WBT Honors Rabbi Leder, Pico Union Project Celebrates, ELNET Names Leadership

Notable people and events in the Jewish LA community.
June 13, 2024
Rabbi Steve Leder delivers remarks at the “Evening to Honor a Legacy” gala at Wilshire Boulevard Temple; Leder with Amanda Kloots, and Leder (ninth from left) flanked by son Aaron (L), daughter Hannah, wife Betsy and clergy and executive staff of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Courtesy of Wilshire Boulevard Temple

A Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) gala honoring departing Senior Rabbi Steve Leder was held on May 19 at the synagogue’s Erica Glazer campus in Koreatown. Celebrating the rabbi’s four decades of spiritual leadership, the program was appropriately titled “An Evening to Honor a Legacy.”

Special guests included Amanda Kloots, co-host of “The Talk” and comedian Jeff Ross. Musical performers were Jenna Parris and WBT Senior Cantor Lisa Peicott. An elegant dessert reception followed the program. 

Leder began his career at WBT as a newly ordained rabbi in 1987 and rose to become one of the most influential rabbis in the country. During his time at WBT, he has revitalized the synagogue’s landmark campus, grown its schools and expanded the community’s footprint across three vibrant campuses. 

Last year, Leder announced plans to step aside as the congregation’s senior rabbi on Aug. 31, and remain part of the rabbinical team on a more limited basis for an additional two years. Rabbi Joel Nickerson, a member of the temple clergy since 2019, is succeeding Leder in the role, effective Sept. 1. 

“Perhaps your most important legacy is that you have built a leadership team that is ready to take the flight controls,” WBT President Scott Edelman said. “With Rabbi Nickerson and Cantor Peicott at the helm, our temple will continue to soar. And somehow, you have done all these things with good humor, unrelenting optimism and infectious joie de vivre.”

Pico Union Project Founder Craig Taubman with Board Member and Vice President of Programs for Pico Union Project Stuart K Robinson. Photo by Iris Schneider

Pico Union Project (PUP) celebrated a decade of service with a “Pico de Mayo” street fair and fundraiser on May 26.

The event took place at the nonprofit’s historic location: an architecturally stunning 1909 building, originally one of Los Angeles’ oldest synagogues, now a multicultural interfaith destination.

More than 1,000 community members from the Pico-Union neighborhood and beyond turned out for a program that included free food distribution, a street fair and concert performance. 

PUP Founder Craig Taubman provided an address about the nonprofit’s work, and L.A. City Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez spoke. L.A. Mayor Karen Bass also provided an address by video, as did L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who announced a $200,000 grant for the interfaith nonprofit.

Larry Hochberg and Tom Flesh. Courtesy of ELNET

The board of directors of ELNET-US unanimously voted to appoint Tom Flesh as the chair of the board.

ELNET-US co-founder and outgoing Chair Larry Hochberg will serve as chair emeritus on the board and continue to mentor the next generation of ELNET leaders. As only the second chair in ELNET’s history, Flesh will build on the legacy of Hochberg and co-founder Newt Becker to further the reach of ELNET in the U.S. and throughout Europe and the Middle East, according to the organization. 

“It is my honor to be serving in this role at a critical organization,” Flesh said. “From defense ties to trade and diplomacy, Europe is critical to Israel’s security. I am committed to working with our professionals and community of supporters to strengthen these bonds at a time of great peril and opportunity for the Jewish state. As the son of Holocaust survivors, I could not think of a better way to honor my parents’ legacy.”

Flesh serves on the boards of several real estate companies and philanthropic organizations. He and his wife, Judy, are active in interfaith unity efforts, Jewish and Israel-based institutions and organizations focused on education and at-risk youth. 

“We are very fortunate to have Tom on our team at ELNET,” David Siegel, president of ELNET-US, said. “He has been indispensable to our efforts to expand the community of ELNET supporters in Los Angeles and throughout the nation.”

ELNET, also known as the European Leadership Network, is an Israel advocacy organization based in Europe that’s dedicated to broadening and deepening Israel-Europe relations. 

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