Maya Avraham. Photo courtesy of YouTube.

Calendar: March 3-9, 2017


SAT | MARCH 4

UNPLUG L.A.

Join Reboot and Open Temple for an “Unplugged Party” in celebration of Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging. Your phone will be checked at the door. Step off the grid to listen to live music, play board games, visit the analog photo booth, and more. Event dedicated to the late Levi Felix, founder of Digital Detox and Camp Grounded; $3 of each ticket will be donated to Camp Grounded in his memory. 21 and older. 7 p.m. $18; tickets available at eventbrite.com. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. nationaldayofunplugging.com.

A TOAST TO HEROES

Honor a group of 10 young Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers visiting Los Angeles who have been wounded in combat. Food, drinks and an open-bar after-party with a DJ spinning until midnight. All proceeds go to Lev Chayal’s program for wounded IDF soldiers. Black-tie attire. 8 p.m. VIP reception; 9 p.m. cocktails and buffet. $180 for individual reservations; $100 for young professionals ages 21 to 35. Tickets available at eventbrite.com. Venue TBA. levchayal.com.

SUN | MARCH 5

ALONG THE GOLDENEH LINE: JEWISH LIFE AND HERITAGE OF NORTHEAST L.A. AND THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY

A chartered bus will take riders alongside the Metro Gold Line into the San Gabriel Valley on a tour that will focus on the area’s unique Jewish heritage and its contemporary community life. Wear comfortable walking shoes — the tour includes two miles on foot. Instructors include Stephen Sass, president of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California since 1989, and Jeremy Sunderland, who is on the board of directors for the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California. Space is limited. Lunch on your own. 9 a.m. $58. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-9777. wcce.aju.edu.

NEFESH B’NEFESH ISRAEL ALIYAH FAIR

The ninth annual Nefesh B’Nefesh Israel Aliyah Fair offers the opportunity to gather aliyah information under one roof. Professionals will discuss financial planning and budgeting, choosing a community, building a strategic job search plan, navigating the health care system, buying or renting a home in Israel, and more. 10 a.m. for retirees and empty nesters; noon for students and young professionals. Free. Shalhevet High School, 910 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. nbn.org.

“HIGH NOON: THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST AND THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC”

cal-hign-noon“High Noon” is more than a Western; it is also a story about the Hollywood blacklist. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel will discuss his book about  screenwriter Carl Foreman, producer Stanley Kramer, director Fred Zinnemann and actor Gary Cooper, and how their creative partnership was influenced — and crushed — by political repression and agendas. Book signing to follow presentation. 2 p.m. $14; $10 for students and seniors; $6 for children; free for members. Autry Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles.

THE LOS ANGELES BALALAIKA ORCHESTRA

The Los Angeles Balalaika Orchestra presents its 22nd annual concert, featuring the voice of Mark Goldenberg, cantor at Young Israel of Century City. 3 p.m. $35-$45. Herbert Zipper Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (626) 483-2731. balalaikala.com.

“VISIONS FOR A SHARED SOCIETY: THE ‘TRIBES’ OF ISRAEL”

Elana Stein Hain, director of leadership education at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, will discuss the core values of some of the “tribes” that compose Israel today, and how a divided people build a shared society. Part of the Synagogue Collaborative Lecture Series. 4 p.m. $20. (Post-lecture dinner and discussion extra; RSVP only.) Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. shalomhartman.org/LAcollaborative.

“LABSCAPES: VIEWS THROUGH THE MICROSCOPE”

“Labscapes” presents vivid images from the mysterious and usually unseen wonders that exist under the powerful lenses of the microscopes of some of the world’s most renowned researchers at Technion — Israel Institute of Technology. A special presentation by students will be followed by the grand opening. RSVP requested: jose@ats.org or (310) 254-9899. 5 p.m. presentation; 6 p.m. reception and exhibit. Through March 27. Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. ats.org/labscapes.

MAYA AVRAHAM

Before joining The Idan Raichel Project, Maya Avraham was a widely sought-after backup singer for Israeli superstars such as Eyal Golan, Sarit Hadad and Shlomi Shabat. She will sing some of The Idan Raichel Project’s greatest hits as well as her own songs. 7 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Gindi Auditorium at American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-9777. wcce.aju.edu.

“FROM SHTETL TO STARDOM: JEWS AND HOLLYWOOD”

This panel discussion features Vince Brook of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; David Isaacs, TV scriptwriter, producer and Emmy winner; Shaina Hammerman, Jewish film, literature, religion and cultural historian; Josh Moss, visiting assistant professor of film and media studies at UC Santa Barbara; and Ross Melnick, associate professor of film and media studies at UCSB. 6:15 p.m. dessert reception; 7 p.m. panel. Free. RSVP by March 3 at wbtla.org/shtetl or (424) 208-8932. Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Irmas Campus, 11661 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 388-2401.

