February 24, 2020

Gabrielle Giffords, WWII Vet Honored, JVS Scholarships

From left: Pastor Michael McBride, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Lisa Friedman and Robyn Thomas appeared together at Shalhevet High School for a discussion about how faith communities address gun violence. Photo courtesy of IKAR

Former congresswoman and gun violence
survivor Gabrielle Giffords wants people to continue the challenging fight for stricter gun control laws. 

“Stopping gun violence takes courage, the courage to do what’s right,” Giffords said at Shalhevet High School on July 23. “Now is the time to come together, to be responsible. … We must never stop fighting — fight, fight. Be bold, be courageous, the nation is counting on you.”

Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who served in Congress starting in 2007, was shot in the head in 2011 during a speaking appearance outside a Safeway supermarket. She resigned from office in 2012 and has become an advocate for gun reform. 

At Shalhevet, she appeared at the conclusion of an event organized by IKAR titled “A Case Study in Hope: From Oakland to the Nation, Faith Partnerships to End Gun Violence.” 

Receiving a standing ovation, the Jewish former congresswoman spoke briefly following a panel focused on how communities of faith can tackle gun violence.

The panel featured Pastor Michael McBride, director of Urban Strategies and the Live Free Campaign, and Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 

McBride said gun violence was a public health issue and Thomas likened gun violence to a disease. “Gun violence we know now has a contagion effect,” she said. “Shootings beget other shootings.”

Thomas also said discussion about ending gun violence must address the problem of suicides, which account for two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States. Youths and veterans are particularly prone to suicide, she said.

When the panel’s moderator, IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous, asked the panelists what they would like to hear about the issue from the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, McBride said he would like them to say gun violence is a solvable issue in this country.

Closing the event, Brous echoed Giffords’ push for people to see themselves as change agents. “We are suffering from the perception of powerlessness,” Brous said, “but we are so powerful.”

Jewish veteran Ethel Margolin, 93, and State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel. Photo courtesy ofthe office of Jesse Gabriel

San Fernando Valley State Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel honored 93-year-old Jewish war veteran Ethel Margolin on July 23 at the Orange Grove Bistro at Cal State Northridge. 

During World War II, Margolin served in the U.S. Army and was stationed at the Air Transport Command of the 8th Air Force in Cincinnati. She currently belongs to Wings Over Wendy’s, a group of veterans, veteran supporters and aviation and military aficionados that honor veterans past and present. The members meet every Monday morning, 52 weeks a year, at a Wendy’s restaurant in West Hills.

Margolin and more than a dozen San Fernando Valley military veterans of World War II and the Vietnam War were honored by Gabriel and fellow Assemblymembers Laura Friedman, Adrin Nazarian and Luz Rivas.

Dr. Vito Imbasciani, secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, delivered the keynote address.

Local Orthodox Union (OU) leaders Aviva and Scott Krieger traveled with an OU delegation to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by Eliyahu Yanai

Orthodox Union (OU) leaders from throughout the United States and Canada met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, and discussed the
need to increase and expand initiatives focused on Diaspora Jewish education
and identity. 

The July 16 delegation included Los Angeles Jewish community members Scott and Aviva Krieger as well as Isabelle Novak.

The prime minister, while agreeing that more should be done, told the group of American Jewish leaders that he has had the government of Israel invest tens of millions of dollars in these programs already, but he agreed this priority deserved more funding, according to the OU.

The 2019 JVS Scholarship Program recipients gathered at Sinai Temple for the initiative’s 47th annual awards reception. Photo courtesy of JVS SoCal

During the JVS Scholarship Program’s 47th annual awards reception on July 25 at Sinai Temple, scholarship recipients had the chance to thank the many donors in attendance.

This year, the JVS Scholarship Program helped 256 college students through $808,700 in need-based scholarships, with gifts ranging from $900-$10,000, and for the sixth year in a row, JVS was able to support 10 medical school students with $10,000 scholarships.

During the selection process, the recipients participated in interviews led by members of the scholarship committee, chaired by Matthew Paul and Alan Polsky. 

“Every year, I am so amazed and inspired by the remarkable students who apply for our program,” Paul said in a statement.

According to JVS SoCal (formerly Jewish Vocational Service), which runs the program, this year’s scholarship recipients are attending colleges across the country and internationally, including Harvard, Stanford, Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, USC and Cal State Northridge. The group includes students who have emigrated from other countries, individuals with learning disabilities and others who are returning to school to pursue advanced degrees. 

“Our program is helping to fund the future leaders of our community and beyond — in the fields of medicine, education, law, business, public policy, the arts and sciences and beyond,” JVS SoCal CEO Alan Levey said. “We are so proud to play a role in their educational and professional careers and have them represent JVS in the work they do in our community.”

Scholarship recipient Alex Horland said the program alleviated some of the financial burden of attending college. “The JVS scholarship helped me through college without the stress of taking out loans and I am extremely grateful,” he said.

Founded in 1972, the JVS Scholarship Program has awarded more than $10 million to more than 5,000 local Jewish students, according to JVS SoCal. It describes itself as “the largest need-based scholarship program serving Jewish students within the Jewish community.”

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