Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a two-time Academy Award-winner and a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, attended the 90th Academy Awards ceremony on March 4 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
“I’m proud to say, as an active member of the academy, I’ve voted ever since I won my first Oscar in 1981. I never missed the opportunity,” he said. “I exercise my membership obligations every year faithfully, because I think you should not be a member of theAcademy if you don’t intend to vote.”
Hier, one of more than 6,000 Academy members, attended the event with his grandson.
“I met a lot of interesting people and, of course, my grandson was thrilled,” Hier said. “A lot of people came over to me because I was wearing a yarmulke.”
It marked the third time Hier attended the Academy Awards. The first time, in 1981, was when the SWC’s film division, Moriah Films, won the Oscar for best documentary feature for “Genocide.” Moriah Films’ “The Long Way Home,” a documentary about Jewish refugees, also won an Oscar in 1997.
At the Dolby, Hier schmoozed with industry friends, including Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, and Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal and a past SWC honoree.
Although he was unable to discuss which nominees he voted for, Hier said he was happy to see Gary Oldman win the lead actor award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the biopic “Darkest Hour.” Last year, Oldman spoke at the SWC’s Museum of Tolerance, after a members-only screening of the film.
The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) has selected Los Angeles philanthropist, community leader and activist Julie Platt as its board chair.
Platt will serve a three-year term at the charitable group, which works with more than 250 day and overnight camps, creates additional Jewish camps, works to increase camp enrollment and retention and trains camp professionals.
Platt, whose selection was announced on Feb. 23, will deliver her initial address as board chair on March 17 in Baltimore during the biennial FJC Leaders Assembly.
“Building on FJC’s track record of success, I am excited to help lead the Jewish camp field to adapt and evolve to remain competitive and compelling,” Platt said in a statement. “In our rapidly changing world, Jewish camp becomes even more vital for developing leaders and building a stronger community. I look forward to encouraging generous philanthropists across North America to support the FJC board and staff as we continue to grow the field.”
In her youth, Platt attended Camp Ramah in Ojai, a Conservative summer camp. She is the fifth chair in the history of FJC, which was established in 1998.
“We are thrilled that she has now assumed this important leadership role,” said the organization’s CEO, Jeremy Fingerman.
Platt also serves as board chair at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Her husband, Marc, is a successful film producer whose credits include “La La Land.” They have five grown children, including their son Ben, who appeared on Broadway in the title role of “Dear Evan Hanson.”
More than 250 guests attended Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ (JFS) lively Cafe Europa Purim Party on Feb. 27 at Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) in Encino.
Café Europa, a social club offering Holocaust survivors educational and social activities — including organized trips, holiday celebrations and entertainment — is one of JFS’ signature programs. Guests at VBS included survivors and their families, as well as program donors, caregivers and staff.
The event included a Purim spiel with JFS President and CEO Eli Veitzer playing the role of King Ahasuerus. VBS provided a catered lunch, hamantashen and mishloach manot gift bags and a photo booth for attendees. Klezmer Juice, a traditional Yiddish band, played music that spurred many onto the dance floor.
“Every Purim is a special event for our survivors because some of our survivors each year become too frail to attend, so it’s very meaningful for them to be at the synagogue, to be with their friends, hear familiar music, sing and dance and eat together,” said JFS Director of Holocaust Programs Heather Angel-Collin.
Café Europa has two locations, in the Los Angeles basin and the San Fernando Valley, where social gatherings for survivors are held regularly. For the Purim celebration, survivors were invited to come together from across the city.
“Having our two Café Europa groups together at Purim allowed survivors from the city to see their Valley friends and vice versa, so our Purim party was something of a ‘family reunion’ for many of the survivors,” Angel-Collin said.
The photo booth, in particular, was a big hit, she added.
“Being able to take pictures with their friends at the photo booth and to have that photo as a memento really meant a lot,” Angel-Collin said.
— Oren Peleg, Contributing Writer
Joseph (Joe) Siegman of West Los Angeles has received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Netanya, Israel, in recognition of his decades-long work to promote sports in Israel and California.
Siegman, a television producer and writer, founded the Hall of Fame in 1979 and served as its chair from 1981 to 1989. He has since served as chairman of its selection committee and for 15 years was a member of the U.S. Maccabiah Games Organizing Committee.
