Moving and Shaking: Irwin Field honored, Rabbi Ari Segal elected, Breed Street Shul Project ceremony


Irwin Field

Former Jewish Journal publisher and board chair Irwin Field was honored by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles on June 25 with the organization’s Tocqueville Legacy Award. The honor from  the local division of the anti-poverty organization came during its 25th Alexis de Tocqueville Awards, held at the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The ceremony featured a performance by actress and musician Tia Carrere and remarks from Tocqueville member and former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan.

Field, who remains a Journal board member and is CEO of Liberty Vegetable Oil, helped initiate the Tocqueville Society at United Way of Greater Los Angeles in 1988 while serving as board chair of the latter. According to the nonprofit’s Web site, the Tocqueville Society was created “to deepen individual understanding of, commitment to and support of United Way’s work.” The society acknowledges individuals who contribute a minimum of $10,000 to United Way and has raised more than $350 million since its inception. 


Mid City West community council board members includes new appointee Rabbi Ari Segal of Shalhevet School (second from right). Courtesy of Steven Rosenthal.

Rabbi Ari Segal, head of school at Shalhevet High School on Fairfax Avenue, was recently elected to the Mid City West (MCW) Community Council as a religious representative. Board members unanimously elected Segal during a June 12 meeting at the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles council house.

The MCW council helps give neighborhoods a voice in policymaking and influence over city government, according to its Web site. 


From left: Stephen Sass, board president of the Breed Street Shul Project; husband-and-wife Barbara and Zev Yaroslavsky; East Side Jews' Jill Soloway; and Uri Resnick, deputy consul general of Israel in Los Angeles. Photo by Joel Lipton.

The Breed Street Shul Project honored Jill Soloway and Barbara and Zev Yaroslavsky during a ceremony last month. The June 23 event, “Praise for Our Past, Raise for Our Future,” took place at the Autry National Center. The evening included a private showing of the ongoing Autry exhibition “Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic.”

A writer-director whose first feature film, “Afternoon Delight,” screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Soloway is a founding member of East Side Jews, a nondenominational collective of Jews on Los Angeles’ East Side that holds monthly events at unlikely venues. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has served as an elected official for more than 35 years and is well known for his social-action activities on behalf of Soviet Jews and other Jewish causes. He has decided to leave public office at the end of his term in 2014.

His wife, Barbara, an ardent activist devoted to community and civic engagement, has lent her expertise to organizations such as the Zimmer Children’s Museum and Koreh L.A. and has participated in Latino-Jewish dialogue efforts. 

Established in 1999, the nonprofit Breed Street Shul Project has overseen the rehabilitation of the Boyle Heights-based Breed Street Shul. It works to bring together Jewish, Latino and other communities in Los Angeles. 


The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Jewish War Veterans honor more than 20 World War II veterans in Culver City on Sunday, June 23. Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) last month joined the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) at the latter’s 75th annual statewide convention, where more than 20 World War II veterans were honored. The event took place at the Courtyard by Marriott in Culver City on June 23.

Lisa Zaid, Western region major gifts associate at USHMM, delivered a message of gratitude and hope to the World War II Jewish veterans on behalf of the nation’s living memorial to the Holocaust. Zaid also presented specially designed USHMM commemorative pins to each veteran. 

JWV provides nonsectarian assistance to veterans and advocates on behalf of Jewish issues. The USHMM in Washington, D.C., celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. It hosts programs, lectures, traveling exhibitions and more in Western cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle.


Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more, as well as local events that featured leaders from the Jewish and Israeli communities. Got a tip? E-mail it to ryant@jewishjournal.com.

Man who identified Eichmann in Argentina is honored posthumously


Lothar Hermann, a German Jew who advised Israel that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was residing in Argentina, was honored.

On Monday, Hermann was publicly recognized by Israeli representatives in Buenos Aires and the Argentinian Jewish umbrella organization DAIA. He also was recognized by the Coronel Suarez City municipality in which he lived and where his unmarked tomb is located. The municipality declared his tomb part of the city’s historical heritage.

Hermann, who had escaped the Dachau concentration camp, was residing in Argentina when he discovered that Eichmann also was living there. He alerted Israeli authorities to his discovery after sending his daughter to verify his suspicions.

“We recognize him because his niece presented us the whole history, we checked the facts with the embassy, and his tomb is now at the cemetery as NN (no name) without any recognition, so he deserves some thanks from us,” said DAIA Vice President Alberto Hammershlag, who conducted the ceremony, told JTA. “He put his daughter at risk in order to say publicly that Eichmann was here.”

Israeli Ambassador to Argentina Daniel Gazit presented a letter of thanks from Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

In 1935, Hermann was arrested for spying by the Hitler regime and was sent to Dachau, where he lost an eye because of the beatings, according to police documents in Frankfurt. He later escaped to Argentina.

