February 27, 2020

Jeannine Nadel Sefton: Pro-Israel Sephardic Philanthropist

Jeannine Nadel Sefton has used her connections in the travel industry to support Jewish organizations in Los Angeles, and in doing so has carved a name for herself as a dedicated pro-Israel philanthropist. 

Sefton, who specializes in luxury European travel at Altour Leisure Travel, has convinced many of the businesses she works with to donate five-star travel packages, which are then auctioned off at Jewish organizations’ galas. The packages have included trips to Israel, Paris, Marrakech, Morocco, and the landmark Dorchester hotel in London, among other prime locations.

In 2016, the Sephardic Educational Center (SEC) honored Sefton with its Legacy Award. “I think it’s a very good organization,” Sefton said of the SEC, which was established in 1979 and which she has been involved with since 1982. 

“We have to keep our [Sephardic] traditions [alive] because Sephardic is love,” the Moroccan-born, French-raised 70-something said. 

She also praised the organization’s ability to bring together Jewish singles who have married after meeting through SEC programs. 

Sefton has devoted much of her adult life to Jewish causes, including the Israel Cancer Research Fund and Friends of Sheba Medical Center, the Jewish National Fund, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors, and Chabad.

“Israel is my third child. Every day when I wake up and do a prayer, a blessing for my kids and my grandchildren, Israel is included in it.”

She is equally committed to fostering a sense of pro-Israel pride in the community. Her youngest grandson’s bar mitzvah will be in Israel, she said. And asked where she would like to live if not in the United States, she said Israel, explaining that France has too much anti-Semitism. 

“Israel is my third child,” Sefton said. “Every day when I wake up and do a prayer, a blessing for my kids and my grandchildren, Israel is included in it. I am very Zionist.” 

Her pastimes include preparing large meals for her family on Jewish holidays. 

“I love to mix things: I cook Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Greek — I love to do a mixture of everything,” she said. “I don’t follow the rules.”

A member of Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills, Sefton is proud of her connections in the Jewish community. Strewn across a table in her office are photos of Sefton with former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon, among others, as well as tribute journals of organizations she has supported over the years. 

Along with securing travel packages to be auctioned off at fundraisers, Sefton’s support for these groups has meant persuading other community members to give of their time — and wallets — like she has.

“I am always trying to bring in friends and raise money,” Sefton said. “Anything Jewish, I am very involved.”

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