Moving and shaking: Shimon Peres, Father Patrick Desbois and more

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Feb. 11 King David Society gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel featured Shimon Peres, Israel’s former longtime president and two-time prime minister.
February 19, 2015

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Feb. 11 King David Society gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel featured Shimon Peres, Israel’s former longtime president and two-time prime minister. He appeared in conversation with Sharon Nazarian, an adjunct professor for political science at UCLA and the founder of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.

“I think it was one of the most important events that our Federation has been a part of,” Federation President and CEO Jay Sanderson told the Journal during a phone interview that followed. 

The evening was put on for L.A. Federation donors who pledge more than $25,000. 

“I ask you now to make an increased gift to the 2015 campaign, so we can take care of every Jew in here, and every Jew out there,” Julie Platt, the organization’s general campaign chair, said, addressing the approximately 300 community members and leaders in attendance. Her audience included Rabbi Robert Wexler, American Jewish University president; and Rabbis Sharon Brous of IKAR, Morley Feinstein of University Synagogue and Adam Kligfeld of Temple Beth Am. Nazarian’s parents, Younes and Soraya Nazarian, were there as well.

Event chairs were Alison and Gary Diamond, Laurie Gray and Steve Gordon, Sheila and Aaron Leibovic, and Ellen and Richard Sandler

Philanthropist Eli Broad had been scheduled to introduce Peres, but Broad and his wife, Edythe, did not attend due to the former feeling “under the weather,” according to Federation chairman Les Bider, who introduced Peres in Broad’s place. 

“This is a man whose personal story is deeply interwoven with the story of the State of Israel … if Israel were to have a Mount Rushmore, certainly he would be on it,” Bider said of Peres.

For more about Peres’ appearance, read the story on p. 27.

“We are here because it’s not finished. The disease is still here. Genocide is a disease.” 

French Catholic priest Patrick Desbois spoke to an audience of more than 100 people Feb. 11 at the United States premiere of “Holocaust by Bullets,” presented by Yahad-In Unum and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH). The exhibition features photographs, maps and eyewitness testimonies representing 10 years of investigative research carried out by Yahad-In Unum, founded by Desbois, that resulted in identifying more than 1,380 mass graves, documenting the systematic murders of Jews between 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and 1944, and interviewing more than 3,800 local non-Jewish witnesses. More than 2 million Jews were killed in this way.

Father Patrick Desbois at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.  Photo by Gina Cholick

After LAMOTH Executive Director Samara Hutman welcomed the guests, who included Poland’s Consul for Public Affairs Ignacy Zarski and Consul General of Hungary Laszlo Kalman, Sinai Temple’s Rabbi David Wolpe introduced Desbois, calling him one of the righteous people of the nations of the world. 

Southern California resident Steven Teitelbaum also spoke about his family’s emotional journey, with the help of Yahad-In Unum, in researching the fate of his great-grandparents in Wielopole, Poland, and traveling there to visit their former home, interview witnesses and say prayers at the murder site.

Desbois, who was accompanied by Yahad-In Unum’s Director of Research Patrice Bensimon, urged the audience to become involved. “What is dangerous is when we begin to sleep,” he said.

“Holocaust by Bullets” runs through March 15. For more about the exhibition, read the story on p. 25.

— Jane Ulman, Contributing Editor

Two Valley Reform congregations — Temple Judea in Tarzana and Temple Ahavat Shalom (TAS) in Northridge — sang their way into the night during recent Broadway-themed concerts.

Temple Judea hosted its evening of song, “Lullaby of Broadway 2” Jan. 29 in memory of Patty Wells, daughter of temple members Alan and Nancy Wiener. Broadway actors Jodie Langel, Jose Llana and former Broadway actor Jay Winnick, as well as Temple Judea’s Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot, who previously worked as an actress in New York and London, performed various pieces centered on the theme of the redemptive power of music. Elizabeth Woolf, a former student of Rabbi Cantor Wissot, also performed.

From left: Jose Llana, Jodie Langel, Jay Winnick, Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot and Elizabeth Woolf. Photo by Aly Blue Photography

“The whole experience of hearing two superior Broadway stars in such an intimate and personal experience, it basically blew the roof off,” Wissot said.

Event chairs were Judy Rutt, Bill Harris and Sandee Greene.

The TAS concert on Jan. 31, which raised around $25,000, was titled “Songs About Life, Love and Other Necessities.” The program featured 17 Broadway and pop songs. 

Cantor Jen Roher, Cantor Emerita Patti Linsky and cantorial intern Lily Tash performed during the concert, accompanied by jazz pianist Chris Hardin, bassist Kirk Smith and drummer Dan Schnelle. One of many highlights for the 270-member audience was Roher’s dance to “The Music and the Mirror” from “A Chorus Line.”

Wendy Krowne and Jan Saltsman co-chaired the event. TAS plans to host another concert in February 2016 as part of its yearlong celebration of the synagogue’s 50th anniversary, which will begin in August.

— Leilani Peltz, Contributing Writer

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.

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