November 19, 2019

Israel Bonds, Temple Aliyah, Refugee Panel

Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds’ Platinum Society held an event at the home of local real estate, investment and philanthropy leaders Debbie and Naty Saidoff in Los Angeles on Sept. 25. 

The reception brought together members of Israel Bonds’ Platinum Society, which includes premium-level investors, as well as the Platinum Young Professionals, which includes those younger than 45 who also invest in high amounts.

Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Hillel Newman delivered welcoming remarks saying, “It is through your efforts and support that we are able to witness and take part in celebrating a thriving Jewish state. I thank you all and say to you, l’shanah tovah tikateyvu.” Newman also recently participated in a welcome reception organized by Israel Bonds’ Western Region celebrating his appointment as consul general.

After Newman, Christopher Wolfe, chief investment officer of First Republic Private Wealth Management, and Mike Selfridge, chief banking officer of First Republic Bank, were featured in a conversation on “Trade Wars, Tariffs and the Great Divide: Investment Strategies for Today’s Economy.”

Scott Beiser, chief executive officer of Houlihan Lokey, and his wife, Nancy, both of whom were in attendance, chair the Israel Bonds’ Platinum Society. Their leadership of the Platinum Society — and a central tenet of the event — has focused on creating mentorship opportunities by bringing younger investors together with more seasoned business leaders. Steve Tarrab, chair of the Platinum Young Professionals, was also in attendance, as was Gina Raphael, local campaign chair, along with a number of others representing the next generation of leadership.

The private gathering was one of several recent high-profile Israel Bonds events in Los Angeles under the leadership of Erez Goldman, executive director for the Western Region, including the recent Newman reception and the Los Angeles Women’s Division’s annual Golda Meir Luncheon.


Ben Vorspan, the new creative director at Temple Aliyah. Photo courtesy of Temple Aliyah.

Temple Aliyah has announced that Ben Vorspan has taken on the new role of creative director at the Conservative congregation in Woodland Hills. 

Vorspan, who formerly served as the synagogue’s director of communications, will continue to oversee all marketing and communications as well as produce creative videos and innovative campaigns. Additionally, he will work closely with Temple Aliyah clergy, staff members and lay leaders to develop new ideas and experiences that keep the community engaged.  

“During the coming year, in partnership with our Visioning Committee, Ben will help lead the charge to reenergize Temple Aliyah,” a synagogue statement said.

Over the past three years, Vorspan has refreshed the Temple Aliyah branding and marketing materials, brought energy to the campus with bright, friendly signage and displays, created the online “Be The Light” campaign, written, filmed and edited numerous videos and instituted meetings to challenge the clergy and staff to think outside the box.

Vorspan is the son of Rabbi David Vorspan, the founding rabbi-in-residence at de Toledo High School and the founding rabbi at Congregation Shir Ami, and Bonnie; grandson of the late Rabbi Max Vorspan, who was a major leader in the L.A. Jewish community; and husband of Elana Vorspan, director of communications at Valley Beth Shalom.  

According to Temple Aliyah, the congregation is now one of the few synagogues in the country with a dedicated creative director position, reinforcing its commitment to being one of the leaders in innovation within the Conservative movement.


From left: Veteran Earl Roth, Brent’s Deli owner Ron Peskin and CFO Brent Peskin

Earl Roth, commander of Jewish War Veterans Post 603 San Fernando Valley, presented a certificate of appreciation to Brent’s Deli owner Ron Peskin and CFO Brent Peskin.

According to Roth, Brent’s Deli has been immensely helpful at both the Northridge and Westlake Village locations in allowing the post volunteers to solicit Red Poppies around the holidays of Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the proceeds of which benefit hospitalized veterans at Sepulveda VA Medical Center as well as veterans, widows of veterans and patrons of Post 603.


The panel discussion, “Welcoming the Stranger: A Jewish Call to Action for Refugees & Asylum Seekers,” was held at Beth Shir Shalom, on Sept. 18.

“Welcoming the Stranger: A Jewish Call to Action for Refugees & Asylum Seekers,” a Sept. 18 discussion organized by HIAS and held at Beth Shir Shalom, drew a packed room with nearly 150 people.

Speakers included Melanie Nezer, senior vice president for public affairs at HIAS; Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom; Robyn Samuels, a board of trustees member at Leo Baeck Temple; and Kimberley Plotnik, who serves as civil rights counsel at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

According to the HIAS website, the speakers “shed light on HIAS’ advocacy and grassroots organizing at a time when so many people in the Jewish community and beyond are appalled by what’s happening and are looking to learn and do more.”

HIAS is a nonpartisan Jewish refugee-aid organization that addresses the modern refugee situation, which, according to its website, “has mushroomed into a global humanitarian crisis.” There are more than 70 million refugees and displaced people across the globe — “more than any time in history,” the ADL website says.


From left: Christians United For Israel (CUFI) City Director Ricardo Escobedo, Parham Soroudi, Elahe Borokhim, CUFI National Diversity Coordinator Pastor Dumisani Washington, Frank Ariel, Laura Younai and Susan Eshaghian.

More than 500 Latino and African American Christian supporters of Israel from the Christians United For Israel (CUFI) organization gathered for “A Night to Honor Israel” at the Love & United Christian Fellowship Church in Compton on Sept. 26.

Blowing their shofars, dancing, waving American and Israeli flags and singing Israeli songs, the Christian Zionists on hand said they came to the event to voice support for Israel and speak out against the wave of growing anti-Semitism in the country.

“We are modern-day Mordecais and Esthers advocating both spiritually and socially for Israel and the Jewish people, and we will shine our pro-Israel light on the darkness of anti-Semitism,” CUFI National Hispanic Outreach Coordinator Peter De Jesus said.

Also speaking at the event and thanking the attendees for supporting Israel were Los Angeles County Undersheriff Timothy Murakami and Eitan Weiss, deputy Chief of Mission for the Consul General for Israel in Los Angeles. Likewise, more than a dozen local Iranian Jews attended the gathering to express their appreciation to CUFI members for supporting Israel.

“We find comfort in knowing that we can count on the friendship and support of our evangelical Christian brothers and sisters and the might of CUFI to support the Jewish people and Israel,” Frank Ariel, a member of the West Hollywood-based Iranian American Jewish Federation, said.

Karmel Melamedoc