In 1959, Hermann wrote to Tuvia Friedman, who headed the Haifa Documentation Center for Nazi Crimes, confirming the suspicions of the Israeli government that Eichmann indeed was living in Argentina.

Eichmann was smuggled out of Argentina by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency in 1960. Two years later he was hanged following a trial.

A $10,000 reward for information leading to his capture had been offered by the Haifa Documentation Center, but when Hermann tried to claim the reward, the Israeli government said it would not honor the claim because the offer was not an official one. In 1971, the claim was renewed via a letter to Prime Minister Golda Meir and Hermann was finally paid. Herman died three years later in Argentina.

Elie Wiesel honored by U.S.’ largest pro bono law firm


Germany started its long descent into brutality and murder when the Nazi regime began to corrupt the nation’s laws, Elie Wiesel told more than a thousand guests, predominantly lawyers, on April 22 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

In accepting Public Counsel’s William O. Douglas Award, the Nobel laureate, author and Holocaust survivor was joined by notable political leaders, civic dignitaries and celebrities.

Public Counsel, headquartered in Los Angeles, describes itself as the nation’s largest not-for-profit law firm. Its 55 in-house lawyers and hundreds of pro bono volunteers from major law firms and corporations represent more than 30,000 children, families, veterans, immigrants and fraud victims each year.

Wiesel lauded the organization’s efforts on behalf of undocumented immigrants, often held for many months without legal counsel or resolution of their cases.

Recalling his own past, Wiesel said, “You don’t know what it means to be stateless. I never had a passport until I became a United States citizen. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be an American.”

Wiesel also paid an affectionate tribute to his wife, Marion, affirming that “everything I write, I write for her.”

The honoree was introduced by actor Jon Voight, who called for a renewed commitment to fighting an anti-Semitism that was rising across the world.

At the end of the evening, Wiesel and his wife were rushed to the airport to catch a red-eye flight to Washington, D.C. The reason was a late invitation from the White House asking Wiesel to introduce President Barack Obama at Monday morning’s remembrance ceremonies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

During the preceding week, Wiesel, in his professorial role, had conducted a series of conversations at Chapman University in Orange with hundreds of students and faculty.

Topics included such broad philosophical questions as “Why study?” “Why write?” “Why be just?” and “Why believe?” said Marilyn Harran, director of the university’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.

The Sunday evening dinner raised $2.5 million for Public Counsel’s work and included among the introducers House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and actors William H. Macy and Mike Farrell, the latter serving as master of ceremonies.

Extensive video tributes to Wiesel came from Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Sidney Poitier, Itzhak Perlman, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and philanthropist Eli Broad.

HOLY HADASSAH! France’s First Lady Honored by Women’s Group


PARIS (JTA)—Singer. Model. First lady of France.

Hadassah woman.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was the guest of honor March 5 at a glitzy fund-raiser in Paris for Hadassah Medical Organization’s hospital in Jerusalem and its global medical aid programs.

Standing at the podium in a sleeveless, silky black and white dress, she cooed in her trademark soft, husky voice to a crowd wearing glittering couture balanced on needle-thin heels.

“I’m so happy to have kept my promise,” she said.

Bruni-Sarkozy was referring to a visit she paid to the children’s ward of the hemato-oncology department at the Hadassah hospital last June, when she was in Jerusalem as part of her husband’s state visit.

During a tour of the facilities, she told the hospital’s general director, Shlomo Mor-Yosef, that she wanted to help.

Eight months later Bruni-Sarkozy, whose chiseled features and modern elegance continue to fascinate, delivered by becoming the first French first lady to work with Hadassah, the nongovernmental organization founded by American Zionist women nearly a century ago.

Bruni-Sarkozy’s appearance came at a trying period: Israel is wrestling with the fallout from Gaza, French Jews are worried about another spike in anti-Semitism and Hadassah has eliminated dozens of jobs.

In short, it was a good time for any sort of image boost that the 41-year-old first lady could provide.

“The image she conveys can help get rid of this vilifying view of Israel,” the president of Hadassah France, Sydney Ohana, told JTA in an interview. “She weighed the importance of a small country like this and understood that the world needs them, too.”

In December, after a year of sidelining as her husband’s glamorous companion, Bruni-Sarkozy signed on as the good-will ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It was under the new job title that Bruni-Sarkozy lent her image to Hadassah’s French branch for its 25th anniversary gala to fund the renowned medical research facility and its successful treatment of orphaned Ethiopian children with AIDS. The child mortality rate under the Ethiopian program has dropped from an annual 25 percent to 1 percent.

But her attachment to the Hadassah flagship hospital began before her Global Fund work, when Mor-Yosef said she dazzled patients and employees who “stood crowded in windows” to see her last summer.

