Philanthropists honored for lifetime of giving


Iranian Jewish philanthropist Izak Parviz Nazarian, 83, watched from his seat while Dora Kadisha, his daughter, spoke from a nearby stage about her love of Israel, her community and helping other people. It was her father who taught her the importance of this mentality, she said.

Nothing could have better illustrated the theme of “Passing the Torch,” a June 20 event that honored L.A. philanthropists Guilford Glazer, Jona Goldrich, Max Webb and Nazarian and highlighted the importance of continuing their legacy of giving among the coming generations.

“We are here to honor great men,” said Rabbi David Wolpe, who hosted the program at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills.

The spiritual leader of Sinai Temple was, of course, referring to Glazer, 90; Goldrich, 85; Webb, 96, and Nazarian, who overcame extraordinary circumstances to become some of the most prominent Jewish givers in America during the 20th century. Glazer suffered through a poverty-stricken childhood in the American South before fighting in World War II, Goldrich and Webb survived the Holocaust and Nazarian, who served with the Israeli army during the War of Independence, left Iran during its revolution.

Collectively, they have given approximately $1 billion toward building the L.A. Jewish community. Glazer, Goldrich and Webb have all achieved success in the world of real estate. Nazarian co-founded technology company Qualcomm.

From left: Andrea Goldrich Cayton & Melinda Goldrich, Chara Schreyer, Erika Glazer, Dora Kadisha. Photo by Harmony Wedding Photography.

The evening, which featured speakers Wolpe and Israel Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel delivering praise, also included prerecorded interviews with the honorees about their family histories, their financial successes and thoughts on philanthropy.

“How do you become a successful philanthropist?” Wolpe asked Goldrich in one of the videos. Goldrich replied that you have to pay the “Jewish tax” of sending money to Israel and donating to Jewish causes. It was a sentiment shared by the other honorees: Between them, they’ve helped launch and fund synagogues, Israeli universities, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and other Jewish institutions and organizations.

During the awards portion of the evening, the four men remained in their seats, while their daughters — including Melinda Goldrich and Andrea Goldrich Cayton, Erika Glazer, Chara Schreyer and Kadisha — took the stage. The women received commemorative plaques and spoke of ways they have committed themselves to philanthropy. The four honorees did not address the crowd.

The program wrapped with Gail Reiss, president and CEO of American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU), announcing the launch of the Andrew E. Zalkow and Mark I. Schickman Scholarship. The scholarship will pay for students to study conflict resolution and other disciplines at Tel Aviv University. Reiss asked attendees to make donations to the new fund.

AFTAU, which aims to support and promote Tel Aviv University, organized the event. All the honorees have been longtime benefactors of the university.

Philanthropist Zev Wolfson, supporter of traditional Jewish educational institutions, dies


Zev Wolfson, a philanthropist who supported Torah institutions worldwide, has died.

Wolfson died Monday in New York following a short illness, according to media reports, and was buried the next day in Israel. He was 84.

He helped spread Torah through kollel and outreach programs, with many catering specifically to secular Jews in an effort to bring them closer to traditional Judaism.

Wolfson was born in Vilna, Poland, in 1928 and immigrated to America at the age of 17 with his mother and young brother. He immediately went to work while sending his brother to yeshiva. In his 20s, Wolfson amassed a significant wealth through his investments in real estate.

For many decades, Wolfson focused on furthering Jewish education, helping to develop and maintain yeshivas, Bais Yaakov girls’ schools, day schools and other projects all over the world, including the United States, Israel, France, Morocco and Russia, reported Matzav.com.

Wolfson was known for his close relationship with many prominent rabbis. His wife, Nechama, who founded the Shalom Task Force 20 years ago, is well known for her efforts to combat domestic violence within the Jewish community.

Jewish philanthropist Sami Rohr dies


Sami Rohr, a major philanthropist whose giving created and sustained hundreds of Chabad-Lubavitch houses around the world, died at 86.