TUES | MARCH 7

GOOGLE FOR GENEALOGISTS

Learn how to use Google Earth and Google Maps to gather information about where your ancestors lived, and how to educate yourself and meet other like-minded individuals (and perhaps relatives) using Google’s social media. Mary Kathryn Kozy, who has been researching her family history for more than 35 years, will speak at this meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County. 7 p.m. Free. Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest, Thousand Oaks. (818) 889-6616. jgscv.org.

THURS | MARCH 9

ELON GOLD

cal-elon-goldComedian, writer and actor Elon Gold kicks off the Purim weekend with a night of comedy, drinks and a DJ. Also featuring Alex Edelman. 8 p.m. $40. Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (888) 645-5006. sabanconcerts.com.

“THE AUSCHWITZ VOLUNTEER”

Explore the ethical and religious implications of the Holocaust at this event. Wine and cheese reception will be followed by a multimedia program and discussion about the Polish underground’s mission that sent officer Witold Polecki into Auschwitz to gain intelligence and build resistance among the prisoners. 7:30 p.m. $8. Burton Sperber Jewish Community Library at American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-1572. wcce.aju.edu.

Moving and shaking: World of Children Alumni Honors and more


The April 12 World of Children 2016 Alumni Honors ceremony took place at the Montage Beverly Hills. The gathering featured Brooke Burke-Charvet as emcee, a performance by Yemin Orde Youth Choir, a group of at-risk immigrant teens from the Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel and more, and raised “more than $300,000 for vulnerable children,” a press release said.

Brooke Burke-Charvet emceed the April 12 World of Children 2016 Alumni Honors. Photo courtesy of Joe Scarnici / Getty Images for World of Children Award

The event recognized previous World of Children Award nominees Dr. Ashok Banskota, founding chairman of the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children in Nepal; Ryan Hreljac, founder of Ryan’s Well Foundation in Sub-Saharan and West Africa; and Denisse Pichardo, director of Caminante Proyecto Educativo in the Dominican Republic.

World of Children Award recognizes “promising heroes leading programs for children” and grants “funds to advance their efforts,” according to its website.

The Israel-based Yemin Orde Youth Choir made several appearances in Los Angeles in April as part of its 2016 U.S. tour.

Its members range in age from 15 to 18 and hail from Ethiopia, France, Ukraine, Israel and Brazil.

Its tour included an April 11 performance at Beth Jacob Congregation that drew a crowd of 200 people. Joining the choir in the concert at Beth Jacob were students from Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, under the direction of Beth Jacob Cantor Arik Wollheim; from Shalhevet High School, under the direction of Joelle Keene; and from the Jewish Community Children’s Choir, under the direction of Michelle Green Willner. The Yemin Orde choir also appeared at Milken Community Schools on April 13.

The touring choir included 11 residents and one graduate of the Yemin Orde Youth Village, which operates 20 homes for children in need.

“They remain connected to the village long after they graduate,” Barbara Sherbill, a marketing and communications associate at Friends of Yemin Orde, which raises funds for Yemin Orde Youth Village, said in an interview.


The April 14 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) annual Entertainment Industry Dinner at the Beverly Hilton hotel honored Ken Solomon, president of the Tennis Channel.

From left: Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Board Chair Eric Kingsley, Larry Scott, ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind, honoree Ken Solomon, Ben Silverman and Bill Macatee. Photo courtesy of Anti-Defamation League 

“As a respected leader in the sports and entertainment industries, Ken Solomon regularly uses his platform to spread messages of inclusion and speak out against bias and prejudice,” ADL regional director Amanda Susskind said in a statement. 

More than 500 people attended the dinner, including celebrities Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, who were 2014 ADL Entertainment Industry Award recipients; Berry Gordy Jr.; Norman Lear; Chuck Lorre; Ben Silverman; and Larry Scott.

Bill Macatee served as the emcee of the event, which raised more than $850,000 for ADL. 

ADL is an organization that combats anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry and discrimination. According to ADL press materials, “The ADL Entertainment Industry Award is given to individuals annually for their vision, leadership, accomplishments and contributions to the entertainment industry.”


Shalhevet High School 2012 graduate Rachel Lester won the grand prize, $7,500, for her submission to the Israel Video Network “Inspired by Israel” video contest, which launched in March and garnered more than 100 submissions from across the world.

