November 16, 2018

Moving and Shaking: Carl Reiner and Phil Rosenthal at the L.A. Jewish Film Festival

The Saban Theatre was filled with laughter as legendary comedian/director/producer Carl Reiner and writer/producer Phil Rosenthal (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) participated in a free-flowing conversation about life, comedy and everything in between as part of the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival’s opening-night ceremony. The May 1 gathering in Beverly Hills marked the start of this year’s annual festival.

The memory of Sid Caesar was the theme of the opening night, featuring a screening of “Ten From Your Show of Shows,” a 1973 collection of 10 legendary sketches from Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.”

“I hope we have fun and a lot of laughs. That’s what we’re here for,” Reiner told the Journal, as his handlers ushered him through the lobby of the historic theater. “If we don’t laugh, we fail.” 

Reiner, L.A. Jewish Film Festival executive director Hilary Helstein and others, including Jon Voight, began the night in a flash, posing for photographers on the red carpet. 

For the Q-and-A following the screening, Rosenthal was supposed to generate conversation by asking Reiner questions, but the latter made Rosenthal’s job easy, opting instead to reminisce freestyle and read passages from his latest autobiography, “I Just Remembered!” 

The subject matter for the weeklong festival included “Icons and Heroes,” “Tradition and Identity,” “Conflicts and Issues” and “History and Legacy.” It is a program of TRIBE Media Corp., which produces the Journal.

A Q-and-A with Jewish Journal Arts Editor Naomi Pfefferman; American Jewish Committee-Los Angeles’ Rabbi Mark Diamond and the Rev. Alexei Smith of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was scheduled to follow the closing night screening of the 2012 film “The Jewish Cardinal.”

Judea Pearl

UCLA computer science professor Judea Pearl has been elected to the elite National Academy of Sciences, in recognition by his peers of his “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research,” particularly in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

Pearl, a contributing writer and occasional columnist for the Journal, is an international leader in AI, which probes the partnership between humans and robotic machines. Its applications extend to medical diagnosis, homeland security and natural language understanding.

The discipline, a subfield of computer science, aims to understand the fundamental building blocks of thought, creativity, imagination and language — those elements of the mind that make us intelligent.

Two years ago, Pearl was the recipient of the Turing Award, generally described as the “Nobel Prize of Computing.” The citation noted that “his influence extends beyond artificial intelligence and even computer science, to human reasoning and the philosophy of science.”

Born and raised in the Orthodox enclave of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Pearl is perhaps best known in the Jewish community as the president, and co-founder with his wife, Ruth Pearl, of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. The foundation’s purpose is to perpetuate the ideals of their son, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered in 2002 by Muslim extremists in Pakistan.

In addition, Pearl is an activist in the academic world and on the UCLA campus in championing the cause of Israel in a sometimes hostile climate.

The National Academy of Sciences was established by Congress in 1863 and signed by President Abraham Lincoln, to act as adviser to the federal government in matters pertaining to science and technology.

—  Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

From left: Beth Chayim Chadashim’s (BCC) Rabbi Lisa Edwards; BCC 2014 Awards Brunch honorees Elissa Barrett and her wife, playwright Zsa Zsa Gershick; and Edwards’ wife, Tracy Moore. Photo by Marcia Perel Photography.

Beth Chayim Chadashim’s (BCC) 2014 Awards Brunch, which took place at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel on April 27, was “one of the most successful galas we’ve had,” according to the congregation’s new executive director, Ruth Gefner. She began full time on April 16 after having previously worked at Temple Isaiah and Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills.

Among the event’s honorees was Brad Sears, founding director and current executive director of the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law that conducts research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. He received the Rabbi Erwin and Agnes Herman Humanitarian Award. 

Award-winning writer, filmmaker and educator Zsa Zsa Gershick and her wife, Bet Tzedek Legal Services vice president and general counsel Elissa Barrett, together were given the Harriet Perl Tzedek Award. And Felicia Park-Rogers, who served as BCC’s executive director for eight years, was honored with the Presidents’ Award. 

Founded in 1972 as the world’s first lesbian and gay synagogue, today Beth Chayim Chadashim describes itself as an inclusive community of progressive lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual Jews, their families and friends. 

American Jewish Committee-Los Angeles’ new president, Dean Schramm; Schramm’s wife, former city controller and current congressional candidate Wendy Greuel; and their son, Thomas. Photo by Ryan Torok.

The American Jewish Committee chapter in Los Angeles (AJC-LA) named attorney and producer Dean Schramm as its president during its annual meeting on April 30.

Schramm, the husband of former city controller and current congressional candidate Wendy Greuel, voiced his support of Israel, the Jewish people and the organization. 

“We know that the best way to stand up against bigotry and hatred directed at the Jewish people is to give expression to the values Judaism teaches,” Schramm said from the podium, as Greuel and the couple’s son, Thomas, looked on from their seats at a table near the front of the room. 

He succeeds Clifford Goldstein, and his election is effective immediately. Meanwhile, Goldstein is continuing on as chairman of the organization’s regional lay leadership.

AJC regional director Rabbi Mark Diamond delivered the invocation at the ceremony, which took place at the Skirball Cultural Center. It drew more than 100 guests, including AJC supporters and elected officials.

“Dean has deep and binding friendships and bonds here in Los Angeles. He cares much about this community, and he cares a lot about AJC priorities,” Diamond told the Journal.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was the event’s keynote speaker, and he used his remarks to, among other things, highlight the important role of AJC to Los Angeles. Additional participants in the program included Uri Herscher, the Skirball’s founding president and CEO, who joked that the mayor’s agenda ought to include moving City Hall to Sepulveda Boulevard, where the cultural center is located. 

The event honored Judi Kaufman, an active member of AJC’s local chapter, brain cancer survivor, poet and founder of Art of the Brain at UCLA Medical Center. AJC currently collects funds in Kaufman’s honor through an initiative known as the Judi Fund.

Among the familiar faces in the crowd were Greuel; Richard Volpert, an attorney and founding publisher of the Jewish Journal; community leader Barbara Yaroslavsky; and L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin.

AJC-LA is one of many chapters of a national organization committed to advocating for Israel, immigration reform and more. It names a new president every two years. 

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