December 8, 2019

JNF Fundraiser, IAC Picks Saidoff, Art Exhibit

From left: American Friends of Hebrew University (AFHU) Honoree Brian Panish, AFHU Western Region Vice Chair Patricia Glaser, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Bret Stephens and AFHU Western Region President Mark Genender. Photo courtesy of American Friends of Hebrew University

American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU), which raises awareness and funds for Hebrew University in Jerusalem, honored leading trial attorney Brian Panish, founding partner of Panish Shea and Boyle, at the Harvey L. Silbert Torch of Learning Award Dinner.

The May 16 event at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel commemorated Panish’s professional achievements and civic leadership while drawing close to 400 attendees and raising nearly $900,000.  

The proceeds from the event benefited Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law and will advance AFHU’s mission in support of the university.

According to AFHU, the award remembers the late Silbert, a widely respected attorney and businessman who was committed to Israel, Hebrew University and the mission of AFHU for more than half a century.

Hebrew University Professor Barak Medina, the rector of the university who is also a former dean of the Faculty of Law, was in attendance.

“The Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law represents the pinnacle in legal education in the State of Israel and is the training ground for Israel’s greatest legal minds,” AFHU Western Region Vice Chair and Event Co-Chair Patricia Glaser said in a statement.

The event featured New York Times op-ed columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Bret Stephens as the keynote speaker. 

Rabbi Naomi Levy, founder of Nashuva congregation and author of “Einstein and the Rabbi,” delivered the invocation.


The Israeli American Council (IAC) has named business leader and philanthropist Naty Saidoff as the next IAC national chairman of the board.

Saidoff, who is a co-founder of the IAC and has served on its board of directors since its inception, will start in the new role at the end of the year, according to the May 23 announcement. He currently serves as an IAC Los Angeles council member.

“I’m honored to join our CEO, Shoham Nicolet, at the helm of the fastest-growing Jewish organization in America at this pivotal time,” Saidoff said in a statement. “The IAC has nurtured a vibrant coast-to-coast community and a dynamic national platform of programs. It is uniquely equipped to bring solutions to the table that make a transformative impact on the Jewish community in America and the state of Israel at this complex moment in Jewish history.” 

In addition to his work with the IAC, Saidoff and his wife, Debbie, are supporters of StandWithUs and sit on the board of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Saidoff is the founder and principal owner of Capital Foresight, a closely-held debt acquisition and commercial real estate holding company. The businessman recently acquired a controlling interest in Shikun & Binui, one of the largest construction and infrastructure companies in Israel.

In a statement, current IAC Chairman of the Board Adam Milstein said Saidoff was well qualified to be his successor.

“Naty is a visionary and talented Jewish leader, philanthropist, and business trailblazer — and will add so much to the IAC’s work as chairman,” Milstein said.

Saidoff is also an involved member of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and was the first Israeli-born member of their national board of governors. Every year the Saidoffs fund four exclusive trips as part of the AJC’s Project Interchange Institute, of which Debbie serves as national chair. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was part of their most recent delegation to Israel.

“Naty Saidoff is a visionary in philanthropy and business. The IAC couldn’t be more thrilled to have him on board as our next Chairman,” IAC Co-Founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet said in a statement. “Naty is a role model for me personally and for our entire community for his commitment to giving, activism, and service to the community and his social entrepreneurship. His leadership will be especially invaluable as we work to expand our partnerships within the American Jewish community to build stronger local Jewish communities, secure a vibrant Jewish future for our children, and strengthen the State of Israel.” 

An umbrella organization for Israeli-Americans, the IAC has chapters across the country, including in Los Angeles, and holds events and programs serving the Israeli-American and Jewish-American communities. 

— Erin Ben-Moche, Staff Writer


Artist Bruce Rubenstein (second from far right) with his wife, Shirly Brener, actor Mickey Rourke and his children, Journey and Mila, at his recent art opening. Photo courtesy of Vincent Chavez

The May 11 opening of Jewish artist Bruce Rubenstein’s solo exhibition, “Alive in the Superunknown,” at Castelli Art Space in Los Angeles drew many friends, art lovers and loyal art collectors, some of whom had traveled from as far as Dallas to view new art by Rubenstein.

