Moving & Shaking: JFLA gala, Bret Stephens lecture, and LA Jewish Comedy Festival

July 5, 2017
Among those attending the Jewish Free Loan Association annual gala were (front row, from left) board member Jim Kohn, honoree Emily Feit, JFLA board President Harold Tomin; and (back row, from left) honorees Randy Schwab, David Gardner, Alan Feit, Kenny Tashman and Jeffrey Feuer. Photo courtesy of Jewish Free Loan Association

The Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) held its annual gala on June 14 to “highlight the work of JFLA and its impact on the community,” said Rachel Grose, JFLA’s new executive director.

The event, attended by about 300 people at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, began with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and the event program.  

JFLA has been providing interest-free loans to people of all faiths in Greater Los Angeles for more than 100 years. The annual gala provides a setting to thank and reward those in the community who have contributed to the organization’s success.

Four awards were given out. The Salter Family Foundation Client Recognition Award was presented to the Tashman Family in honor of their successful use of a JFLA loan they took out in the 1960s to realize their dream of starting a hardware store. They made Tashman Home Center in West Hollywood a community landmark.

Emily and Alan Feit received the the Mitchell Family Foundation Philanthropy Award. With the help of JFLA, the Feits started the Feit 4 KidZ Fertility Loan Fund, a program for families that cannot conceive children on their own but who instead decide to conceive through in vitro fertilization.

The Nathan Shapell Memorial Lifetime Commitment Award was given to immigration attorney David Gardner for creating a citizenship loan fund through JFLA. His loan fund helps people who are in the process of gaining citizenship by aiding in paying for attorney fees and other necessities.

The Ben and Anne Werber Communal Service Award went to Randy Schwab, CEO of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, recognizing his leadership and commitment throughout the community.

— Isabella Beristain, Contributing Writer

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens (right) participates at Stephen Wise Temple in a Q-and-A with Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback. Photo by Ryan Torok

As a New York Times columnist, Bret Stephens expresses views on some of the most complicated topics of the day, including terrorism, immigration and President Donald Trump. He also recognizes the value in a healthy dose of self-doubt.

“The challenge of a columnist, I think the challenge of all intelligent people, on the one hand is to express your views confidently, but to have enough internal security to know you might be wrong — to know that there is some floating small percent of wrongness in any single point of view,” Stephens said on June 20 at Stephen Wise Temple.

Stephens delivered a lecture and participated in a Q-and-A with Stephen Wise Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback at an event titled “The Jewish Future in a Changing America.” Among the topics Stephens discussed were anti-Semitism in the Arab world, free speech on college campuses and the future of journalism.

“The people who have been most damaged by anti-Semitism in the long run have been the anti-Semites,” Stephens said. “In this case, the Arab world has done itself irrefutable harm by expelling 800,000 talented people, as they did in the wake of the creation of the State of Israel.”

Stephens lived for several years in Israel while serving as editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post. The former Wall Street Journal columnist predicted the top newspapers in the United States will survive well into the future, despite predictions about the death of traditional journalism.

“I have no doubt there is going to be a New York Times in 20 years,” he said. “I have no doubt there is going to be a Wall Street Journal. And I have no doubt that people do want reliable, authoritative news that they don’t have to double check or wonder [if] that could be true.”

Stephens appeared before a crowd that featured many of Los Angeles’ Jewish leaders, including Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Emeritus Eli Herscher, former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, UCLA Jewish history professor David Myers, Community Advocates Inc. President David Lehrer and VBS Rabbi Noah Farkas.

Stephens expressed frustration with the culture on college campuses that has fomented the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel while stifling other speech found by some to be disagreeable.

“One of the things I find disturbing at colleges [is] they seem to be incapable of dealing with an opposite point of view,” he said. “Their way of dealing with it is saying, ‘That’s evil,’ ‘That’s stupid,’ or something like that, as opposed to saying, ‘That’s another approach to the truth.’ ”

— Ryan Torok, Staff Writer, and Jakob Marcus, Contributing Writer

Israeli comedian Gali Kroup performs at the June 24 Jewish Comedy Night at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. Photo by Mark Rius

Jewish comedians cracked jokes about bar mitzvahs and guilt-tripping mothers at the June 24 Los Angeles Jewish Comedy Festival, held at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) and organized by the production group Comic Cure.

