Jewish Future Pledge, LA Press Club Gala, Harkham GAON Names New Principal, Hebrew University Honorary Fellowship

Notable people and events in the Jewish LA community.
June 29, 2023
Rabbi David Wolpe

Sinai Temple Emeritus Senior Rabbi David Wolpe has become the Jewish Future Pledge’s 18,000th “Chai Pledge Ambassador,” thereby committing to donate at least half of his charitable giving to support the Jewish people or the State of Israel.

“In signing the Jewish Future Pledge, I am making a profound and heartfelt commitment to my beloved community,” Wolpe said. “It is a pledge that reflects my strong conviction to uphold the cherished values and customs that have not only shaped my own identity but also impacted the lives of numerous individuals. This pledge represents a resolute determination to safeguard and preserve our rich heritage for future generations.”

Business executive and philanthropist Mike Leven, co-founder of the Jewish Future Pledge, said Wolpe’s “pledge exemplifies the impact one person can make in preserving our rich culture for generations. As we cross this milestone, we urge Jewish communities globally to join and make a difference. Committing to the Jewish Future Pledge creates a lasting legacy of hope, unity, and compassion.”

The Jewish Future Pledge aims to safeguard the future of the Jewish community by encouraging planned estate allocations and promoting the sharing of generational narratives and values. To date, more than 21,000 people have signed the pledge.

David Suissa at the LA Press Club ‘s annual Southern California Journalism Awards gala.

The Jewish Journal was recognized with several awards during the Los Angeles Press Club’s annual Southern California Journalism Awards Gala, held June 25 at the Millennium Biltmore hotel.

Journal Editor-in-Chief and Publisher David Suissa’s article, “The Fabelmans’: Steven Spielberg’s Antidote to Jewish Victimhood,” was recognized in the entertainment news or feature category. Additionally, Suissa was named best columnist for his article, “Can we fight antisemitism without losing our sense of humor?” He was competing among those who write for newspapers with a circulation under 50,000.

Journal columnist Tabby Refael’s article, “Want to be Pro-Israel? Support Iranians” was awarded second place in the columnist category.

The glitzy gathering drew hundreds of people. Speakers included Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who presented French-Jewish philosopher and activist Bernard-Henri Levy with the Daniel Pearl Award for courage and integrity in journalism. In his remarks, Pearl called on liberal media outlets to cover events in Israel more objectively.

Ruth Morris

Harkham GAON Academy has named educator Ruth Morris its new principal, effective July 1.

Morris has spent the 20 years of her career in education working in the Culver City Unified School District. Most recently, she served as the general studies assistant principal at the Hebrew Academy Community Day School of Orange County. 

A native Angeleno and Culver City resident, she was seeking a position closer to home and views serving the Jewish community through education as her life’s calling. 

“Morris is well-equipped to lead our school into its next phase,” Harkham GAON Academy Founder and Rabbi Moises Benzaquen said. “She’s creative, has broad experience in both educational and business leadership, and her enthusiasm is infectious.”

Harkham-GAON Academy is a college preparatory day school located on the campus of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, serving students in grades 6 to 12. 

Hebrew University of Jerusalem President Professor Asher Cohen (right) presents an honorary fellowship to Dr. William Isacoff on June 12 at the 86th Board of Governors Meeting in Jerusalem. Photo by Bruno Charbit

Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) presented an honorary fellowship to prominent pancreatic cancer researcher and Jewish leader Dr. William Isacoff. 

Isacoff, one of the foremost gastrointestinal oncologists in the United States, has developed innovative treatments that have significantly extended the lives of pancreatic cancer patients nationwide. He currently holds an academic appointment within the department of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and serves on the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Foundation board.

He also sits on the American Friends of Hebrew University board as well as HU’s international board of governors. 

“We welcome Dr. William Isacoff into the ranks of the Hebrew University Honorary Fellows with gratitude for his outstanding service on the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University and for his leadership on the national AFHU Board,” HU President Professor Asher Cohen said. 

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