January 16, 2019

Moving and Shaking: Larger Than Life-L.A. Family’ 10th anniversary & ADL counter-terrorism training

From left: Rakefet Aharon, president of Larger Than Life-L.A. Family, honoree Margo Barber and Shay Diamant, chairman of Larger Than Life-L.A. Family at the organization’s Oct. 13 gala. Photo by Orly Halevy.

Larger Than Life-L.A. Family, which supports cancer-stricken children from Israel and Los Angeles, celebrated its 10th anniversary Oct. 13 when more than 1,200 people gathered at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for an evening gala of music, awards and more.

Among the predominantly Israeli crowd were 38 children from the Jewish state, including Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze who are fighting the disease.

“Cancer does not discriminate — a sick child is a sick child, so we do not discriminate. It’s very simple,” said Ran Yaniv, Larger Than Life-L.A. Family co-founder and board member. “This does good beyond just helping the child. It helps the connection between two very disconnected communities in Israel.”

The event recognized the longtime financial backing of Encino philanthropist Margo Barber, who was presented the organization’s Woman of Valor award. The gala also raised more than $1 million in support of Larger Than Life-L.A. Family programs and its parent organization, the Israeli-based charity Larger Than Life.

Larger Than Life — Gdolim Mehachayim in Hebrew — was founded in 2000 by parents of cancer-stricken children. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Israeli children living with cancer, irrespective of their religion, race or ethnicity. 

Meanwhile, the wide-ranging work of the Los Angeles chapter, an independent nonprofit established in 2003, includes improving the atmosphere of cancer wards and providing medical procedures and medications to patients with inadequate health insurance. Children with cancer enjoy a two-week tour of theme parks, famous sites and other attractions in the Los Angeles area as part of its flagship program, West Coast Dream Trip, Yaniv said.

All this and more was celebrated at the gala, which featured live performances and appearances by Israeli vocalist Dana International, who was the evening’s headliner; Israel Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel; and Larger Than Life-L.A. chairman Shay Diamant and president Rakefet Aharon

L.A. World Airports Police Chief Patrick Gannon, left, and San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy, right, with an Israeli army commander in the northern region near Lebanon. Photo courtesy of the ADL

A delegation of West Coast law enforcement officials, including two from the Los Angeles area, participated in the Anti-Defamation Leagues (ADL) counterterrorism training program in Israel last month. It featured “high-level briefings on the operational response to terrorism, border and airport security, maintaining safety and access to holy sites, the role of advanced technology in policing, and use of media during a crisis,” according to an ADL statement.

During the Oct. 6-13 trip, Los Angeles World Airports Police Chief Patrick Gannon and San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy met with security experts, intelligence analysts and commanders in the Israel National Police and Israel Defense Forces. This was the fifth year of the annual program. 

Gannon and Handy were among a group of 15 law enforcement officials that also included Long Beach Police Department Deputy Chief David Hendricks and Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean

Joanna Mendelson, a Los Angeles-based ADL investigative researcher and director for special projects, accompanied the delegation. One of the mission highlights, Mendelson said, was a daytrip to the northern border with Lebanon, where they met with Israel Defense Forces soldiers who monitor Hezbollah’s activity. The trip also included visits to sites of archaeological and religious importance.

The ADL aims to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry. As part of that mission, the organization conducts law enforcement outreach and trainings related to “extremism and terrorism,” its Web site states.

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more, as well as local events that featured leaders from the Jewish and Israeli communities. Got a tip? E-mail it to ryant@jewishjournal.com.