Moving & Shaking: Journal wins big at LA Press Club Awards; A grant to engage Persian Jews; AMIT fundraiser

June 30, 2017
Jewish Journal senior writer Danielle Berrin was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club on June 25, while Marty Kaplan won first place for his column, “Is Campaign News Necessary?”

Jewish Journal senior writer Danielle Berrin was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club at its 59th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards banquet on June 25. She won in the category for print publications with circulations of 50,000 and above.

According to the judges, “Danielle Berrin’s range of incisive commentary and reporting, such as connecting her personal experience of a sexual assault with such crimes universally, portraying family squabbles surrounding the health decline of media mogul Sumner Redstone, or profiling an anti-poverty activist, earns her a well-deserved Journalist of the Year Award.”

Other Jewish Journal staffers and contributors took home awards, as well, including columnist Marty Kaplan, who won first place for “Is Campaign News Necessary?” Berrin took third place in the same category for “Huma Abedin and the Real Housewives of Politics.”

Contributing editor Tom Tugend took second place for his personality profile “Looking Back at War on Memorial Day”; contributing writer Lisa Niver won second place for her column “A Journey to Freedom Over Three Passovers”; book editor Jonathan Kirsch was awarded second place for criticism of books, art, architecture and design for “Shock Is Followed by Awe Over Foer’s New Novel”; editor-in-chief and publisher Rob Eshman won third place for food and culture criticism for “Jonathan Gold on Eating Your Entire City”; and staff writer Eitan Arom took third place for hard news for his story “The Complex, Secret Path to Becoming an Orthodox Jew.”

The awards banquet at the Millennium Biltmore hotel in downtown Los Angeles featured a number of celebrity guests and honorees. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the crowd. Talk show host Conan O’Brien introduced CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who received the President’s Award for Impact on Media. In his acceptance speech, Tapper quoted journalist and author George Orwell, saying, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” Tapper added, “Let us continue that struggle. People are depending upon us.”

UCLA professor Judea Pearl presented photojournalist Daniel Berehulak with the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, honoring Berehulak’s work documenting government-backed violence in the Philippines. The award is named for Pearl’s son, a journalist with The Wall Street Journal who was slain in Pakistan.

Katy Tur introduced fellow NBC News anchor Andrea Mitchell, who received the Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement. “We need all of you, at every level and every medium,” Mitchell told the audience. “We all have to dig in.”

Veteran Spanish-language Dodgers radio announcer Jaime Jarrín received the Bill Rosendahl Public Service Award for Journalistic Contributions to Civic Life, introduced by his son and fellow announcer, Jorge Jarrín.

A scheduled appearance by rapper Shawn Carter, better known as Jay Z, was cancelled after his wife, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, gave birth to twins. The rapper was honored with the Truthteller Award for Contributions to Public Discourse and Cultural Enlightenment of Our Society, along with movie producer Harvey Weinstein, for their collaboration on “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” a docuseries about a young Black man who was imprisoned for three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime and who later committed suicide. Browder’s brother Akeem Browder accepted the award on behalf of the two executive producers.

Jewish Journal Staff

Front row, from left: Younes and Soraya Nazarian and (back row, from left) David Nazarian, Angella Nazarian, Andrew Cushnir, Jay Sanderson, Julie Platt and Sharon Nazarian celebrate the signing of the grant agreement for the Y&S Nazarian Iranian Young Leadership Initiative. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has received a $250,000 grant to engage young adult Persian Jews in Jewish life.

The grant will support the Y&S Nazarian Iranian Young Leadership Initiative, a partnership joining Federation and the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, which provides support to organizations focused on education, policy research, Jewish causes and Iranian causes.

“Our goal is to engage the Iranian young adults in every [Jewish] organization in Los Angeles, to expose them, to teach them about what’s out there and hopefully get them involved,” said Sharon Nazarian, president of the family foundation.

Spread over five years, the grant is intended to enable Federation to hire a full-time staffer for Persian outreach through personal contacts and social media.

“The goal of the Initiative is to engage hundreds of young Persian adult leaders connected to the work of the Federation and the community at large,” Federation said in a press release.

Additionally, Federation has formed an advisory committee of Persian community leaders, chaired by Avid Shooshani, who works in real estate investments and management, and Jonathan Elist, a medical device entrepreneur.

Over the past three years Sharon Nazarian, working with Andrew Cushnir, executive vice president at Federation, has gathered data and information on the activity of the young adult Persian community.

“Our goal for the future is that there will be Persian community leaders on the boards of almost every Jewish organization in Los Angeles, and that our whole community will be fortified by weaving in the energy, traditions and vibrant culture of the Persian Jewish community,” Cushnir said.

Nazarian said that, in her experience, far too few Iranians are serving on the boards of organizations.

One organization that will be served by the new initiative is the Iranian American Jewish Federation, an umbrella organization for the Persian community in Los Angeles. Nazarian said she hopes that individuals engaged in the effort will become leaders who help “update, modernize and make more relevant that organization, and make it more effective and responsive to the broader needs of the community.”