Rohr, who died Aug. 5 in South Florida and was buried Aug. 7 in Jerusalem, reportedly gave some $250 million to Jewish causes, especially Jewish education and culture, through his Rohr Family Foundation.

Rohr, a former Colombian-Jewish real estate mogul who self-identified as Modern Orthodox, gave tens of millions of dollars to Chabad along with his family to establish outposts throughout the former Soviet Union, on college campuses and at remote spots around the world. In 2006, JTA noted that the Rohr family reportedly underwrote the salaries of about 500 emissaries and had a foundation specifically to help Chabad rabbis on U.S. campuses construct buildings.

Rohr, who largely preferred avoiding publicity, was publicly honored by Chabad in 2006. The same year, his children named a prize for Jewish literature after him in honor of his 80th birthday.

The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature was awarded for the first time in 2007 and honors the contribution of contemporary writers in exploring and transmitting Jewish values.

Rohr grew up in Berlin but left the country with his family after Kristallnacht. He lived in Antwerp and Basel during World War II, later moving to Bogota, Colombia, where he made his fortune in real estate. He and his late wife, Charlotte, moved to Florida in 1981.

We don’t need more gabfests on diversity


The details of the ugly dustup between a leading local Jewish philanthropist, Daphna Ziman, and the local African American head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Rev. Eric Lee, are still at issue. Ziman disseminated her account of the encounter in a widely distributed e-mail. She claimed that Lee gave a speech at a local fraternity function rife with anti-Semitic statements. Lee strenuously denied the charges, and no independent corroboration exists.

But what is of greater interest than what actually transpired at the Kappa Alpha Psi gathering is the response from the leadership of our community to Lee’s remarks and what that portends for intergroup relations in this city.

Predictably, the civil rights leadership of our communities seems to be responding to the incident just as they have in the past — with dialogue groups and resurrected “roundtables” aimed at convincing participants of the value of diversity and of our historic and present commonalities.

What ought to distinguish the response of today from those in the 1970s and 1990s is the context of our very changed society.

Society has caught up and passed well beyond dialogue groups and the need to justify and rationalize the value of diversity. Every major study conducted in this field has revealed an amazing attitude of acceptance of differences by today’s young people. As Morley Winograd and Michael Hais observe in their just-published book, “Millennial Makeover,” “the great diversity of the Millennial Generation [born between 1982 and 2003] and its experiences growing up in a multiracial society is reflected in their relatively color-blind attitudes on racial relations.”

The Pew Center concluded in its multiple surveys of millennials that “they are the most tolerant of any generation on social issues such as immigration, race and homosexuality.” One example documented by the Pew Center (dealing with a historically incendiary issue) found that that between 1987 and 2003, attitudes toward interracial dating among 18-25-year-olds underwent a sea change — those approving such activity rose from 56 percent to 89 percent. Those completely agreeing with interracial dating rose from 20 percent to 64 percent.

The data of a profound change in attitudes is incontestable and is manifested across racial and religious lines. The Reboot study of millennials, “OMG! How Generation Y is Redefining Faith in the iPod Era,” found that today’s youth are “fully integrated into diverse social networks. While previous generations often lived in homogenous religious communities, among Generation Y [born 1980-2000], only 7 percent of youth report that all their friends are the same religion as themselves. Even the most religious youth maintain diverse networks of peers.”

The study oversampled Jewish and black youth to confirm their findings.

Even the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) study of anti-Semitic attitudes indicates a decline in anti-Semitic attitudes among the African American population, historically among the most problematic cohort it surveys. Unfortunately, the ADL study does not disaggregate data for younger blacks and their attitudes.

If one believes the myriad studies that confirm the exceptionally positive trends of the new generation, how should one respond to the Lee incident? More dialogue groups that devolve into vehicles to preach to the converted seems to be what we have in store for us. The Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission and its friends will be busy singing the same old songs.

