the end, the rule was amended to ask simply that members make some sort of charitable donation, and the path to Buffet’s membership was clear.

“He’s an incredible guy,” said Lipsey, today the publisher of the Buffalo News. In 1973, The Sun won a Pulitzer Prize in local investigative specialized reporting for an expose on financial impropriety at Boys Town, Neb.

“Warren came up with the key source for us knowing what was going on out there,” Lipsey said.

Buffett himself researched Boys Town’s stocks to bolster the story, Lipsey added.

In the 1960s, Omaha Rabbi Myer Kripke decided to invest in his friend Buffett’s new business venture. Their wives had become friendly, he said, and the foursome enjoyed playing the occasional game of bridge together.

“My wife had no card sense and I was certainly no competition to Warren, who is a very good bridge player and a lover of the game,” said Kripke, rabbi emeritus of Omaha’s Conservative Beth El Synagogue. “He’s very bright and very personable and very decent. He is a rich man who is as clean as can be.”

Kripke, father of the noted philosopher Saul Kripke, bought a few shares in Berkshire Hathaway and quickly sold them, doubling his money, he said.

Recognizing a good thing when he saw it, he bought a bunch more shares in his friend’s company, shares that by the 1990s had made Kripke — who says he never earned more than $30,000 a year as a rabbi — a millionaire.

Asked if he credits Buffett with his financial success, he didn’t hesitate.

“Entirely, yes,” he said. “I never had much of an income.”

The Sun newspaper group was not Buffett’s only early purchase of a Jewish-owned company. In 1983, sealing the deal with a handshake, Buffett bought 90 percent of the Nebraska Furniture Mart from Rose Blumkin, a Russian-born Jew who moved to the United States in 1917.

In 1989, he purchased a majority of the stock in Borsheim’s Fine Jewelry and Gifts, a phenomenally successful jewelry store, from the Friedman family.

“He has many friends in the Jewish community,” said Forrest Krutter, secretary of Berkshire Hathaway and a former president of the Jewish Federation of Omaha.

Buffett’s former son-in-law, Allen Greenberg, is a Jew, and now runs the Buffett Foundation, much of whose work has dealt with reproductive rights and family-planning issues. Buffett’s personal assistant is Ian Jacobs, who goes by his Hebrew name, Shami.

Buffett himself counts the late Nebraska businessman Howard “Micky” Newman and philanthropist Jack Skirball as among his “very closest friends.”

Further, Buffett said his “hero and the man who made me an investment success” was Ben Graham. Graham, along with Newman’s father, Jerry, ran a New York fund called Graham-Newman Corp.

“After besieging Ben for the three years after I received my degree from Columbia, Ben and Jerry finally hired me,” Buffett said. “I was the first gentile ever employed by the firm — including secretaries — in its 18 years of existence. My first son bears the middle name Graham after Ben.”

Buffett “is very much honored in the Jewish community,” Kripke said.

 

Andrea Bronfman, Charity Giant, Killed


Andrea Bronfman, a giant in the world of Jewish philanthropy, was killed Monday when a car struck her while she was walking her dog in Manhattan. She was 60 years old.

“She was a Zionist — and her parents were lovers of Israel and strong Zionists,” said Marlene Post, who worked with Bronfman at Birthright Israel, the 6-year-old program that to date has brought nearly 100,000 young Jews to Israel for free 10-day trips.

Born in London to a Scottish father and a mother from New York, Bronfman and her husband — the billionaire businessman and philanthropist Charles Bronfman — maintained residences in New York, Florida and Jerusalem. They spent about three months of each year in Israel and in 2002 were awarded honorary Jerusalem citizenship.

Twenty years ago, the Bronfmans founded the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies Inc. The foundation has supported numerous programs and initiatives aimed at strengthening Jewish life, in addition to programs not related to the Jewish community.

Bronfman worked to establish a nexus between her concern for Israel and her artistic pursuits. In 2003, in response to the drop in tourism dollars at the height of the intifada, Bronfman founded AIDA: the Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts, which has helped expose Israeli artists to North American galleries and collectors and educate North Americans about decorative arts in Israel.

For her 60th birthday earlier this year, Charles announced creation of the “Andy Prize,” a $10,000 annual award for an Israeli artist.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bronfman turned her philanthropic eye to the attack’s victims. She became founder and deputy chairman of The Gift of New York, a nonprofit initiative to provide free tickets to a variety of cultural offerings and sports events for the bereaved families of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Other initiatives included 21/64, which supports young philanthropists; and Reboot, which nurtures young Jewish leaders outside the mainstream of organized Jewish life.

Friends and colleagues described Bronfman as attractive, dignified, vibrant — and highly intelligent. Those who knew her also spoke of Bronfman’s deep devotion to her husband, five children and six grandchildren.

A memorial ceremony was held Wednesday at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. Burial is scheduled for Friday in Jerusalem.

 

Obituaries


Rebecca Smith, Foundation Inspiration, Dies at 27

Rebecca Smith, whose diagnosis at age of 5 of the rare genetic disease affecting the nervous and immune systems known as Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T), spurred her parents, George and Pam Smith of Hidden Hills, to establish the Ataxia-telangiectasi Medical Research Foundation (A-TMRF), died on Jan. 22 from complications of leukemia caused by A-T. She was 27.

Through their efforts on behalf of the A-TMRF, the Smiths helped raise more than $10 million. In October of 2004, the Smith family endowed the Rebecca Smith Chair in A-T Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Richard Gatti holds the Rebecca Smith Distinguished Professorship at UCLA.

Although Smith’s condition affected her speech and gait, it did not stop her from pursuing an active lifestyle. She attended Sinai-Akiba Academy, Stephen S. Wise High School (now Milken Community High School) and Calabasas High School and was close to completing an Associate of Arts degree at Moorpark College.

For several years, she helped run Becca’s Chic Boutique, a clothing resale store which generated funds for A-T research. Her favorite activities included riding horses, attending concerts and taking an annual trip to Broadway.

When Gatti first met the Smiths, soon after Becca was diagnosed, he was one of very few researchers studying the rare disease. A-T has since become recognized as a potential key to understanding neuro-degenerative diseases, immune system disorders, cancer and aging, and now is studied worldwide. The A-T gene was identified in 1995 by the lab of Tel Aviv University researcher Dr. Yossi Shiloh, who also received early and ongoing support from the A-TRMF.

Becca’s father, George, a leader in Southern California’s real estate finance industry, died in November of last year.

“Although neither Becca nor George lived to witness their goal of seeing a cure for A-T, their efforts guarantee that it will arrive years earlier than it otherwise would have,” Gatti said.

Becca is survived by her mother, Pam; brothers, James and Matthew; sister, Jill Oaks; and nieces, Samantha and Hannah.

Donations in her memory may be sent to the A-T Medical Research Foundation, 5241 Round Meadow Road, Hidden Hills, CA 91302. — Nancy Sokoler Steiner, Contributing Writer


Robert Newmyer, Film Producer, Dies at 49

Hollywood film producer Robert Newmyer died Dec. 12 of a heart attack at age 49, just as his film work was expanding into helping Sudanese refugees via the University of Judaism (UJ).

Newmyer produced more than two-dozen films including, the acclaimed “Sex, Lies and Videotapes,” “The Santa Clause” movies and the Academy Award-winning “Training Day.” He died while working in Toronto on the spy drama, “Breach,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Newmyer’s Outlaw Productions company was also in the process of developing a film, possibly for Paramount, about the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, a group of 3,900 displaced young Africans whose lives in refugee camps resembled postwar Europe’s Displaced Persons Camps.

Last Memorial Day weekend, the UJ’s MBA nonprofit program began helping the Sudanese refugees create a nonprofit instigated by Newmyer.

“This [‘Lost Boys’ film] project has dominated my life for three years now,” Newmyer told The Journal.

The Bel Air resident said he contacted the UJ to help him help the Sudanese because the UJ was, “right down the street from me.”

Born in Washington, D.C., Newmyer was a graduate of Swathmore College and Harvard Business School, according to The Washington Post, and came to Los Angeles in the early 1980s. He was a production/acquisitions vice-president at Columbia Pictures before creating Outlaw Productions in 1988.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah; daughters, Sofi and Billi; sons, Teddy and James; parents, James and Virginia; and sisters, Elsa (Larry Forester) and Lory (Stephen Cooper).

Donations may be sent to Bobby Newmyer Memorial Fund to help the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, care of Outlaw Productions, 3599 Beverly Glen Terrace, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer


Bradley Jacobs, Dedicated Israel Activist, Dies at 47

Bradley Jacobs, tireless lover of and worker for the State of Israel and citizens of the Yesha communities and publisher and editor of the Israel News, died Jan. 14. He was 47.

Jacobs worked tirelessly in the Chicago community and around the country on behalf of maintaining Jewish sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza. For years, Jacobs compiled and widely distributed a weekly newsletter with highlights of Israel national news.

He was the devoted son of Doris (nee Freedkin) and Ben; loving brother of Cheryl Jacobs Lewin; adoring uncle of Shoshana Maryam Lewin; wonderful nephew of Irwin (and the late Paula) Freedkin; and outstanding friend to David Abell, Norman Abell, Joel Jacobson and many others.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name may be made to The Hebron Fund, 1760 Ocean Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y., 11230.