Rachel Lester, the grand-prize winner of the Israel Video Network “Inspired by Israel” video contest. Photo courtesy of Jewish Journal

“We wanted the people participating to show how Israel is inspiring them and why is Israel inspiring them,” Adam Milstein said in a phone interview. 

Milstein’s foundation, the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, a partner in the contest, announced the winners April 7.

Lester won for her film, “Superman’s Got Nothing on Israel,” which focuses on Israel’s efforts providing aid to countries that have experienced mass-casualty incidents. 

The current USC student has experienced Israel firsthand. In 2015, Lester took time off from her schooling to volunteer for the Israeli program, Sar-El. She writes the Jewish Journal blog “All About That Base.”

Shlomo Weprin and Joshua Fleisher’s film, “The Shuk Gallery,” won first prize. The video follows street artists Solomon Souza and Berel Hahn and their efforts spray-painting portraits of famous Jews onto the shuttered doors of a popular market in Jerusalem. First prize was $2,500.

Additional winners included the short “Roots,” produced by film-based education program Jerusalem U; and visual artist Shai Getzoff’s “City of Soul.” Each received $1,000.

Israel Video Network is a website that features videos about Israel and the Jewish people.


Residential treatment center Beit T’Shuvah has hired as its CEO psychiatrist Bill Resnick, who has served as chair of the organization’s board of directors for the past four years.

Bill Resnick and Harriet Rossetto. Photo courtesy of Beit T’Shuvah

“The changes we are making will serve the good of all concerned. Rabbi Mark [Borovitz] and I are letting go of our administrative duties in order to pursue our passion to teach, write and spread the message of spiritual recovery to other communities,” the organization’s founder, Harriet Rossetto, said in a statement.

Rossetto will continue as a senior consultant to the treatment center and Borovitz will remain the center’s senior rabbi.

The leadership changes are effective immediately, according to Janet Rosenblum, the new director of advancement at Beit T’Shuvah, which serves community members suffering from various addiction issues.

Meanwhile, succeeding Resnick in the role as board chair is current vice chair Russell Kern.

Beit T’Shuvah currently treats about 150 residents.


Gathered around a U-shaped seder table, the crowd at a youth center on Overland Avenue chanted: “We were slaves — now we are free people!”

For one of the guests at the second-night seder held by B’nai Horin (Children of Freedom) on April 23, the words were literally true.

“It’s a life [in which] you cannot see the horizon,” Avelino Reloj, a human trafficking survivor from the Philippines, told the seder-goers. 

He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Donna. Both of  them work with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), advocating on behalf of current and former victims of trafficking.

After losing his job in the Philippines, Reloj was thrilled to find work in the United States, but a series of disheartening surprises began turning his enthusiasm into dread.

Arriving in Florida, he was forced to sign a new contract, his employer took his passport, then never delivered his wages. Meanwhile, back in the Philippines, the debt he’d taken on to finance his journey “kept on building up every day,” he said.

“In that moment, I didn’t ask a question,” Reloj said. “My nervousness kept on rising.”

In 2009, he managed to escape and find work as a caregiver for the elderly in Arizona, but his new employer also exploited him, forcing him to work when he was sick and denying the wages he’d earned. Again he escaped, this time taking a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles.

“The worst part was here in California,” he said. 

He was forced to work 12-hour days and rarely allowed to sleep through the night, he said.

The seder held by the nomadic Reform congregation was meant to draw attention to the fact that Los Angeles, one of the main points of entry to the U.S., is also a center for exploitation of foreign workers.

Finally, in June 2011, Reloj learned about CAST, which helped him secure his freedom and permanent residency status. In 2013, his wife joined him in Los Angeles.

“[CAST] gave me freedom,” he said. “They gave me hope.”

— by Eitan Arom, Contributing Writer


Beit T’Shuvah Senior Rabbi Mark Borovitz recently released a book, “Finding Recovery and Yourself in Torah: A Daily Spiritual Path to Wholeness” (Jewish Lights, 2016).

Television director and producer Jack Bender and Beit T’Shuvah Senior Rabbi Mark Borovitz come together during the book launch for Borovitz’s new book, “Finding Recovery and Yourself in Torah.” Photo courtesy of Beit T’Shuvah

And on March 30, he appeared at a book launch, which took place at Beit T’Shuvah’s Venice Boulevard campus, to celebrate the work’s release.

The event drew approximately 300 attendees, including Aryeh Cohen, a professor of rabbinic literature at American Jewish University.

“I had the distinct pleasure to be at the book launch. Rabbi Mark is a classic Chassid in the mold of the Toldot Yakov Yosef, whose first question is always: ‘How is this Torah relevant today?’ ” Cohen said, as quoted by a press release. “Mark asks that question in ways that save people’s lives.”