What ought to inform any actions that grow out of the Lee-Ziman incident is the profound change that has taken and is taking place around us. Young people today don’t need a “coalition” to talk about how to live together — they do it 24/7. Their world isn’t circumscribed by their faith, their race or their ethnicity.

Nor should we trudge out the old nostrums and activities and think that the Lees of the world will change their version of history or their attitudes — nor should we really care. They are not the future, and their historical notions are virtually irrelevant.

Our communities’ leadership has to absorb the reality that the next generation of open-minded young people sees diversity as a plus, not as a burden to be overcome. We need to offer them activities that confirm their positive outlook and involve them in doing, not talking, about things, much as Temple Israel’s Big Sunday program does — people working together as equals, improving our community for everyone. We don’t need more gabfests or sessions of self-flagellation.

Millennials believe that they live in an exciting time, two-thirds rate their lives as “excellent or pretty good,” let’s give them reason to confirm those positive attitudes.


David A. Lehrer is president and Joe R. Hicks vice president of Community Advocates Inc. (www.cai-la.org), a Los Angeles-based human relations organization headed by former mayor Richard J. Riordan.

‘Generation Next’ powow at Professional Leaders Project parley


Generation Next

By the end of the Professional Leaders Project gathering in Santa Monica, I walked away with three things: a stack of business cards, some good stories and a condom from KinkyJews.com in a package that featured an Israeli flag on the front and an off-color, yet highly creative tagline we can’t print here.

These may be the usual accoutrement, left over from a weekend of Jewish networking, yet with respect to this conference being a progressive think tank, the cards are unusually fancy:

There’s Ariel Beery, the 20-something editor and publisher of a cutting-edge mag on Jewish life (the current cover of PresenTense features three unmistakably ethnic Jews under a headline that reads, “Funny, You Don’t Look Jewish”). Then there was Lindsay Litowitz, who is independently seeking funds tofinance a documentary film project, called “Four Corners,” on Jewishcommunities around the world. Others there were producers, entrepreneurs, nonprofit executives, artists and budding religious leaders.

The invitation-only crowd was comprised of significant young Jewish professionals and volunteers — most were hip and well dressed, all shared “smart and successful” and were qualitatively labeled “talent.” And there you have the traits of the nation’s future Jewish leadership.

Well-funded and well-organized PLP flew in these rising stars for three days of Jewish learning, networking and highfalutin keynote speakers. Israeli-born Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar, who commands up to $20,000 for a single speaking engagement, delivered a spiel on positive psychology that didn’t quite live up to my expectations, so I hope PLP got his nonprofit rate.

During my in-and-out stint, I caught Dov Rosenblatt performing with his band, Blue Fringe. Afterwards, I mistakenly offered a handshake to Chasidic rapper Y-Love (a.k.a. Yitz Jordan), who abruptly flung his sweaty beret over his palms before he would touch me. The much-anticipated conclusion, “Michael Steinhardt Uncensored” was a bust when he fell ill, but the ever-eloquent and engaging Rabbi Naomi Levy stepped in and delivered an empowering message on good leadership.

Despite the lack of an overriding message articulated over the course of the conference, there was a sense of hopefulness. The Jewish future is in ready hands, able hands — and maybe next time, they’ll have a concrete objective of what to do with those hands.


Jane Usher is no plain Jane. She’s an active environmentalist, attorney and president of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission. Flanked by eco-Hollywood and go-green Angelenos, she was honored by TreePeople at their annual gala fundraiser, “An Evening Under the Harvest Moon,” which raked in half-a-mil for L.A.’s urban forest. Since a group of teenagers started the organization in the 1970s, more than 2 million trees have been planted in our beloved, angelic city.

What a pair! Of sisters, that is. Although the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s breast cancer fundraising luncheon makes clear reference to a woman’s most salient body part, the perky set at this event was actress Joely Fisher and her sister, Trisha Leigh Fisher, who presented Joley, the smokin’ star of FOX’s “Til Death,” with the Angel Award for her brazier-like support of breast cancer research.

