February 20, 2019

AIPAC Gala, Jewish Nonprofit Grants

AIPAC Regional Director Wayne Klitofsky (far left) moderates a panel with U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ben Sasse on the U.S.-Israel alliance, the importance of bipartisan support of Israel and broader Middle East Policy. Photo courtesy of AIPAC

The 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gala was held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Jan. 27.

About 1,300 attendees enjoyed a program that featured Israeli world champion rower Moran Samuel, 36, who had a promising basketball career in Israel prior to being paralyzed in her lower body after she suffered a rare spinal stroke at the age of 24. 

The event honored the memory of past AIPAC Chairman Larry Weinberg, who died earlier this year after a years-long battle with bone marrow cancer. His wife, Barbi, and 14 members of the Weinberg family attended.

Also in attendance was Evie Steinberg, whose son Max died during the 2014 Gaza war as a lone soldier. Max’s brother, Jake, who works for AIPAC in the San Fernando Valley, shared remarks while joined onstage by the Steinberg family. 

The keynote presentation was a bipartisan conversation between Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who announced her 2020 presidential bid on Feb 10. The conversation was moderated by AIPAC Regional Director Wayne Klitofsky.

AIPAC is a lobbying group that advocates for pro-Israel policies in Washington.


The Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center, one of the four organizations to receive an inaugural Next Stage Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Silverlake Independent Jewish Community

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles has announced the start of its 2019 Next Stage Grants program, which will award grants of up to $250,000 over a three-year period to Jewish nonprofit organizations looking to climb to their next level of success. 

A mandatory workshop for grant-seekers to learn about the application process will be held on March 12. An August deadline will be set for submission of applications. More information about the program is available on the foundation’s website at jewishfoundationla.org/next-stage-grants.

Since launching the grants program in 2017, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million to Creative Community for Peace, ETTA, Friendship Circle of Los Angeles and the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center. 

“Next Stage Grants were conceived to offer additional support to Jewish nonprofits so that they could learn, grow and more effectively impact our diverse community,” Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles President and CEO Marvin Schotland said in a statement. “We’ve seen how this funding has helped our inaugural cohort of grantees. They’ve developed strategic business plans, redesigned their infrastructures and expanded their fundraising efforts. All this leads to more clients being served and overall organizational growth. We’re excited to invest in a new group of nonprofits and help them reach the next stage of their development.”   

Established in 1954, the foundation manages charitable assets of more than $1 billion, partners with donors on meaningful philanthropic activities and distributes grants to nonprofits across a diverse spectrum of services. 


Volunteers from the steering committee of the 2019 Persian American Women’s Conference.
Photo by Kaveh Mobayeni

Iranian author and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad demanded an end to the compulsory wearing of the hijab, or the women’s head covering, in Iran at the sixth annual Persian American Women’s Conference (PAWC) at the London hotel in West Hollywood on Jan. 29. 

“Compulsory hijab is the biggest symbol of oppression for the women of Iran,” said Alinejad, who has lived in exile in New York since 2014 and whose “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign has more than 2 million followers on social media. 

The event, chaired by Haleh Kohan, drew 400 attendees, most of them Iranian-American Jews, and featured an all-female panel discussion based on the theme, “Resiliency: Your Inner Voice.”

The conference also recognized community leaders Sima Baravarian, former UCLA undergraduate president Arielle Mokhtarzadeh and Nicole’s Kitchen founder Nicole Dayani. 

PAWC’s Spotlight Award recognized Nicolette Gabay Hanasab and her partner, Brigitte Kashani, founders of the fine jewelry line August and June, for innovation in entrepreneurship.

Founded in 2012, the nonprofit PAWC is composed entirely of volunteers. 

Tabby Refael, Contributing Writer


From left: “Unorthodox” hosts Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz, who appeared at Adat Shalom this month for a live recording of their podcast. Photo courtesy of ARJE

“Unorthodox” hosts Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick and
Liel Leibovitz appeared on Feb. 8 at Westside L.A. congregation Adat Shalom to record an episode of their podcast, now available on the Tablet magazine website.

About 250 people — including Adat Shalom Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz and fans of the podcast who traveled from Detroit, West Virginia, North Carolina and even Brazil — attended the taping. 

Guests on Episode 168, “Unorthodox Loves L.A,” were Rachel Sumekh, founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger; actor-writer-producer Laura Miller Rogen, who created the Alzheimer’s-focused charity Hilarity for Charity; and veteran TV writer and producer Jonathan Groff, the show’s “Gentile of the Week.”

Sumekh talked about her organization’s efforts to feed college students who can’t afford meals, and about being an Iranian Jew working in a predominately Ashkenazic Los Angeles.

Rogen spoke about the inaccuracies of comic portrayals of Alzheimer’s. Her latest Netflix film, “Like Father,” was inspired by her real-life experience in taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s.

Rogen also discussed encountering anti-Semitism in her hometown of Lakeland, Fla., among people ignorant about Jews. “Now I have been in Los Angeles for 15 years and am surrounded by people who are only like me,” she said. 

— Erin Ben-Moche, Journal Digital Content Manager 


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