Brentwood luxury real estate agent Anna Solomon was named to the board of directors of Hadassah Foundation, per an April 19 announcement.

Anna Solomon, a member of the board of directors of Hadassah Foundation.  Photo courtesy of Anna Solomon

Solomon “has been a member of Hadassah for close to 30 years,” the statement said.

She is one of five recently elected Hadassah board members. The others are Margaret Offit Gold of Rockville, Md.; Jennifer Goldsmith and Linda Saker of Brookline, Mass.; and Phyllis Silverstein of Marietta, Ga.

Founded in 1998 by Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Hadassah Foundation “enables Hadassah to address unmet societal needs in Israel and the United States,” according to hadassah.org. 


The board of directors of Reboot announced on April 4 that it has hired music industry veteran and current Jewish communal professional David Katznelson as its new executive director.

David Katznelson. Photo courtesy of Reboot

Katznelson, the former chairman of the board of Reboot, the nonprofit behind the National Day of Unplugging and other initiatives, worked for more than 30 years in the music industry. Most recently, he served as director of strategic change at Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma counties.

“I am beyond excited to be taking on this new role at Reboot, an organization I have loved since its beginnings,” he said in a statement.

Katznelson succeeds Reboot’s interim executive director, Shane Hankins.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.

Adolescent angst gets a do-over with ReBar program


If you could change one thing about your bar or bat mitzvah, what would it be, and why? 

Reboot, the think tank that aims to imagine ways of modernizing and revitalizing Jewish tradition, sought to answer that question Nov. 15 with its newest program, reBar. It partnered with the nonprofit Pico Union Project, which hosted the event, as well as The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

The locale — the oldest synagogue building in Los Angeles — seemed fitting for the nostalgic event, which consisted of storytellers reflecting on their own awkward transitions into adulthood. Following a Havdalah service led by Pico Union Project’s founder, singer/songwriter Craig Taubman, the storytelling show began.

“So, just to bring the energy up a little bit, we’re going to start with a silent 20-minute meditation,” joked co-host Ethan Kuperberg, writer for Amazon Prime’s hit TV show “Transparent.” 

Fellow co-host Ethan Sandler got straight to business by explaining the premise of the evening. “We’ve come here tonight to talk about rites of passage,” he said.

Sandler went on to play a vinyl recording of his bar mitzvah haftarah. “See if you can hear me become a man,” he challenged the audience. The recording of a young boy going through the tropes ensued. Ten seconds in, Kuperberg said: “I heard it happening.”

ReBar is Reboot’s newest project, which, after more than a year of planning, was finally unveiled in Los Angeles. In January, reBar will celebrate its debut in San Francisco with a live show, after which it will travel east, according to Reboot’s executive director Robin Kramer.

Lisa Grissom, Reboot’s L.A. program manager, said that since working on this project, “I’m inspired to go back and relearn my Torah portion.”

In this particular event, she told the Journal, “We wanted to blend the Jewish lens with the lens of other cultures.” Because the Pico Union Project serves diverse communities, as reflected in the evening’s catered spread of bite-sized tamales and a punch bowl filled with sangria, the partnership was a natural next step for Reboot. And so event organizers broadened their central question to incorporate all cultural rites of passage.

“I’m not 15 years old anymore — and thank God,” said Karla T. Vasquez after reflecting on her fiesta rosa, an El Salvador tradition.

Invited storytellers included Vasquez, Esther Chung, Andy Corren, Mark Anthony Thomas and Sara Wilson. Singer/songwriter Madison Greer — who is also the executive personal assistant at the Pico Union Project — accompanied by her own piano playing, sang a sultry, sad rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” 

The last story was recited by host Kuperberg, who reviewed his bar mitzvah as if it were an episode of groundbreaking television. (His grade in retrospect: a slightly above-average C plus.)

“OK, last thing tonight,” said Sandler, as both hosts took the stage at the end of the evening. “We thought we could create a rite of passage tonight.” 

They asked the audience to close their eyes and picture themselves at age 13. “Who were you? What did you love then? Who did you love then?” 

And as the audience was transported back to a time long gone, the hosts snapped them back to the present with one more resounding question: “Who are you now?” 

‘Reboot’-ing Gen Y


A lot of aging lefty Jews long for the good old days when, as they recall, Jews and blacks marched together for civil rights and liberal rabbis thundered about
brotherhood and sisterhood from their pulpits.

But those memories are selective. Not all Jews and African Americans got along, and only a minority of blacks and Jews powered the fabled black-Jewish alliance. But they were an articulate and forceful minority.