Shirley Ashe died Dec. 23 at 83. She is survived by her husband, Harry; son, Allan; one grandchild; sister, Hortley Weinstock. Groman

BERTHA BARLAZ died Dec. 26 at 90. She is survived by her daughters, Frederica and Hinda. Sholom Chapels

Manya Berestetsky died Dec. 13 at 86. She is survived by her daughter, Stella. Chevra Kadisha

Barry Breslow died Dec. 23 at 59. He is survived by his wife, Wendy; son, Eric; one grandchild; and mother, Hilda. Groman

Rose Blumberg died Dec. 24 at 101; she is survived by her son, Donald; and four grandchildren. Groman

CHARLOTTE SYDNEY BROWN died Dec. 25 at 74. She is survived by her husband, Maynard; son, Jeff; and nephews Reid Brown and Rob Curtiss. Hillside

ROLF BURK died Dec. 26 at 87. He is survived by his son, Michael (Roxane); and one grandchild. Hillside

BERTHA COOPER died Dec. 23 at 89. She is survived by her sons, Harvey and Charles; and grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

Ayzik Davidovich died Dec. 24 at 76. He is survived by his daughters, Sophia Garfinkel and Elena Barash; and four grandchildren. Groman

Stephen DuBow died Dec. 23 at 60. He is survived by his wife, Ardeen; sons, Matt (Tina) and Nicholas (Leah); two grandchildren; mother, Nettie; brother, Norman (Laura); sisters, Natalie (Greg) Davidson and Michele (Gary) Reynolds. Malinow and Silverman

EDNA EINSTOSS died Dec. 22 at 97. She is survived by her son, Charles; daughte.r Sharon Hall; 14 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Hillside

Joseph Ellenbogen died Dec. 26 at 88. He is survived by his wife, Ethel; daughters, Barbara Rose and Susan; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Charlotte Freiberg died Dec. 25 at 90. She is survived by her son, Gary. Malinow and Silverman

Zvi Reuven Galibov died Dec. 24 at 96. He is survived by his brother, Ze’ev Benjamin; and friends, Larry Frazin and Nickie Rothwell. Chevra Kadisha

Miriam Garian died Dec. 26 at 77. She is survived by her husband, Issac; and son, Ron. Chevra Kadisha

Hyman Getoff died Dec 21 at 88. He is survived by his son, Peter; daughter, Tova; and grandchild, Emily.

Arthur Glanz died Dec. 22 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Muriel; son, Brian; daughter, Nanci Fisher-Levin; and four grandchildren. Groman

Phyllis Goldklang died Dec. 22 at 73. She is survived by her husband, Stanley; daughter Lori (Simon) Furie; one granddaughter; and brother, Richard (Helen) Wendlinger. Malinow and Silverman

David Gorokhovskiy died Dec. 12 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Anna Gorokhovskaya; and daughter, Ella (Peter) Skibinsky. Chevra Kadisha

Eleanor Gottlieb died Dec. 22 at 79. She is survived by her husband, Kenneth; daughter, Jean; and brothers, Bernard and Donald Gordon. Groman

Albert Greer died Dec. 26 at 93. He is survived by his wife, Bessie; sons, Robert (Eding) and John (Guila); daughter, Dahlia; one grandchild; and two great-grandchildren. Groman

Leslie Hyde died Dec. 23 at 59. She is survived by her daughter, Lisa; and parents, Sy and Lucille Fuhrman. Malinow and Silverman

Joseph Karmen died Dec. 17 at 84. He is survived by his niece, Ilona Sherman. Chevra Kadisha

Rozalyn Leybovich died Dec. 25 at 79. She is survived by her husband, Zinoviy Rubenshteyn; daughter, Marina Gurevich; nephew, Leon Belous; and niece, Bella Ratushnyak. Chevra Kadisha

Florence Mozelle Meyer died Dec. 16 at 100. She is survived by her cousin, David (Louise) Ellias. Chevra Kadisha

Miriam Moskowitz died Dec. 23 at 84. She is survived by her son, Marc Forman; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Groman

Youssef Nourafshan died Dec. 9 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Parvin; and son, Jack. Chevra Kadisha

Betty Orland died Dec. 26 at 87. She is survived by her sons, Jerry, Eugene and Phillip; nine grandchildren; nine great- grandchildren; and brother, Irving Kooba. Groman

Issac Ovsiowitz died Dec. 16 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Emily; son, Leonard (Sharon); daughter, Elaine (Norman) Blieden; sister, Sally Garlick; sister-in-law, Joyce Kron; four grandchildren; and one great-grandson. Chevra Kadisha

Donald Harry Pessell died Dec. 25 at 77. He is survived by his wife, Beverly; son, Robert; daughter, Lori York; four grandchildren; and brother, Sheldon. Groman

Selma Peters died Dec. 22 at 83. She is survived by her son, Laurence (Caren); daughters, Margo (Marc) Weinberg, Berdie (Leonard) Stein and Cheryl (Michael) Glynn; six grandchildren; and sister, Rosa (Harry) Leafe. Mount Sinai

Maryam Pourat died Dec. 18 at 88. She is survived by her brother, Mansour. Chevra Kadisha

Hanna Reif died Nov. 24 at 56. She is survived by her husband, Willy. Chevra Kadisha

Adeline Ritz died Dec. 23 at 90. She is survived by her son, Herbert Klein; and two grandchildren. Groman

Harvey Gerald Rose died Dec. 26 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Esther; sons, Lloyd and Brian Sharaga; four grandchildren; and brother, Merle. Groman

JEAN SACKS died Dec. 24 at 88. She is survived by her son, Calvin (Marilinn); daughter, Sandra (Irwin) Cohn; and granddaughter Lauren Sarabia. Hillside

Barbara Florence Scherr died Dec. 23 at 73. She is survived by her sons, Mitchell, Scott and Mark; five grandchildren; and brother, Stephen Katz. Groman

Morris Sherman died Dec. 13 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; daughters, Marcia Fellner, Alyse (David Kirschen) and Susan (Pack Warfield); nine grandchildren; brother, Bernard; and sister, Brynie Curtis. Chevra Kadisha

Joyce Solarz died Dec. 22 at 76. She is survived by her husband, Hal; sons, Neil (Barbara) and Barry (Melissa Holland); and four grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Richard Kraus Spero died Dec. 23 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Lorelei; daughters, Melinda and Susan; two grandchildren; and brothers, Robert and William. Groman

MARK STAWISKY died Dec. 25 at 87. He is survived by his daughters, Linda Wolfson and Susan Konheim; eight grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and sister, Hannah Rome. Hillside

J.C. Strauss died Dec. 21 at 85. He is survived by his great nephew, Jason Cane. Malinow and Silverman

Roy Stuart died Dec. 25 at 78. He is survived by two nieces, and many friends. Chevra Kadisha

Esther Stella Suissa died Dec. 17 at 80. She is survived by her son, Youssef; and daughter, Mazal Nadia Adida. Chevra Kadisha

Shokat Yazgel Tehrani died Dec. 23 at 97. She is survived by her son, Yousef; daughter, Mahin; 10 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and brother, Rohollah Adel Ar Jomand. Groman

Riva Velednitskaya died Dec. 17 at 74. She is survived by her husband, Dimitriy Velednitskiy; and daughter, Irina Vishnevsky. Chevra Kadisha

Sadie Welner died Dec. 24 at 98. She is survived by her daughter, Estelle (Bernie) Case; son, Jerry (Sylvia) Welner; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Shirley Annette Wolfson died Dec. 25 at 82. She is survived by her son, Steven; daughter, Shari Allen; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Groman

Nettie Vickter died Dec. 22 at 90. She is survived by her sons, Sheldon and Marvin; and daughter, Beverlee. Mount Sinai

Candy Weinroth died Dec. 22 at 62. She is survived by her sons, Richard and Joshua; one grandchild; sister, Susan Leifer. Groman

Menasheh Yaghoubzadeh died Dec. 20 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Shoshan; and son, Shahram. Chevra Kadisha

Belle Esther Yarmish died Oct. 28 at 82. She is survived by her daughter, Marcie (Levi) Meier; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

 

The Circuit


Hope and Faith

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) honored L.A. resident Doron Kochavi, for his participation in the Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope across America, headed by Lance Armstrong.

Patients in the Childrens Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at CHLA sent off Kochavi with well wishes as he left to join a team of 24 cancer survivors, advocates, caregivers, physicians and researchers selected to ride 3,300 miles from San Diego to Washington, D.C.

The team of avid cyclists began their trip Sept. 29 — to share their experiences and inspire those they met along the way to learn more about cancer research.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong led the team at the kickoff in San Diego and into Washington, D.C., as well as during other points along the route.

Kochavi’s son, Ari, is alive today because of the treatment for a brain tumor he received at CHLA. When asked about the significance of the holidays and what is he reflecting on Kochavi said prior to leaving, “The Jewish holiday is for laymen. It is a message of hope. You hope that the new year will bring all the good you hope for … health, family, a good life…. This year I will spend the new year on the road. I have the opportunity to send a message of hope across the country. We will be riding everywhere … there will be no religious boundaries and touch everyone north to south … rich to poor….. I get the chance to talk to millions of people through television, newspapers, etc. and deliver a message of hope for tomorrow.”

For more information, visit www.tourofhope.org.

Simply Remarkable

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles will award four new Jewish day school scholarships as a tribute to Mark Lainer, its chair from 2001 through 2004. The Mark Lainer Scholarships will provide assistance during the 2005 academic year to a deserving student with financial need at four local Jewish educational institutions where Lainer has played major leadership roles. These include Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School, Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School West and New Community Jewish High School, along with one recipient selected by the Bureau of Jewish Education.

The Foundation announced the scholarships at a gala dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire on Sept. 22 saluting Lainer’s dedication to The Foundation and the community.

“Mark’s energy and commitment are exemplary,” said foundation President and CEO Marvin I. Schotland. “We’re proud to honor him for both his outstanding guidance as immediate past chair of the foundation and for his passionate, dedicated service to the entire community.”

A leader in philanthropy and education, Lainer was also founding president of the Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School and has played important leadership roles in the Bureau of Jewish Education, The Jewish Federation, University of Judaism, Valley Beth Shalom, United Jewish Communities, Jewish Education Service of North America and The Jewish Journal.

 

Lifecycles – Makeup Artist Gives Dignity to Scarred


Until burn survivor Wendy (not her real name) met makeup artist Maurice Stein a decade ago, she dreaded leaving her house. Before a gas stove explosion almost burned her alive in 1987, she had been a 23-year-old cocktail waitress with long, blonde hair and blue eyes, and generated plenty of attention from the opposite sex.

However, the fire from the explosion incinerated her hands, nose, ears and eyelids and left her face an unrecognizable mask of colors and scars. When the hospital nurses allowed her to look in the mirror, “I screamed and cried,” she said. “I looked like a monster.”

When she finally left the hospital nine months later, people stared at her when she ventured out, and cosmetics didn’t help. Her old Clinique foundation slipped off the scars and thicker makeup looked waxy.

“I was desperate to find someone to help me,” Wendy said.

