February 21, 2020

YULA, DLP, ADL and Mensch Foundation Honors

Mensch International Foundation Founder Steve Geiger (right) honored conductor Zubin Mehta with the Mensch Award at Mehta’s Los Angeles home. Photo courtesy of of Steve Geiger

The Mensch Foundation, in a ceremony on March 14 at Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills, honored Hungarian Holocaust survivor Bill Harvey, who was a hairstylist to Hollywood stars, including actress Judy Garland; renowned Indian musical conductor Zubin Mehta, director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; and the late Leon Bass, an African-American soldier in World War II who encountered the survivors of Buchenwald while serving in a segregated unit; and refugee-aid organization HIAS.

The Shabbat program also paid tribute to the nearly 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust and to the memory of the late Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who the Nazis deported from Hungary in 1944. (March 19 marked 75 years since German forces occupied Hungary. Two months after the occupation, in May 1944, the Germans ordered the deportation of the country’s Jews, most of whom were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.)

During the event, Mensch Foundation Founder Steve Geiger discussed the state of Hungarian Jewry.

Temple of the Arts Rabbi David Baron led Shabbat services featuring the 40-voice Spirit of David Black Gospel Choir. 

Established in 2002, the Mensch Foundation aims to stamp out stereotyping and anti-Semitic and racist thinking. The nonprofit organization also serves Holocaust survivors in need.

From left: David Labkovski Project honoree Connie Marco; David Labkovski Project Executive Director Leora Raikin and David Labkovski Project Founding Board Member Lisa Lainer-Fagan. Photo courtesy of Leora Raikin

The third annual scholars luncheon for the David Labkovski Project (DLP) was held at the Marriot Hotel in Sherman Oaks on Feb. 24.

Drawing 200 guests, the gathering honored Connie Marco, a daughter of Holocaust survivors and founding member of the DLP, with the Legacy of Hope Award for her commitment and dedication to Holocaust education.

DLP Founder and Executive Director Leora Raikin provided an overview of the milestones achieved by the DLP during this past year, including the teaching and exhibiting of the DLP at West Point Military Academy.

Keynote speaker Marc Milstein lectured about the impact of the Holocaust and trauma on genes.

There was also a silent auction with hundreds of donated items.

The luncheon also showcased a DLP-produced virtual reality experience, “Step into the Past — Leap into the Future,” which allowed guests to travel back in time and explore Jewish cultural life in Vilnius, Lithuania, before the Holocaust.

The mission of the DLP is to educate people about the Holocaust through the art of Lithuanian-Israeli artist David Labkovski, who lived from 1906–1991.

YULA High School 2019 honorees Sheryl and Mark Hyman and their four sons at the YULA 2019 trustees event. Photo courtesy of YULA High School

YULA High Schools’ 2019 Trustees Event honored husband-and-wife philanthropists Sheryl Neuman and Mark Hyman for their dedication to
supporting the Jewish community. The orthodox high schools’ annual event also recognized Rabbi Uriel Hazan, from the YULA class of 2000, with the Young
Leadership Award.

Held on March 5 at YULA’s Nagel Family Campus, the evening opened with the class of 2019’s Batya Tropper and Ari Willner welcoming the YULA trustees and alumni.

YULA Girls High School Head of School Rabbi Joshua Spodek presented the
Young Leadership Award to Hazan.

YULA Boys High School Head of School Rabbi Arye Sufrin spoke about YULA’s mission, the honorees’ commitment to Jewish education and their support for YULA. He presented the Trustee Honoree award to Neuman and Hyman, who raffled a free week in their apartment in Israel. The winners were Dorit and Alan Teichman.

The evening concluded with author and radio host Michael Medved, Rabbi Hanoch Teller and Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief David Suissa giving guests copies of their books.

From left: Howard and Stephanie Sherwood, ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind, LAPD LGBTQ Liaison Julianne Sohn, ADL Regional Board Chair Scott Harris and Elaine and Larry Sherwood. Photo courtesy of the ADL.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), at a luncheon ceremony on March 12 at the Skirball Cultural Center, honored Southern California law enforcement personnel with its Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate. The award recognizes those who went above and beyond their basic job descriptions to keep their communities safe.

This year, the ADL’s individual honoree was Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) LGBTQ Liaison Officer Julianne Sohn. Sohn worked on a daily basis to bring change, awareness and acceptance by empowering the voices of the LGBTQ community, both from the community at large and from within police culture. 

Sohn thanked the ADL and the Sherwood family for their work in ensuring inclusivity and safety in the community and the “LGBTQ community in L.A., the ones who show up, do the work, and show us how to lead the way.”

Group honorees included the Inter-Agency House of Worship Task Force, a partnership of the LAPD, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the Pasadena Fire Department and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for bringing to justice the arsonist who intentionally desecrated houses of worship in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

“Arson destroys much more than the building itself. It can devastate a neighborhood and a community that depends on the church for support and as a place to worship their faith,” LAFD Chief Mike Castillo said.

The San Luis Obispo Police Depart-ment (SLOPD) received the award for launching Police And Community Toge-ther, comprised of community members and advocates that partnered with
SLOPD to affect positive social change through dialogue.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County District Attorney’s Office also received an award for Operation Rounding Third, a 20-month-long criminal investigation into the activities of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and its subordinate white racist gangs on the streets and in the jail system of Orange County.

— Erin Ben-Moche, Staff Writer