Their ranks included such leaders as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who, after returning from the Selma civil rights march in 1965, wrote: “For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was about protest and prayer. Legs are not lips and walking is not kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.”

Nor did the Zionist movement have wide support at first. Its founder, Theodor Herzl, a secular journalist (characteristics with which I identify), was angered by European anti-Semitism. As Paris correspondent for the Viennese newspaper Neve Freie Presse in 1894, he covered the trial of the Jewish Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, who had been wrongly accused of treason. Observing the anti-Semitic Parisian mobs, Herzl wrote a small book titled “The Jewish State.” Jewish leaders ignored him. Only a few Jews supported him at first. But like Heschel, Herzl had the gift of language, plus remarkable organizational skills. Half a century after his book was published, Israel was born.

The latest incarnation of an articulate Jewish minority can be found among young adults who are blending their own culture and style in an effort to create a Jewish life relevant to the famously cynical, ironic Generation Y– those born sometime after 1980 and who graduated from high school or college around 2000. This generation will be to the future what the boomers were to the ’60s.

I am interested in anything that would shake the Jewish community out of its insularity — its reluctance to reach beyond its boundaries to tackle problems that affect both Jews and non-Jews, such as the abysmal state of public education.

So, on the advice of my friend Robin Kramer, chief of staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, I contacted an organization called Reboot, a name that refers to what you do to get your balky or slow-moving computer working again. I talked to Rachel Levin, one of the founders. Levin, 38, is assistant director of Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation. “Every generation has the responsibility to examine what it means to be Jewish for itself,” Levin told me.

But that’s not so easy for this group. In a survey, Reboot found that “for American Jews in Generation Y, being Jewish is not their sole identity …. Today’s young Jews have multiple identities shaped by many factors, including intermarriage in their families, diverse social networks and dynamic boundaries around geography and other identity characteristics such as gender and sexual orientation. Being Jewish is part of a larger identity mosaic for today’s Jews.”

Or as Levin put it, “we live in a world where identity is not compartmentalized.”

How do you get them together? Not in the temple sisterhood or at federation fund-raisers.

The model is sort of like MoveOn.org, or other online organizations that bring people together for political fund-raising, action or talk. Reboot’s magazine, Guilt and Pleasure, runs interesting pieces that might make good conversation. In Reboot salons, young men and women discuss their own experiences, articles from Guilt and Pleasure or life around them. They have talked about what Jewish food says about Jewish life; living in Los Angeles; being the “chosen people”; and, of course, life’s guilt and pleasures, always a good topic for Jews.

Levin enjoys the salons. The daughter of a rabbi, she graduated from Fairfax High School and the University Pennsylvania. She is the mother of two children, ages 7 and 3.

After college, she became a Coro fellow, a program that puts the best and brightest young people into internships in government and other places.

One of Levin’s internships was with the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African American newspaper, where she worked with the late Dennis Schatzman, a tough and perceptive black reporter whom I got to know during the O.J. Simpson trial.

Schatzman, she said, seized on the opportunity to teach this white, Jewish young woman about South Central Los Angeles. It was a time of great tension, just before the 1992 Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King. Schatzman took her around the community. Tension was everywhere in those days, especially after an African American teenager, Latasha Harkins, was shot to death by a store owner who mistakenly thought the girl was shop-lifting. Levin attended a press conference on the case and, observing the anger, she learned a lot.

My interview with Levin became difficult when I asked her to translate her experiences into specific goals. Levin, I thought, was a bit too general. I told her that if I had interviewed Heschel, he would have been specific, talking about marching in the south. If I had interviewed Herzl, my notebook would have been filled with his plans for a Jewish state. Couldn’t she be more specific?

Being Jewish, she answered my question with a question of her own.

What would have happened, she asked, if you had interviewed Herzl when he first encountered anti-Semitism? He would have been furious about the bigotry, she said, but probably vague about what to do about it. His proposal for a Jewish state came later.

“Maybe when you interview me in 10 years, I’ll be able to be more specific,” Levin said.

She was absolutely right. Movements don’t start with specifics or 10-point plans. They start with people meeting up and talking. Ideas are generated, plans are made and one day, action is taken. It’s a slow process.

This is where Reboot is now. Perhaps from this generation — prompted by leaders like Levin — an articulate minority will emerge and point the Jewish community in a fresh direction, just as Heschel and Herzl did many years ago.


Until leaving the Los Angeles Times in 2001, Bill Boyarsky worked as a political correspondent, a Metro columnist for nine years and as city editor for three years. You can reach him at bw.boyarsky@verizon.net.

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