“Hamantaschen Monologues,” USHMM Tribute, Shalhevet Basketball, Temple of the Arts

Movers and shakers in the LA Jewish community.
March 29, 2023
“Hamantaschen Monologues” Co-founders Molly Brodsky and Rachel Olshin appear onstage March 19 at IKAR’s event space on La Cienega boulevard for their live storytelling experience. Courtesy of “Hamantaschen Monologues”

An estimated 120 people and 300 virtual attendees gathered to hear “The Hamantaschen Monologues,” a live storytelling event centered on the stories, the myths and the meanings around sexuality informed and misinformed by Judaism.

The event was held March 19 at progressive congregation IKAR’s event space on La Cienega Blvd and featured nine storytellers—four live from Los Angeles, five virtually from around the world — offering first-person personal stories on topics including queerness and Judaism, “sex while Jewish” and the chaos of dating.

“The feedback has been pretty remarkable,” Molly Brodsky said in a virtual interview with the Journal two days before their event.

Brodsky and Rachel Olshin are the co-founders and co-organizers of the “’Hamantaschen Monologues.” The two met at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, a modern Orthodox school in Teaneck, New Jersey. They’ve been close friends and collaborators since. Today, Olshin is based in Pico-Robertson while Brodsky lives in Oakland.

IKAR, JQ International and Moishe House copresented this year’s program. It was the first time “Hamantaschen Monologues,” which was established in 2021, was held as a hybrid event offered in-person and virtually.

“This is an event, this is a show, but we hope the impact goes beyond this moment,” Olshin said. “We know these kinds of conversations are really important.”

Shalhevet High School’s championship-winning girls basketball team appeared at Los Angeles City Hall on March 21. Earlier this month, the squad known as the “Firehawks” made history when it became the first Jewish school to win a CIF championship.

From left: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum honorees Kelly and Lou Gonda; Lorena Gonda; and Amy and Morton Friedkin. Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) held its 30th anniversary Western Region tribute event on March 16 at the Beverly Hilton.

The event drew more than 300 guests and raised more than $1.2 million.

Honorees were Kelly and Lou Gonda along with Lorena Gonda and Lucy Gonda from Los Angeles and Amy and Morton Friedkin from San Francisco. They were recognized for their contributions to preserving Holocaust history and helping the museum carry its lessons far beyond its walls.

The museum opened its doors 30 years ago in an unprecedented partnership of survivors with the American people. A nonpartisan federal institution, USHMM is the country’s national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, dedicated to ensuring the permanence of Holocaust memory, understanding, and relevance.

“This is an unprecedented time as the museum celebrates its 30th anniversary while antisemitism and other forms of hate are rising throughout the United States and abroad,” the museum’s regional director Marla Eglash Abraham said. “The ongoing commitment and leadership of this year’s honorees recognizes their roles in Holocaust education and support of the Museum’s mission to educate people about the Holocaust and the consequences of unchecked antisemitism and hate.”

From left: Mensch Foundation Award Recipient Barry Gordon, Mensch Award Founder Steven Geiger, Mensch Award Recipient Arieh Warshel, Rabbi David Barron, and Professor G.K. Surya Prakash. Photo by Steve Moyer
From left: Temple of the Arts Rabbi David Baron and actor Lainie Kazan. Photo by Steve Moyer

On March 17, Temple of the Arts held a lively pre-Passover Shared Heritage Shabbat service, featuring special guests, musical performances and informative discussion. 

Participants in the Shabbat service included the Agape International Choir, members of the Turkish American community and the temple’s staff. Notables in attendance included Mike Stoller and Corky Hale Stoller, Lainie Kazan and Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles Sinan Kuzum.

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