Proceeds from the show benefited YoPro, TEBH’s social group for young professionals.

Among the 23 performers was headliner Kira Soltanovich, a stand-up comedian and former correspondent on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Alex Kojfman, a comedian and TEBH director of communications and marketing, was the emcee.

Israeli stand-up comedian Gali Kroup won the Judges’ Choice Award, receiving $100 and a spot in one of Comic Cure’s “Comedy Upstairs” shows at The Social Attic in Eagle Rock.

The event’s 200 attendees cast ballots and awarded performer Brandon Morganstein with the Audience Choice Award, consisting of the same prizes. Three runners-up — Kari Assad, Adam Gropman and Jared Goldstein — won guest spots in a Comedy Upstairs show.

The judges were local entertainment producer Samantha Shahi, comedian Greg Berman and public relations agent Penny Vizcarra.

Comic Cure produces live comedy events to raise awareness, funds and volunteers for local charities.

— Gabriella Kamran, Contributing Writer

Singer Alex Clare performs in honor of the 23rd yahrzeit of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.
Photo courtesy of Chabad of California

“An Evening With the Rebbe,” an event honoring the 23rd yahrzeit of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was held June 19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The Lubavitcher rabbi, also known as the Rebbe, for four decades was the face of Chabad, a sect of the Chasidic religious movement. Schneerson was the last of seven rabbis who led the Chabad movement.

The event featured performances by Alex Clare and the Cunin Brothers. Clare is a pop music star and baal teshuvah Orthodox Jew who sings in the secular world but observes Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The Cunin Brothers is a group of six shluchim, or emissaries, of the Rebbe. The six, all rabbis, performed together and then sang with Clare.

Also featured at the event was guest speaker David Suissa, the president of TRIBE Media and the Jewish Journal, who spoke about the Rebbe’s unique contributions to the Jewish world. A short film, “Marching Orders,” which explains the importance of the Rebbe’s legacy, was shown.

The legacy of the Rebbe, who died in 1994, lives on, said Rabbi Chaim Cunin, CEO of Chabad of California.

“The Rebbe’s marching orders to each and every one of us was to seek out every opportunity to spread goodness and kindness, and in so doing, to unite world Jewry and all of humanity, and bring about an era of peace and redemption,” he said. “Despite the chaos and darkness that seems to continue and intensify throughout the world, the flip side is that you see a coming together like never before.”

— Clara Sandler, Contributing Writer

From left: Rabbi Richard Camras and Carolyn Reznik-Camras, Benjamin Reznik and Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Daniel Farkas, David and Jeanne Herman, Claudia and Sandy Samuels, Ivy and Burt Liebross, Tzivia Schwartz Getzug and Steve Getzug, and Orly and Howard Fisher are honored by L.A. Hebrew High School. Photo by Curtis Dahl Photography

More than 200 people attended the 68th anniversary of Los Angeles Hebrew High School (LAHHS) on June 4 at Hillel at UCLA.

The gathering, titled “A Night of Dinner and Comedy,” honored the organization and nine alumni couples that have emerged over the course of the part-time religious school’s years. Honorees were Carolyn Reznik-Camras and Rabbi Richard Camras; Tzivia Schwartz Getzug and Steve Getzug; Anita and Theodore Farkas; Dalia and Daniel Farkas; Orly and Howard Fisher; Jeanne and David Herman; Ivy and Burt Liebross; Claudia and Sandy Samuels; and Janice Kamenir-Reznik and Benjamin Reznick.

Hebrew High is a supplementary school and program that teaches teens the Hebrew language and a variety of subjects pertaining to Judaism and Israel.

Attendees included Amittai Benami, head of school at LAHHS; Carolyn Reznik-Camras, the outgoing board president; Karen Freed, the incoming board president; and Debbie Holzer, development coordinator at LAHHS.

Organizing partners for the event included Hillel at UCLA, Judith Boteach of Kosher Express Catering and Jeremy Broekman, the event producer.

Emcee Elon Gold provided the laughs as the comedian roasted LAHHS, which raised about $180,000 at the event.

— Avi Vogel, Contributing Writer

Moving & Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas.

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