At the Larger Than Life gala event in the Beverly Hilton, 37 children stood onstage singing “Yad Beyad” (“Hand in Hand”), a song by the late Israeli singer Ofra Haza. The kids were Israeli, Muslim Arabs, Christian Arabs and Druze. They had one thing in common that overcame any barriers between them: cancer.
The event, which took place on Sept. 22, marked 16 years since the nonprofit organization was established in Los Angeles by members of the Israeli community. Each year, the organization offers children ages 9-18 who have been diagnosed with cancer what the it calls Dream Trips. The children arrive from all over Israel, from big cities to small Arab villages, regardless race or religion.
“We bring them here for 12 days of fun,” Yair Gavrielli, president of the L.A chapter of Larger than Life, said. “We take them to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, on a cruise in the marina, on a shopping spree, parties and much more. It’s amazing to see the friendship created between the kids, who, prior to the trip, didn’t know each other. They become best friends and these close relationships continue as they return to Israel.”
One of the volunteers who joined the group on its journey from Israel was Nitzan Shacham, 20. She arrived for the first time in Los Angeles four years ago as a teenager battling cancer. Now fully recovered, she decided to join the delegation as a volunteer. “I want to show them that they can also recover and stand where I am today,” she said.
The theme of the event was the Cirques of Life and featured a performance by “Le Petit Cirque,” a group of clowns and acrobats whose members range in age from 6-15.
The money raised will fund the next trip to the U.S. and various activities of the organization in Israel. A portion of the donations will also go to Larger than Life’s first sterile kindergarten for tots with cancer called “Gan Hahalomot,” or “Daycare of Dreams.”
— Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer
Philanthropic and education organization Tikvah Fund held its inaugural West Coast event on Oct. 10 at Young Israel of Century City.
The evening gathering highlighted the work Tikvah Fund does with high school students through its Tikvah and Maimonides Scholars Program, which brings Jewish students from public and private schools to Yale University for two weeks to study politics, Zionism, economics and Jewish thought.
Two student alumni of the programs — Jennifer Peled, 2019 Tikvah Scholars participant, and Adriel Ghadoushi, a 2018 Maimonides Scholars participant — spoke at the event about their respective experiences in the program. After the event, the high schoolers in attendance boarded a bus to take part in a Shabbaton experience.
For the adults in attendance, Rick Richman, author of “Racing Against History: The 1940 Campaign for a Jewish Army to Fight Hitler,” gave a presentation titled “Three Great American Jews You Don’t Know Enough About: Louis Brandeis, Ben Hecht and Norman Podhoretz.”
Richman, a resident scholar at American Jewish University, spoke about how the three figures — Brandeis, the country’s first Jewish supreme court justice; Hecht, a screenwriter and playwright; and Podhoretz, editor of Commentary Magazine — made important contributions to America through their support for Israel and proud Jewish identities.
Additional speakers included Rabbi Mark Gottlieb, senior director of the Tikvah Fund.
Based in New York, the Tikvah Fund describes itself as a “philanthropic foundation and ideas institution committed to supporting the intellectual, religious and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State.”
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