Comedic actor and ubiquitous philanthropist Brad Garrett also attended the fete, as he and Joely are slated to emcee the Zimmer Children’s Museum’s seventh annual Discovery Award Dinner on Nov. 8.

Roast for Richard; A Wish Is Granted; And the World Tastes Good; New Faces X 2


Roast for Richard

City of Hope honored civic leader and philanthropist Richard S. Ziman at a toast and roast Sept, 14. Ziman was presented with City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Award and President’s Award for his longstanding commitment to the advancement of science and the care of patients with cancer. The event raised $1.6 million for City of Hope’s groundbreaking cancer research and treatment programs.

A Wish Is Granted

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Rabbi Elianna Yolkut was installed Sept. 16 at Adat Ari El, a conservative synagogue in Valley Village. Yolkut was ordained this past spring from the University of Judaism’s Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies.

New Faces II

Jewish National Fund (JNF) has hired Donna De La Paz as regional zone director. Virginia-born De La Paz has worked in the Jewish communal world since 1988, most recently as the associate director of development in Florida for the Anti-Defamation League. Prior to that she was executive director of the Miami and Houston offices of the American Jewish Committee. Her first Jewish communal job was for B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) where, as a teenager, she was imbued with a love for Israel.

“Donna possesses all the qualities we look for in a leader,” said Russell F. Robinson, CEO of JNF of America. “She is intelligent, creative, thoughtful, innovative, but most importantly, she is passionate about Israel. For someone to convey to others — donors and lay leaders alike — what JNF does, its value to life in Israel and the role it plays in the growth, security and continuity of the Jewish homeland, they need to care deeply. Donna does and we are excited to welcome her aboard and look forward to what she can accomplish.”

With a background in education, De La Paz began her professional career as a teacher on track to become a school principal. Somewhere along the way the track shifted, and when deciding what she wanted to do with her life, she recalled that her happiest moment was the summer she spent in Israel with BBYO.

“I called BBYO for a job,” she said, “and haven’t looked back since.

As JNF’s zone director she hopes to build a strong board who will help her better educate the community about who JNF is and the work it does.

“People just don’t know the breadth and scope of all that we do,” she said, “and we do so much.”

For more information, call 323-964-1400.

And the World Tastes Good

Yummy, was the word for the night Southern California’s most prominent Jewish leaders and elite raised in excess of $200,000 to benefit student scholarships at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem at the third annual “A Chocolate Affaire,” sponsored by American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU). Almost 300 guests wandered about the event, an extravagant evening of gourmet food, cocktails, live music and chocolate tasting, in a beautiful home in Holmby Hills Sept. 9.

Represented there were various treats like Carvel Ice Cream, and gourmet cuisine was provided by The Kitchen for Exploring Foods. Beacon Restaurant donated signature desserts for the third year in a row. Chocolate and dessert sponsors besides Carvel included Chrissie’s Cookie’s, Leonida’s Belgian Chocolate, My Mother’s Brownies, Osteria Latini and See’s Candies.

Among those who were seen noshing shamelessly (or was that just me?) were guest speaker Shaul Druckmann, a Hebrew University student ambassador and doctoral candidate in neuroscience, who shared his personal experiences and stressed the need for scholarship support; AFHU chairman Richard Ziman; attorney Patricia Glaser, Western Region president of AFHU; several members of the AFHU board of directors; “American Idol’s” Paula Abdul, and Peter Willner, AFHU national executive director

AFHU is a national, not-for-profit organization that provides programs, events, and fundraising activities to support Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s foremost center of higher education and research. AFHU’s Western Region is helping to lead the way in ensuring that the university’s 24,000 students have the resources they need to become leaders and innovators in Israel and around the world.

The Circuit


Monty’s a Man — Again

Philanthropist and game show icon Monty Hall took center stage last week at Temple Shalom for the Arts when he stepped up to the bimah to read from the Torah at his bar mitzvah. Hall embraced the ancient tradition of a second bar mitzvah surrounded by an overflowing group of friends and well-wishers who turned out to share this “second” special life moment.