Bruni-Sarkozy, he added, was “very touched” by the child cancer patients she met and “impressed” with the facility, which treats both Palestinians and Jewish Israeli patients.

“That’s just how we do things,” he said. “People come see what we do and they want to help.”

Hadassah’s hospital, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, already doubles as an ambassador for some of Israel’s humanitarian efforts, but Bruni-Sarkozy’s support was especially timely.

As the global financial crisis and the Madoff scandal gnaw at the organization’s private finances, forcing staffers to take pay cuts that won’t be restored for several years, some overseas groups also have accused Israel of committing war crimes during its winter Gaza offensive.

“In today’s press, Israel has one dimension,” Mor-Yosef said. “But this is another dimension of activities we are doing either in Israel”—to build “some sort of bridges to peace.”

The hospital hires Palestinian and Jewish Israelis, and treats anyone seeking care, though the Palestinian Authority recently barred their citizens from using Israeli hospitals—a “political” decision, according to Mor-Yosef, that he hopes will be reversed soon.

Ohana adds that in addition to Bruni-Sarkozy’s fresh face alongside Hadassah’s pro-Israel brand, when it comes to activism, the towering Italian-born beauty “does not just show up at gala dinners.” Her husband did just that, making a surprise appearance before heading off to Mexico after a quick bite.

“She knows the subject [of AIDS] really well,” Ohana said of the first lady, who lost a brother to the disease.

He cited her lengthy, technical discussions with researchers and doctors.

Through her contact with scientists and her Global Fund network, Ohana said Bruni-Sarkozy “can help make sure that Israelis and their researchers are not marginalized and that science has no borders.”

“Other first ladies have come” to the hospital, Mor-Yosef said. “But she’s different because she’s young, she’s beautiful, she’s not the typical first lady and that’s clear to everybody.”

Mor-Yosef stressed that Bruni-Sarkozy’s Hadassah participation was discussed before the financial crisis and the news that the $90 million that it had invested with Bernard Madoff was a mirage. Nevertheless, it was an especially good time for her to help raise more than $380,000 for the organization.

“The mood is very difficult from a financial point of view, but otherwise the hospital continues to be at the cutting edge of technology,” he added.

Most donations to the hospital come from the United States, but since Americans are feeling the pinch of a recession, Mor-Yosef said it is now “more important” to also seek funds elsewhere, in countries such as France and Germany. The medical organization currently raises 10 percent to 20 percent of its money from countries outside the United States and Israel.

Ohana told the JTA he is “persuaded” that Bruni-Sarkozy “will continue to closely follow Hadassah’s work, and will continue to help” in the future.

“That is what she promised me,” he said.

The Circuit


Willkommen, Shalom

Leading representatives from Germany, Israel and the local Jewish community mingled cheerfully at the Brentwood home of Lee and Larry Ramer on June 8, to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the federal republic and the Jewish state.

Remarking on the evolution of a relationship from deadliest enemies to political allies were consuls-general Ehud Danoch of Israel and Dr. Hans-Juergen Wendler of Germany, and Sherry Weinman, L.A. president of the American Jewish Committee.

The occasion was also a farewell address of sorts for Wendler, who served in Tel Aviv in the 1980s and will be retiring soon from his country’s diplomatic service.

“After 40 years, we have intensive relations between Israel and Germany,” he observed. “But they are not normal relations, because of the enormity of the Shoah.” — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

ADL’s ‘Delovely’ Night

With the elegant Bel Air Hotel as a backdrop, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) donors were honored for their support recently when they were treated to an evening of cocktails and the lilting tones of popular cabaret singer Andrea Marcovicci. A welcome speech by ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind reiterated the organization’s successful economic turnarounds and sang the praises of departing ADL favorite Loren Stephens, director of major gifts and planned giving for the ADL Pacific Northwest region for 14 years. Almost 100 guests sat enrapt, listening to Marcovicci’s Cole Porter presentation “How’s Your Romance?”

Marcovicci awed the guests with a selection of Porter from his most popular, “Let’s Misbehave,” to lesser-known works from earlier shows; her rendition of “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” was a crowd pleaser. In addition to the honorees, those in attendance included Sam and Sooky Goldman, Dr. Alfred and Cec Katz.

Lasorda a Good Sport

Leagues of fans recently turned out to fete legend Tommy Lasorda and raise money for Vista Del Mar — and both efforts were accomplished with style at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Almost $1 million was raised to help children as attendees bid on numerous auction items and enjoyed the comedy stylings of Paul Rodriguez. Sports permeated the atmosphere as some diners actually snuck away to view the Pistons/Heat confrontation on the plasma TV displayed with the other prizes in the lobby.

