Repair the World Volunteers, Hadassah Installation, WBT Names New Senior Rabbi

Notable people and events in the Jewish LA community.
January 25, 2024
Repair the World holds a community Shabbat dinner during its recent “MLK Weekend of Service.” Courtesy of Repair the World
Volunteers at a recent Repair the World event assemble hygiene kits. It was one of many acts of service promoted by the organization.
Courtesy of Repair the World

Repair the World Los Angeles—which mobilizes Jewish young adults to address urgent city needs through volunteering and learning—hosted a community Shabbat dinner during its “Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service,” held from Jan. 12-15. 

The effort was coordinated in partnership with a member of the Los Angeles Repair Advisory Council and with spiritual activist and community organizer Yehudah Webster, among others. Participants learned about and practiced the Mussar approach of connecting to and cultivating Jewish ethics, while examining Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in shaping society. 

“This was honestly one of the best, most meaningful Jewish events I have been to in L.A.,” a participant said. “I learned more about a few friends in one night than seeing them at nearly a dozen other events combined.”

More than 100 Repair the World events were held throughout January in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston, with attendees preparing meals, distributing clothing, coming together for Shabbat dinners and building an outdoor cooking station for asylum seekers. At a recent local gathering, Repair the World, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS), assembled 500 hygiene kits to be distributed to city neighbors experiencing homelessness.

“Young Jews and their peers want to care for their most vulnerable neighbors and lean into the Jewish value of justice—tzedek,” Repair the World Chief Program Officer Shana Bloom said. “Particularly after the last few months, service experiences are a powerful way to build relationships across lines of difference for the common cause of supporting access for communities of color and other marginalized groups.”

Carol Ann Schwartz, the 28th national president of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, speaks on Jan. 21 at her installation ceremony. At left, past National President Marcie Natan, who officiated at the installation. Courtesy of Hadassah

Carol Ann Schwartz of Cincinnati, Ohio, was installed on Jan. 21 as the 28th national president of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, the largest Jewish women’s organization in the country.

The installation ceremony was held during the organization’s annual midwinter meetings in West Palm Beach, Florida. Schwartz, who was elected at Hadassah’s annual business meeting in July, succeeds Rhoda Smolow of Great Neck, New York.

“More than 30 years ago, I became involved with Hadassah in my hometown of Cincinnati,” said Schwartz, whose first official act as national president was to lead Hadassah’s recent solidarity mission to Israel amid the ongoing war with Hamas. “When I was nominated last July, I understood the weight of the responsibility as well as the honor. It is through our members’ and donors’ strength and determination over the generations that Hadassah has become a pillar of Israel, Jewish life and women’s empowerment, committed to healing in every sense of the word.”

Additionally, Viviane Kovacs of Searingtown, NY, was installed as Hadassah’s national treasurer, succeeding Michelle Hubertus of Short Hills, NJ, who was installed as the newest of six national vice presidents on Hadassah’s national board. 

Hadassah, which has nearly 300,000 members, donors and supporters, is focused on critical issues including ensuring Israel’s security, combating antisemitism and promoting women’s health care.

Rabbi Joel Nickerson.
Courtesy of Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) has named Rabbi Joel Nickerson as its new senior rabbi. 

Nickerson, a member of the congregation’s clergy since 2019, succeeds Rabbi Steve Leder, who has served at WBT for nearly four decades.

Nickerson’s appointment—making him the tenth senior rabbi of WBT since its founding as Congregation B’nai Brith in 1862—becomes effective Sept. 1. He was selected following a national search that, according to WBT, identified “a dozen prospective candidates. Four were interviewed and considered by a search committee…comprising a cross-section of the congregation.”

“Finding a successor to Rabbi Leder has been a critical effort,” WBT President Scott Edelman said in a statement. “His impact on the temple and the broader community are extraordinary and will be felt for generations to come.”

To make for a seamless transition, Leder will not be departing from the synagogue immediately; instead, the current senior rabbi will work with Nickerson throughout this year to help him become familiar with the role. After September, Leder will become a part-time member of the clergy team for an additional two years.

“From this day forward, the most important mission in my rabbinate is the success of Rabbi Nickerson,” Leder said in a statement.

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