Local Legislators Visit Israel, Volunteers Prep Meals for Food Insecure

Notable people and events in the Jewish LA community.
February 29, 2024
From left, outside the Knesset: Tour guide Maayan Leshem; JPAC Executive Director David Bocarsly; JFEDLA’s Aaron Goldberg; Senator Scott Wiener; Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel; Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance); Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael); JFEDLA’s Rachel Wallace; JCRC Bay Area President Jan Reicher; JCRC Bay Area CEO Tyler Gregory; Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach); Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria (D-Fresno); Terance Frazier; State Senator Henry Stern (D- Calabasas) and JCRC Bay Area’s Jonathan Mintzer. Courtesy of Jewish Federation Los Angeles
California Legislative Jewish Caucus Co-chairs Scott Wiener and Jesse Gabriel (middle and far right, respectively) meet with Nehoray Levy, a survivor of the Nova music festival massacre.
Courtesy of Jewish Federation Los Angeles

Los Angeles Jewish community leaders, including California state senators and assembly members, traveled overseas for an Israel solidarity mission on Feb. 14-17. 

Marking the first time many of the mission’s participants had visited Israel since the Oct. 7 attack, the three-day trip was organized by Jewish Federation Los Angeles (JFEDLA), JCRC Bay Area and Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC). 

During the trip, legislators witnessed firsthand the consequences of the atrocities committed by Hamas, including site visits to impacted communities in the south along Israel’s border with Gaza, meetings with families of remaining hostages and discussions with Israeli government leadership.

The legislators’ trip included a visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza, one of the southern villages raided by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Here, tour guide Chen Kotler Abrahams (far right) speaks to members of the visiting group. Courtesy of Jewish Federation Los Angeles

The group — led by California Legislative Jewish Caucus Co-Chairs Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), an assemblymember, and State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) — visited Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, the Supernova Music Festival site, the Israeli Knesset, the Old City and the Negev, among other places. They met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and members of the Knesset, as well as Bedouin, LGBTQIA and women leaders. 

Last month, people from all walks of life gathered at Our Big Kitchen LA to prepare meals for those in need. Courtesy of Yossi Segelman.

“Made with Love,” a special Our Big Kitchen LA (OBKLA) volunteer session, was held last month in honor of Black History Month. 

The Feb. 15 event at OBKLA, a community-run, nondenominational kitchen space on Pico Boulevard, brought together Black and Jewish influencers to prepare hundreds of meals, which were then distributed to three community youth shelters in Watts run by Roc Era, a L.A.-based youth enrichment organization. 

Volunteers at “Made with Love” included Jonah Platt (center) and Malynda Hale (far right).
Courtesy of Yossi Segelman.

The evening’s program was part of a larger effort to combat food insecurity in the South L.A. area’s underserved communities. Participants, including co-hosts Jonah Platt and Malynda Hale, said the gathering was important because it emphasized unity and community as well as dedication to supporting Black and Brown youth in need.

“In honor of Black History Month, I really wanted to bring the Black and Jewish communities together for a good cause,” Hale, a curriculum development consultant at Roc Era, said. “So, when Yona Elishis, a board member for OBKLA, approached me about doing an event, I jumped at the chance.” 

“Creating community together in support of one another and in service to others is such dearly needed nourishment for the soul,” said Platt. 

Elishis, an OBKLA board member and sponsor of the event, said the evening was a success and demonstrated what can be accomplished when people of different backgrounds come together toward a common goal.

“There’s no better way to bring people together than working alongside one another for a greater cause, feeding not just those struggling with food insecurity but also ourselves,” Elishis said. “This was an incredible evening of unity and friendship that will hopefully have ripple effects in both our communities during these difficult times.”

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