Enter Stein of Cinema Secrets, now 71, who has made it his mission to help burn survivors and cancer patients since retiring from studio work in 1985. When Wendy visited him 10 years ago, he whisked her to the dressing table in his personal office, shut the door and mixed shades of his unique Cinema Secrets foundation to create a naturalistic look. He showed her how to apply the light, but highly pigmented, makeup in a stippling motion, to pencil in eyebrows and a cupid’s bow over her asymmetrical lips.

Because she was on disability, he gave her the makeup gratis. And Stein’s lesson — which usually costs $75 an hour — was also free, as it is to all people with facial disfigurements.

“I looked so much better, I finally had the confidence to go out and face the world,” Wendy said. “I didn’t need to hide anymore.”

Sitting in the same windowless office on a recent afternoon, regal, silver-haired Stein called such work “the most rewarding part of my entire career.” Strong words for an artist whose work has included creating oozing wounds for the film, “M*A*S*H”; fashioning Barbra Streisand’s look in “Funny Girl”; turning Roddy McDowall into a chimpanzee in “Planet of the Apes,” and earning his own star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Celebrities such as Charlize Theron pull up in limousines to sit at the very table where Wendy’s life dramatically changed .

Although Stein officially retired 20 years ago, he said he founded Cinema Secrets “as a little hole in the wall,” where he could troubleshoot for actors and makeup artists. Instead, the Burbank storefront grew into a full-service beauty salon, a makeup school, beauty supply store, costume shop and special effects and prosthetics studio run by Stein; his wife, Barbara, and their three children. Its makeup line retails in 1,800 stores and is used by actors on approximately 30 TV shows and in upcoming films, such as “The Poseidon Adventure.”

Stein’s dedication to charity work emerged during an interview in his rambling, cheerful store. Alongside lipstick in more colors than Crayolas, cases displayed wigs that impoverished chemotherapy patients receive for free. Not far from a Halloween mask of Ronald Reagan — whom Stein powdered, along with Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford — were Cinema Secrets foundations in 55 shades, the skin tone range from Caucasian to African.

The artist took time out to work on 47-year-old Gigi DeLeon, whose face was discolored by rosacea. “It’s like the redness totally disappeared,” she marveled, as Stein brushed excess sealing powder off her face.

While Barbara Stein handles the cancer makeup, making sallow skin appear dewy, Stein attends to burn survivors.

“For some, he’s been a lifesaver,” said Amy Acton of the Phoenix Society, a national burn survivors organization that will host its annual World Burn Congress in Baltimore Aug. 23-28.

“Because our society is so looks-oriented, the psychological challenges are often greater than the physical ones for burn survivors,” said James Floros, chairman of the board of the National Federation of Burn Foundations. “People feel because they’re disfigured, they’re lesser human beings, which is why makeup artists like Maurice are so important.”

Renown image consultant Barbara Kammerer Quayle, who has worked closely with Stein, knows about such feelings firsthand. After her face was seriously burned in a car accident 26 years ago, “the man I was involved with left the relationship, and I thought, nobody’s going to love me, or want to hug and kiss me, let alone make love to me,” she said.

After much counseling and self-work, Quayle — who is now married — founded a “sort of finishing school for burn survivors,” which teaches how to apply Stein’s makeup. When she sets up her makeshift salon at the upcoming World Burn Congress, the four dressing tables will be piled with multiple shades of Cinema Secrets.

Quayle said she likes the product because it’s sheer, natural looking, waterproof, heatproof and covers the entire face all day. “And Maurice never turns anyone away for lack of [funds],” she added. “It’s part of his giving back to the world, helping people who have no place else to go.”

The work is meaningful to Stein, in part, because of the anti-Semitism he faced as one of three Jews at Rosemead High in the 1940s. The son of a police officer, Stein excelled at sports and used his fists to fend off slurs and physical assaults.

At 16, he attended an interfaith camp, where he learned that “individuals are always taken at face value. You look at them and make an instant decision about whether you want to associate with them or not. Since then, I’ve always felt empathy for people who aren’t perceived as ‘perfect.'”

After a short stint as a boxer and two years in the Army during the Korean War, Stein followed a girlfriend into beauty school and eventually opened his own hair salon in San Marino in the 1950s. In 1962, a Hollywood client convinced him to work on a war movie at Columbia Pictures, where he was promptly steered to the makeup room.

“In those days, women did hair, and men did makeup,” he said. “So they put me between two guys, and I kept looking back and forth, mimicking what they did.”

Stein went on to work on more than 200 films and television shows, including “Bewitched,” the original “Star Trek” and “The Flying Nun.” Yet it was after he retired that he faced one of his biggest challenges: troubleshooting on the 1980s series, “The Golden Girls.”

Making actress Estelle Getty look 25 years older took three-and-a-half hours, and the makeup was so painful to remove that “Estelle was learning how to cuss,” Stein recalled. He figured out how to quickly and painlessly fabricate her wrinkles by using layers of Cinema Secrets, which he was in the midst of developing. Getty became his onscreen guinea pig.

Stein had originally intended the foundation to be a user-friendly product for actors, but found a more philanthropic use, when he discovered it also covered scars, tattoos, birthmarks and facial deformities. Soon calls began coming from physicians.

“I’d take over where the medical community left off,” he said. “I couldn’t get rid of scars, but I could eliminate the discoloration associated with them.”

Stein began training doctors and staff to apply his makeup at major burn and cancer centers, such as Johns Hopkins and the City of Hope. He traveled the world, visiting patients like a scarred 9-year-old Norwegian boy who needed makeup to return to school.

If clients were too ill to leave home, Stein requested photos; spoke with them by phone, then mailed out several shades with which they could experiment.

If he does not have the capability to help someone in need, he finds someone who does. He prevailed upon the Veterans Administration Hospital in Westwood, for example, to fashion Wendy a silicon nose (the usual price: $8,000). When he bought her a belly button tattoo for her 40th birthday (the fire had burned hers off), she requested butterfly wings on either side.

“It was like a metaphor for what she had been through,” Stein said. “Doing this kind of work is my major enjoyment in life.”

Visit Cinema Secrets online at www.cinemasecrets.com.

Happy Campers


We are driving to pick up our son from camp. He’s been there three weeks, the longest stretch he’s been away from us since his birth.

In this age of e-mails and BlackBerrys and cell phones, the rule at Camp Alonim at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley is no e-mails, BlackBerrys or cell phones. He’s sent us a few postcards home, clearly written by an 11-year-old who has put away childish things, like parents.

“Dear Family: We prayed and prayed and had havdalah end of story. Love, Adi. P.S. I love you. P.P.S. Tomorrow’s our overnight and we’re creating our own fire and no letters on Sunday.”

We follow a dusty procession of cars making its way toward the bunks — the one time of year these SUVs will touch actual dirt. Our son and his friends pour out — and they are different. Taller. Browner. A bit of manly bunk-stench still clinging to their clothes. We ask them how it was and they laugh among themselves and break into secret jokes and chants and hints of midnight sneak-outs, leaving the details to our imaginations. For a decade their lives have been lived out solely on our turf. Now we are strangers on theirs.

On this warm August morning, the endless agonizing over Jewish continuity and how best to ensure a Jewish future seems especially vapid. You want to know what works? Camp.

A fraction of American Jewish children attend Jewish summer camps, despite a small but growing body of evidence that no other institution is as effective in passing Jewish values and community to the next generation.

“The 24/7 experience can’t be replicated,” said Jerry Silverman, the executive director of the Foundation for Jewish Camping (www.jewishcamping.org). “It’s living communally outdoors, integrating Jewish learning with fun.” A former executive with Levi Strauss and Stride Rite, Silverman’s change-of-life moment came when he picked one of his own children up from her first stay at Camp Ramah New England and found she had been transformed by the immeasurably positive experience. Jewish camping, he said, “evolved into a family passion.”

Silverman joined up with the foundation, which was founded in 1998 by Wexner Fellows Robert and Elisa Bildner to be a national advocate for the Jewish camp movement. There are 120 nonprofit Jewish camps in the United States and Canada, serving between 55,000-60,000 children. That’s just 8 percent of the total Jewish population. The Foundation’s goal is to double the number in five years.

The obstacles are as close as your checkbook. Sleepaway camps range from $475-650 per week, with the average close to $600. An Avi Chai Foundation study found that while 67 percent of Jewish professionals are summer camp alumni, the high tab puts off many families.

Those that aren’t deterred often confront a lack of camps themselves. There is no camp on the West Coast serving the Modern Orthodox. The high price of land and start-up costs in the millions mean few new camps come on line with any frequency. Film producer Doug Mankoff, the Foundation’s only Los Angeles-area board member, put it this way: “There are three fundamental ways to strengthen Jewish identity among young people: day schools, Israel and camping. But nobody seems to be doing much about the last one.”

But the Foundation hopes to chip away at these problems, and money and effort are starting to flow in the right direction. In Western Massachusetts, the Grinspoon Foundation gives every Jewish child a $1,000 scholarship to attend the first year at camp. The Avi Chai Foundation is funding improved Judaic and leadership training for counselors and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation is funding specialized courses in the dramatic arts for camp leaders. And here in Southern California, home of sticker shock by the square foot, organizers in San Diego have just broken ground on a new, pluralistic camp in the San Bernardino Mountains — with a lake.

Mankoff said such camps offer something unique, “learning about Judaism in a cool way.”

I thought of my son’s postcard — how prayer and Havdalah fused with the thrill of an actual campfire.

“It’s that heartfelt excitement about Judaism kids can feel with their peers,” Mankoff said.

It was that excitement I read on my son’s face and heard in his stories.

That morning we picked Adi up, he and his friends decided to take us on a hike around Brandeis. We ended up climbing a hill claimed by the junior counselors-in-trainings. “This is the J-CIT hill, that one is the CITs,” said one of them, pointing across the landscape like Gen. Tommy Franks on reconnaissance.

They had their own language, had formed their own tribe with its own stories. We scrambled past a garden where the kids learned about the (old) kibbutz life, and up a steep path that a month earlier we couldn’t have begged these boys to climb.

On the way down we heard an ear-jolting thrum. Two feet in front of us, a large rattlesnake shot across our trail and slipped under a toyon bush. Its body was thick as a man’s wrist, but all I noticed were its pointy eyes facing us down, and its furious rattle.