Hall, born Monty Halperin on Aug. 25, 1924, in Winnipeg, Canada, came to the United States in 1955 and worked for NBC on various projects. In 1963, he became the host of “Let’s Make a Deal,” a game show he co-created, which ran for 23 years and aired on all three major networks at different times.

With his wife, Marilyn, at his side, he has spent his life in philanthropy, raising millions of dollars for charities, ranging from the Variety Clubs to the Jewish Home for the Aging and a wide array of national and community charitable endeavors, including The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Hall and his family hosted a Kiddush and reception after the service, which included participation by peacemaker and virtuoso Omar Faruk Tekbilek.

A Family Mitzvah

Charlie Brucker, father of Beverly Hills Councilman Barry Brucker, also celebrated a second bar mitzvah last week at Temple Beth Am as children and grandchildren joined well-wishers and friends to participate in the festivities. Making it even more a family affair, granddaughter Lauren Brucker fashioned a personalized tallit for her grandfather to wear for the ceremonies out of a piece of silk which she tie-dyed and painted depicting the family.

Son Barry, commenting on his father’s bar mitzvah, said, “I am so proud of my dad. He has always been an inspiration to me in every aspect of my life and will always continue to be. His children and grandchildren have learned so much from him about what it means to be a Jew and that pride has filtered down through our family and been a shining light to us all.”

L.A. Goes for Gold

Los Angeles delegates made a strong showing at the annual JCC Maccabi Games held during August in four U.S. cities: Dallas; San Antonio; St. Paul, Minn., and Richmond, Va. Israel’s first Olympic gold medalist, windsurfer Gal Fridman, was in St. Paul to light the torch at the opening ceremony.

Los Angeles, which sent 154 athletes to the games, brought back 131 medals, thanks to star athletes like 14-year-old Alex Fullman, who returned with 13 he earned in swimming — the most from the delegation.

“It was a wonderful experience for anyone who likes to have fun, play sports, and who likes to be with other Jewish teens,” said Fullman, a freshman at Harvard Westlake.

With his incredible achievement it is hard to imagine that Fullman did not expect to compete so well. At last year’s games he managed a single bronze medal, so “I didn’t know what to expect this year. I just went to do my best and have a good time.”

Competing with and meeting other Jewish athletes meant so much to Fullman that he skipped the Junior Olympics that were taking place at the same time to compete at the Maccabi Games.

“I have until I’m 18 to compete at the Junior Olympics, but only until I’m 16 to compete at the Maccabi Games,” he said. “I am happy with my decision.”

During the JCC Maccabi Games, Jewish teens from around the United States represented their JCCs as they competed against Jews from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Israel, Venezuela and Poland. — Roxanne Pourshalimi, Contributing Writer

Chabad Aids Evacuees

Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, director of West Coast Chabad-Lubavitch, announced that Chabad will urge donors during its upcoming “Celebration 25” Telethon to add to their usual contributions in order to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The California-based organization has joined as a full partner in a broad relief program undertaken by Chabad-Lubavitch of Louisiana, and is providing vital financial, material and logistical aid to those in need.

“It’s impossible to see the images of destruction and loss coming from the Gulf Coast and not be moved to action,” Cunin said. “Our hearts go out to the hundreds of thousands who are suffering from this disaster, and we will continue to do everything we can to help the survivors. On Sept. 25, we will ask our generous telethon donors to contribute an extra amount during this emergency that they can earmark for hurricane relief. Chabad has a long, proud tradition of nonsectarian crisis intervention, and now is the time for all of us to step forward.”

More than a dozen Chabad centers across the Gulf Coast and the South have been converted into emergency relief stations to provide shelter, food, clothing and accommodations to displaced families. Chabad of Louisiana has been involved in evacuation efforts, and has provided counseling, referrals to other agencies, and networking for those in search of loved ones.