The New York native, who moved to Los Angeles in 1985, specializes in large-scale artworks, blending abstract forms and organic shapes with hints of hidden symbols and figures. Rubenstein also enjoys painting on old wooden doors instead of the standard canvas, using mixed-media to create stunning pieces of art.

A few celebrities attended the exhibit, among them Mickey Rourke and Tina Knowles, who is pop star Beyoncé’s mother, and her husband Richard Lawson.

Rourke, who owns two paintings by Rubenstein, has been a longtime friend of the artist. The two met in New York City while Rubenstein was working as a window dresser in Manhattan. Soon after they met, Rourke offered him a job as a driver and assistant. Rubenstein packed up his things and moved to L.A. 

“I worked my way up the ranks and eventually ran his production company and co-wrote with him the movie ‘Bullet,’ ” Rubenstein said.

The semi-autobiographical 1996 movie, based on Rubenstein’s life growing up on the streets of New York, tells the story of Butch Stein, a Jewish junkie from the mean streets of Brooklyn. Rourke played Stein, and the late rapper Tupac Shakur played Tank, a local drug dealer. Both of Rubenstein’s brothers died of drug overdoses many years ago, and he was left alone to support his ailing mother.

After 15 years of working with Rourke, Rubenstein founded a decorative painting company called Red Ruby Paintworks and did murals and Venetian plastering.  His huge murals can be found throughout the Los Angeles area including at the Henry Fonda Theatre, Wolfgang Puck restaurants and the Highlands nightclub. In recent years, he was also the manager of stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay and for two years was the executive producer of “Dice” on Showtime.

The one constant in his life was art. 

“It takes years and years to find your true original voice and style as an artist and now that I have found it, I can’t stop painting. Sometimes I paint 10 hours a day, every day,” Rubenstein said. “What I’m representing to the world today is absolutely original and it’s me.”

Rubenstein is married to Israeli actress Shirly Brener and is the father of two girls, Mila, 14, and Journey, 6.

— Ayala Or-el, Contributing Writer


From left: Amanda Bialack, Jodi Marcus, Alyse Golden Berkley, Libby Weiss, Sharon Freedman, Deena Singer, Civia Caroline and Myra Chack Fleischer attend Jewish National Fund’s Women for Israel luncheon. Photo courtesy of Jewish National Fund

Jewish National Fund’s Women for Israel (WFI) held its annual luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. 

The May 14 event featured former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Capt. (reserve) Libby Weiss and surprise remarks from Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi.

Co-chaired by Amanda Bialack, Civia Caroline and Deena Singer, with honorary chair Beverly Cohen, the event took place 71 years to the day since Israel declared its independence.

Weiss recounted her experience growing up in Portland, Ore., and attending JNF’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel, which helped secure her connection to the Jewish state. In speaking about her experience working as head of international social media for the IDF, she said: “The journey from the battlefield to the headline is very short. I had a front-row seat during conflicts and know how the truth can be manipulated.” 

She also recounted the humanitarian work of the IDF, such as when the IDF traveled across the world to set up field hospitals in Haiti and the Philippines after natural disasters there.

Davidi was grateful for the opportunity to address the room full of women and thanked them for their support.

“When Sderot is strong, Israel is strong,” the Israeli elected official said. “When you support Jewish National Fund, Sderot is strong.”

In a statement, JNF Los Angeles Associate Director Lisa Shaoul said she appreciated the commitment of JNF’s women supporters.

“Our women for Israel are a strong, dynamic group of committed American women philanthropists who work tirelessly to improve the lives of Israelis,” Shaoul said. “We are so proud of the breadth and depth of our work and hope to continue making an impactful difference so that our Jewish homeland will continue to blossom and lives will continue to flourish.” 


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