Moving and Shaking: Board of Rabbis SoCal president named, Sephardic Temple childhood center opens

Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard. Photo courtesy of Adat Ari El

The Board of Rabbis of Southern California’s executive committee has elected Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard, senior rabbi of Adat Ari El in Valley Village, as its new president. Bernhard officially began in the leadership position on April 23. He succeeds Rabbi Judith HaLevy of the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue, who concluded two years of service as Board of Rabbis president. 

“I am eager to continue the great work the Board of Rabbis has done in its 75 years, as well as forge new paths to better serve the rabbis and the broader community,” Bernhard, former vice president of the Board of Rabbis, said in a statement. 

Operating under the auspices of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Board of Rabbis is the region’s only cross-denominational rabbinic professional organization, and it counts more than 330 rabbis as members. In addition to being a place where rabbis with different backgrounds can confer on common issues, the Board of Rabbis offers professional development through seminars on topics like chaplaincy, social media and its annual pre-High Holy Days sermon seminar. 

Bernhard’s responsibilities will include leading the Board of Rabbis at a time of transition, said Board of Rabbis Interim Executive Director Jonathan Freund. “Since we are in a period of reimagining and re-envisioning the work of the Board of Rabbis and its connection with The Jewish Federation, Rabbi Bernhard will be directing and overseeing that,” he said. 

Bernhard, a member of the Conservative moment, will be honored during Adat Ari El’s 75th anniversary gala celebration in June.

From left: A new classroom at the Levy Family Early ­Childhood Center, Early Childhood Center Director Eva Wysocki and the new playground at the Levy Family Early ­Childhood Center. Photos courtesy of Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel

This month, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, one of the country’s largest congregations for the Sephardic community, received licensing to open the Levy Family Early Childhood Center, a preschool, parent-and-me program and summer camp, on its Wilshire Boulevard campus. The schools and summer camp include three state-of-the-art classrooms and an outdoor yard. Construction of the facilities began last September and wrapped in January. The school is currently accepting enrollment for all three programs: the summer camp (ages 2 to 5), which begins in June; the parent-and-me program (ages 4 months to 2 years), which begins in August; and the preschool program (ages 2 to 5), which begins in August. 

“There will be some Sephardic [students], but different people who are looking for the Judaica, the Hebrew, a kosher hot lunch … they’ll definitely find it here,” said Early Childhood Center Director Eva Wysocki, who was hired last November and previously worked at Temple Adat Shalom in Los Angeles. California Community Care Licensing, which oversees both day care and residential facilities for children and adults in the state, issued the license to the temple community on April 30.

From left: Harry Corre and Janice Kamenir-Reznik

World War II veteran Harry Corre and Jewish World Watch (JWW) co-founder and president Janice Kamenir-Reznik have been named the 2013 Jewish American Heritage Month honorees. Part of Union Bank and KCET’s Local Heroes program, the award recognizes and pays tribute to ethnic, religious and minority leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others. 

Corre, who was captured by the Japanese and was part of the Bataan Death March, has committed his life to working for fellow veterans, as a patient advocate at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center and at American Ex-Prisoners of War, a nonprofit. And with Kamenir-Reznick at the helm, JWW has raised more than $11 million to implement its mission of advocating for as well as providing relief and support to survivors of genocide and mass atrocities taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. 

May is Jewish-American Heritage Month, and KCET, the Southern and Central California public broadcast service of KCETLink, will air a video profile of each honoree. Union Bank, a commercial service bank, is the primary subsidiary of UnionBanCal Corp.

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the 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

Broadcast journalists receive Bill Stout Award

“A lot of the work that I do is about uncovering people or institutions … that are not treating people honestly and fairly. I think those are core Jewish values,” said KNBC investigative journalist Joel Grover, who along with KCET’s Val Zavala is being awarded the Bill Stout Memorial Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.

An investigative reporter and member of Temple Israel of Hollywood, Grover is known for exposing consumer fraud and government wrongdoing. 

Zavala, vice president of news and public affairs at KCET, played a vital role in the long-running “Life & Times” newsmagazine and is the anchor of “SoCal Connected.” 

“It’s a real honor,” Zavala said of receiving the Bill Stout award.

Presented by civil rights nonprofit organization Community Advocates, the award recognizes journalists whose reporting is in the tradition of Stout, a local and national broadcast journalist who railed against the deteriorating quality of local broadcast news.

This year’s recipients “really stand out,” because they “take tough issues and complicated issues and spend time exploring them,” said David Lehrer, president of Community Advocates and a Journal columnist. Lehrer runs Community Advocates with former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who serves as chairman of the organization, and Joe Hicks, vice president. Last year, they honored reporters Larry Mantle, Patt Morrison and Warren Olney. 

The ceremony is scheduled to take place on Nov. 15 at the Taper Auditorium at the Riordan Central Library downtown. The ceremony is open to the public and will feature a keynote address by Judy Muller, a Peabody-winning correspondent and professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman is slated to host. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a presenter at last year’s awards ceremony, described Stout as a newsman who had seriousness, wit and fearlessness that scared politicians into trying to get on his good side.

“He was a very respected curmudgeon … an intelligent curmudgeon who made a very compelling argument from his point of a view, and people listened to him,” Yaroslavsky said. “He had great credibility on any given issue.”