These boys, raised in the wilds of Rancho Park, Carthay Circle, Hancock Park Adjacent and West Los Angeles, slipped sideways around the snake and continued their march down the hill. The we-came-this-close-to-a-rattlesnake story joined the other stories and jokes and experiences they would pass down about Alonim 2004, as their little tribe happily merges into the larger one, the one to which we all belong.

Celebrating 10 Years of ‘Schindler’s List’


Ten years have passed since the premiere of “Schindler’s List,” but the emotional impact of the film and its aftermath remain intense, not least for its creators, actors and the survivors whose lives were depicted.

So there were tears and much hugging when Steven Spielberg hosted an anniversary party last week for the film and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which has become a global educational tool for the teaching of the Holocaust.

It speaks to Spielberg’s clout that some 100 reporters and a dozen television crews gathered in a large tent outside the trailers housing the Shoah Foundation to cover what was essentially a summing up of past achievements.

Spielberg himself set the emotional tone be remarking that the making of “Schindler’s List” “has changed my life. I found my soul and my faith.”

The actual shooting of the film in Krakow was a “nightmare,” Spielberg recalled, because it forced him to relive the murder of the 6 million. In addition, he later told The Journal, “I had a tremendous fear that I would make a mistake. The pressure was enormous.”

By contrast, the success story of the Shoah Foundation has been a “dream” for Spielberg. During the past decade, nearly 52,000 survivors, liberators and other witnesses have videotaped their remembrances, with the mammoth job of indexing and cataloguing the mountain of material now near the halfway point.

One historical aspect still missing is the testimony of the Holocaust perpetrators, said Ben Kingsley, who played Schindler’s Jewish assistant Itzhak Stern in the film.

“I still hope to see the time when some of the murderers will speak to the camera,” said Kingsley — Sir Ben to you.

Ralph Fiennes, who played SS commandant Amon Goeth, recalled the day during the shooting of the film when a Jewish cafe owner in Krakow invited the actors inside.

“I looked at the man and I looked at my SS uniform, and I just couldn’t go in,” said Fiennes.

A few more quotes from the three-hour event stick in the mind.

Douglas Greenberg, president and CEO of the Shoah Foundation: “The only thing that will really last in my life will be the work we have done here.”

A 13-year-old African American student after hearing a survivor speak in his classroom: “This has given me a reference point in my life.”

A survivor, his voice breaking: “When the Americans came to liberate our camp, we started to sing ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and then we asked, ‘What took you so long?'”

The Circuit


Who Wrote the bible?

At a luncheon recently sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Education, Inc., which provides scholarships for unaffiliated needy children ages 5-13 to attend a Jewish day school, Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei from Sinai Temple spoke on the topic “Who Wrote the Bible?” (From left) Myrtle G. Sitowitz, Rena Brooks, Schuldenfrei, Marlene Kreitenberg (founder) and Ester Spektor.

JEWISH HOME’S Addition

Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA) drew more than 300 dignitaries, contributors, board members and staff to a Feb. 8 groundbreaking ceremony in Reseda to launch the largest facility expansion in its 100-year history.

The Residential Medical Center, which will serve 249 frail elderly when completed, is part of a $72 million project to address the growing needs of the city’s graying Jewish population.

Designed by Perkins & Will, the medical center will anchor JHA’s Grancell Village campus with three interconnected buildings — the Brandman Research Institute, the Hazan Pavillion and the LaKretz-Black Tower. The center’s design will offer specialized medical and psychiatric care within a residential setting, which will include indoor and outdoor recreation areas, kosher kitchen and dining room facilities, as well as a computer center, library, deli, salon and spa.

“Our mothers and fathers will have a new place to call home,” said Earl Greinetz, JHA board chairman. “It is now our turn to provide for them.”

The Keeping the Promise capital campaign, chaired by Richard Ziman, has raised $51 million since 1999 to build new facilities, upgrade and replace existing buildings and expand JHA’s ability to serve the elderly.

Dr. Sol Hazan, who was introduced by Los Angeles Sephardic Home for the Aging President Rae Cohen, said that his contribution of the Hazan Pavillion was done in honor of his parents.

“You don’t have to be Sephardic to support the home,” Hazan said. “This is a community effort to raise the level of care for your family.”

Molly Forrest, the home’s CEO, introduced Brandman Research Institute sponsors Joyce and Saul Brandman; she alluded to the day’s Tu B’Shevat holiday in her remarks, saying, “Today, with your gifts and support, you have planted a tree of life.”

Saul Brandman, who named the institute in honor of his parents, recounted memories of the original Jewish Home, which he said he could see from his childhood home in Boyle Heights.

“Our association with the home is old and long,” Brandman said, “and I hope it goes on for a very long time.”

Just prior to the groundbreaking, Mort LaKretz, who co-sponsored the LaKretz-Black Tower with Stanley and Joyce Black, said, “I hope it makes a difference in the lives of your loved ones.”

Other participants included Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, Councilman Dennis Zine, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Marilyn and Monty Hall and Janis Black Goldman. — Adam Wills, Associate Editor

TERROR AND IRAN

On Feb. 11, the 25th anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran, 700 Iranian Jews filled the ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel for Together Forever, an event that focused on the situation in Iran.

The event started with a film that traced the history of Iran from ancient times to the present. It was followed by a number of speeches by such personalities as author Kenneth Timmerman, talk show host Larry Elder and Shaul Bakhash, a visiting fellow from the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C.

Timmerman, a conservative reporter turned best-selling author, was part of a 1995 commission to assess the ballistic missile threat to the United States. The commission subsequently alerted the United States that Iran and Iraq were capable of producing weapons of mass destruction.

“In 1995, I set up a foundation for democracy in Iran, with half Iranians, half Americans on board, with the goal of bringing Congress more information about human rights abuses inside Iran,” Timmerman said.

“During the student uprising in 1999, within minutes we had the first photos out on the Internet of kids being thrown out from balconies and murdered,” he told The Journal. “That changed the way people reported on unrest inside Iran.”

In his speech, Timmerman said that Iranian Americans can play a role in bringing freedom to Iran, and that doing so will also bring an end to war and terror.

While Timmerman rejected any ideas of negotiation with Iran, Bakhash rejected the idea of military intervention in Iran.

“I think even Iranians who are not happy with their government will not welcome American military intervention in Iran,” he said.

Timmerman, whose approach was more hard line, said, “There is only one solution for terrorists, and that is to kill them. We can not allow terrorists to think that we are weak and we will not retaliate.” — Mojdeh Sionit, Contributing Writer

HARRISON FORD HONORED

Harrison Ford received B’nai B’rith International’s Distinguished Humanitarian Award Feb. 4 at a Beverly Hills Hotel dinner.

Ford was honored for his lifelong activism to educate the world about environmental conservation and his ongoing support of organizations that work to protect the environment and conserve resources around the globe.

“I am very proud to be a part of the efforts of B’nai B’rith, and am very grateful for this honor,” Ford said. “I am motivated to add my resources and capabilities to an aid organization that is strategically addressing the issues at hand.”

B’nai B’rith International President Joel S. Kaplan presented the award to Ford after a concert by Grammy-winning entertainer Judy Collins.

Funds from the event went to support B’nai B’rith International programs in California and around the world, including the Disaster Relief program, a global initiative that provides financial assistance to restore areas that have been affected by natural devastation, and the Environmental Awareness Program, which implements educational programs to enlighten communities about environmental protection.

AND THE AWARD GOES TO…

The real hospital, Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, honored a fictional one on Jan. 31 at the Director’s Guild of America.

Shaare Zedek honored the cast and crew of “ER” for raising the awareness of the importance of emergency medicine throughout the world.

The hospital ‘s world-famous dean of emergency medicine, Dr. Peter Rosen, presented the producers and cast with the award.

Waiters at the event wore hospital scrubs, and “ER” cast members Alex Kingston, Mekhi Phifer, Ming-Na and Maura Tierney were in attendance. Also there were Debra Appelbaum, widow of Dr. David Appelbaum, Shaare Zedek’s director of emergency medicine, who was murdered along with his daughter, Naava, in a Jerusalem terrorist attack.

Monica Rosenthal Horan, who plays Amy Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond” paid tribute to Appelbaum, who had visited her in Los Angeles not long before his death.

“I was initially intimidated to meet this person, who was a famous doctor and a rabbi,” Horan said. “But he immediately put me at ease. He was an uncommon individual with a common touch.”

Honorary chairman of the event was Steven Spielberg, and the emcee was well known Israeli actor Mark Burstyn.

The evening finished with a concert by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. Yarrow had the “ER” cast members on stage to accompany him as he sang “Puff the Magic Dragon,” while the audience sang along.

Proceeds went to benefit the new Weinstock Family Department of Emergency Medicine at Shaare Zede, which is now under construction.

Teen’s Loss of Sister Spurs Charity Efforts


Seventeen-year-old Megan Knofsky keeps alive her sibling’s memory by sustaining a teen support group that raises money for research to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, the genetic disorder that affects 30,000 people and claimed her sister, Sarah, in 1997.

Two years ago, Knofsky of Irvine proved the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s top fundraiser nationally. By writing to everyone she knew about her plan to compete in a Kona benefit marathon, Knofsky received pledges of $33,000.

"All in memory of my sister. It was an awesome thing," said Knofsky, whose parents, Carol and Myron, accompanied her to Hawaii for the event.

"She could have started high school and pushed this aside," said Helen M. Johnson, the foundation’s California field management director in Anaheim. Instead, at virtually every foundation charity event in the area, Knofsky assembles a team of ready helpers drawn from Shooting Stars, the group she started in 1997 with her friends and those who knew her sister. "They’re an amazing group of young people," Johnson said.

On March 21, Knofsky will share a bit of her passion and startup know-how in mitzvah making at the fourth annual Mitzvah Mania fair at Irvine’s Tarbut V’ Torah Community Day School. The Bureau of Jewish Education’s free, communitywide event provides helpful advice for parents and their sixth-grade children, who plan a bar or bat mitzvah. Most rabbis expect a self-directed mitzvah project.

Last year, 150 families, most from 15 local synagogues, participated. Activities include a Mitzvot R Us exhibit of poster-board illustrated mitzvah projects. Some of the mitzvah makers will be on hand to personally describe their charitable projects and explain their displays.

