Moving & Shaking: Lakers hoop for hope; Mayim Bialik book tour

May 26, 2017
From left: The Hoops4Hope winning team’s Isaac Aftalion, Idan Eythan and Isaac Gabai with Lakers players Julius Randle, Metta World Peace and Jordan Clarkson. Photo by Jonah Light photography

Los Angeles Lakers Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Metta World Peace delighted fans, many sporting purple and gold, at this year’s Hoops4Hope charity basketball tournament at the Westside Jewish Community Center.

The May 7 event benefited the Jewish medical organization Ateres Avigail, whose more than 200 volunteers provide services to people in need, including preparing kosher meals, transportation to medical appointments, affordable medical equipment and access to the consulting services of physicians from all over the country.

Steve Rechnitz, president of Ateres Avigail, took the reins of the organization 3 1/2 years ago after his wife, Avigail, the former president, died of cancer. The organization, formerly called Ladies Bikur Cholim, was renamed for Avigail after her death.

About 115 players paid the $100 entry fee to take part in the three-on-three tournament, vying for prizes such as courtside Lakers tickets and vacation packages. Players of varying skill sets and backgrounds participated, with many local Jewish high school players and alumni represented.

High-fliers from the Venice Basketball League — a Venice Beach-based, invitation-only summer league with top amateur talent — wowed the 300 spectators with a jaw-dropping dunk contest.

Per tradition, the winning team — Malachei 26, comprising Isaac Aftalion, Isaac Gabai and Idan Eythan — got to play the Lakers trio in a largely ceremonial, half-speed game. The contest included a nasty crossover from Clarkson that sent a Malachei 26 defender tumbling to the ground.

Ateres Avigail’s director and lone employee, Rabbi Avraham Hirschman, said fundraising totals were still being tallied, but he deemed the day a slam-dunk success.

“I think people really want to come out and support our work helping Jewish families facing medical crises,” Hirschman said. “It’s a high-energy environment and people like tapping into that energy, doing what they love to do — playing basketball and benefiting an organization like ours.”

— Oren Peleg, Contributing Writer

Mayim Bialik discusses her book, “Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular,” at The Grove. Photo by Tess Cutler

“Oh, I see her!” said a mother, pointing forward to a mass of people. “Oh, yeah!” a girl squealed, “I see her arm, I think!” Actress Mayim Bialik was the center of that attention on May 16, when she appeared at The Grove’s Barnes & Noble store.

Bialik, an actress known for her supporting role on “The Big Bang Theory,” was unveiling her new book, “Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular,” intended as a guide for girls ages 10 to 18. More than 100 people showed up, filling a cordoned-off area.

“This book is as eternal as the Torah,” Bialik joked.

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger, Bialik’s good friend — the two met years ago at a comedy event — moderated the gathering. While being introduced to the audience, an emcee butchered Shlesinger’s last name.

“If I had a dollar every time an emcee brought me onstage and messed up my last name, I would have, like, $50,” Shlesinger said to a laughing crowd. “Fifty anti-Semitic dollars.”

“Girling Up,” published May 9 by Philomel Books, is Bialik’s third book, following her vegan cookbook, “Mayim’s Vegan Table,” and her parenting handbook, “Beyond the Sling.”

The book covers topics including mental health, bullying and the birds and the bees. Bialik, who has a doctorate in neuroscience, incorporated some biological and chromosomal lingo into the book, as well.

During lighthearted banter between Bialik and Shlesinger, an audience member asked Bialik, “How do you balance your religion with your science?”

Bialik was quick to quip, “The snarky answer is: I just do.”

— Tess Cutler, Contributing Writer

The UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies hosted a May 4 panel on “Six Days/Five Decades: 1967 and Its Significance for Israeli Security,” ahead of the 50th anniversary of Israel’s June 10, 1967, victory in the Six-Day War.

The panelists, representing a range of policy expertise on challenges facing Israeli society, were Gilead Sher, former chief of staff to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak; Motti Inbari, a University of North Carolina at Pembroke professor of religion, focusing on Jewish fundamentalism; Elie Rekhess, a visiting professor at Northwestern University and an expert on the Arab minority in Israel; and Paul Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center, specializing in Middle East economics. Nazarian Center Director Yoram Cohen introduced the speakers.

“The Six-Day War resulted in a profound, overwhelming identity crisis,” Rekhess said, pointing to the solidification of Palestinian identity that followed.

Sher emphasized how Israeli control of the Palestinian territories threatens its long-term stability. Inbari talked about how Jewish messianism evolved in response to Israeli conquests in 1967 and 1973.

Rivlin spoke about the economic miracle after the war that transformed Israel’s economy, with 14 percent growth in 1968.

“Confidence is the key factor in investment, and this is what the war resulted in,” Rivlin said.

The event drew students, faculty and UCLA community members, including Hillel at UCLA emeritus director Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, UCLA computer scientist Judea Pearl and UCLA student body President Danny Siegel.

— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer

Entertainment attorney Martin Singer and Sherry Lansing, the former studio head of Paramount Pictures, attend the Jewish National Fund’s Women for Israel luncheon. Photo courtesy of Jewish National Fund

Sherry Lansing, the former head of Paramount Pictures and the first woman to helm a major Hollywood studio, was honored May 4 at the Jewish National Fund’s Women for Israel luncheon.

About 250 people attended the event at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, where Lansing treated guests to an intimate interview conducted by entertainment attorney Martin Singer.

“I am busier than I’ve ever been, and I’m so happy with what I’ve been doing because it all comes from my heart,” Lansing, 72, told the Journal before the event.

Since retiring from Hollywood, Lansing has devoted herself to supporting philanthropic projects in medical research and education through her Sherry Lansing Foundation. She serves on the University of California Board of Regents and co-founded the nonprofit Stand Up to Cancer, which has distributed about $500 million to cancer research.

Lansing also is the subject of a new, authorized biography, “Leading Lady,” by Stephen Galloway. The book details her career in Hollywood, from actress to studio executive. Over her 30-year career, Lansing had a hand in developing an estimated 200 films, including “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart” and “Titanic,” each of which reaped huge profits and numerous awards.

Today, Lansing is a mentor to young women. Although she lamented Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election, she said she was heartened by the resurgent feminism that has since been ignited.

“Ten years ago, when I would talk to career women, there was a feeling that the word ‘feminist’ was a dirty word, and there was a lack of respect for people like Gloria Steinem, who was my idol, without whom I would not be here today,” Lansing said. “Women believed that none of these rights could be taken away and that they were there forever. When I would talk to college kids about Roe v. Wade, they would look at me like I was a hysterical old lady. Now, that has changed because these very rights are now being threatened, and that has turned people [toward] the same activism that I [engaged] in during my 30s.”

Lansing said she is aware of both the gifts and deficits of aging. “The losses are more,” she said. “But there is also more gratitude, more determination not to let the small stuff bother you. You learn to only do what’s important and meaningful. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is love and human connections.”

— Danielle Berrin, Senior Writer

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

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