Jewish community leaders honored as “Local Heroes”

Jewish community leaders Zane Buzby and Stephen Sass were honored at the 14th Annual Local Heroes Awards on Tuesday, Oct. 18, organized by KCET and Union Bank, N.A.

Buzby is the founder of the Survivors Mitzvah project, which provides financial aid to Holocaust survivors living in Europe.

Stephen Sass, president of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California, has spearheaded the effort to revitalize the Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights.

Story continues after the jump.

The culmination of a yearlong “Local Heroes” campaign that aired on public television station KCET, the event also honored community activists working on behalf of local women, Asian Americans, African-Americans and Latinos. The ceremony took place at the Club Nokia at L.A. Live.

“I feel terrific about being honored,” Buzby said in an interview. “It was great company to be in, and it’s really nice that they acknowledged the good that’s going on in the world.”

“With so much strife and so much craziness,” Buzby added, “it’s good to know that there other people out there striving to do something good.”

In their professional lives, Buzby directs sitcoms for television and Sass works for HBO as vice president of legal affairs.

Film on Jerusalem Explores Beating Heart of 3 Faiths

In a medieval German map of the then-known world, the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia resemble a three-leaf clover whose leaves fuse at the navel of the universe, the holy city of Jerusalem.

PBS has adopted this concept and expanded it to a two-hour history lesson and travelogue, titled, “Jerusalem: Center of the World,” to air April 1.

The film is subtitled, less loftily but accurately, as “The World’s Most Contested Piece of Real Estate.”

Indeed, for more than 40 centuries, no other place has been the object of so much longing and worship and the scene of so much bloodshed and neglect as Jerusalem, and the last chapter has not yet been written.

The guide for this film is Ray Suarez, Jim Lehrer’s senior correspondent on the PBS “NewsHour,” and, backed by a battery of scholars, he packs an astonishing amount of verbal and visual history into the program.

Suarez is careful to apportion equal respect to Jews, Christians and Muslims, who all consider the city sacred, which tends to make this story one of many heroes but few villains — except, maybe, the Romans.

The film, and the history, begins at Mount Moriah, where, according to tradition, God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son, and which later became the site of the First and Second temples.

Other highlights include, for Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried before ascending to heaven.

During some six centuries under Muslim and Ottoman rule, Jerusalem became largely a neglected backwater, only to rise again in the late 19th and 20th centuries with the influx of Jewish immigrants.

“Jerusalem” was produced and directed for Oregon Public Broadcasting by Andrew Goldberg, whose previous productions include “Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century” and “A Yiddish World Remembered.”

KCET will broadcast “Jerusalem” on April 1, from 9-11 p.m.

Fine Cut: A Festival of Student Film

Student films from throughout Southern California are currentlybeing featured on the three-part KCET series “Fine Cut: A Festival ofStudent Film,” airing on Sundays at 10 p.m. The series, hosted bydirector Michael Apted, will feature a total of 17 films fromstudents at UCLA, USC, CalArts, Loyola Marymount and the AmericanFilm Institute. Ranging in length from three to 32 minutes, theentries include dramas, documentaries and animation.

Debuting last Sunday, “Fine Cut” continues this week with anotherentertaining lineup. “In the Hole,” the true story of a Queensteen-ager who steals a New York subway train for a joyride, isfeatured; “Hole” debuted at last year’s Telluride Film Festival’sFilmmakers of Tomorrow program. Also this week: Tony Bui’s impressivedebut, “Yellow Lotus,” the first American film shot in Vietnam, whichwowed audiences at Telluride in 1995 and won the Loyola Marymountgraduate a lucrative feature contract; “The Projects,” a satiricallook at California immigration policies; and “INFITD,” a UCLA dramaabout a young boy who wards off evil forces by chanting “INFITD,” anacronym for “I’ll not fall into the Devil.”

Both of this week’s animated shorts are courtesy of CalArts. MarkOsborne’s “Greener” uses a variety of techniques, including thepainstaking stop-motion and hand-coloring processes, and “Stampede”is a three minute piece created with hand-carved rubber stamps.

Next week’s installment includes “Independent Little Cuss,” winnerof the Gold Medal at the 1996 Student Academy Awards, which documentsthe story of disabled-rights activist Carole Patterson as sheprepares to marry a non-disabled man against the wishes of herfamily. Also scheduled is “Unbearable Being,” an animated short abouta personal identity crisis; the computer-generated “Cocoon”; and”Sitting in Limbo,” starring Adam Wylie (“Picket Fences”).

Buñuel in Mexico

Fans of Spanish director Luis Bunuel will want to check out theLos Angeles County Museum of Art’s current series that showcases hisMexican work. “El Bruto,” “Abismos de Pasion” (his surreal “WutheringHeights” remake), and many other works unavailable on video are amongthose featured. At LACMA’s Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., LosAngeles. Call (213) 857-6010 for a complete schedule.

Documentary Days

Laemmle Theatres’ current series of documentaries continues at theGrande 4-Plex in downtown Los Angeles. This week: “Colors StraightUp,” which profiles a year in the life of Colors United, anafter-school drama program for youth in Watts. The Grande is at 345S. Figueroa St. Call (213) 617-0268 for show times.

Go to The Jewish Journal’s 7 Days in theArts