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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Moving and shaking: Rick Santorum, Brad Sherman, L.A. Dodgers and more

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Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential hopeful, spoke for an hour on foreign policy, Iran and radical Islam at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills on Aug. 27 to a small but overwhelmingly sympathetic audience. 

Sporting a black kippah and accompanied to the Modern Orthodox shul by his son, Daniel, Santorum was introduced by Rabbi Kalman Topp and then gave a brief history lecture on Islam and the Shia-Sunni split. He was very critical of the Iran deal. 

“The president has negotiated a deal that has given Iran everything they wanted and more, [and] has not accomplished anything that he set out at the beginning of negotiations,” Santorum said. “We gave in on things that they didn’t even want to negotiate at the beginning, which is the removal of the arms embargo.”

Santorum wrapped up after about 20 minutes of Q-and-A from the audience and made a last pitch to the crowd to help support his campaign. Afterward, he hung around in the lobby for 30 minutes to chat with attendees.

— Jared Sichel, Staff Writer


Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and the Iranian-American-Jewish organization 30 Years After came together Aug. 27 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills during an event that underscored their mutual opposition to the controversial Iranian nuclear deal.

Congressman Brad Sherman (far right) presents 30 Years After leaders Sam Yebri and Shanel Melamed with an American flag. Photo by Ryan Torok

Sherman said that there are many reasons to oppose the nuclear deal, with one of them being that it fails to prevent Iran from building centrifuges after 10 to 15 years. “Under the agreement, the lifting of the sanctions are permanent, so why not the limitations on centrifuges?” Sherman said while addressing a crowd of about 90 people.

Sounding almost defeatist as he discussed the chances Congress has in passing a resolution against the Iran deal when it votes later this month, Sherman said President Barack Obama will continue to devote energy toward ensuring that the U.S. keeps up its end of the deal.

“The president loves the deal. … He doesn’t think this is an OK deal; he thinks this is a spectacular deal for America; he thinks this is a spectacular deal for Israel,” he said.

The evening event also featured a panel that addressed topics such as human rights violations against the LGBT and Baha’i communities in Iran. The panel, which preceded Sherman’s appearance, included West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch and Iranian-American Baha’i community member Mona Iman. Thirty Years After Executive Director Shanel Melamed and President Sam Yebri moderated the panel. 

The event was one of at least two local community events about the Iran deal 30 Years After has held. Sherman, for his part, said he hopes the Los Angeles community continues to show an interest in the topic even after the important vote in Congress.

“This issue doesn’t end in September or October,” he said. “I want to keep every one of you informed as things develop.”


Actor Joe Mantegna (“Criminal Minds”) served as the auctioneer of two Israeli Tavor assault rifles on Aug. 23, raising approximately $4,000 for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. It was all part of an event organized by the Orange County-based shooting club Bullets & Bagels, which drew 125 people to the Raahauge’s shooting range in Corona. 

Actor Joe Mantegna appeared at a Bullets & Bagels event in Corona. Photo by Ryan Torok

Israeli Weapons Industries donated the rifles for the event, with Michael Kassnar in attendance on behalf of the company. Rachael Kogen, wife of Fred Kogen, a mohel and founder of Bullets & Bagels, said she was pleased that the event was able to express support for Israeli troops. 

The event began at 10 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m., with people coming and going throughout the day and practicing their shooting at the outdoor range with the help of instructors. Attendees noshed on bagels, sandwiches and even gelato between their turns at the range.

Bullets & Bagels aims to provide a safe and haimish space for pro-gun members of the Southern California Jewish community. Fred Kogen said the club hopes to expand in the coming year to create chapters in other states and increase membership to 250 people. The club will be holding its inaugural gala in Los Alamitos in the near future, he said.

Mikey Szabo, 16, a student at YULA Boys High School, and his father, Howard Szabo, were among those who took part in the event. 

“It’s a lot of fun,” Mikey said of visiting the shooting range, the sound of gunfire ringing in the background. “It’s more of a sporting thing than anything — gun safety and sporting.”


Despite the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bats fell silent during a no-hitter at the hands of the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 30, the local Jewish community managed to make its voice heard as part of Dodgers Jewish Community Day.

From left: Rabbis Yonah Bookstein of Pico Shul and Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom enjoyed an evening at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 30 for Dodgers Jewish Community Day. Photo by Ryan Torok

Orthodox Westwood Kehilla Rabbi Avi Stewart sang the national anthem, calling it “a dream come true,” in a statement.

Jason Stern, president of the Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) men’s club, said in an email before the game that Jewish groups had purchased approximately 1,000 tickets to the game, which is “a nice increase from last year.”

“Putting on an event where everyone has a great time is what I enjoy the most,” he said in a follow-up after the game.

He was joined at the game — a 2-0 loss — by Jewish fans that included Rabbi Noah Farkas of VBS and Rabbi Yonah Bookstein of Pico Shul. There also was Jeff Rohatiner, owner of the Pico-Robertson-based Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory, which earlier this summer began selling kosher hot dogs at the stadium regularly. Many fans lined up for the hot dogs while wearing T-shirts with “Dodgers” written in Hebrew.

Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, who is Jewish, received a particularly warm welcome from many in the stands.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email [email protected] 

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