November 19, 2018

Movers & Shakers: JFS Building, Grief Center and Sheba 70th

From left: Harkham-GAON Academy Honorees Lily and Kam Babaoff pose with Rabbi Moises Benzaquen, the school’s founder, at the third annual Harkham-GOAN gala. Photo courtesy of Harkham-GAON Academy

Harkham-GAON Academy held its third annual gala at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in Brentwood on Oct. 9. 

The 2018 gala honorees were Lily and Kam Babaoff, supporters of the school.

More than 300 guests attended the event, which raised more than $350,000 for Harkham-GAON Academy.

Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief David Suissa welcomed the guests and gave the introductory speech; Sunny Sassoon, executive chairman of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, introduced the honorees; and American-Jewish singer-songwriter Elan Atias, lead singer for The Wailers, performed with the group throughout the evening. An academy student, Yehuda Shor, performed his own compositions on the piano during the cocktail hour. 

Harkham-GAON Academy is a modern Orthodox high school in Los Angeles. The gala provided an opportunity for community members to learn about the school by hearing speeches by Rabbi Moises Benzaquen, the school’s founder; Debora Parks, the school’s principal; Marlene Perl, the mother of former student Rena Perl; and Todd Gindy, a board member at Builders of Jewish Education.

Members of the academy’s board of directors were in attendance, including Kam Babaoff, the past president; Paul Mir, current president; Efrem Harkham, secretary-treasurer; and Sherri Rashidi. Also attending was state Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), a longtime friend of Kam Babaoff’s.


Friends of Sheba Medical Center’s gala committee poses together during the organization’s 70th anniversary gala in Beverly Hills.
Photo by Kyle Espeleta

Friends of Sheba Medical Center celebrated its 70th anniversary with an Oct. 14 gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Actor Jason Alexander hosted the evening, which also featured entertainment by Shanee, a musical artist.

Benjamin Boston and past president Gal Ben-Naim co-chaired the gala. 

Friends of Sheba Medical Center, which is based in Beverly Hills, raises funds and awareness for Sheba Medical Center Tel HaShomer, a hospital in Ramat Gan, Israel, that calls itself the “largest, most comprehensive medical center in Israel and the Middle East.” It has been serving Israel since the War of Independence in 1948. 

“The story of Sheba Medical Center is deeply connected to the history and story of the State of Israel,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has previously said. “Sheba Medical Center and their medical team are an integral part of the Zionist vision and are living proof of its success.”

Recent donors of more than $25,000 to the organization include Max Webb and Marilyn Ziering. The evening raised more than $1 million for Sheba Medical Center.

The approximately 450 attendees included Congressman Brad Sherman; Molly Soboroff, executive director of Friends of Sheba Medical Center; Friends of Sheba Medical Center Board Chair Parham Zar; professor Yitshak Kreiss, director general of Sheba Medical Center; and actor and Jewish Journal contributor Marcus Freed.

In an onstage conversation with Alexander, Kreiss said Sheba Medical Center treats 1.6 million people per year.

Alexander, for his part, opened the evening with a musical number and said the story of Sheba Medical Center is one of “heroes working to help other heroes.” 

Later, during his chat with Kreiss, he brought humor to an evening focused on the serious work of Israel’s medical center. He made a reference to the famous “Seinfeld” episode about male “shrinkage” in cold water. 

“If Israel can work on that for me, believe me,” he said, “I’ll make aliyah to Israel tomorrow.”


From left: Our House Grief Support Center’s CEO Michele Prince, “This Is Us” actress Caitlin Thompson, “This Is Us” writer and creator Dan Fogelman, and Our House Grief Support Center’s founder Jo-Ann Lautman at the House of Hope gala at Sony Studios. Photo by Alison Buck

Our House Grief Support Center celebrated its 25th anniversary on Oct. 6 with the House of Hope Gala at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City.

The fundraising event, the biggest in Our House’s history, drew 600 attendees and raised $900,000 for the organization, which provides grief support and education for adults and children in Los Angeles.

The gala honored Dan Fogelman, writer and creator of the hit NBC show “This Is Us;” The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund and its president, Edie Lutnick; and Our House alumnus, longtime supporter and former board chair Jory Goldman and her four children.

Special guests included comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, who shared his personal story of grief.

Ken Olin, who has directed more than a dozen episodes of “This Is Us,” presented the Good Grief Award to Fogelman.

Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple delivered opening remarks.

Our House’s mission is to provide the community with grief support services, education, resources and hope. 


From left: JFS Capital Campaign Co-chair David Levine; Pam and Steve Hirsh; Jennifer Hirsh; Lois and Richard Gunther; LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz; Adam Hirsh; JFS Executive Vice President Susie Forer-Dehrey, Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali and Silvio Eisenberg attend the rededication ceremony of the JFS Gunther-Hirsh Family Center.
Courtesy of Jewish Family Servicea

Dozens of community members converged on the central lawn at The Grove on Sept. 30 to celebrate the dedication of the new Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) flagship service center on nearby Fairfax Avenue as the JFS Gunther-Hirsh Family Center. 

In 2011, Lois and Richard Gunther stepped forward with a gift to kick-start the JFS capital campaign, the largest fundraising project in the social service agency’s history. Eight years later, the Hirsh family provided the campaign’s capstone gift. To commemorate the donors, JFS is dedicating the new building, currently under construction at 330 N. Fairfax Ave., in honor of the Gunther and Hirsh families.

Also to be located within the new building will be the JFS Jona Goldrich Multipurpose Center, formerly known as the JFS Freda Mohr Multipurpose Center. The Goldrich Family Foundation has provided a renaming gift to the senior center in memory of Jona Goldrich, the longtime JFS supporter and Holocaust survivor.

Attendees at the ceremony included David Levine, co-chair of the JFS capital campaign; Pam and Steve Hirsh; Jennifer Hirsh; Adam Hirsh; the Gunthers; Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz; JFS Executive Vice President Susie Forer-Dehrey; Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali and Silvio Eisenberg.

The Gunthers are longtime supporters of JFS. Lois is a past president of the JFS board of directors and has been a board member for more than 40 years. The Gunther children — Mark, Andrew and Dan — are also donors to the JFS capital campaign.

Anita Hirsh and her late husband, Stanley, who served as publisher of the Jewish Journal from 1997-2003, have been lifelong supporters of JFS. The Hirsh children — Steve, Pam, Elizabeth, Adam and Jennifer — are also JFS donors and volunteers.

Jona Goldrich, who died in 2016, was represented by his widow, Doretta, and his two daughters, Melinda and Andrea Cayton, in directing a foundation gift in his memory.

JFS Los Angeles is a multiservice agency that serves individuals, families and the community, particularly the poor and disadvantaged.


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