Not merely a sideline supporter, Siegman represented the United States on the cricket and lawn bowling teams at five Maccabiah Games in the 1970s and ’80s.
“I didn’t bring home any gold, silver or bronze medals from my five Maccabiah forays, but I did capture the United States national lawn bowling championships in 1989 and 2003, representing the Beverly Hills Lawn Bowling Club,” Siegman told the Journal.
The Hall of Fame, located at the Wingate College of Physical Education in Netanya, has inducted nearly 300 top Jewish athletes. The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually. For details, visit jewishsports.net.
Siegman has been a publicist and manager for numerous Hollywood stars, ranging from Ed Asner to Henny Youngman, and a producer of live shows and television shows. His producing credits include the seminal reality series “Celebrity Bowling” and “The Comedy Shop,” hosted by Norm Crosby, which featured such veteran comics as Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett, Youngman, Garry Shandling, Nathan Lane, Howie Mandel, Arsenio Hall, Michael Keaton and many others.
Between all these activities, Siegman has written a series of historical reference books under the title “Jewish Sports Legends.”
— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Republican author and radio talk show host Larry Elder shared his conservative views and discussed the challenges of being conservative in the era of Donald Trump during a Feb. 26 lecture at Valley Beth Shalom.
“The 800-pound gorilla in this room is a man named Donald Trump,” Elder said. “Trump was not my first choice. Out of 17 Republicans, I think he was my 20th…But I’ve never seen anybody connect with people like that since Ronald Reagan.”
“Donald Trump understands this country,” he said.
The Jewish Republican Alliance (JRA) organized the event, during which Elder acknowledged the president’s inability to apologize for ill-advised remarks, including criticism of President George W. Bush’s decision to send troops to Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. Elder said criticism of the Iraq War, specifically that Republicans lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, has hurt the Republican brand.
Camaraderie among community members supportive of the Trump administration permeated the event, which drew about 750 attendees to the Encino synagogue.
“Look to your right, look to the left — no, not the left,” said JRA co-founder and financial adviser Mitch Silberman, garnering laughs. “Aren’t you excited to know you’re not alone?”
Additional participants included JRA co-founder Bruce Karasik, a real estate broker who spoke in praise of Vice President Mike Pence’s support for Israel, and Valley Beth Shalom Cantor Phil Baron, who started the event by leading the attendees in the singing of the national anthem and “Hatikvah.”
Karasik and Silberman, who live in the Conejo Valley, co-founded the JRA in 2016 to support Republicans in heavily Democratic California. The organization operates chapters in the Conejo Valley, the San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles and Newport Beach.
During his remarks, Elder, known as “The Sage From South Central,” said his views have not always won him fans among his fellow African-Americans. He said he has been called everything from an Uncle Tom to a sellout, but has seldom been called wrong.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum commemorated its 25th anniversary with a dinner on March 1 at The Beverly Hilton.
The event honored Vera and Paul Guerin, their family and the memory of Vera’s parents, Lilly and Nathan Shapell, with the National Leadership Award. Nathan Shapell survived two concentration camps, Buchenwald and Auschwitz, and became a successful real estate developer in California. He was one of the founders of the museum. In 2013, Vera sold her late father’s business, Shapell Industries, and is involved in philanthropy in the Jewish community. The event raised more than $1.3 million.
Evening participants included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who presented the Guerins with their award. During his remarks, Garcetti called the Washington, D.C., museum the “moral conscience of our entire nation.”
Broadcast journalist Pat Harvey emceed the event, which began with Wilshire Boulevard Temple Senior Rabbi Steve Leder leading the 1,000-plus crowd in the ha-Motzi.
Before the award ceremony, museum Director Sara Bloomfield and Daniel Greene, curator of the museum’s exhibition “Americans and the Holocaust,” discussed films including “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” and “Casablanca,” which influenced how Americans thought and felt about the Germans during World War II, Greene said. Just as those films did not mention the Jewish people in their depiction of the war in Europe, Americans at the time were less concerned about the treatment of Jews under the Nazis than they were about the threat the Nazis posed to American principles such as democracy.
Attendees included L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin; Samara Hutman, director of Remember Us; Andrew Cushnir, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust Executive Director Beth Kean; and Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief David Suissa.
Adele and Beny Alagem, Hella and Charles Hershson, and Cheryl and Haim Saban co-chaired the dinner, the theme of which was “What You Do Matters.”