Charity honcho and longtime Vista Del Mar supporter Stanley Black hosted the festivities. The event has long been a favorite and a big fundraiser for the group that serves the Los Angeles community and its children in need.

Crosby Gets Fried

Comedy was king recently when Norm Crosby was roasted at the Friars Club when his comic friends showed up to honor a legend.

The packed room nibbled and sipped while exchanging showbiz stories to mark the occasion of the release of Big Vision Entertainment’s “The World’s Greatest Stand-Up Comedy Collection.” The series was compiled from Crosby’s television series “The Comedy Shop” and features early performances from some of today’s comedy giants.

Attending the star-studded event were Monty Hall and wife, Marilyn; Loni Anderson; Red Buttons, whose significant other, noted American artist Jane Wooster Scott, was en route to Sun Valley for the summer; a newly extreme made-over comic Steve Mittleman; George Schlatter; Mitzi Gaynor, looking youthful and radiant; Murray Langston (aka The Unknown Comic); Max Alexander and a host of others.

Comedy aficionados got their laugh fix for the year just standing in the midst of so much raw humorous energy.

Cheers to the Federation

Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc., continuing a heritage of supporting The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, recently presented a $100,000 check to the organization.

The donation will support a wide variety of education, social welfare and human services provided on a nonsectarian basis by the federation and its 22 local, national and international agencies.

Since 1993, Anheuser-Busch has donated more than $1.1 million to The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a total of $5.3 million to Jewish agencies nationwide.

Hope Inspires Hope

It was an upbeat and happy evening recently when The Greater Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) hosted the 28th annual Miracle Dinner — The Miracle of Hope Gala — at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Nearly 400 guests enjoyed dazzling performances by the internationally renowned performing dance troupe Le Masquerade, danced to music from the Gold Record Award-winning artists of Fifth Avenue Orchestra and participated in silent and live auctions.

Hope Anisgarten, Randi Grant, Cathy Greenly and Sherry Porat were presented with the A.J. and Claire Levine Distinguished Service Award for Exemplary Dedication to the Greater Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter.

Proceeds from the Miracle of Hope benefit biomedical research, education programs for patients and physicians, support groups and a summer camp program for children with inflammatory bowel disease.

 

7 Days in the Arts


Saturday

Disabled artists make headway today thanks to the Irene Vaksberg Salon. The hair salon-by-day becomes an art space this evening, offering a forum for work by emerging artists with disabilities. “Readings From Explore and Express” features works by blind photographer Michael Richard and ceramicist Beth Abrams.

7 p.m. $10. 7803 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 939-7400.

Sunday

Jerusalem-born artist Rhea Carmi is one of eight early and mid-career artists whose work appears as part of TarFest Art Show 2004. According to her Web site, her body of mixed-media pieces “depicts brutality and insanity of war and its resultant human suffering both physical and spiritual.” The exhibition is part of the Miracle Mile Players’ Festival of Film, Music and Art being held this weekend, but remains on display at Lawrence Asher Gallery through Nov. 6.

5820 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. www.tarfest.com.

Monday

Fashion designer-cum-musical producer Max Azria and BCBGMaxAzria Entertainment compatriot Charles Cohen are honored tonight by AMIT Cherish the Children. The Israeli organization provides religious and general education in the form of 60 schools, as well as youth villages, surrogate family residences and other programs. The gala dinner benefits the AMIT network of schools in Israel.

5:30 p.m. $300+. Luxe Hotel, 11461 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 859-4885.

Tuesday

Tonight, those not yet sick of the political season get one last dose of wit before Big Tuesday. Parlor Performances and Harris and Frank Productions present the next and last installment of “Entertaining Politics: Six Tuesdays of Post-Conventional Wisdom,” with “philosopher-comedian” and Harvard grad Emily Levine.

7:30 p.m. $25. Magicopolis, 1418 Fourth St., Santa Monica. (310) 471-3979. www.entertainingpolitics.com.

Wednesday

With hopes to become an annual event, The Century City Film Festival kicks off this year featuring films falling under the banner of “Camp, Cult, Classics,” and raising much-needed money and conversation on behalf of minorities in entertainment. Tonight’s benefit lasts through Friday and gives to the Minorities in Broadcasting Training Program.

Oct. 27-30. (877) 723-6887.” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Thursday

Simians get center stage at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery’s new exhibition by celebrity photographer Jill Greenberg. A departure from her usual subject, “Monkey Portraits” is true to its title, featuring portraits of apes, who, through Greenberg’s lens, begin to look remarkably human.

Through Dec. 11. 6150 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 937-0765. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Friday

Sure, ventriloquism can be creepy in the same way that uncle who used to pull a coin out of your ear always kind of freaked you out. But David Strassman has got the stuff, if you believe anything the Brit and Irish critics say. His one-man/many-puppet show “Dummy” was well-received on that other continent, so check out his latest, “Strassman,” for yourself. Just leave the kids at home for this decidedly grown-up puppet show.

