Moving and shaking: Taste of Summer in Santa Monica, Peter Beinart at IKAR and more

The sun was gradually setting when nearly 600 people dressed in cocktail attire arrived at the fourth annual Taste of Summer event on July 25 in Santa Monica.
July 29, 2015

The sun was gradually setting when nearly 600 people dressed in cocktail attire arrived at the fourth annual Taste of Summer event on July 25 in Santa Monica. 

DJ Mark Chill and DJ Matt Urbano supplied the tunes as young professionals sampled palatable offerings from local eateries, sipped colorful libations and, if they so desired, got their hair braided and makeup done by beauty-to-your-door app beGlammed. 

Hosted by the Fulfillment Fund Leadership Council, a nonprofit that helps high schoolers from educationally and economically under-resourced communities attend college, the event drew CEO Kenny Rogers (not the Kenny Rogers), who stood on the patio of The Victorian, a 19th-century mansion, with a rosé champagne in hand. After clinking glasses, Rogers, 50, asked, “College should be the norm, right?” 

The Fund currently serves 2,700 students in Los Angeles, helping pave the path to college by offering scholarships, mentoring and college trips. 

“Our vision,” said Rogers, a congregant of Temple Isaiah, “is that one day all kids in Los Angeles will have the opportunity to go to college.” This particular summer soiree brought the Fund closer to that goal, raising more than $90,000.

Behind Rogers, a red carpet made the perfect photo-op for honorary chairs upon entrance, including former “Top Chef” contestant Nyesha Arrington and confectioner Valerie Gordon — each of whom attracted crowds when they conducted cooking tutorials during the evening — and KABC food reporter Lori Corbin.

Meanwhile, a silent auction lured bidders who sipped cocktails. Fare included drinks from microbreweries, progressive California cuisine fare and Sprinkles cupcakes (not to mention, chicken-and-waffles-flavored saltwater taffy from Dylan’s Candy Bar). As the night progressed, the crowds grew thicker.

As people continued sifting in, former Fund beneficiary Mario Urbano, 35, bumped into his mentor Sherry Banks, director of program partnerships at the Fund, after not being in contact for years. Urbano, who started with the nonprofit 20 years before and went on to graduate from Cal State Long Beach, said that the Fund helped him attend college. The two embraced like long-lost friends.

“They made the whole process of going to college easier, and I hope to give back and mentor,” he told the Journal.

Tess Cutler, Staff Writer

The Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE), which works with more than a dozen Los Angeles-area Jewish schools, has named Yossef “Yossie” Frankel as a technology specialist, a new position for its West Coast school program. 

Yossef “Yossie” Frankel.

Frankel is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educator who previously served as the director of the Consortium for Information and Academic Technologies, an international group that helps Jewish day schools integrate 21st-century education philosophy. 

“I am so excited to be joining the CIJE team,” Frankel said in a statement. “CIJE offers an outstanding and unique curriculum that is similarly aligned with my longstanding vision and focus of experiential STEM education.”

Frankel also has served as IT director at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles and director of academic technology at Tarbut V’ Torah Community Day School in Irvine, where he taught STEM robotics courses. He was nominated twice for Disney “Teacher of the Year” earlier in his career for his innovative teachings in middle school science.

“Yossie’s passion is helping Jewish schools the world over discover what a ‘21st century education’ really means and how it affects our children — the future of the Jewish people,” CIJE President Jason Cury said in a statement. “We look forward to his involvement in growing the CIJE program in California and ensuring excellence in California CIJE programs.”

CIJE partners with more than 160 American-Jewish day schools to provide them with the tools for a successful education, including an engaging curriculum, teacher training and advanced technology. Since 2001, CIJE has built 100 computer labs and 25 state-of-the-art science labs. 


— Amanda Epstein, Contributing Writer

Author and columnist Peter Beinart delivered an impassioned 20-minute lecture about why Israel and the United States don’t see eye to eye on Iran, as well as on the threat Israeli settlements in the West Bank pose to Israel’s democratic character and other topics after IKAR’s Friday night services on July 17. 

Known for his criticism of Israel, Beinart, author of 2012’s “The Crisis of Zionism,” appeared in front of a large crowd of worshipers at the egalitarian synagogue, which congregates every week at the Westside Jewish Community Center. 

He echoed an argument he made in a July 15 column in Haaretz, titled “Face It: U.S. and Israel Don’t Have the Same Interests.” Essentially, he said, the reason the United States and Israel have differing views about the dangers posed by the recent Iran nuclear deal — in which Iran agreed to halt its nuclear development program for at least 10 years in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions — is that American leaders believe terrorist organizations such as ISIS pose a greater threat to the U.S. than Iran does, unlike Israel.

Beinart, a New York-based contributing editor for The Atlantic and National Journal, stressed the need for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and, while denouncing Palestinian terrorism, said that Israel threatens its own existence by providing subsidies to Israelis who are living in the West Bank. He bemoaned how Israeli laws treats Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank differently, how Israelis in the region are treated as full citizens under the law and how their Palestinian counterparts are not afforded those same rights. 

IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous, who also has expressed criticism of Israel’s settlement policies, had words of praise for the visiting speaker. 

“You don’t have to agree with everything he writes to recognize he is incredibly wise and extremely knowledgeable and has a profound sense of moral clarity in whatever he writes,” she said while introducing Beinart. Attendees at the event included actor Theodore Bikel (who died July 21 at age 91), Bikel’s wife, Aimee Ginsburg; and Steven Windmueller, former dean of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Los Angeles campus.

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

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