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, taught us the special power contained within each good deed,” Cunin added. “And after this devastating storm, we will need as many good deeds as possible.”

Chabad’s Telethon is an annual fundraising event that supports the largest network of educational and nonsectarian social services under Jewish auspices in America. The special Chabad “Celebration 25” Telethon will broadcast live from Hollywood on Sept. 25, from 3 p.m.-midnight. It will also be simulcast online at www.tolife.com.

For information, contact Daniel Ferszt at (310) 729-7108.

 

Milking The Peace Cow


A year and a half ago, Woodland Hills resident Steve Handelman believed he had a novel idea: merchandise bearing the slogan “Got Peace?”

Before long, the writer got his wife, Trudy Handelman, a medical dental consultant; and his children, Alexandra, 13, and Gabriel, 9, on board. He produced baseball caps, T-shirts, even a plush Holstein cow riffing off of the slogan. But something didn’t sit well with Alexandra.

“I noticed how my family made an American hat and a Great Britain hat,” she said. “I have close ties to the Jewish faith and I wanted to help Israel.”

Enter the “Got Peace?” cap, version 3.0. Based on Alexandra’s input, the new cap bears an Israeli flag on front with the slogan “Got Peace?” and a peace sign on back. Unlike the other “Got Peace?” which are for-profit paraphernalia, Alexandra is adamant about forwarding all profits after costs to American Red Magen David for Israel.

“The exciting part is knowing that I’m going to help someone,” said Alexandra, a student at Viewpoint School in Calabasas.

The “Got Peace?” concept began with some storytelling Handelman told his children on long drives. One of the fruits of those yarns was a black-and-white cow with a peace symbol-shaped birthmark on its flank.

“I trademarked it, never intending to exploit it,” said Handelman, who handed American and British versions of the “Got Peace?” hat to celebrities Shaquille O’Neal, Magic and Cookie Johnson and Macy Gray at a Bel Air party. Handelman knew he was onto something when, a few weeks later, he turned on the TV and saw Will Smith wearing one.

Naturally, Steve Handelman is one proud papa.

“I’m flabbergasted, proud and astonished,” Handelman said of his daughter’s endeavor. “I’m Jewish, but I’ve never embraced it as she has.”

Alexandra said that she has drawn inspiration from Jewishly connected family members, such as her patriarchal grandmother, Paula, and her mother’s sister, Joyce Black, wife of philanthropist Stanley Black.

“The family seders at Stan and Joyce’s made all the difference in the world,” Handelman said. “She really knew that she was a Jew.”

Ultimately, Alexandra believes that the project is just a natural extension of her Jewish identity and values.

“Wherever I go in life, I’m a Jew before I’m anything else first,” she said.

For more information on Peace Pals and “Got Peace?” visit www.gotpeace.com or www.peacepals.com .

Eulogies:Harvey Silbert


Harvey Silbert, philanthropist and attorney, died Sept. 28. He was 90.

For more than six decades, as a businessman, founding partner and attorney of counsel to numerous law firms, Silbert had been a professional and philanthropic engine in Los Angeles.

In a eulogy, Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood described Silbert as "prodigious in stature and dignity, magnanimous in his capacity to love, overwhelming in his generosity to individuals and to every good cause, to his people and to the State of Israel, indeed, to all humankind."

Silbert’s life began on June 10, 1912, in Boyle Heights, where he became a bar mitzvah at the Breed Street Shul. During the Depression, he graduated from Southwestern University Law School. Despite the threat of anti-Semitism, Silbert launched a legal career with a $50-a-month salary and a streetcar pass to the courthouse.

His first celebrity client, silent movie star Constance Bennett, broke him into entertainment law. When a Columbia executive asked him, in the 1940s, to join the board of what would become Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Silbert’s career as a philanthropist was born.

