February 24, 2020

‘Heart,’ Bet Tzedek Galas; Rabbi Hudson a ‘Hero’

The Save a Child’s Heart Los Angeles gala drew (from left) Dr. Sion Houri, Dr. Hillel Laks and honorary co-chairs Judy Shore and Jack Mayer. Photo by Abraham Joseph Pal

The annual gala for the Israeli humanitarian organization Save a Child’s Heart was held Feb. 9 at UCLA’s Royce Hall and honored Jeff Frost, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, and Dr. Hillel Laks, a UCLA professor of surgery known for his pioneering surgical approaches to complex heart disease.

The program, which had the theme “Mystery of the Heart,” was hosted by actress Lisa Edelstein, known for her role as Dr. Lisa Cuddy on the TV show “House.” It featured children and their parents who benefited from the humanitarian organization’s assistance with pediatric cardiac care.

One of the parents, Melissa Baldwin, talked about how she and her husband, Larry, adopted their now 9-year-old son, Benjamin, from China. Benjamin had multiple heart problems and was flown to Israel, where he had several heart operations that saved his life.

Save a Child’s Heart is an Israeli humanitarian organization that specializes in charitable pediatric cardiac care and provides urgent pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care for children from developing countries. Close to 5,000 children from more than 50 countries have been saved by the organization’s assistance. 

Among the event’s performers was Lior Suchard, an Israeli mentalist who wowed the audience by guessing the name of a middle-aged woman’s first love and seemingly transforming a $1 bill into $200.

Other performers and presenters included Jim Belushi with The Sacred Hearts band, the Voices of Hope Children’s Choir and actor Freddie Highmore (“The Good Doctor”).

— Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

Temple Israel of Hollywood Associate Rabbi Jocee Hudson is to receive the Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award. Photo courtesy of Temple Israel of Hollywood

Clergy-led organization T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights will present Temple Israel of Hollywood (TIOH) Associate Rabbi Jocee Hudson with its Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award. Hudson is one of four people who will be honored with the award during a ceremony in New York in May.

According to a statement from TIOH, the award recognizes Hudson’s “accomplishments in leading TIOH’s social justice and human rights efforts over the past four years.” At TIOH, Hudson has engaged the community in statewide campaigns on criminal justice reform, affordable housing and climate change, among other efforts.

T’ruah, which aims to protect human rights in North America, Israel and the Palestinian territories, said Hudson was chosen for the award “for mobilizing her community to work with partners from diverse backgrounds around issues of race and criminal justice, housing and food insecurity, climate change and gun violence.”

TIOH Senior Rabbi John Rosove congratulated Hudson on being named for this award, saying it “establishes Hudson as one of our Reform movement’s national leaders in human rights work. She does so with her characteristic focus, vision, audacity, modesty, humility, compassion and passion for coalition-building, justice and human rights.”

Hudson said many people have helped make TIOH the social justice-oriented Reform congregation that it is today.

“My service at Temple Israel in the area of social justice is made possible by the large and amazing team of skilled, fearless and tireless volunteers who I work with,” she said. “I humbly accept this award on behalf of each and every one of them.”

From left: Bet Tzedek President and CEO Jessie Kornberg; Bet Tzedek Co-Founders Rabbi Stanley Levy and Luis Lainer; board chair Meryl Chae; Sandy Samuels; Retired L.A. County Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman; attorney David Lash; and L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer celebrate Bet Tzedek’s 45th anniversary. Photo courtesy of Bet Tzedek

More than 1,000 lawyers, community leaders and philanthropists gathered at the JW Marriott at LA Live on Feb. 19 to celebrate Bet Tzedek’s 45th anniversary.

The annual gala dinner raised more than $2 million to support Bet Tzedek’s work to provide free legal services to those in need. The event also honored Edward Elsner, a senior outreach attorney at Bet Tzedek, with the Jack H. Skirball Community Justice Award; Richard B. Jones, a Bet Tzedek board member and wealth manager at Merrill Lynch, with the Luis Lainer Founder’s Award; and Bank of America with the Rose L. Schiff Commitment to Justice Award.

Delivering welcoming remarks, U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) applauded Bet Tzedek’s “45-year commitment to removing the barriers to justice so many face in our community.” 

In presenting the Rose L. Schiff Commitment to Justice Award, Los Angeles City Attorney and former Bet Tzedek Executive Director Mike Feuer said, “there can never be a thing as too much justice in our city.”

Bet Tzedek, which is Hebrew for “House of Justice,” was founded in 1974 as an all-volunteer agency fighting for Holocaust victims. Today, the organization provides free legal services for low-income individuals and families in Los Angeles.

YULA Boys High School and Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad students got
together for a monthly Torah-learning session. Photo courtesy of Josh Resin

For the fifth time in the past year, boys from Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad (YOEC) in Los Angeles joined students at YULA Boys High School on Feb. 7 to learn the talks and teachings of the rebbe on the weekly Torah portion. 

When the students from the two schools came together, Rabbi Joseph Schreiber, principal of Judaic Studies at YULA, spoke about the importance of unity among Jewish students in Los Angeles and the opportunity to strengthen the L.A. Jewish community. 

Chabad emissary Josh Resin, who helped create the program, said in an email that the initiative was necessary at a time when there is so much dividing the Jewish community. 

“The coming together of students from different backgrounds who all share a love for the study of Torah is of the utmost importance, especially in a time where there are many things that may serve to divide us,” Resin said. “To focus on what we have in common rather than what sets us apart.”

The joint learning sessions are held about once a month, Resin said.

Those involved in the program include Rabbi Ezra Binyomin Schochet, dean of YOEC, and Rabbi Arye Sufrin, head of school at YULA Boys High School.

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