JNF-USA Luncheon, AJU Faculty Member Recognized, UCLA-Haaretz Conference, MDA Ambulance Sponsored

Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) Los Angeles Co-President Fred Toczek addressed guests at the organization’s 11th Annual Legacy Society Luncheon
March 23, 2023
Attendees at the JNF-USA luncheon included (back row, from left) Sharon Polansky, Ricka Kelsch, Alan Abramson, Cheryl Kagan, Ali Vahdani, Sara Cannon (front row, from left), Alyse Golden Berkley, Fred Toczek, Frances Bilak and Terre Steinbeck. Courtesy of Jewish National Fund-USA

Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) Los Angeles Co-President Fred Toczek addressed guests at the organization’s 11th Annual Legacy Society Luncheon with two words, “Thank you,” in recognition of the community’s support for the land and people of Israel.

More than 150 philanthropists attended the March 2 event, sponsored by Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, where keynote speaker and former United States Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism Elan Carr shared his determination to fight Jew-hatred.

Lamenting the current state of world affairs, Carr asked the audience rhetorically, “Who would have imagined less than eight decades since the end of the most notorious crime ever committed in the history of the world, that took [the lives of] two thirds of European Jews, that antisemitism would be rising even in Europe, and yes, even here…in the United States.”

Guests also heard from Cynthia Hizami, JNF-USA’s West Coast Director of Planned Giving, who shared the many ways supporters of Israel can achieve their philanthropic goals by supporting JNF-USA. Hizami lauded the work of the Jewish Future Pledge, an initiative that asks people who are leaving money to charity in their will to designate at least half of those dollars towards Jewish and Israel related causes. 

“I believe the true purpose of Jewish Future Pledge is not just to collect signatures, but to ask people to think about where their legacy dollars are going,” Hizami said. “We as Jews should think about how we want to make this world a better place, especially in light of all that is going on in our world today.”

Robbie Totten. Courtesy of American Jewish University

American Jewish University Chief Academic Officer Robbie Totten was named an American Council on Education (ACE) fellow, a prestigious honor only awarded to 36 educators each year.

Totten was named an ACE fellow for the 2023-2024 academic year, following a nomination by the senior administration at AJU and a rigorous application process.

 “I am excited to be part of the ACE Fellows Program and learn from its seminars and the opportunities that it provides for me to work with experienced presidents, academic vice presidents, and leaders at other universities,” Totten, who has been with AJU since 2014, said. “The ACE program is an unrivaled experience for me to enhance my acumen in higher education administration and utilize the skills that I gain from it in my job at American Jewish University, notably serving AJU’s degree-granting academic programs.”  

 The ACE Fellows Program strengthens institutions in American higher education by identifying and preparing faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership through a cohort-based mentorship model.

From left: Haaertz’s Amir Tibon and the UCLA Nazarian Center’s Dov Waxman Courtesy of the UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies

The UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and Israeli newspaper Haaretz held a joint conference March 5th on “Israel and the New World (Dis)Order.”

 The virtual program featured a variety of speakers — including former Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair; Daniel Gordis, the Koret distinguished fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem; and New Yorker writer Susan Glasser — discussing Israel’s role on the global stage.

 UCLA Nazarian Center Director Dov Waxman, a professor of political science and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair in Israel Studies at UCLA, said the program aligned with the center’s ongoing mission of promoting the study of modern Israel.

“It’s not about Israel advocacy,” Waxman said. “It’s about providing informed, nuanced conversation about Israel and anyone who watched the conference 

Debbie Minas (in passenger seat) celebrates the dedication of the Life Support Ambulance she sponsored for Magen David Adom with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Photo by Vince Bucci

Debbie Minas of Reseda sponsored a Life Support Ambulance in memory of her late husband, Allen Minas, and in honor of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A dedication ceremony took place in Tarzana with 70 family members and friends on March 12, the birthday of the late Allen Minas. The ambulance will soon be shipped to Israel for Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s national emergency medical and Red Cross service.

 “I grew up with Zionism ingrained in my soul, and I love Israel,” Minas said. “I would do anything in my power to help Israel. I know that my gift will benefit countless people and help save lives.”

 The Life Support Ambulance is the workhorse of the MDA fleet, dispatched to respond to everything from a fall in the home, a woman in labor, or a child in anaphylactic shock. Built in the United States on a GM chassis and assembled in Elkhart, Indiana, about 100 Life Support Ambulances are needed each year to expand the fleet and replace retired or damaged vehicles. 

All of MDA’s ambulances are sponsored by Americans and donors from around the world.

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