February 27, 2020

Camp Ramah Gala, StandWithUs Event Raises $4M

From left: Ariella Moss Peterseil, Randy Michaels, Amy Mendelsohn and Rabbi Joe Menashe enjoy Camp Ramah’s sold-out gala last month. Mendelsohn was the recipient of the Ramah’s Alumni Leadership Award. Photo courtesy of Camp Ramah in California

Camp Ramah honored Lesley and Jeff Wolman at its sold-out gala at Sinai Temple on Dec. 8.

The Wolmans are active in their synagogue, Sinai Temple, and also are involved with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University, Foundation for Jewish Camp and several other local organizations.

Amy Mendelsohn was the recipient of Ramah’s Alumni Leadership Award. As director of the L.A. Jewish Teen Initiative at Federation, Mendelsohn works to enhance Jewish teen engagement in Los Angeles. She spent 15 summers at Camp Ramah as a camper, counselor, Rosh Edah (unit head) and program director.

The evening raised $720,000 to seed the Nechama Endowment for Staff Wellness, a passion of the honorees that is named in honor of Jeff Wolman’s late sister Nadia. The Nechama program underwrites initiatives to provide Ramah staff with guidance, teaching, peer support and mindfulness training, according to the Ramah website.

“People were very moved by the Nechama Staff Wellness Fund,” John Magoulas, director of development at Camp Ramah in California, said in an email.

Camp Ramah gala attendees included (top row, from left) Austin Douglas, Rabbi Tova Leibovic-Douglas, Steven and Jill Namm, Marc Platt and Sandi and Avi Schlesinger and (bottom row, from left) Karmi Monsher, Lesley and Jeff Wolman and Julie Platt. Courtesy of Camp Ramah

The approximately 500 attendees at the gathering included Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and Federation CEO Jay Sanderson.

Sinai Temple Senior Rabbi David Wolpe gave the invocation and Lesley Wolman’s brother, musician Eric Corne, provided entertainment.

Camp Ramah, which runs a summer camp as well as year-round programs, is affiliated with the Conservative movement.


Jewish Business Leaders David Jacobs, Larry Cohen and Joel Volk present a check to Survivor Mitzvah Project founder Zane Buzby (second from left). Photo by Richard Cassel

The Jewish Business Leaders Group (JBL2) has completed its inaugural year as an independent group and has selected three organizations to provide with financial support.

JBL2 meets monthly, bringing together business people to learn about the Jewish community, hear speakers on a range of Jewish and business topics, and support various philanthropic efforts.

In 2019, the group supported The Survivor Mitzvah Project, Chabad of the Conejo and Jews for Judaism. At a Dec. 6 event, JBL2 members David Jacobs, Larry Cohen and Joel Volk presented a check for $10,000 to Survivor Mitzvah Project founder Zane Buzby in support of her work in providing assistance to low-income Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe.

JBL2 describes itself as a “professional networking association that brings together high-level executives from throughout the five valleys. Our mission is to pursue the unique combination of professional development with Jewish values and community service.”


From left: Rabbi Zalman and Chanie Kravitz, Susan and Kevin Schlanger, Rabbi Bentzion and Devorah Kravitz, Joy and Michael Volk and Ron Altman attend Jews for Judaism’s 2019 gala. Photo courtesy of Jews for Judaism

The community turned out in large numbers for Jews for Judaism’s 2019 after-dinner gala, held on Dec. 11 at Young Israel of Century City and honoring Suzanne and Kevin Schlanger.

The event also honored Rabbi Zalman and Chanie Kravitz with the Young Leadership Award, and Joy and Michael Volk and Ron Altman with the Aleph Club Award.

At the event, which was billed as an evening of jazz, magic, mixology and awards, a young woman described how Jews for Judaism intervention counseling provided tools to her distraught mother that helped her return to Judaism after an extended involvement with another religion.

According to Bentzion Kravitz, founder and CEO of Jews for Judaism, the organization “touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals through specialized counseling and education services, including a YouTube channel with 325 education videos that receives 3,000 hits a week.

“Jews for Judaism strengthens and preserves Jewish identity by responding to religious coercion, promoting critical thinking skills, and providing spiritual guidance and support,” Kravitz said in an email.


From left: StandWithUs (SWU) COO and CEO Jerry and Roz Rothstein, SWU “Festival of Lights” supporters Naty and Debbie Saidoff, SWU honoree Robert Lantos, keynote speaker Stephen Harper, Ellie and Bruce Lederman and SWU International President Esther Renzer. Photo by Jonah Light Photography

Pro-Israel education organization StandWithUs (SWU) held its annual “Festival of Lights” gala on Dec. 10 at the Beverly Hilton.

SWU board members Ellie and Bruce Lederman and Debbie and Naty Saidoff co-sponsored the event, which raised more than $4 million toward SWU’s annual $15 million budget, according to the organization. All proceeds benefit the SWU mission of Israel education and combating anti-Semitism.

Founded in 2001 by CEO Roz Rothstein, COO Jerry Rothstein and President Esther Renzer, SWU is committed to combating misinformation about Israel and promoting accurate information about the Jewish state through its social media and chapters across the United States, Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Michael Dickson, executive director of SWU-Israel, opened the event with
a moment of silence for the victims of the recent shooting at a kosher market in
New Jersey. 

The evening’s keynote speaker, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, denounced the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and told the crowd to be proud of their support for the Jewish homeland. 

Honorees were Canadian film producer Robert Lantos, who received a lifetime achievement award for his career and commitment to supporting Israel; college seniors Shayna Lavi of UCLA and Stephanie Margolis of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who were recognized with the “Star of David” awards for their pro-Israel leadership on their campuses; and Israeli reservist and SWU Israel Fellowship alumnus Arie Katz, who received the “Guardian of Israel” award.

Program participants included Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Hillel Newman; comedian Elon Gold, who emceed the evening; Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot, who sang the U.S. national anthem; and Alon Miller, who led the singing of the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah.”


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