December 19, 2018

Movers & Shakers: Bel Air Affaire, Garden Party, High-Tech Tashlich

Photo by Howard Pasamanick Photography

At its 10th annual Bel Air Affaire, American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU) honored Hella and Chuck Hershson with the 2018 Humanitarian Torch of Learning Award for their leadership in the organization and their support of the school.

The Sept. 15 event, held at the Los Angeles home of Brindell Gottlieb, also raised $950,000 to support scholarships for Hebrew University students.

Event chairs included AFHU national and western-region board members Renae Jacobs-Anson and Helen Jacobs-Lepor.  Honorary chairs included western region vice chair Patricia Glaser and her husband, Sam Mudie, as well as May Ziman and her husband, Richard, the western region chairman.

Hebrew University President Asher Cohen attended.

Funds raised by AFHU are used to support scholarly and scientific achievement at the Hebrew University, to create scholarships, to maintain and build new facilities and to assist the university’s recruitment of new faculty.


East Side Jews’ Days of Awesome tashlich pilgrimage — “Down to the River” — was an evening to tune in to reflection, storytelling and community
at Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park.
(Photo by Kelly Dwyer)

About 150 young professionals at a Sept. 15 tashlich service organized by the East Side Jews group silently made their way to the edge of the Los Angeles River in Elysian Valley and, while wearing headphones, cast small stones into the water.

The High Holy Days ritual, held at Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park, was part of the organization’s seventh annual Down to the River event in its Days of Awesome series.

“It was an amazing site to see 150 people, all silent along the riverbank, throwing stones,” Joel Serot, events manager at the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center, which founded East Side Jews, said in an email. 

Participants were given headphones so that, as they made their way to the river, they could listen to an immersive musical composition by Murray Hidray and listen to  words of reflection from Wilshire Boulevard Temple Rabbi Susan Goldberg, who was at the event, speaking to them live.

The participants’ casting of stones replaced the ritual’s traditional tossing of breadcrumbs, which symbolizes letting go of mistakes of the past year.

“This is a more environmentally safe alternative and was a big part of our goals to continue to protect our community’s amazing public spaces like the L.A. River,” Serot said.

The early evening event also included food, storytelling and community activities, with Amie Segal leading a body-movement exercise, Thurston MacAfee reading a story of redemption, and the Nathan Serot Quartet playing jazz. Additionally, the art installation AtoneTent showcased the talents of East Side Jews artists-in-residence Betsy Medvedovsky and Katya Apekina, and Nikki Nachum led what was described as an “animal card reading.”

Havdalah and song concluded the event, which was co-organized by alternative Jewish community The Living Room.


Following his swearing-in ceremony, California State Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, who was elected in June, helped pack hygiene kits for homeless people.
(Photo by Jenna Freeman)

State Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel was sworn in to office on Sept. 16 during a ceremony at Reseda High School. 

Gabriel, a constitutional rights attorney and member of the Jewish community, won a special election this past June to represent Assembly District 45, which includes most of the western San Fernando Valley, including Encino, Woodland Hills and Tarzana. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered the keynote address. 

“Jesse Gabriel is the right leader at the right time to help advance our most important work — from fighting for more affordable housing to protecting all Californians, no matter who they are or where they come from,” Garcetti said.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Congressman Brad Sherman and state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon also spoke. Former City Controller Wendy Gruel emceed.

Following the ceremony, participants took part in a service project, in partnership with LA Family Housing, that involved packing 600 kits with essential hygiene products for homeless people.

“It was important that this event include an element of service, because giving back is at the core of our work in the Assembly,” Gabriel said. “I am grateful to be serving the people of the 45th Assembly District, for placing their trust in me. I will strive every day to honor that trust and to serve you with integrity.”

The Assembly seat was vacated in December by Democrat Matt Dababneh, who resigned after a lobbyist alleged he had sexually assaulted her. Dababneh denied the allegation.


A selichot concert held by the Sephardic Educational Center at the Kahal Joseph Congregation featured six hazzanim from Israel and four Arabic musicians.
(Photo courtesy of Sephardic Educ. Ctr.)

The Middle East met West L.A. when the Sephardic Educational Center (SEC) held its annual Selichot concert on Sept. 16 at Kahal Joseph Congregation.

The concert featured six hazzanim from Israel and four Arabic musicians from Lebanon, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.

About 150 people enjoyed the program, including the SEC’s director, Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, and its President Neil Sheff.

The SEC, which has its historic campus in Jerusalem’s Old City and has various Diaspora branches, is committed to strengthening Jewish identity in youth and young adults. 


From left: Debbie Paperman, Democrats for Israel Los Angeles (DFILA) President Andrew Lachman, State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Rami Frankel, DFILA Vice President Michelle Elmer, Micha Liberman, Sunny Zia, Amanda Mintz, Nitzan Harel and Leeor Alpern attended the DFILA garden party.
Photo by Ryan Hughes

Democrats for Israel Los Angeles (DFILA) held a garden party Sept. 16 at the Beverly Hills home of Dan and Myra Demeter that honored state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Jewish Democratic Council of America finance chair Ada Horwich.

At the event, attended by about 100 people, Rendon discussed how lessons learned from Israel’s water conservation practices have influenced California’s water policy. Horwich addressed her support of Israel and the importance of supporting pro-Israel Democratic candidates.

Others who spoke included Assembly members Jesse Gabriel and Laura Friedman; Eitan Weiss, deputy chief of mission at the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles; and Eric Bauman, chair of the California Democratic Party.

Attendees included DFILA President Andrew Lachman and Vice President Michelle Elmer; L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin; L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz; Long Beach Community College District board member Sunny Zia; Democratic Assembly candidate Josh Lowenthal, Beverly Hills Unified School District Board candidate Rachelle Marcus and members of the DFILA board. 

DFILA, according to its website, supports pro-Israel Democratic candidates for local and federal offices, fights anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel, and promotes progressive Jewish and Zionist values. 


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