January 28, 2020

LAMOTH Gala, Adat Ari El Anniversary

Hadassah Southern California Festival of Lights Luncheon attendees included (from left, top row) Katherine Kahen, Katrin Massaband, Janet Rivani, Parinaz Nourmand, Mitra Irani, Evelyn Eshaghian and Ilana Mokhtarzadeh and (from left, bottom row) Yassi Bolour, Parvin Kadisha, Farideh Dardashti and Simin Neman. Photo courtesy of Hadassah Southern California

Hadassah Southern California’s Haifa and Malka Groups held their annual Festival of Lights Hanukkah Luncheon and Boutique on Nov. 18 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Yassi Bolour and Simin Neman chaired the sold-out event, which drew 450 attendees and raised funds to support the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem.

The Haifa and Malka groups of Hadassah Southern California hold events that raise funds to support medical research through the medical organization. 

At the event, Haifa President Manijeh Javahery and Malka co-presidents Sheila Ghodsian and Niloufar Shahery presented the Katherine Merage Humanitarian Award to Elizabeth Tishbi Mossanen for her contributions in raising awareness to enrich the lives of children and young adults with special needs.

The Hadassah Medical Organization conducts 50 percent of all medical research in Israel and treats more than 1 million patients a year regardless of race, religion or nationality.

“With Jerusalem’s population growth and becoming a hub of entrepreneurial businesses, Hadassah is happy to answer the call from Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat to expand the hospital,” Hadassah Southern California President Debbie Kessler said. “The Persian groups of our region have always been very philanthropic and supportive of our mission, and we are tremendously grateful for their efforts.”

From left: Beth Kean, Andrea Cayton, Mona Golabek, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Paul Nussbaum, Jamie Rosenblood and Paulette Nessim attend Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust’s 2018 annual gala. Photo by Jordan Strauss/AP Images for Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

At its annual gala on Dec. 3, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport by honoring concert pianist Mona Golabek, who teaches students worldwide about her mother’s experience as a Kindertransport survivor through her one-woman show, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane.” 

The event, held at the Beverly Hilton, also honored British journalist and politician Daniel Finkelstein. The associate editor and columnist for The London Times spoke about his grandfather and his mother, who was a friend of Anne and Margot Frank and a survivor of Bergen-Belsen.

“Hitler did not mean the Jewish people to rise again, but we have risen again,” Finkelstein said. “And the kinder have played their full part.   So here’s to the brave who took all life could throw at them but still stood tall.”

Also appearing was sex therapist and media personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who recalled the trauma of waving goodbye to her mother and grandmother at age 10 as she left Frankfurt on a Kindertransport train bound for Switzerland. 

Television personality Melissa Rivers emceed the event, which drew 70 Holocaust survivors, including seven survivors of the Kindertransport. At the start of the program, which coincided with the second night of Hanukkah, the survivors lit the Hanukkah candles.

Additional guests included USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith; museum Vice President Andrea Cayton and her husband, Barry Cayton; board of directors member David Wiener and his wife, Sheryl Wiener; board members Melinda Goldrich and Hagy Belzberg; philanthropist Doretta Goldrich; documentary producer Patti Kenner; Hollywood agent Fred Specktor; real estate agent and television personality Josh Flagg; actress Olesya Rulin.

Funds raised at the gala benefited the museum’s education programs. More than 20,000 students are projected to visit the museum in 2019 for free tours and Holocaust survivor talks, according to the museum.

From left: Adat Ari El past presidents Manny Aftergut, Ernie Goodman, Paul Pepperman, Elyse Weise, Sandy Samuels, Rand Harris, Harold Masor, Mel Wynn, Phil Metson, Irwin Goldring, Lorin Fife, Bennett Spiegel, Jill Lasker, Myra Newman and Bruce Newman.
Photo courtesy of Adat Ari El

San Fernando Valley congregation Adat Ari El celebrated its 80th anniversary on Dec. 1 with a gala at its synagogue campus that honored the community’s past presidents and their achievements. 

“It was important at this event that we recognize the accomplishments and leadership of our past presidents,” said Adat Ari El Executive Director Eric Nicastro. “Without their foresight, dedication and generosity, we wouldn’t be where we are today. This year, we have really focused on moving forward and guiding the community into the next 80 years.” 

The gala, which drew 280 guests, marked the culmination of a transformative year for the Conservative synagogue, which introduced congregants to a new membership model, a new website, an online membership portal and several changes to the synagogue grounds. Nearly 200 new families joined Adat Ari El in 2018, which marked the most substantial growth for the Valley Village community in the past 20 years, said Jessica Biber, the synagogue’s director of community relations.

“It is truly an honor to celebrate our 80th anniversary alongside many of those who contributed to the foundation and growth of this community,” said Adat Ari El Senior Rabbi Jonathan Bernhard. “Generations of families have called Adat Ari El their second home, and it is crucial that we take a moment to reflect on those that helped pave the way for the generations to come.” 

From left: Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California (JCPSC) honorees Rabbi Ruth Sohn, Craig and Louise Taubman, Jonathan Jacoby, Cari Uslan, Bailey London, and Erik Ludwig, representing the Zelikow School for Nonprofit Management at HUC-JIR.
Photo by Becca Grumet, JCPSC

The Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California’s 38th Annual Honors dinner on Nov. 29 honored Jonathan Jacoby, Rabbi Ruth Sohn, Cari Uslan, Bailey London, Louise Brent Taubman and Craig Taubman, and the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).

About 200 Jewish professionals from 20 organizations attended the event at Sinai Temple in Westwood.

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller called Jacoby, who was presented with the Career Achievement Award, a “master collaborator” whose “visionary and courageous leadership turned the New Israel Fund into a major voice” in the conversation on Israel.

“If we take Israel seriously, we can’t stay on the sidelines,” Jacoby said, invoking Hillel’s injunction, “kol yisrael areyvim zeh lazeh,” translating to “all of Israel is responsible for one another.” Jacoby said “the word ‘areyvim’ means more than ‘responsible.’ An ‘arev’ is a guarantor. All Jews are guarantors of one another.”  

“Mentoring itself is being lifted up for the powerful role it can play in our lives,” said Sohn, as she accepted the Bobbi Asimow Award for Professional Mentorship for her work at HUC-JIR. She added that mentoring gives “incredible gifts,” including “the chance to develop a close relationship with a colleague or other person with whom we can ask questions and wonder out loud and not be afraid of being judged for not knowing.” 

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA) CEO Randy Schwab presented Uslan, director of development at JBBBSLA, with the Professional Excellence in Fundraising Award in recognition of her work transforming the agency and spurring growth.

“We don’t do this work for the accolades and the awards,” Uslan said. “We do it because we want to improve the lives of those who are struggling in our community.” 

“We’ve all heard the cliché, ‘It takes a village,’ and I can’t help but reflect on the village that has been so valuable in raising me over the last 12 years,” said London, accepting the Mark Meltzer Young Professional Award. 

The Taubmans received the Alan J. Kassin Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement for their work creating The Pico Union Project, a multifaith cultural arts center and house of worship. 

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in our 60 years on this planet, it’s that the strongest currency in the universe is love,” Craig Taubman said. “We all need it, seek it, flourish and thrive when we find it. … May we all be remembered for lives well-lived and well-loved.”

A special award was presented in honor of the HUC-JIR’s Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management’s 50th anniversary. After a video that highlighted the school’s achievements and paid tribute to its founding director, the late Gerry Bubis, and its director emeritus, Richard Siegel, who died in July, alumni in attendance were asked to stand in recognition of their role in strengthening Jewish life in Los Angeles and beyond.

— Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer

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