8 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), 2 p.m. (Sun.). $14-$16. 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 769-7529.

Seeking Klezmer at the Source by Naomi Pfefferman, Arts & Entertainment Editor

” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

When Yale Strom created his first klezmer band in 1981, he promptly bought a one-way ticket to Eastern Europe. While other groups in the emerging klezmer revival were transcribing old-world music off 78s, Strom intended to “find songs that existed only in the memories of Jews who still lived there,” he said.
Scholars scoffed as he packed his backpack, violin and tape recorder: “After the Holocaust, they assumed the Jews who had returned to their former homes had succumbed to communism,” said Strom, 47, a leading klezmer musician and scholar.
He proved them wrong during his year-long 1981 trip, the subject of his new memoir, “A Wandering Feast: A Journey Through the Jewish Culture of Eastern Europe” (Jossey-Bass, $24.95), co-written with his wife, Elizabeth Schwartz. This Jewish “On the Road” records his musical detective work as well as songs and recipes he encountered.
It all began when he arrived at Zagreb’s Jewish old age home on a drizzly night; the next morning, 79-year-old Rut sang the “Waltz From Senta” she had danced to at her cousin’s wedding in Szeged, Hungary as a girl.
In Kosice, Czechoslovakia, Strom sloshed through eight inches of snow to the shul on Zvonarska Street, where the shammes cried as he remembered how his mother, who had died in Auschwitz, had loved Yiddish songs.
To capture the zmiros the man and his friends sang on the Sabbath, Strom strapped his tape recorder to his leg and turned it on as the elderly Jews pounded their fists against the chipped, wooden table covered with siddurim, crumbs and shot glasses.
In the Carpathain Ukraine that spring, he traveled by horse and cart to perform with a Rom (Gypsy) band at a wedding and was so inspired that he improvised a song, “On the Road to Salang.” When the musician returned to the United States in 1982, he brought back more than just 50 obscure songs for his band to perform.
“I felt I had literally walked the paths where our forbears had walked, whether they were marching to the chuppah or the gas chambers,” he said.
If Strom is now renown as one of the world’s most prolific klezmer aficionados (he’s completed 10 books, eight films and nine CDs), he traces his passion to the journey.
“I learned not to take any day for granted, because you may not know where you’ll be the next day,” he said.

Big-Screen King’s Legacy of Generosity


Paul I. Goldenberg avoided playgrounds and sports when he was growing up because he lacked athletic prowess. He spent hours in the cool darkness of a movie house.

In central Los Angeles of the ’30s, where his parents had little money to spare, Goldenberg scrounged for pop bottles, collecting enough deposits to pay for weekend film marathons. From Friday to Sunday, he lived vicariously, absorbed in the characters portrayed by Clark Gable and Groucho Marx.

Several cousins also lived in his parents’ modest home. Its backyard was shaded by fruit trees, enriched by a flock of 40 chickens. He was 16 when his father, Joe, a former attorney toiling as a shipyard accountant, died. During shiva, nearly every man in the neighborhood shared an anecdote with the teen-ager about his father’s generosity, that freely dispensed advice or a sack of surplus avocados.

His private passion for film would play a formative role in the financial bonanza created by his adult alter-ego, "the King of Big Screen." But his father’s powerful role model was equally influential, propelling Goldenberg into one of the state’s largest political contributors and a major donor to numerous non-profit groups.

The Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda honored Goldenberg, 75, owner of La Habra’s Paul’s TV & Video, as well as others at a gala last month. Goldenberg helped fund the home’s newest $14.3 million building, designed to reflect the latest research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He pledged another $2 million towards a $52 million nursing-home expansion, which is hoped will accommodate 40 percent of those on the facility’s 350-person waiting list.

"I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than the home in Reseda," said Goldenberg, whose cousin, Israel Murstein, is a resident, as was another cousin, the late Betty Klein.

"It is nicer than any hotel you’ve ever been in," he said of the Alzheimer’s home for 96 residents, known as the Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center.

"He gets it," said Molly Forrest, the home’s chief executive. "The elderly in our community have to have a quality facility," she said, adding that the Jewish home alone in Southern California was singled out in March by state licensing authorities for its perfect certification survey.

Goldenberg’s gold mine is Paul’s TV, located four miles from the nearest freeway exit. Far better known throughout Southern California is Goldenberg’s advertising boast as the self-proclaimed champion of big-screen television sales. "I am the king," he declares in newspaper, billboard and radio spots that tout big-screen sales of more than 100,000 units.

For the 19th straight year, Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation named Paul’s as the biggest single-store seller of its big-screen TVs.

