November 18, 2019

Shalom Institute Gala, Milken Teacher Awards

Back row, from left: Joel Charnick, Art Verity, Jacob Knobel, Jacques Soriano, Ari Moss, Sol Lipman, Larry Cohen and (front row, from left) Fran Jaffe, Susan Kushner, Andrea Spatz, Gil Breakman, Rabbi Bill Kaplan and Adam Weiss. Photo courtesy of the Shalom Institute

The Shalom Institute held its “Garden of Eatin’” benefit event on Oct. 19 at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue.

The gathering raised funds for the Shalom Institute and the organization’s wildfire relief fund. 

Hors d’oeuvres, drinks, live music, a Sukkot honey-tasting, a wine bottle pull and scotch tasting highlighted the occasion, which kicked off at 7 p.m. with a Havdalah ceremony and continued with a dinner and the evening program.

The honoree was Gil Breakman, president of the Shalom Institute’s board of directors and recipient of the Rae and David Finegood Leadership Award. Breakman, who was a camp counselor at Camp JCA Shalom in 1987, is the senior vice president of finance for Warner Bros. Studio Facilities. 

In November 2018, when the Shalom Institute was struck by the Woolsey Fire, Breakman was among those who helped Shalom Institute navigate the emotional and financial challenges of the recovery effort, the Shalom Institute website says.

For his part, Breakman said his commitment to Camp JCA Shalom stems from his belief that Jewish camp experiences are transformative for young people.

“Just ask a successful and connected young adult who has attended camp to what they owe their success, and even before mentioning secular or religious school, most of them will point to their camp experiences as the most important turning point in their lives,” he said in a statement.

Also attending was Shalom Institute Executive Director Bill Kaplan, who spoke about the institute’s recovery efforts and the impact Shalom Institute programs continue to have on the community; Jacob Knobel, a member of the Shalom Institute board of directors and recipient of the institute’s Emerging Young Leaders Award in 2013; and Shalom Institute immediate past President Adam Weiss.


Nelly Wisner, a kindergarten teacher at Beth Hillel Day School, received the 2019 Jewish Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation. Photo courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation

The Milken Family Foundation (MFF) has announced the 2019 recipients of its annual Jewish Educator Award (JEA), which recognizes excellence in the teaching profession at Jewish day schools affiliated with Builders of Jewish Education (BJE).

This year’s winners are Michelle Andron, general studies principal at Emek Hebrew Academy; Eric Hartung, a science teacher at Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am; Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, a Judaic studies teacher at Shalhevet High School; and Nelly Wisner, a transitional kindergarten and kindergarten general studies teacher at Beth Hillel Day School.

During surprise assemblies at the winners’ schools, MFF Executive Vice President Richard Sandler and BJE Director Gil Graff announced the four JEA winners and gave them an unrestricted $15,000 prize.

“By surprising educators with their awards before their entire school communities, we say in a very public way that excellence in education should be rewarded,” Sandler said in an Oct. 7 statement. “And by capturing the imagination of students, we hope to encourage our next generation to consider careers in teaching — in particular, to strengthen the vital role of Jewish day schools to develop academic potential and cultivate lifelong respect for the values imparted by their Jewish heritage.” 

The four 2019 JEA recipients will be celebrated together during an annual luncheon event held at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel on Dec. 17. “The inclusive event brings together leaders across L.A.’s Jewish community, from the most secular to the most Orthodox,” according to MFF.


Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills held a farewell ceremony for its long-held day school building on Burton Way, drawing Temple Emanuel clergy, day school alumni and the klezmer band Mostly Kosher to the bittersweet gathering. Photo courtesy of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) said farewell to its recently sold school building at 8844 Burton Way. The Reform congregation completed escrow on the building in June, selling the property to an affiliated company of Crescent Heights Realty for the sum of $27.4 million, according to a memo the congregation sent out in July.

“With this sale, we can now strategically begin to plan for our future, carefully deploying our resources to support the vision of our extraordinary clergy team. This includes planning the long-range future of our ECC (early childhood center) and religious schools, and continuing to innovate around our prayer experience, our lifelong learning, our social justice work and our community as a whole,” said the memo, which was signed by TEBH Presidents Kristin Jameson, Myra Lurie, Scott Stone and Geoffrey Wharton.

The congregation will continue to operate in its adjacent sanctuary building. 

During the Oct. 20 event, which coincided with Simchat Torah, “The mood was both festive and bittersweet,” Matt Davidson, executive director at TEBH, told the Journal in an email. 

Attendees included alumni of Temple Emanuel Day School along with TEBH congregants, clergy and others. TEBH Senior Rabbi Jonathan Aaron and Cantor Lizzie Weiss were among those who turned out.

Outside the day school building, which was built in 1963, attendees passed Torahs to one another as they walked down and across the street to the permanent TEBH building. 

Klezmer band Mostly Kosher performed, and people walked through the halls of the Burton Way building, which was set up in an open-house style.

TEBH — which moved from the building on Oct. 28 and handed over the keys on Oct. 31 — is looking forward to its future. 

“The sale of the Burton Way building has enabled us to retire all of our debt, replenish our endowment, and create an asset fund that will be stewarded with the utmost care and protection,” the TEBH statement said. “With this financial underpinning as a strong foundation, combined with the relief from the overhead burden of carrying the underutilized Burton Way building, TEBH is now in a position to serve the greater Los Angeles community into the future.”


Wanna be in Movers & Shakers? Send us your highlights, events,
honors and simchas. Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.