A recipient of numerous awards and honorary doctorates, Silbert served as the director of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and of Bet Tzedek Legal Services. He was a member of the board of trustees of UCLA, the founder of the Silbert International Scholars Program of UCLA’s Medical School and facilitator of the Fund for Interactive Biomedical Research in Washington, D.C. He was on the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University, sat on the board of directors of Southwestern University School of Law and was a member of the Western region board of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He also supported the Anti-Defamation League and Milken Family Foundation.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem was a special part of Silbert’s philanthropic life. He assumed a series of key leadership roles within The American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU), including chairman of the board of the Western states region from the mid-1980s to the present. He was also a chairman of AFHU’s board of directors and served as deputy chairman of the Hebrew University International Board of Governors. A tireless proponent of the institution, Silbert often brought delegations of supporters to Israel. He and his wife of 67 years, Lillian, became benefactors of Hebrew University in 1990. The Silberts’ generosity led to the establishment of vital facilities on the Mount Scopus campus, including The Harvey L. Silbert Center for Israeli Studies. He also initiated funding for the Lillian and Harvey L. Silbert Humanities Building, a rich cultural reservoir of educational resources; the Silbert Family Wing at Hebrew University’s Louis Boyar Building housing the Rothberg International School; and the Lillian Silbert Garden on the Mount Scopus campus.

He mixed easily with Israeli prime ministers, U.S. heads of state and Hollywood notables. He knew Gregory Peck well, and his friendship with Frank Sinatra, whom Silbert deemed "one of the nicest, kindest men I’ve ever met," led to the legendary crooner subsidizing a Hebrew University edifice. He also persuaded Barbra Streisand to fund a building on the Mount Scopus campus.

"I’d like to see more [Jewish] people involved [in supporting Jewish and Israeli causes]," Silbert once told The Journal. "There are some very important people in this industry, the heads of major studios, whom you still can’t budge."

"He was embarrassed by how good and generous he was. He was Harvey," said Patricia Glaser, partner at Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil and Shapiro, where Silbert had an office for the last four years.

"Harvey was a model for me and for many others in the Jewish community," said Peter Weil, president of the L.A chapter of AFHU, Western Region. "Just a walk through its campus on Mount Scopus … quickly shows his impact. Buildings, classrooms, faculty offices, even gardens, all bear the Silbert name."

Silbert is survived by his wife, Lillian; son, Kenneth; daughter, Lynne; grandchildren, Jill, Gina, David and Greg; great-grandchildren, Lucie, Sam and Eliana; and sister, Sylvia Stern. — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Philosophy of a Philanthropist


On the wall of philanthropist and humanitarian Richard Gunther’s office hangs a photo of a man triumphantly standing atop a Western Nepal mountain peak.

While Gunther is not the man in the picture, he is the photographer, and the photo perhaps symbolizes his view of the world. Gunther, 77, lives by two self-coined mottos: 1) "Life is a great big adventure," 2) "Live life with a sense of awe and mystery."

His great big mysterious adventure culminated in receiving the 2002 UCLA Community Service Award on May 18, joining a prestigious group of past recipients that includes actors and community leaders.

While the honor marks a major pinnacle in his life’s journey, Gunther says he never set out in pursuit of reward. Instead, he merely lives by the philosophy that he developed for himself. "I divide my life into thirds," Gunther said, noting the components are business affairs, physical and emotional fitness and involvement in public interest.

Gunther meticulously divides public interest into three categories: 1) the Jewish world, 2) adult development and aging and 3) microenterprise and microfinancing. "It is not a rigid formula, but a vision of the elements in my life," he said.

Yet Gunther chooses his causes carefully. "I like to participate in things as best I can. Not just money, but energy, too," said Gunther, who is constantly out in the field. "I assess a cause from the heart-level. I have to relate to it emotionally, and it has to make sense intellectually."

"A lifetime of experience gives me the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of things," he said, adding that he has not forgotten the importance that Judaism plays in his life, and he has dedicated countless hours to the Jewish world. For example, during one of his first jobs, Gunther’s boss insisted that he attend a weekend at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley. "It opened up a world to me," Gunther said, noting that his Judaism had not previously played a significant role in his life. Since then, tikkun olam has been Gunther’s driving force. "You have to get beyond yourself," Gunther said.