Participants also will visit four, 20-minute workshops, where speakers such as Knofsky will give students a firsthand look at suggested charitable work. These include animal therapy and assisting disabled children in sports.

Knofsky did a food drive for her own project as a bat mitzvah at Santa Ana’s Temple Beth Sholom. But she is more enthusiastic about Shooting Stars, so-named to "shoot for the cure." The group now has about 90 members that she contacts through an e-mail list.

"I’m lucky that my friends participate," said the Northwood High School senior and class president, who encourages participation in Cystic Fibrosis Foundation events by handing out brochures in class and at school clubs. She expects 20 to 30 Shooting Stars will collect pledges and walk as a team for Great Strides, a May 15 10-K walk in Huntington Beach.

"I’m very dedicated to the CF Foundation," Knofsky said, noting that life expectancy for those with the genetic disorder has increased from five to 33 years during her sister’s brief, 12-year lifetime.

"We could have planted a tree, but that’s not continuing," said Knofsky, born 22 months after her sibling. "I wanted her to still be a part of me."

Community Briefs


Bringing the Military Back toMaccabee

Putting a new spin on Chanukah celebrations, the U.S. Marine Corps Marching Band will perform at The Calabasas Shul’s annual menorah-lighting ceremony to honor the men and women of the United States armed forces.

Local musician Brad Schachter and the Kadima Hebrew Academy Children’s Choir will also perform at the latkes-and-sufganiyot party.

A 16-foot model of a Navy battleship and one of the Air Force’s new jet fighter, the Raptor, will be on display, along with other equipment representative of the four military branches.

“Chanukah is a celebration of heroes and victory,” said shul leader Rabbi Yacov Vann. “We are proud to dedicate this event to the heroes of freedom and to send our prayers and support for those in the U.S. armed forces.”

The celebration has a special meaning for event chairman Neil Yeschin — his 20-year-old son, Steven, is serving in the Marine Corps. Steven Yeschin will be the Marine’s delegate for the menorah-lighting, but it doesn’t stop his father from worrying about the future.

“He was in college and after Sept. 11 he dropped out and joined the Marines,” Yeschin said. “He just went through desert training, civil-unrest training and will be deployed, but who knows when or where?”

Yeschin said the various branches of the service have been enthusiastic about their participation in the Chanukah event and plan to provide giveaways of pens and other goodies for the children.

The event will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 4, from 6-8 p.m. at The Commons at Calabasas, located on Calabasas Road, south of the Ventura Freeway, between Valley Circle Boulevard and Parkway Calabasas. For information call (818) 591-7485. — Wendy Madnick, Contributing Writer

Shoah Opens Archives to Educators

Staff, volunteers and supporters of Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation (VHF) gathered last month for the dedication of the Tapper Research and Testing Center at the foundation’s Studio City headquarters. The Tapper Center ushered in a new phase of educational outreach for the foundation.

The Tapper Center, which allows students, educators and researchers to access the VHF’s archive for academic and creative purposes, features six computer workstations equipped with a cutting-edge software applications developed by the VHF. The software allows users to search the VHF’s digital Visual History Archive, in which nearly 52,000 eyewitness testimonies — documented through video and text documents — are comprehensively categorized and cross-referenced.

Among those in attendance: Shoah Foundation President and CEO Douglas Greenberg; Tapper Center namesake Albert Tapper; Deborah Dwork, Rose professor of Holocaust History and director of the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg could not attend because he was in Japan for the opening of his film, “Minority Report.”

In 1994, Spielberg established Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation as an afterthought from his experience directing “Schindler’s List” in 1993. Since its formation, the VHF has interviewed, videotaped and catalogued more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors, hailing from 57 countries, in 32 languages.

With its goal quota of testimonies recorded, Greenberg said that the VHF will now move into a new phase that will preserve and provide access to its archives, further its educational programs and develop educational products, such as the foundation’s line of interactive CD-Roms, based on the data gathered.

The Ambassadors for Humanity dinner, benefiting thesurvivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation will be held at 5 p.m. onThursday, Dec. 5. Tickets start at $1,500. For information, call (818) 777-7876.To learn more about the Shoah Visual History Foundation, visit www.vhf.org . — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Marvin Mirisch


Marvin Mirisch, one of three brothers who formed the Mirisch Co. motion picture production company, died on Nov. 17 of undisclosed causes at UCLA Medical Center. He was 84.

Born in New York City, Mirisch was the third of four Mirisch sons. After attending City College of New York, Mirisch eventually relocated to Los Angeles in 1953, where he joined brothers Walter and Harold at Monogram Pictures. When Monogram turned into United Artists, the first artist-run independent studio, the Mirisch brothers independently packaged such movies as John Huston’s “Moby Dick” and the Billy Wilder favorite, “Love in the Afternoon.”
In 1957, the Mirisch brothers established the Mirisch Co., where Marvin acted as the chief financial officer and Walter functioned as the producer. The Mirisch Co. created 68 motion pictures over 17 years in a deal with United Artists. Mirisch Co.-produced films — which included “The Apartment,” “West Side Story” and “In the Heat of the Night” — were nominated for 79 Academy Awards and won 23.
In 1968, after Harold died, Marvin and Walter moved to Universal Pictures, where they produced “Midway” and “Same Time Next Year.” Marvin also produced 1979’s “Dracula” and in the early 1990s was an executive producer of a “Pink Panther” cartoon series.

Marvin Mirisch was active in Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences politics. He also chaired the motion picture division of United Jewish Welfare Fund, and was on the boards of Temple Israel and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Mirisch is survived by his wife of 60 years, Florene; son, Don; daughters Carol Hartmann and Lynn Rogo; six grandchildren; brother, Walter. He was buried on Nov. 20 at Hillside Memorial Park.

Contributions can be made to UCLA Foundation, 10945 Le Conte Ave., Suite 3132, Los Angeles, CA 90095. — Staff Report

The Circuit


Say Halo to Samueli

Nearly 600 guests were onhand as philanthropist Susan Samueli was honored at the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) Auxiliary’s annual membership luncheon, held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire on Oct 23 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Samueli received the auxiliary’s Angel Award, an annual acknowledgment of women who have made significant contributions to the community and who serve as positive role models.

Samueli and her husband, Henry, established The Samueli Foundation, of which she is president, to give back to the community. The foundation has been a supporter of the institute for many years. Samueli was introduced to JWCI by her late cousin, Juels Eisenberg, whose wife, Ilene, along with Toni Parnell and Lynn Goldstein, co-chaired the luncheon.

Samueli, who holds a doctorate in nutrition, has a long-standing interest in alternative health care, having studied and practiced the application of homeopathic remedies and Chinese herbs in the treatment of chronic and acute illnesses. With a gift of $5.7 million, the Samuelis established the Susan Samueli Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at UC Irvine in 2000 as an academic center focused on scientific research and education. She has supported many other organizations and causes, including the Orangewood Child Foundation and Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo.

The Angel Award and a $100,000 post-doctoral fellowship in breast cancer research were created in memory of Ellen Cooperman, an auxiliary co-founder.

The afternoon included a fashion show by Escada with the premiere of the Spring/Summer 2003 collection and a display of the Escada Diamond Jewelry Collection. The luncheon also included a presentation by Ina Lewis, auxiliary president, of a check for $1.11 million to Dr. Donald Morton medical director and surgeon-in-chief of the JWCI, for the funds raised in the last year by the auxiliary.

Established by the family of the late actor, John Wayne, who died of cancer in 1979, the Santa Monica-based JWCI is home to the country’s largest melanoma center, the largest cancer immunotherapy program in the world and the renowned Joyce Eisenberg Keefer Breast Center. JWCI has received worldwide acclaim for advances in understanding the disease, focusing on melanoma, breast, lung, colon, pancreatic and liver cancer, as well as lymphoma and leukemia.

The auxiliary, JWCI’s largest fundraising group, has raised more than $11 million for the institute since its formation in 1983. — Rachel Brand, Contributing Writer

[CAPTION:] John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary Membership Luncheon co-chairs Toni Parnell and Ilene Eisenberg, left and second from left, and Lynn Goldstein, right, with honoree Susan Samueli, second from right. Photo by Lee Salem Photography

Mission: Accomplished

On Oct. 26, 58 leaders of the Los Angeles Jewish community returned from Israel, where they participated in a six-day leadership mission coordinated by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The goals of the mission were to educate leaders about the impact of the intifada on Israel’s economy and daily services, to understand Israel’s security issues, to appreciate Israel’s strength in facing its current difficulties and to understand the role that Angelenos play and the impact of their dollars. The group met with former Foreign Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer the day after he announced his resignation, just before the Labor Party pulled out of Sharon’s unity government. The mission was packed with high-level briefings and visits to programs funded by United Jewish Fund and Jews in Crisis dollars.

Federation Chair Jake Farber, led the mission, assisted by Sharon Janks and Arthur and Mady Jablon. Participants included members of the Federation board of directors, activists in The Federation’s Israel & Overseas Committee, synagogue lay leadership and Rabbis Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Jonathan Bernhard of Adat Ari El, Richard Camras of Shomrei Torah, Harvey Fields of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Daniel Korobkin of Yavneh Hebrew Academy, and Stuart Vogel of Temple Aliyah. This group was joined later in the week by an additional 16 leaders, members of the Los Angeles Steering Committee of the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership, who came to Tel Aviv for the semiannual Partnership Joint Steering Committee meetings.

‘1: Cheri Morgan, 2003 campaign chair of The Jewish Federation, dances with a recovering soldier at a rehabilitation facility for wounded veterans funded through Jews in Crisis dollars. Photo by Douglas Guthrie

‘2: Participants of The Jewish Federation Leadership Mission visit a military base to observe the completion of training exercises for Pups for Peace bomb sniffing dogs started in Los Angeles and funded by the Jews in Crisis campaign. Photo by Douglas Guthrie

‘3: Jake Farber, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles chair, with wife, Janet, visit with a student at Nitzanim, a high school in Israel twinned with Adat Ari El Day School through the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership. Photo by Douglas Guthrie

All in the Family

Medor L’dor (from generation to generation) was the motif when two Sephardic organizations united for a special event to bring the generations closer. Sephardic Tradition and Recreation (S.T.A.R.), a local Jewish youth organization for children 7-15, and The Los Angeles Sephardic Home for the Aging (LASHA), launched the “Family Day At The Ranch” event Oct. 27 in Ventura County. The goal was to promote the important work of LASHA at the Jewish Home for the Aging to a younger audience and to recruit new members.

