December 14, 2018

Moving and shaking: Tour de Summer Camps, Woman to Woman Conference and more

The moon was still visible at 5 a.m. on Sept. 21 as cyclists registered at Camp Alonim in Simi Valley for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ second annual Tour de Summer Camps.

More than 450 cyclists participated in the event, including Jay Sanderson, Federation president and CEO. He said the purpose of the event was to gather a cross section of the community and raise funds for Federation. 

“It’s the best community-building event that we have during the whole year,” Sanderson said.

The event raised around $500,000, and Federation will continue accepting donations until Nov. 1. Proceeds from the event will help Jewish youths attend local summer camps through Federation funding, specifically through the distribution of need-based and incentive financial grants.

“We wanted to make sure that every Jewish kid that wanted to go [to camp] got to go,” Sanderson said.

More than 70 teams competed in the event. The Ramah Roadies, representing Camp Ramah, earned first-place honors after surpassing the team’s fundraising goal of $18,000 and raising $21,900 for the cause. 

Rodney Freeman, who brought the idea for Tour de Summer Camps to Federation last year and who has been affectionately dubbed “Ride Master,” raised more than $16,000. Other top fundraisers included Randy SchwabAaron Leibovic and Jeffrey Kaplan.

Overall, there were four routes available to participants, ranging from 18 miles to 100 miles, with staggered start times. The routes covered terrain that stretched throughout Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Westlake Village.

The 100-milers embarked on their journey at 6:30 a.m., and the last of the riders came pedaling back from their trek more than 13 hours later, at 7:15 p.m.

— Tess Cutler, Contributing Writer

The second annual Woman to Woman Conference, sponsored by the Jewish Vocational Service Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), a group that supports career mentoring and other programs serving women through Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVS), drew more than 400 participants Sept. 18 at the Skirball Cultural Center. 

Debbie Powell and Judy Rosenberg, event co-chairs, were the first speakers to take the stage. “You should see what we see,” said Powell, looking out into the audience. “We see a lot of amazing women,” Rosenberg added.

From left: writer-producer Janis Hirsch, WLN co-founder Eileen Coskey Fracchia, event co-chair Judy Rosenberg, L.A. City Councilmember Nury Martinez, event co-chair Debbie Powell, and Ashley Powell. Photo by Karina Pires

The emcee for the morning was former Miss North Carolina Kiki Elrod, who wore many hats during the span of the six-hour conference and networking event as she introduced speakers, moderated Q-and-A sessions and kept the event on track.

Among those who spoke were Nury Martinez, the only woman serving on Los Angeles City Council, and Dr. Sarah J. Kilpatrick, professor and chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Others included TV writer and producer Janis Hirsch; conductor and former first lady of West Virginia Rachael Worby; Margaret Bhola, business leader and author of “Women I Want to Grow Old With”; and Drs. Adrienne Youdim and Kimberly D. Gregory of Cedars-Sinai.

Hirsch, who wears leg braces, talked about her very first mentor. Bedridden after undergoing one of many operations during her childhood, Hirsch would watch Barbara Walters on “The Today Show.” 

“She isn’t what my grandmother would call a ‘glamour puss,’ ” Hirsch said to a laughing crowd. “Barbara was regular … and she was sitting at a desk with all these men!” 

Mentorships between women were a big part of the conversation during the conference as they discussed WLN’s WoMentoring program, which coordinates mentorships between professional women in established careers and transitioning into that field. Diane Shapiro, WoMentoring’s program manager, said the program is different from most JVS programs that are focused on getting people back to work.

“WoMentoring is a program focused on career development and advancement,” she said.

The event raised nearly $175,000 to benefit WLN programs, including WoMentoring.

— Tess Cutler, Contributing Writer

Elliot Brandt, 45, Western states director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) since 2002, will become managing director at the pro-Israel organization’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Elliot Brandt.  Photo courtesy of AIPAC 

Brandt’s promotion to the organization’s national staff becomes effective this month. He succeeds Jonathan Missner and will be replaced in Los Angeles by Wayne Klitofsky, currently AIPAC’s deputy director of the Southern Pacific region.

“Although moving to D.C. and leaving this community will be personally very difficult for me, I have devoted my professional life to this cause and believe this is the right next step,” Brandt, who will oversee AIPAC’s national regional operations, development and its campus program, wrote in an email.

Last summer was a busy one for AIPAC. As Israel waged war with Gaza, the pro-Israel organization lobbied Congress to ensure that the United States provided funds to help sustain Israel’s military defenses, among other things.

The lobbying group promotes pro-Israel legislation in the United States and has “10 regional offices and seven satellite offices that help pro-Israel activists … learn how they can affect Israel’s future and security by promoting strong ties with the United States,” according to the AIPAC website.

Rabbi Jonathan Klein, executive director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Los Angeles (CLUE-LA), blew the shofar during a Rosh Hashanah celebration at Los Angeles City Hall on Sept. 24.

From left: L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Jay Sanderson, City Attorney Mike Feuer, L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz and Israel’s Consul General David Siegel join Rabbi Jonathan Klein as he blows the shofar. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles City Hall

Program participants also included L.A. City Councilmembers Paul Koretz, Mitch Englander and Bob Blumenfield, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Jay Sanderson and Israel’s Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel. The local leaders, who stood by Klein’s side during the morning event in the council’s chambers, noshed on apples and honey in celebration of the New Year