February 24, 2020
Beverly Hills High School’s Jewish Culture Club held its inaugural Shofar Factory event on Sept. 24. Photo courtesy of JEM

Shaare Zedek, Friendship Circle, JCF

Rabbi Danny Illulian, director of education at the JEM Community Center, orchestrated the inaugural Shofar Factory event at Beverly Hills High School’s Jewish Culture Club on Sept. 24.

Daniel Rabkin, president of the club, taught the students the history and importance of the shofar.

The class then manufactured actual shofars for the students to take home. Sunny Sassoon, executive chairman of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, sponsored the event. Sassoon provided each of the children a Coffee Bean gift card upon successful completion of their shofar.

Actor Will Arnett (left) and Robert Shapiro of the Brent Shapiro Foundation. Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for The Brent Shapiro Foundation

The Brent Shapiro Foundation for Drug Prevention held its Summer Spectacular on Sept. 21 at the Beverly Hilton. 

The invitation-only gala marked the 14th year of the foundation, which seeks to build strong educational and social communities in some of L.A.’s most socioeconomically challenged neighborhoods in order to offer positive alternatives to drug use.

Robert and Linell Shapiro created the Brent Shapiro Foundation following their son Brent’s death due to an accidental overdose in 2004. The couple wished to honor their son’s life and promote prevention and awareness of chemical dependence. The foundation’s mission is to save lives through awareness and effective programs that incentivize kids to abstain from drugs and alcohol.  

The evening was hosted by actress Eva Longoria and featured musical performances by Sheila E. and Pia Toscano. The foundation gave the Spirit of Sobriety Award to actor Will Arnett, who has been candid about his sobriety, both personally and through his work on the Netflix series “Flaked.” 

Prominent entertainment industry leaders and celebrities gathered to recognize advances in the fight against addiction and rally around the growing movement to end the disease. Notable attendees included Priscilla Presley, Harry Hamlin, Adrienne Maloof, Anne Winters, Evan Ross, John Savage, Kathy Hilton, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Mike Binder, Rick Hilton and Sugar Ray Leonard.

The Shapiros presented three full-ride college scholarships and 10 $5,000 college scholarships to members of Brent’s Club, its educational drug prevention program, for successfully completing high school without failing a drug test.

The gala raised money for Brent’s Club, which works in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Brent’s Club programs educate preteens and teens about the consequences of drug use and works to prevent the formation of dangerous habits, actively showing children how to lead drug-free lives. Members participate in regular drug testing, and as a free, rewards-based program, the club sponsors community outings and once-in-a-lifetime activities.

— Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

From left: “Mad Men” creator Matt Weiner, New York Times writer Bari Weiss and Temple Israel of Hollywood Rabbi Emeritus John Rosove at the Skirball Cultural Center. Photo courtesy of Rabbi Rosove

New York Times writer and editor Bari Weiss appeared with “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner to discuss Weiss’ recently released book, “How to Fight Anti-Semitism,” examining contemporary hatred against Jews.

Held Sept. 22 at the Skirball Cultural Center, the hour-plus discussion, like Weiss’ book, focused on the history and current rise of anti-Semitism in the United States.

“I don’t think it’s ever possible to fully eradi-cate anti-Semitism,” she said. “Anti-Semitism is in the DNA of Western civilization.”

The 450 attendees included Skirball Cultural Center Founding President Uri Herscher; Temple Israel of Hollywood Rabbi Emeritus John Rosove; Iranian American professor and author Saba Soomekh; New Israel Fund Founding Director Jonathan JacobyMaura Resnick of the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies; Writers Bloc founder Andrea Grossman, whose nonprofit literary organization co-sponsored the event; and Joel Bellman, who was press deputy to former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

In an interview after the event, Weiner said he was inspired by Weiss’ book. “It’s about pride and standing up for yourself,” the TV producer said. “It made me hopeful.”

From left: Andrea Goldrich-Cayton, Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles President and CEO Marvin Schotland; Bet Tzedek CEO Jessie Kornberg; and Sam Yebri. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles on Sept. 18 held “What’s Next in Jewish Innovation?” at the Beverly Hills home of Foundation Trustee Lynn Bider and her husband, Les. 

The event brought together Foundation donors and leadership with recipients of the institution’s Cutting Edge Grants in the arts, for the empowerment of individuals with disabilities and the engagement of people at all ages in Jewish life. 

Cutting Edge Grants are multiyear awards of up to $300,000 to social entrepreneurs and innovative organizations to develop and implement programs of high visibility and impact in the L.A. Jewish community.  The Foundation has awarded Cutting Edge Grants totaling more than $21 million to 100 initiatives since their inception in 2006, according to a statement by the organization.

The evening’s highlight was a panel discussion moderated by Foundation Trustee and Cutting Edge Grants Committee Vice Chair Sam Yebri in conversation with Andrea Goldrich-Cayton, a philanthropic and community leader, and Jessie Kornberg, president and CEO of Bet Tzedek, a public interest law firm.


Friendship Circle of Los Angeles’ Walk4Friendship L.A. drew families of children with special needs to Shalhevet High School, on Sept. 22. Photo courtesy of Friendship Circle of L.A. 

The 10th annual Walk4FriendshipLA, a 2-kilometer walk and festival benefiting Friendship Circle Los Angeles (FCLA), was held Sept. 22 at Shalhevet High School.

Walk4FriendshipLA is the annual community awareness program and fundraiser for FCLA, a nonprofit organization that supports Jewish children and young adults with special needs and their families.

FCLA Chairman of the Board Michele Weiss, whose son has been a recipient of FCLA services for 16 years, said the organization has been indispensable to her family. 

“We are thrilled that the event was a success in raising critical funds for programming that encourages social, developmental and educational opportunities,” Weiss said. “Our family has seen its impact on our son Joseph’s life firsthand, and our other teenage children have also gained tremendous skills as longtime volunteers who have developed leadership and sensitivity to inclusion in the Jewish community.”

“It was so exciting to see over 600 enthusiastic people of all ages in blue and pink T-shirts that said, ‘Step Up and Walk 4 Friendship,’ ” FCLA Development Director Gail Rollman told the Journal.

The afternoon was filled with celebration beginning with an opening ceremony and shofar blowing by FCLA Executive Director Rabbi Michy Rav-Noy, who led the charge through the neighboring streets.

When the walkers arrived back at Shalhevet, they were greeted with a variety of free activities and entertainment, including inflatables, bungee jumping, a Lego party, Hot Wheels race cars, a puppy party, the Shofar Factory and a live concert by Distant Cousins. A Rosh Hashanah
festival featured holiday crafts and a photo booth where children made New Year greeting cards to send to friends
and family.

“It was such a strong feeling of unity,” a parent of a special needs child said. “Our family loves how Friendship Circle makes everyone feel welcome, accepted and important.”

From left: Joel Storch, Terry Storch, L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz and Leah and Sam Yebri. Photo courtesy of Western Region of the American Committee for Shaare Zedek (ACSZ) Medical Center in Jerusalem

The Western Region of the American Committee for Shaare Zedek (ACSZ) Medical Center in Jerusalem presented its Eshet Chayil award to Terry Storch and Leah Yebri on Sept. 12.

Sinai Temple Senior Rabbi David Wolpe gave the dvar Torah and Sinai Cantor Marcus Feldman chanted the Avinu Shebashamayim prayer and Eshet Chayil blessing. 

Comedian Marc Schiff had the audience laughing and Regional Campaign Advisory Council Chair Barak Raviv made the presentations on behalf of Shaare Zedek. 

L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz gave the honorees a special presentation from the city. 

Special guests included former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief David Suissa.

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