More than 400 participants enjoyed activities such as horse back riding, face painting, hayrides, line dancing with a country DJ, pumpkin painting, mini-rodeo exhibition, marshmallow roasts and rock climbing. Larry Clumeck, president of LASHA, and Rabbi Brad Schachter, executive director of S.T.A.R., spoke about caring for the needs of children and the elderly. Hyman Jebb Levy, S.T.A.R.’s founder and president, thanked all the volunteers and sponsors who made the event possible. A d’var Torah, delivered by S.T.A.R. board memberRabbi Chaim Hisiger on the beauty of the animal kingdom, closed the event.

To find out more about S.T.A.R. programs, call (818) 782-7359 or visit www.LASTAR.org .

Open House

The House of Returns, the new Beit T’Shuvah thrift shop, celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 24.

The House of Returns features ceramics, crystal, furniture, collectibles, and clothing, including designer labels such as Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent.

Store manager Liana Chaouli works with each customer to create a high fashion wardrobe for resale prices with proceeds supporting addiction treatment and prevention center at Beit T’Shuvah, which serves more than 500 residents and 2,500 community members every year. The shop gives residents of Beit T’Shuvah a professional environment to gain work experience and basic career skills.

The House of Returns is located at 10409 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Call (310) 204-4669 to schedule a pick-up, provide leads on new merchandise donations or to become a House of Returns volunteer.

PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Wallace.

A Fresh Start

Em Habanim, a Sephardic synagogue in West Hills, was renamed Beit HaLevy on Oct. 20. The shul’s founders decided to rededicate the synagogue in honor of Lori Levy, daughter of philanthropist Hyman Jebb Levy, who died of a malignant melanoma in March 2001 at the age of 44.

More than 150 people attended the ceremony, during which Rabbis Jacob Ott and Daniel Bouskilla of Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel eulogized Lori Levy. Ott called her a “woman of deep courage.”

Levy said he was at first reluctant to accept the honor, but felt it was what his daughter would have wanted.

“This is what Lori was, what this synagogue stands for,” he said. “She hated prejudice. She was always ready to do things for people, to reach out and help them where they wouldn’t know she was involved.”

Beit HaLevy is located at 7533 Fallbrook Ave. For information, call (818) 710-8878. — Wendy Madnick, Contributing Writer

We Have a Winner!

Teacher Sara Yoseph of Atid Hebrew Academy in West Covina has won the 2002 Jewish Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation. The award was presented to Yoseph in a surprise ceremony at Atid’s West Covina campus. She and other award recipients will be honored at a formal luncheon on Dec. 12 in Santa Monica.

“It’s a wonderful surprise,” said Yoseph, who has spent a decade teaching Torah and Hebrew to children from kindergarten through sixth grade.

“She’s a brilliant teacher, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Atid principal Eda Segal, “and the kids’ reaction was out of this world!” With the award came a check for $10,000 dollars, presented by Richard Sandler, executive vice-president of the Milken Family Foundation. Also in attendance: Milken Foundation chair Lowell Milken and Dr. Gil Graff, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education.

B’nai B’rith’s B-Day Picnic

B’nai B’rith Shalom Unit celebrated B’nai B’rith International’s 159th anniversary at a Brentwood park. The event, organized by Shalom Unit’s leader Sarit Finkelstein-Boim, featured Mediterranean-style picnic fare for the families in attendance. Drora Regev conducted arts and crafts activities for the children and a caricature artist was onhand to draw attendees.

(From left) Nava Marmur and Sarit Finkelstein-Boim, president of B’nai B’rith Shalom Unit.

Hope Takes a Walk

City of Hope’s 2002 Annual Walk of Hope to Cure Breast Cancer enlisted more than 6,500 participants and raised more than $600,000 for the Duarte hospital and research campus. Celebrities in attendance included NBC anchor Chuck Henry; actress Kathryn Joosten of “The West Wing”; actor Jim Turner of “Arli$$”; and “Survivor: Marquesas” winner Vercepia Towery. For more information, visit www.cityofhope.org.

Barking Up The Right Tree

Israel Humanitarian Foundation will hold a cocktail/dairy hors d’oeuvres reception for Yonathan Peres, staff veterinarian and development director of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, at the Luxe Summit Hotel Bel Air. Peres is the son of Israel’s former minister of Foreign Affairs, Shimon Peres. Luxe Summit CEO Efrem Harkham will host.

For more information, call (310) 556-8358.

Posin’ for “The Chosen”

The West Coast Jewish Theatre (WCJT) held a gala event at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, where the nonprofit Jewish Theatre’s production of Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen” ran for 29 performances.

PHOTO: (From left) Dr. Judith Marlane, WCJT President Leslie Martinson, Connie Martinson, Ruth Low, Theodore Bikel, WCJT founder Naomi Jacobs and Los Angeles Repertory Company director David Ellenstein. Photo by Orly Halevy

Synagogues to Fly on Wings of Song


The real measure of success for Hallelu will not be whether the Universal Amphitheatre is filled to capacity on Sunday, Oct. 20, or whether the audience leaves humming the songs performed by an unprecedented gathering of Jewish musical talent for what is essentially a giant kumsitz.

The important test will come the next day. That is when lay and professional synagogue leaders from across Los Angeles will gather on Oct. 21 with leaders of Synagogue 2000, a national initiative to revitalize synagogues, for the kickoff of what may be a long and systematic process of channeling Hallelu’s energy back into the community.

“If the concert really works, it will be inspiring in a way that is almost unimaginable going in,” said Marvin Schotland, president of the Jewish Community Foundation, which gave a grant to Synagogue 2000 for Hallelu. “I think the real challenge will be how to harness the energy in a systematic way, which will allow the implementation of a program we don’t currently have.”

Synagogue 2000 is a highly structured journey of introspection aimed at infusing synagogue life with spirituality, warmth and dedication to study and social action. The program, founded seven years ago by Ron Wolfson, a vice president at the University of Judaism (UJ) in Los Angeles, and Rabbi Larry Hoffman, a professor at Hebrew Union College in New York, has been transformative for the handful of cities where it has been or is currently being implemented.

But while there are some isolated Synagogue 2000 projects in Los Angeles, and while the program enjoys significant support from Los Angeles funders, such as the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future at UJ, it has not yet been implemented on a communitywide level in Los Angeles.

“There’s a kind of energy that gets created when a number of synagogues from across the denominations come together for the purpose of envisioning the future of synagogue life,” Wolfson said. “It could help a very diverse or spread-out Jewish community to come together in a significant way.”

The idea for Hallelu was conceived three years ago. The aim of Hallelu is to use the concert and Shabbat events taking place at synagogues locally on the weekend of the program to raise the profile of Synagogue 2000 in an effort to jump-start it here.

“The event itself is designed to be a celebration of the spirit and of synagogue life,” Wolfson said. “We put a very high premium on getting people to sing together, since so much of the doorway to engaging people spiritually seems to happen through music.”

The show, with 4,500 of the 6,000 seats already sold, promises to be a uniquely uplifting event, sponsors said. It will feature some of the top artists in Jewish music, who have never before performed together at the same time. Debbie Friedman, Theodore Bikel, Neshama Carlebach, Danny Maseng and Alberto Mizrahi headline the show, which is produced by Craig Taubman, who will also perform.

Audience members will receive a CD with some of the music in advance of the concert, so that they can sing along with the performers. Transliterated lyrics will be projected on large screens.

“It’s the ideal concert,” Taubman said. “You’re not just a passive visitor, but you are an active participant, where you are as much a part of the process as the performers on stage.”

The concert will cost about $175,000 to produce. Tickets at an $18 suggested donation figure can be purchased through synagogues, or for $20 at the door. Hallelu boasts a long list of sponsors, including Disneyland, Los Angeles Family Magazine, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, The Jewish Journal and a host of Jewish and Hollywood institutions.

Along with the headliners, the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale will perform, as will a choir of 50 cantors assembled for the event. Taubman enlisted top Hollywood talent to put together a video on what synagogue means.

Local singer Sam Glaser, bandleader Rick Recht and Jewish reggae artist Alan Eder will also join the performance, along with the Keshet Chaim Dancers.

The dancers and some of the other performers will be outside the amphitheater at 3 p.m., warming up the crowd. The 4:30 p.m. concert, which Taubman said will also have surprise celebrity appearances, was scheduled early enough in the day so children could attend.

“We really want to give people the opportunity to feel different during this process, and afterward to go back to their synagogues and be invigorated to try new things,” Taubman said.

“It is an opportunity to really look at yourself,” said Rabbi Robert Gan of Temple Isaiah in West Los Angeles, one of 16 pilot sites nationwide that started the program in 1996. “In the past, we had done a lot of things by rote, and [the program] helped us examine what we do and how it affects people.”

Gan said that while he had always pushed his congregation to be creative and innovative, Synagogue 2000 “gave us more opportunity and a structured way to open up those issues.”

Synagogues that participate in the program, which recently changed from a two-year to a four-and-one-half-year commitment, choose a team. Members of the team meet monthly to reevaluate every aspect of the synagogue, ranging from its underlying vision to the physical structure, and from the prayer service to how the board functions and whether people feel welcome when they walk in.

Aside from the monthly meetings, the program includes conferences and consulting services, and helps each congregation implement the basic principles of the program in a way that best suits the character of the congregation.

“For our congregation, it was a very positive experience, and one that invigorated a large number of people,” said Rabbi Ron Shulman of Ner Tamid of the South Bay, another pilot site located in Rancho Palos Verdes. “It spiritualized a lot of the business and process part of synagogue life.”

He said it also brought some changes to the service, and to how congregants related to newcomers and to each other.

“The process opened up a dialogue between the clergy and the membership that allowed us to experiment and feel safe with each other in opening up issues,” Shulman said.

For Temple Isaiah, Synagogue 2000 had a major influence on a redesign of the sanctuary that was already in the works. For example, Synagogue 2000’s sacred space specialist helped the Reform congregation think about the entrance to the main sanctuary.