"We love Paul," said Cayce Blanchard, a Mitsubishi spokeswoman in Irvine. Paul’s sells only two brands: Mitsubishi and Panasonic flat screen TVs.

"He does an unbelievable amount of business," said Brad Bridenbecker, city manager of La Habra, which perennially counts Paul’s among its top sales-tax producers.

How much, Goldenberg won’t say. The store’s modest size and appearance often surprise first-time visitors. Equally surprising is its staffing. On a recent weekday, five salesmen manned a showroom smaller than the typical suburban home. To keep its pledge of four-hour delivery, Paul’s maintains a 30-truck fleet for installers that travel from Ventura to Carlsbad.

"I’m very dedicated to the idea that customers should get what they pay for," said Goldenberg. "With a chain of five or 10 stores, it’s very hard to know what’s going on with customer satisfaction."

Knowing Paul’s pulse is part of Goldenberg’s routine, which also includes frequent travels responding to invitations, such as one received recently from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Although he occupies the store’s only private office, its desk and table are a neglected pile of papers in disarray. Customers, who often demand an audience with the "king," are more likely to see Goldenberg rooted to a desk reserved for customers filling out paperwork. Like petitioners approaching the throne, a procession of employees and visitors vie for his eye contact during an ongoing conversation that drags into hours due to the interruptions. He signs a proffered check; critiques a memo; explains required retouching to a painter; gives a deadline to a signmaker; criticizes a manufacturer’s warranty card; and imperiously calls employees for help answering questions.

Within Paul’s dominion, the ruler is a detail-oriented autocrat.

The late Jack Lawlor, who owned an advertising agency and believed Paul’s could attain regional prominence, created the trumped-up title.

"He was like an Olympic coach who pushed me to go farther than I ever would have," said Goldenberg, who got his start by borrowing $1,000 from his cousins to open a TV repair shop in Los Angeles.

In 1979, when Mitsubishi introduced the first big-screen TVs, Paul’s was one of the first takers, a confidence buoyed by Goldenberg’s own love for cinema. "I was among the first to recognize their potential for bringing a movie-like experience into the home," he said.

More than TVs are on display at Paul’s. A red velvet and gold crown is kept pristine under an acrylic cube. Nearby are photos of Goldenberg with former presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. It keeps company with the 138-page bound script for "Terminator 2," signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger; commemorative plaques for La Habra firefighters; a letter of thanks from Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahoney; and a signed Kobe Bryant jersey. More signed celebrity photos line two walls.

Goldenberg’s personal self-indulgences include a red Ferrari and Dodger season tickets behind home plate. He lives in La Habra Heights and is divorced. His son, Doug, is a botanist-biologist for the federal Bureau of Land Management. If there is a Paul’s succession plan, Goldenberg is unwilling to share it. "I wouldn’t have any challenger," he deadpanned.

"The store has allowed me to fulfill some of my dreams to help people who are less fortunate than I," said Goldenberg. He also contributed $209,210 to Democratic candidates and was the state’s fifth largest individual contributor to federal campaigns, the Los Angeles Times reported in January 1999.

He supports the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation and chairs its scholarship committee, which awarded $1.2 million to 700 students this year.

"He has a big heart," said Pam Anspach Colletti, a counselor at La Habra’s Sonora High School, where Goldenberg personally hands out $500 student scholarships. He awarded 40 between two schools last spring. He also underwrites an annual trip for 10 students to Washington, D.C., from Los Angeles’ Dorsey High, his own alma mater.

"He has a wonderful spirit of giving in that he recognizes how blessed he is," said Juan M. Garcia, La Habra’s mayor. "It makes him feel good. He has more than he’ll ever need."

A recent recipient of Goldenberg’s charity is Duarte’s City of Hope, a cancer research and treatment center. Last year, he observed the facility firsthand during a friend’s illness.

"He stepped up to the plate and said he wanted to help," said Richard Leonard, a senior development officer at City of Hope, where Goldenberg is funding an elevated walkway. "He’s got a sense of tzedachah; he knows what’s just in his heart."

Though he considers himself Jewish, Goldenberg acknowledges his synagogue attendance is irregular.

"In Torah, it says ‘God loves the just man.’ There’s nothing about God loving the man who goes to synagogue.

"I’ve tried my best to be a just man."

60th Anniversary Reunites Orphans


When Miriam Weichelbaum and Henri Dybnis were married on March 26, 1943, their future did not look promising. Their wedding took place in wartime France, where the two young educators — he a refugee from Russia, she from Germany — ran a home for displaced Jewish children. Ten orphan teenagers formed their minyan, and they gave the rabbi a live chicken for performing the ceremony. Six months later, the young couple fled to Switzerland, one step ahead of the Nazis. With them came 22 children they didn’t dare leave behind.

