Starving Students Deliver

Starving Students, the nation’s leading local mover, volunteered its movers and trucks for the SOVA Food Pantry’s High Holiday Food Drive. Six Starving Students movers and two trucks helped pick up and deliver donated groceries to the SOVA warehouse where they would be distributed to families in need. The movers traveled throughout Los Angeles County and the San Fernando Valley and loaded more than 29 pallets of groceries into their trucks collected from synagogues.

The students picked up 34,800 pounds of donated groceries from 19 Jewish temples.

For more information about SOVA, please contact Maxine Meyer at (818) 988-7682.

A Place to Play

The Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) annual fundraiser never disappoints and this year was certainly no exception. The event paid homage to the charitable efforts of Anne and Kirk Douglas with the Philanthropists 2006 Award for their tireless work to upgrade and repair the more than 400 school playgrounds in Los Angeles that had become dangerous and unused. Accepting the award, actor Douglas thanked the overflowing crowd saying it was due to his wife’s desire to give back to her new country that the project began.

“So she sold all the expensive paintings off the walls to get the money,” he laughed.

Anne Douglas, his wife of 52 years, has partnered with him, through the Douglas Foundation, in such philanthropic efforts as the Kirk Douglas Theatre, the Anne Douglas Center for homeless women at the Los Angeles Mission, and Harry’s Haven at the Motion Picture and Television Home. She is a founding member of Research for Women’s Cancer and the driving force behind the Anne and Kirk Douglas Playground Award program, for which she received the prestigious Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service of a Private Citizen.

The Golden Baton was presented to Michel Legrand by long-time collaborators Marilyn and Alan Bergman. A highlight of his concert was Legrand’s duet with wife Catherine Michel, an award-winning harpist, which brought the audience to their feet.

Legrand has three Academy Awards, four Grammys, a Tony nomination and numerous Oscar and Emmy nominations. The appreciative crowd enjoyed a selection of his work including “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” and “Windmills of Your Mind.”

Ten-year-old violinist Rebekah Willey, who has participated in the YMF Debut Competition and Debut Summer Camp, also accompanied Legrand.

The evening included performances by the Debut Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of 24-year-old Sean Newhouse.

Viva L.A. Femme

The second annual LA Femme Film Festival concluded at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills with a reception and lively evening to announce the honorees and award recipients. Following the ceremonies, guests enjoyed food and cocktails while mingling and congratulating the award winners. The festival’s activities included seminars, film screenings and a VIP benefit gala that raised proceeds to benefit the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation at UCLA.

The all-women festival was initiated by entertainment industry veteran Leslie LaPage, who in 2004 realized that a film festival specifically designed to showcase the work of female filmmakers to wide, commercial audiences was nonexistent. To rectify this, LaPage launched the international LA Femme Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2005.

Now in its second year, the festival is dedicated to catapulting a new breed of female filmmakers to the top of Hollywood’s A-List by screening commercial films created by women and offering opportunities for neophyte filmmakers and industry insiders.

For more information, visit

A Walk in the Garden

It was an evening surrounded by beauty as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center presented its inaugural Garden Gala in the Wrigley Gardens at Tournament House in Pasadena. The gala, attended by 350 guests who enjoyed the garden atmosphere and the wonderful food, raised $400,000 in support of the Center for Rheumatic Diseases.

The first Gretchen Lofthouse Award was presented by William Lofthouse to businessman Scott Ingraham, who gave a moving speech about his battle with rheumatoid arthritis and the Cedars-Sinai doctors who treated him. Michaela Pereira, co-anchor of the “KTLA Morning Show,” acted as host for the evening and the band Impulse entertained. The event celebrated 35 years of rheumatology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and honored the pioneers of rheumatology in Los Angeles.

New Faces I

After two years with the Israel Economic Mission, Beeta Benjy has left to assume a new position with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. One year ago, Benjy and Shai Aizin approached Cedars with a proposal to have a stem-cell symposium that would bring together Israel’s top scientists with those in California. After a hugely successful two-day event, Cedars-Sinai instituted the first ever International Stem Cell Institute that will be co-directed by Drs. David Meyer and Nissim Benvenisty. Through this institute, Israeli researchers will have the ability to share their genius with the state of California and the entire world.

“I am tremendously excited about the marriage of my two great passions — Israel and science,” Benjy said. “My time at the Israel Economic Mission has been a remarkable learning experience. Above all, I’ve learned that the state of Israel is a highly regarded member of the international community whose citizens are making the world a safer, healthier and better place to live every single day. I am tremendously honored to have had the opportunity to serve the state of Israel in this capacity and to have worked alongside so many accomplished business figures.”

New Faces II

Rabbi Kalman Winnick was recently named director of spiritual life at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA). Molly Forrest, JHA’s president and CEO, announced the appointment saying, “We are delighted to have someone of Rabbi Winnick’s diverse background joining our Home to enrich our residents’ spiritual needs. Rabbi Winnick will serve as a wonderful force in that part of our residents’ lives and will be a key connection to the broader community of friends, family and our neighbors.”

Winnick was formerly at the Vitas Innovative Hospice in Encino. His experience also includes chaplain/rabbi at UCLA Medical Center providing counseling and support to patients and their families as part of a multifaith pastoral care team, rabbi-in-residence at the Abraham J. Heschel Community Day School in Northridge, and associate chief rabbi of the city of Stockholm, Sweden.