“How do you design the area outside the sanctuary so people can anticipate they are entering a holy space?” Gan said. “That was something we never thought about — you couldn’t tell the doors to the sanctuary from the doors to the social hall. Nothing signaled you were entering a holy place.”

Out of that discussion grew a distinct entryway that guides congregants into the sanctuary, he said.

While these Los Angeles-area synagogues were pilot sites, and Temple Israel of Hollywood is participating in the program through a group sponsored by the Reform movement, Los Angeles has yet to sponsor a large communitywide body.

Synagogue 2000 usually works by enlisting 10 to 20 synagogues in one geographic area. Local federations, foundations and participating synagogues are expected to make significant investments in the project.

The cost of the program varies, depending on how much of the organizing Synagogue 2000 does. The group in Westchester, N.Y., with 21 synagogues and about 500 people at the conferences — including one coming up in November — will cost under $2 million over four years. The group in Detroit, with 12 congregations and more community-level organizing, will cost about $450,000.

So far, Synagogue 2000 has generated significant interest at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which has a long history of collaborating closely with synagogues through the Council on Jewish Life, and at the Jewish Community Foundation, which gave the grant for Hallelu. The grant was made on the condition that it be used to also set up a task force to explore getting Synagogue 2000 started in Los Angeles.

“I think the Jewish Community Foundation, either with discretionary resources or donors who could be encouraged to be interested, or through a combination of both, would certainly be interested in participating once we saw a plan that looked realistic,” Schotland said.

Getting started on developing a workable plan for Los Angeles will be one of the challenges addressed at the planning conference the Monday after Hallelu. Synagogue leaders will spend the day at a mini-Synagogue 2000 conference, getting a taste of what it is like to be part of the process. Wolfson also expects to set up a task force to get Synagogue 2000 going in 2003 in Los Angeles.

“I am very excited personally and professionally to see how the community responds to this,” Schotland said. “I think the talent coming is top quality and inspiring. But the show is just the beginning — not the end.”

Sense From Senselessness


What follows is an edited version of a speech that Judea Pearl, the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, delivered upon accepting an award on his son’s behalf from the Los Angeles Press Club on June 22, 2002.

It is a great honor for me and Ruth to accept this award on behalf of our son, Danny.

I would like to share with you a few thoughts on how we can make sense of the tragedy that befell Danny, and whether anything good can possibly come out of it. I have been asking myself these questions a million times in the past few months and, frankly, the answers are not easy.

To be honest — the terrorists who killed Danny got everything they wanted. They embarrassed [Pakistan President Gen. Pervez] Musharraf, gained publicity, recruited more terrorists, inflicted pain and humiliation on the West and scared foreign journalists. They even managed to lure a greedy American weekly into publicizing their gruesome victory in vivid colors. So, on the surface, they seem to have won on all fronts — and this thought caused me great pain.

Fortunately, among the many letters that we have received, there were several that lifted my spirit and gave me a glimpse at what good may possibly come out of it. I would like to share them with you.

The first letter comes from a 23-year-old medical student in Torino, Italy. She tells me that she has written to the mayor of Torino and, to her surprise, the mayor’s office agreed that they should build a memorial for Danny in Torino. "Torino?" I asked. "Danny never set foot in Torino." Yes, she replied, but we are going to host the Winter Olympics four years from now, and who can better personify the spirit of humanity and international comradeship than Daniel Pearl?

It then dawned on me that they are not doing this for me, or for Danny — they are doing it for the people of Torino who evidently had difficulty finding a symbol for that abstract concept called "humanity," and needed to give the spirit of humanity a face and a body and a smile. And I understood then that, if Danny’s death can give humanity, or whatever is left of her, the banner that she needs to defend herself, then something good may come out of it.

The second letter was from a Jewish congregation in East Brunswick, N.J., asking my permission to name their religious school after Danny. "Religious school?" I asked. "Danny barely survived one year of Sunday school!"

But the rabbi insisted: "We want our children to have a model of what it means to be Jewish, and every mother that I speak to wants her son to be like Danny Pearl."

Again, I realized that he is not saying that to flatter me, but to serve the needs of those good mothers in East Brunswick. I realized then, that to fight anti-Semitism, Jewishness, too, is in need of a banner with a human face on it. And if, by pointing to Danny’s picture, the children of East Brunswick could lift their heads up high and say: "He is one of us, this is who we are," and if being "who we are" entails the pursuit of truth and friendship, then something good will come out of it.

The third letter, believe it or not, came from Alex [Block], informing me of the L.A. Press Club’s decision to establish this award in Danny’s memory. I immediately concluded that journalism too, especially the elusive notion of courage in journalism, needs a banner and a human role model. This was further reinforced by a letter from a Minneapolis lady who writes: "Hi there, my name is Jennifer, and I am going to become a journalist. For a very long time I was confused as to what I wanted to do with my life. When Daniel’s story began unfolding, I realized what passion and courage journalists like him have. I carry a picture of Daniel in my wallet to remind me of why I finally chose to become a journalist."

My goodness! I thought, if the picture of Danny can inspire young talents like Jennifer to become journalists and help reduce ignorance and hatred in this world, then something good already came out of it.

It is in this spirit that the Daniel Pearl Foundation was created. It is based on the simple premise that humanity is fighting a battle of survival, and that troops do not rally behind abstract concepts — they rally behind banners with real faces. I think of the foundation as an enterprise that creates partnerships for good causes, and lends Danny’s banner to help humanity win her battle of survival.

Your presence here, tonight, makes you a partner in this enterprise, and I feel confident that, with partners like you, I would be able to tell my grandson, Adam, some day: "You see, Junior. Your father’s banner helped us win that battle."

Finishing the Foundation


As an experienced plastic surgeon, Dr. Joel Teplinsky knows how to fix a nose or perform a skin graft on a burn patient. As a lecturer at the University of California Los Angeles, Teplinsky knows how to communicate these skills to students. But what he did not have was a solid base of knowledge about Torah or Jewish history — until the opportunity arose to be a part of the Yesod program at the University of Judaism (UJ), studying with professors like Aryeh Cohen and Rabbi Miriyam Glazer.

"Most Jews, unless they are rabbis or grow up going to a yeshiva, don’t get a chance to do this," Teplinsky said. "This is not Sunday school where you learn some bubbie meises [old wives’ tales], this is the real nuts and bolts of Judaism."

On May 30, Teplinsky and 176 other students will become the first graduates of the Yesod program. Yesod, which means "foundation," is a two-year intensive series of classes designed to provide a structured way for people to engage in a learning experience similar to that of an undergraduate in Jewish studies. What makes the program unique is that it has been run at a very low cost (currently $250 per year) and in association with area synagogues, with classes taking place at various shuls around town, such as Sinai Temple in Westwood, Valley Beth Shalom in Encino and Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades.

Yesod initiated its first two-year cycle of classes in the fall of 2000. The program consists of eight semesters, each a five-week session exploring one of eight topics, including the Bible, contemporary issues, Jewish spirituality and modern Jewish history, all taught by UJ faculty and visiting professors. A second cycle began last fall, and another cycle will start in September, although according to Gady Levy, director of the UJ’s department of continuing education and creator of Yesod, the program will reduce its locations to just two synagogues, not yet chosen, in order to better accommodate instructors’ schedules.

Like Teplinsky, some people come to the Yesod wanting to offset a rather limited background in Judaism. Others, such as Elana Artson, 41, find themselves at the opposite extreme. As the wife of Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the UJ’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Elana Artson has been exposed to plenty in the way of Jewish knowledge. At the same time, she said, because of the time spent supporting her husband in his endeavors and caring for their two children, she rarely had time to do any intellectual exploration of her own. Yesod gave her the chance to step outside of her usual roles and spend time learning.

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson said he found the program "unique in its comprehensiveness."

"There was something similar offered at the Jewish Theological Seminary when Brad was a student, an opportunity for people from the community to study with some of the professors, but it was kind of hit-and-miss," Elana Artson recalled. "Yesod is synagogue-based and has an intensive curriculum. My first class was studying Bible with Walter Hertzberg [chair of the UJ’s department of undergraduate studies] who teaches in such a way that anyone could come in at their level and be able to engage in a conversation about the text. It was wonderful knowing I was learning what rabbinical students are also learning."

Of the 216 people who began with the first cycle, 82 percent stayed through graduation.

The program has proved so popular that Levy is even launching a continuation course of the continuation course: Yesod Plus, a third-year series for Yesod graduates.

"Our ultimate goal for our students is to have them take the program for two years and be touched by it so that they can continue their education in other ways, whether it is to take classes at their synagogue or the UJ or just to read more," Levy said. "We want them to advance their own knowledge."

The Circuit


L.A. Dodgers

So in a nutshell, here’s how the first Celebrity Dodgeball Tournament went down…

The Sports Center and Toluca Lake Tennis Club was the site of this star-studded benefit for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Upon arriving at the venue, located in the shadow of Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, The Circuit kicked off the evening in Bogey’s corner, catching up with in-your-face consumer advocate Mike Boguslawski, who got some attention from the Hooters Girls who were serving up the hot wings.

Moments later, an enthusiastic reunion took place when “Sorority Boys” stars Harland Williams, Barry Watson and Michael Rosenbaum showed up to play ball. The Circuit joked around with Williams, the wacky comedian known for his off-kilter stand-up and roles in comedies such as “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary.” However, this being a family publication, that exchange will remain off the record.

At the VIP room, entertainment lawyer Gary Barkin took in the scene with his wife, Haya Handel, who is expecting her second child. A former 1980s Fairfax High School alumnus, David Arquette, was on hand to host the event with wife and “Scream” co-star, Courteney Cox Arquette. Celebs Seth Green, Matthew Perry and Brendan Frasier attended the event, which was created and organized by Zoo Productions partners John Stevens and Barry Posnick.

The Heart of Little Italy

The Heart Fund at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center took part in the grand opening of Maggiano’s Little Italy at The Grove on March 15.

Pennies for Heavenly Cause

As though raising $60,000 in memory of Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust weren’t difficult enough, the youth of Temple City’s Temple Beth David want to do it one penny at a time.

