JNF-USA Conference, Sephardic Film Fest, Sinai Akiba Challah Bake

November 30, 2022
From left: JNF-USA President Sol Lizerbram and President’s Award Recipient Alyse Golden Berkley. Photo by Hannah Rose Osofsky

Nearly 1,500 proud Zionists, philanthropists and people who love Israel attended Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) National Conference in Boston last month. 

“The excitement, the buzz, the celebration of being together—it was really something special!” JNF-USA National Communications Manager Jennifer Milton told the Journal. 

The multiday gathering, held from Nov. 4-6, included unbelievable performances by members of JNF-USA’s Special in Uniform Band, which is supported by the group’s Arts and Entertainment Task Force. Local philanthropist Civia Caroline founded the JNF-USA Arts and Entertainment Task Force. 

JNF-USA Greater Los Angeles philanthropists; the JNF-USA Arts and Entertainment Task Force; and members of the Special in Uniform Band. Photo courtesy of JNF-USA

Additionally, Alyse Golden Berkley, one of JNF-USA’s major supporters from Los Angeles, received the organization’s highest honor. She was awarded with the JNF-USA President’s Award.

Attendees included JNF-USA’s President Sol Lizerbram; JNF-USA Greater Los Angeles Board Member Sara Cannon; and Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog. 

“The conference was a combination of intense learning about our impact in Israel, meeting and reuniting with our JNF-USA family from around the country, learning what other regions are doing, and having so much fun,” Cannon, the regional JNF-USA Women for Israel chair, said.

The organization’s annual conference brings together high school students, college students, rabbinical students, leading philanthropists, prominent Zionist thought leaders and Israelis from the Negev and Galilee who are directly and positively impacted by the partnership of Jewish National Fund-USA. 

More than 120 Sinai Akiba Academy community members came together for an event organized as part of the Shabbos Project’s Worldwide Challah Bake. Courtesy of Sinai Akiba Academy

On Nov. 10, in celebration of the Shabbos Project’s Worldwide Challah Bake initiative, over 120 Sinai Akiba Academy (SAA) community members came together for the first in-person, community-wide Challah Bake in three years. Led by SAA math teacher Heather Lipman, the SAA community mixed and braided bread together, in preparation for Shabbat.

When registration went live in September, the event sold out in less than three hours, and was a highlight of the school year thus far. SAA gave special thanks to the tireless event committee, led by Co-Chairs Shelly Shapiro and Sindy Paikal; the Sinai Akiba Community Builders and Parent Association leadership; Sinai Temple Rabbi Nicole Guzik for kicking off the evening, and to the hero of the baking process, Lipman, who ensured the challot were moist, fluffy, and ready for Shabbat. 

“More than anything, it was so wonderful to be together!” SAA leadership said.

From left: Jewish Journal Publisher David Suissa and “Sephardic Spice Girls” Sharon Gomperts and Rachel Sheff. Courtesy of Sephardic Educational Center
The opening night gala of the Sephardic Film Festival presented Nira Sayegh (center) with the Maimonides Leadership Award. She is joined by attorney Neil Sheff (left) and Sephardic Educational Center Director Rabbi Daniel Bouskila. Courtesy of the Sephardic Educational Center

The Sephardic Educational Center kicked off its 15th annual Sephardic Film Festival with a celebratory opening night gala at Paramount Studios.

The Nov. 13 program featured a buffet dinner, silent auction award ceremony and feature film screening followed by screenings the entire week at the Music Hall Theater in Beverly Hills.

The film festival highlights Sephardic communities and their experiences from Iraq to India, from Morocco to Bulgaria, to Rhodes and more.

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