In those bleak days, the Dybnises could not have imagined the long, full life that awaited them. They had two children of their own, one born in Switzerland and the other in France, where they returned post-war to run another orphanage. In 1952, the family immigrated to California, pouring their energy into founding Jewish nursery schools. As their 60th wedding anniversary approached, it seemed time for a party.

The Dybnises knew daughter Monique was bringing her own family from Israel for the celebration. And they knew that son Sacha and daughter-in-law Bunni had asked close relatives to share in the day. But they weren’t aware invitations had also gone out to the orphan children of long ago. So they were astounded to see 60 men and women, who had gathered from around the globe in their honor. A commemorative album was crammed with tributes in French, German, English and Hebrew from others who couldn’t make the trip.

Annette Safatty flew in from Paris to tell the Dybnises, “Thank you for my life. Thanks to you, I was able to marry and have a life of my own.”

Miriam Dybnis, vivacious at 83, insists she and her husband never expected to be honored for their deeds. Still, she’s deeply gratified that so many of the young orphans have thrived as adults:

“It really showed us Hitler did not succeed,” she said. “This is the biggest satisfaction.”

Live From Hillel — It’s Laraine!


Fans of the legendary first seasons of “Saturday Night Live” remember Laraine Newman sashayingwith Gilda Radner in the hilarious faux commercial for “Jewess Jeans.” They recall her BarbraStreisand impression and her angry beatnik character reciting bad poetry in nasal Brooklynese.But Newman, 50, will reveal one of her more serious roles when she’s honored at Hillel at Pierce &Valley Colleges’ Comedy Nite 2003 on Feb. 1: her involvement with the Jewish community.The granddaughter of an Arizona Jewish cattle rancher, Newman will describe how she grew up soassimilated that “all my Jewish friends went to Hess Kramer but I was shlepped off to CampTrinity.”

It wasn’t until she enrolled her oldest daughter in Temple Isaiah’s preschool around 1992 that shejoined a temple (Isaiah), learned Hebrew and brought ritual home. “I never had that kind of pride inmy heritage,” she said. “At Beverly Hills High, all the Jewish boys liked [non-Jewish] girls and therewas a pervasive Jewish anti-Semitism.”

Newman skewered that kind of self-hatred when her “SNL” character, Connie Conehead — thealien teen who longs to “pass” as human — considers a “cone-job.”

At Beverly, the actress said, she “had acne, braces and my nose was my adult size, although Iwasn’t.” But she was also the class clown, and, after studying mime with Marcel Marceau, she wasdiscovered at the improv troupe, the Groundlings, by “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels.

On “SNL” from 1975-1980, she made an impression with characters such as Sheri, the WASPValley girl who complains about making peace cobbler for her Jewish in-laws to-be who said,”Look, the shiksa made a Presbyterian pie.”

Yet, while her colleagues forged successful careers after “Saturday Night,” Newman’s post-“SNL”pickings were slim. It didn’t help that “the press was really mean and took every chance to depictme as a loser,” she said. Newman overcame that by taking modest film roles and forging asuccessful cartoon voiceover career. “My daughter’s birth … freed me to take ego out of theequation,” said Newman, who also played Richard Lewis’ rebbitzen on TV’s “7th Heaven.” So didrediscovering her Judaism: “It’s kept me concerned with greater things than self-centeredness,” shesaid.

For information about the tribute, call (818) 887-5901.

Meet the Parents


Tom Rothman, Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chair, honors his folks at Jewish Home for the Aging’s Anniversary Gala.

Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman Tom Rothman is beaming. The fact that his studio recently ruled the weekend box office with its Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise collaboration “Minority Report” might have been enough to put some spring in his step. But at the moment, he’s happy because he’s talking about his parents, Donald Rothman and Bette Davidson, both of whom will be honored alongside Marilyn and Monty Hall at Jewish Home for the Aging’s 90th Anniversary Gala celebration on July 9 at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.

“They were very socially conscious certainly before it became fashionable,” Rothman says. “Charity was a given in our home.”

Rothman’s father, Donald Rothman, was born the son of a traveling salesman in Baltimore in 1923. He entered Harvard Law School’s class of 1948 and became a trial lawyer who was named to the American College of Trial Lawyers. He fought racist real estate practices, founded the repertory theater Center Stage in Baltimore, which celebrates its 40th anniversary next year, and created a foundation to support the city’s public School for the Arts.

Rothman’s mother, Bette Davidson, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology the same year that Tom Rothman was born. She later worked as a teacher at an inner-city Jesuit school while getting her master’s degree in education, started a cooperative nursery school, taught a middle-aged friend to read, helped a baby sitter attend nursing school and assisted students in getting scholarships.