In an effort to understand the scope of the Holocaust, the Beth David Reform Mishpacha Youth (BDRMY, pronounced “be dreamy”) has embarked on a campaign to collect 6 million pennies. So far, youth leaders at the San Gabriel Valley temple have collected more than 50,000 pennies. When the collection project is completed, $55,000 of the funds will be donated to Neve Shalom, a community in Israel where Palestinians and Israelis work together for peace.

Contributions to the penny drive, which may also be in larger denominations, can be sent to Temple Beth David, Attn: BDRMY Penny Drive, 9677 E. Longden Ave., Temple City, CA 91780. For more information, call BDRMY adviser Jason Moss at (626) 798-8851. — Mike Levy, Contributing Writer

Manheim of the Year

The Los Angeles chapter of National Council of Jewish Women hosted the organization’s national convention, a triennial event where actress Camryn Manheim (“The Practice”) and Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein were honored with the “Woman Who Dared Award.”

A Plethora of Passover Perspectives

Passover University, held at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School, allowed students, parents and grandparents to learn new ways of celebrating Passover from visiting artists, educators, and rabbis.

Man of AnimAction

Cliff Cohen and his AnimAction production company, which teaches kids animation by having them create anti-tobacco public service announcements, will hold its 12th Annual TEAM Awards at Westwood’s Wadsworth Theatre on April 12. Presenting the awards is Dr. Jeffrey Wigrand, the whistleblower portrayed by Russell Crowe in Michael Mann’s “The Insider.”

Kids Rid Park of Chametz

Four West L.A. private schools — Park Century, Wildwood, Westview and Wilshire Boulevard Temple Day School — joined forces to clean up Stoner Park on Stoner Avenue in West Los Angeles.

Fashionably Great

The Women’s Health Center Hadassah University Hospital in Israel will be the beneficiary of this year’s Hadassah Southern California luncheon. The Fourth Annual Spring and Fashion Show, to be held at Sheraton Universal Hotel on April 14, will be themed: “Women Growing Healthy Together.”

Must-See-‘Em

The Jewish Federation of Ventura County hosted to an opening reception for “Jewish Heritage and History in Ventura County,” an exhibition at the Ventura County Museum of History & Art, featuring artifacts chronicling the Jewish community from the 1860s — 1940s. The Federation has provided free tickets to the Museum of Tolerance for any eighth grade class that wishes to attend. To date, more than 20,000 students have visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s museum courtesy of The Federation.

“Jewish Heritage and History in Ventura County” runs through May 26. For information, call (805) 653-0323 ext. 10.

The Magnificent Elmer

University Women, a fundraising arm of University of Judaism, honored movie composer Elmer Bernstein. Bernstein has two Golden Globes and 13 Academy Awards nominations to his credit, including a win in 1967 for “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Other notable tunes include scores for “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Ten Commandments” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Calling Dr. Karlan!

Dr. Beth Karlan, an internationally recognized gynecologic cancer surgeon and research scientist, has been appointed director of the new Women’s Cancer Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. n

Community Briefs


Aid for Terror Victims

A Passover appeal by Rabbi David Wolpe at Sinai Temple raised $700,000 in pledges for organizations in Israel helping victims of terror. The Magbit Foundation, a Persian Jewish charitable organization, will provide matching funds for this drive.

Magbit chairman Parviz Nazarian, a member of Sinai Temple, approached Wolpe with the joint fundraising suggestion. On Thursday, March 28, Wolpe made an appeal to the 1,800 congregants gathered for the first day of Passover. As congregant after congregant stood to pledge support, Magbit treasurer Abraham Simhaee announced that the Foundation, which had agreed to match funds up to a half-million dollars, would step up to whatever level Sinai reached. With 5,000 envelopes taken home by Sinai congregants and thousands more sent out by Magbit, the joint effort expects to raise over $2 million. Representatives from the temple, Magbit and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles will meet soon to decide which organizations serving Israeli victims of terrorism and their families will receive the money. — Mike Levy, Staff Writer

Anti-Semitic Fliers Found in Thousand
Oaks

Residents on two streets in Thousand Oaks found anti-Semitic fliers rolled up on their driveways on Sunday, March 31, according to the Eric Nishimoto, public information officer for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

Words on the fliers wished for Jews to have a good Passover and noted that it was time to have another exodus — the exile of the Jews from the United States. An address and Web site for the National Alliance, a West Virginia-based white supremacist organization were listed at the bottom. However, Nishimoto said, “We don’t know if someone from the organization was responsible.”

There have been anti-Semitic fliers distributed before, both at area homes and at Thousand Oaks High School. — Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer

Decision Time for Two Area JCCs

The Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) may have to put its Silver Lake-Los Feliz JCC property up for sale, and terminate all health and gym services at West Valley JCC, because of a lack of funding, JCCGLA officials said. The decisions for both situations could come as early as next week, effective June 30 and May 1, respectively.

JCCGLA representatives are waiting for a written confirmation from the The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles that it will allocate funds toward both sites, before they make a decision. On April 2, JCCGLA sent a letter to The Federation asking if the organization will assume the expenses of Silver Lake’s early childhood education program, as well as the cost for occupying space in that building. If The Federation does not commit funds to these aims, JCCGLA said that it will need to close Silver Lake after June 30 and list the center among its properties for sale. Silver Lake-Los Feliz will join Bay Cities JCC (Santa Monica) and North Valley JCC, which have already been listed for sale following an April 1 JCCGLA Transition Committee decision. Bay Cities and North Valley are scheduled for closure as of July.

JCCGLA is also awaiting word on whether The Federation will take over operation of West Valley JCC’s health and gym services, which JCCGLA will terminate by May 1 if funding is not provided. JCCGLA spokesman David Novak said that Federation confirmation must come soon, as a window of notification is required to inform employees of lay-offs.

As of April 3, Federation President John Fishel told The Journal that he had not received JCCGLA’s letter (The Federation’s offices were closed through April 4 for Passover).

“We are committed to services in West Valley and Silver Lake, and, to that end, we are talking to the leadership [of both centers] and in consultation with JCCGLA,” Fishel said. “We will work to find a solution to this projected action by the JCCGLA. I don’t think there’s a need for the JCCGLA to take precipitous action. We’re talking to JCCGLA to find a solution to these crisis. We feel that a solution can be and will be found.”

Fishel added that, given the situations in Israel and Argentina (which The Federation is moving rapidly to address), arbitrary deadlines such as those set by JCCGLA are counterproductive.

Novak said that the Westside JCC, which has 60 kids enrolled, and Valley Cities JCC, which has 35 kids enrolled of a maximum 75, are both meeting their fall enrollment quotas, which means that the early childhood education programs at both sites are all but assured for fall 2002.

“The community needs to come forward now and continue supporting fundraising efforts,” Novak said. — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Torch Song Trilogy


Linda Gach Ray has been carrying the torch for years.

This week, she made it official by running the Olympic flame down a stretch of Figueroa Street as the torch was relayed through Southern California on its way to the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, which begin Feb. 8.

Nominated by her business partner for her charitable work, her balance of family and a full-time job and her inspiration to others, Gach Ray is one of 11,500 Torchbearers to carry the flame more than 13,000 miles through 46 states.

"Even though [my portion is] two-tenths of a mile, I feel this amazing part of the fabric of international unity," said Gach Ray, adding that she was proud to represent the Jewish community.

As a lawyer she has volunteered for Bet Tzedek, and she now sits on the advisory board for youTHink, a program of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Los Angeles’ Zimmer Children’s Museum. Additionally, Gach Ray co-founded a branch of the California Special Olympics in honor of a dear friend who died at 33. She also volunteers for Stop Cancer and the Beverly Hills Education Foundation.

Growing up in the shadow of Rancho Park’s Little League diamonds, she said she always wanted to play baseball. "But in my day, no one would have ever thought of the possibility of a little girl playing on a Little League team." Instead of breaking into women’s baseball, Gach Ray broke into women’s baseball ownership. Today, she and her business partner co-own the Provo Angels, a Utah-based minor league team affiliated with the Anaheim Angels.

A woman owning a team used to be more unusual than it is now. "[That’s] been my pattern," she said. "When I became a lawyer in the 1970s, I was a lot more of a novelty than I am now."

To prepare for the run, the 5-foot-2 Gach Ray trained with her family’s 140-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback named Spike, "who pulls me a little faster than I should go," she said. The training regimen was essential to Gach Ray’s success as an official Torchbearer. "You don’t want to drop that flame," said the mother of teenagers. "You don’t want to run like a dork and embarrass your children."

Grand Marshal, Grand Lady


Sitting in her seat at the Max Factor Family Foundation Recreation Center of the Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA), 103-year-old Sylvia Harmatz cannot recall the first state to give women the right to vote. But, she remembers very clearly the first day she voted, in 1936.

"I wasn’t a citizen until I married my husband, and so I used his papers and got a ballot so I could vote for [Franklin D.] Roosevelt," she said. "I was very active in politics from that time on."

Harmatz immigrated to the United States from Austria during the tenure of a different Roosevelt — Franklin’s cousin Theodore. She is the oldest resident of the Jewish Home for the Aging in Woodland Hills, and for the second year in a row, will serve as grand marshal of its annual Walk of Ages 5K Walk/Run, slated this year for Sunday, Dec. 2. The JHA’s goal is to raise $100,000 for the home, the largest long-term residential care facility for the elderly in Southern California.

Harmatz has lived at the Jewish Home for seven years, five of those with her husband, Lou Harmatz, who died in 1999 at the age of 104. The lovely centenarian, whose bright eyes and enthusiastic grin make her seem decades younger, said although she wasn’t exactly asked, she was delighted to get the part as grand marshal.

"The finger was pointed to me and [JHA chairman Meyer Gottlieb] said ‘You are it!’" she told The Journal. When Gottlieb told her she could have any vehicle she desired for the event, "I told him I thought I’d like to ride in a red convertible. So last week he came to me and said, ‘Sylvia, we got you that red convertible,’ and I said, ‘Meyer, I was only being facetious!’"

Not only will she get her convertible, Harmatz will also wear new running shoes provided by Nike, one of the sponsors of the event. Other sponsors include Wells Fargo Bank, the Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center, B’nai B’rith and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

The walk begins at 8 a.m. from the Jewish Home’s Eisenberg Village, 18855 Victory Blvd in Reseda. For volunteer or sponsorship information, or to register for the Walk/Run, please call (818) 774-3324.