“This is a very important effort,” she said, “and we value it highly.”

From left: AMIT supporters and professionals Sandra Roklen; Carole Shnier; Michal Taviv-Margolese, Daniel Altshuler and Moshe Uziel, an AMIT alumnus and director of the Center for Technology and Leadership Values at the Kfar Blatt Youth Village come together. Photo courtesy of AMIT

Moshe Uziel stood in front of about 40 people in the backyard of a Hancock Park home at a fundraiser for the education organization AMIT, presenting himself as an example of the group’s good works.

Uziel, 33, recounted how he grew up from the age of 5 in an AMIT group home in Jerusalem, after his 25-year-old mother, a drug addict, gave him up because she couldn’t take care of him. “Moshe, I can’t help you,” she told him at the time, he said.

Organized by the group’s Los Angeles regional director, Michal Taviv-Margolese, the June 8 event sought to spread the word about AMIT, which runs children’s homes and schools across Israel, and to celebrate the launch of the L.A. Leadership Council, a group of local donors.

Evan Green, chairman of the council, urged those present to get involved by joining an AMIT mission to Israel.

Guests snacked on sushi and dessert offerings at the home of David and Lauren Lunzer while listening to the guest speakers. Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, outgoing head of school at YULA Girls High School, preceded Uziel, lecturing on the historical ties of Jews to Jerusalem.

Uziel now is the director of a junior college at AMIT’s Kfar Blatt Youth Village, where he spent his high school years. He said success stories such as his are not an exception but rather the rule when it comes to AMIT.

“Moshe is not a unique story,” he said. “There are thousands like me.”

A 13-year veteran of the elite Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, Uziel now helps his mother financially.

“I love her,” he said. “She made a tough decision, but a successful one.”

— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer

The Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles gala on May 23 honored Paul Castro, the outgoing CEO and president of the organization. Castro attended the event with his wife Nikki Cavalier. Photo courtesy of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ (JFS) 24th annual gala on May 23 honored Renee and Paul Haas with the JFS Spirit of Humanity Award; Sara and Dr. David Aftergood with the JFS Stanley and Anita Hirsh Award; and Paul Castro with the JFS Special Lifetime Achievement Award.

The event at the Beverly Hilton raised more than $1.3 million for JFS, which serves men, women and children in need of support services by providing access to shelter, counseling, nutrition and more.

The Haases were recognized for their contributions to JFS’ SOVA Community Food and Resource Program, where they are volunteers, as well as for sponsoring the event A Day of Hope, which benefits the JFS Family Violence Project, and for which the CBS television network is a partner. Paul Haas co-heads the television, literary and packaging department at the William Morris Endeavor talent agency.

Sara Aftergood is an active JFS board member and has served as co-chair of the JFS SOVA Leadership Committee and as JFS board secretary.

Castro, JFS president and CEO, who will retire this December after 35 years with the social services agency, “has worked tirelessly throughout his career to further the opportunities for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities in the areas of social justice, philanthropy and fundraising,” a JFS press release said.

Attendees included Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe, who delivered remarks, and musician Ben Harper, who performed and spoke about the importance of organizations such as JFS.

Each year, JFS professionals and volunteers serve approximately 100,000 people in need.

From left: Carolyn Reznik-Camras and Rabbi Richard Camras, Janice Kamenir-Reznik and Benjamin Reznik, Daniel Farkas, Jeanne and David Herman, Claudia and Sandy Samuels, Ivy and Dr. Burt Liebross, Tzivia Schwartz Getzug and Steve Getzug, and Orly and Howard Fisher are honored by L.A. Hebrew High School. Photo by Curtis Dahl Photography

The Iranian-American civic engagement organization 30 Years After graduated its fourth Maher Fellowship cohort on June 11 at Hillel at UCLA. The 30 Years After Maher Fellowship is a six-month leadership-training program for Iranian-American Jews ages 21-35.

Oren Maher, benefactor of the fellowship, opened the graduation by speaking on why he believes it is imperative for the Persian-Jewish community to invest in its future leaders.

Matthew Shayefar and Dorene Nili, two of this year’s fellows, shared their thoughts on the value of the fellowship, the programing they participated in and their group trip to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.

Keynote speaker Lisa Daftari, an Iranian-American investigative journalist, shared the importance of maintaining the Persian value of benevolence while trying to advance up the career ladder.

Shanel Melamed, executive director of 30 Years After, closed the ceremony with an address.

“With this ceremony, we graduated our 74th alumni of the fellowship, and we’re excited to see what they do,” Melamed said. “So far, six alumni have accepted positions as Jewish communal professionals; four, including today’s graduate Chloe Pourmorady, were recognized by the Jewish Journal’s ‘30 Under 30’ [list of young achievers]. Collectively, the alumni have joined over 30 boards and have created numerous individual projects. That is a strong testament to the impact of the Maher Fellowship in only four short years.”

Jason Youdeem, a 30 Years After board member, the fellowship’s founder and the Los Angeles fellows manager for AIPAC encouraged those in attendance to contribute to the organization.

— Mati Geula Cohen, Contributing Writer

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

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