“It never came in the sectarian way,” Rothman, 47, says of his parents’ Jewishness. “It was a question of humanity. My parents didn’t distinguish between Jewish causes and non-Jewish causes.”

Nevertheless, Tom Rothman’s Jewish upbringing propelled him far. He left Baltimore to attend Brown University, then taught English in Connecticut before going to Columbia Law School. He was headed for a career in his father’s footsteps as a trial lawyer when he got sidetracked into entertainment law.

“It was fascinating and fun,” Rothman recalls of his participation in the mid-1980s thriving independent film scene that included directors Spike Lee and Jim Jarmusch. Rothman produced some movies, then headed West in 1986 to work for Columbia and Samuel Goldwyn before arriving at 20th Century Fox in 1994.

Rothman rapidly ascended the ladder at Fox, rising from president of production to president of 20th Century Fox Film Group to co-chair of Fox Filmed Entertainment with Jim Gianopulos, as of July 2000.

During Rothman’s tenure, Fox delivered the mother of all gross-out comedies (“There’s Something About Mary”), spawned films that became international phenomena (“Titanic,” “Independence Day”), ushered in the recent big-budget superhero wave (“X-Men” and the upcoming “Daredevil”), released a slam-dunk remake of “Planet of the Apes” and distributed re-releases and new installments of a little franchise called “Star Wars.”

“We lived through the worst and the best,” Rothman says, referring to the $200 million co-production of “Titanic.” “It was the hardest production experience ever and the most satisfying.”

Rothman says he has mixed feelings about Hollywood’s Jews vocalizing their support for Israel. “Whether it’s vocal or not,” Rothman says, “I think it’s an individual decision, but I think that the public as a whole really doesn’t realize how strongly philanthropic the community is.”

The best part of his job is “being part of history. The privilege of working at a major studio, you’re a small part of film history. That’s a great experience and it’s exciting. It’s full of ups and downs. You get knocked to the canvas. But you also get to work with the level of creative people.”

Rothman, who with wife, Jessica Harper, has daughters, Elizabeth, 13, and Nora, 11, admits that he still looks back at his rise from law clerk to studio head with wonder “every day when I drive on the lot. I’m a lucky guy.”



For information on “Reflections: The 90th Anniversary of Jewish Home for the Aging,” with special guest appearances by Ray Romano and Harry Connick Jr., call (818) 774-3334.

Lights, Camera, Israel


Los Angeles will welcome the 18th Annual Israel Film Festival this month, with 31 Israeli feature films, documentaries, TV dramas and student shorts to be screened at Laemmle’s Music Hall Theater in Beverly Hills and at Laemmle’s Town Center 5 in Encino. The festival continues in Chicago, Miami and New York.

During the April 10 opening night gala at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, actress/director Penny Marshall, producer Mike Medavoy and Israeli director Eli Cohen will be honored for their contributions to the film industry.

A symposium on April 11 on "How Do Current Events in Israel Affect Film and Television Production?" will feature a panel of Israeli and American experts, including Israel’s Minister of Science, Culture and Sports Matan Vilnai.

Among the feature selections, the light and lightweight "Desperado Square" takes us to a hardscrabble development town. Its predominantly Sephardi immigrants desperately miss the town’s only movie theater, which was closed down nearly three decades earlier, despite the immense popularity of its films from India, with their star-crossed lovers and extravagant song-and-dance production numbers.

Morris, the deceased owner of the theater, shuttered the place in despondency when he learned that his beautiful wife, Siniora (Yona Elian), really loved his brother, Avram (played by Muhammad Bakri, Israel’s leading Arab actor).

As the film opens, the estranged Avram has returned after a 25-year absence and begins a low-key pursuit of Siniora. Meanwhile Morris’ sons, with the help of the town’s quaint residents, try to resurrect the movie palace for a showing of the love-triangle themed "Sangam," the neighborhood’s favorite film, much to the agitation of Siniora because Avram owns the only copy.

Nobody will mistake this variation on the eternal triangle, directed by Benny Torati, as high art, but the film, by its setting in a development town, focuses on one aspect of Israeli life rarely seen in feature movies.

"It’s About Time" is an hour-long documentary, which in a humorous and unassuming way tells us a great deal about today’s Israelis by probing their attitudes toward the concept of time.

Talking to a cross section of Israelis, the film contrasts the nostalgic past, when "we had time and seasons," to the obsessive listening of newscasts every half hour in today’s "microwave generation — we want it cooked right now."

Directors Ayelet Menahemi and Elona Ariel trace their country’s frantic pace back to the beginning, when "the state was born in a hurry, we rushed through the process."

"More happens here in a week than in Switzerland in a year," notes one respondent, and another skewers the infamous "Israeli time" by noting that "we set an event for 2:00, come at 2:30 and think we’ve arrived early."

For more information, see Calendar.