His past Jewish activities include president of Peace Now, co-chair of Operation Exodus, co-chair of The Jewish Federation Council Committee on Jewish Life and founding chairman of the Israel Economic Development Task Force in Los Angeles. Gunther currently sits on the boards of the Joint Distribution Committee, the Executive Committee of the Israel Policy Forum and The Jewish Journal.

Next on Gunther’s public service agenda is what he refers to as "the business of aging." He is a member of the Commission on Aging for the State of California, the principal advisory body on all issues affecting senior citizens, including health, housing and transportation. Gov. Gray Davis appointed Gunther to the commission in 2000 for his prior contributions in aging advocacy. However, the aspect that Gunther is most involved with is "rebranding aging completely, by changing the consciousness of the population" with efforts such as teaching aging in schools. "Aging should really be looked at as a third stage in life where people can be contributing at that stage and not looked at as a burden," Gunther said.

Most significantly, in 1997 Gunther created the Legacy Award Program, recognizing seniors who make unique contributions in their communities. The program is still in existence today.

Microenterprise and microfinancing, the third objective on his public service agenda, has taken him around the world in his work with Grameen Bank, a bank offering microloans without collateral to 30 million poverty-stricken families. He traveled to Bangladesh and China where he helped extend Grameen’s efforts. "It could make a major dent in world poverty," he said.

Gunther’s life has come full circle: from the day in 1943 when he began classes at UCLA after being discharged from the Army, to the 2002 recipient of the UCLA Community Service Award. He associates positive memories with his alma mater, including sitting in the stands for numerous basketball games. But "my wife is the most important thing I took from UCLA," Gunther said. Gunther and his wife, Lois, proposed to each other on the steps of Royce Hall. Fifty-five years later, they have three married sons and three grandchildren. A fourth grandchild was fatally injured by a drunk driver five years ago.

Now that Gunther has reached the top of the mountain, there are many things that he looks forward to doing while he is there. "I want to participate in the growth of my grandchildren," said Gunther, who is co-authoring a science fiction story with his 12-year-old grandson, Sam. In addition, he and Lois have an annual tradition of choosing a particular state or country, studying it and touring it by way of bicycle. Next year’s destination — perhaps Vietnam.

"I want to continue the life I have," Gunther said. "I feel very fortunate."

Patriots Owner Scores Big Among Jews, Too


Robert Kraft, Jewish businessman and philanthropist, nearly leapt through the glass window of his skybox at the Superdome in New Orleans as the clock ticked down and the 20-17 victory over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams brought the team he owns, the New England Patriots, its first Super Bowl title. Along with his wife, Myra, Kraft has been heavily involved in Jewish and non-Jewish projects throughout New England, New York and Israel. The Krafts, in collaboration with Combined Jewish Philanthropies, sponsor the Myra and Robert Kraft Passport to Israel Fund, which has helped thousands of children involved in Jewish studies take an educational trip to Israel sometime between their sophomore and senior years of high school.

In addition, Kraft is the primary shareholder of Carmel Container Systems, Israel’s largest packaging plant.

In 1999, Kraft brought his love of football to Israel in the form of a Kraft Stadium, at the northern end of Sacher Park in Jerusalem, used to accommodate the Jerusalem-based American Touch Football in Israel league.

Kraft’s father, Harry Kraft, was a highly respected leader in the Jewish community of Brookline, a Boston suburb.

Myra Kraft, a 1964 Brandeis graduate and the daughter of Boston philanthropist Jacob Hiatt, has been a trustee at Brandeis since 1988.

Kraft’s Jewish identity has even occasionally trickled into his position as owner of the Patriots.

On Sept. 22, 1996, he asked that the kickoff of a game between the Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars be changed to avoid a conflict with Yom Kippur, which started at sundown that evening. — Jacob Horowitz, Jewish Telegraphic Agency