November 16, 2018

Moving and shaking: American Technion Society, Jewish Educator Awards, LAMOTH and more

Audience members at the American Technion Society’s (ATS) “An Evening of Innovation and Inspiration” were presented with a moving sight on Oct. 29 as U.S. Marines Capt. Derek Herrera walked across the Museum of Tolerance stage wearing an Israeli-designed-and-built ReWalk robotic exoskeleton.

Paralyzed by sniper fire during a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2012, Herrera spoke about the positive impact that the ReWalk, which was created by Israeli computer scientist and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology alumnus Amit Goffer, has had on his life.

The gathering at the Museum of Tolerance drew nearly 200 community members, including ATS Western Region Director Diana Stein Judovits; Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Professor Boaz Golany; ATS Southern California Chapter Board President Rena Conner and Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles Consul for Political Affairs Yaki Lopez.

The evening showcased groundbreaking innovations that were developed at the Technion, which is one of Israel’s leading universities. ReWalk, which assists victims of spinal cord injuries and whose company’s initial public offering on Sept. 12 was a huge success, is among them. It allows individuals with lower-limb disabilities to stand upright and walk.

Herrera is currently working with ATS to raise money for research at the Technion focused on advancing mobility and independence. The funds also will also be used to provide ReWalk devices to qualified individuals.

ATS solicits donors in the Diaspora that are interested in the mission of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The final two recipients of the 2014 Jewish Educator Awards were announced on Nov. 3 by the Milken Family Foundation. The winners were Rabbi Menachem Mendel Greenbaum, principal of Cheder Menachem, an Orthodox boys school affiliated with Chabad, and Katya Malikov, chair of the math department at the Modern Orthodox Shalhevet High School.

The distinctions from the Milken Family Foundation and Builders of Jewish Education-BJE come with an unrestricted prize of $15,000.

From left: MIlken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler and Builders of Jewish Education-BJE Executive Director Gil Graff join Jewish Educator Awards honoree Rabbi Menachem Mendel Greenbaum. Photo courtesy of Milken Family Foundation

The other winners this year were Ariela Nehemne of Valley Beth Shalom and Barry Schapira of Brawerman Elementary School West of Wilshire Boulevard Temple; they were honored Oct. 14.

Award presenters included Richard Sandler, Milken Family Foundation executive vice president, and Gil Graff, BJE executive director.

“They are all making a difference in a lot of kids’ lives, which is the reason we did this award in the first place, to drive home … the importance of teachers and educators and try to make students understand that education is a place where they can make a difference,” Sandler told the Journal in a phone interview.

The Jewish Educator Awards, first given out in 1990, honor Jewish educators’ contributions to day schools affiliated with BJE and those who “exemplify the Jewish day school mission to prepare our youth for successful lives in the context of our values as a people,” according to Winners are selected from a pool of more than 1,000 educators from 37 BJE-affiliated K-12 schools, Sandler said. 

A luncheon celebrating this year’s honorees will take place Dec. 16. 

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) annual gala dinner, which took place Nov. 2 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, raised nearly $1 million.

LAMOTH, a nonprofit organization, operates a Holocaust museum in Pan Pacific Park.

The evening in Beverly Hills honored community leaders and philanthropists Dr. Frank and Shelley Litvack, internationally recognized author and journalist Kati Marton, and celebrated concert pianist and author Mona Golabek, in recognition of their “commitment to Holocaust remembrance and education,” according to an LAMOTH press release.

From left: LAMOTH honorees Dr. Frank and Shelley Litvack and Kati Marton. Photo by Alex Berliner

“Today, LAMOTH is a vessel for history where the collective and individual stories of our parents, grandparents and neighbors can be preserved for all the future generations,” said Frank Litvack, who received the Legacy Leadership Award in honor of his late Holocaust survivor mother, Erika Frankl Litvack, as quoted by a press release.

Frank Litvack is a retired cardiologist and professor of medicine. His wife, Shelley, is a television producer and director and has been involved in many charitable organizations.

Marton received the Humanitarian Award in honor of her late parents, journalists Endre and Ilona Marton. She is a human-rights advocate who has chaired the International Women’s Health Coalition and served as a chief advocate for the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Golabek, who received the Righteous Conversations L’Dorot Award in honor of her late parents, Lisa and Michel Golabek, co-wrote the book “The Children of Willesden Lane” about her mother’s experience with the Kindertransport. A play based on the book ran at the Geffen Playhouse in 2012.

Jessica Yellin, a former White House correspondent for CNN, served as the master of ceremonies. Additional attendees included Holocaust survivor Curt Lowens and LAMOTH executive director Samara Hutman, who deemed the event — which drew 700 guests — a big success. 

“The evening was a poignant reminder of the importance of a community gathering together to carry on the legacy of memory,” Hutman said in a press release.

“Seven Beauties,” the ballet from Azerbaijan, kicked off the 25th anniversary season of the San Diego Ballet on Oct. 11. It was performed as a one-night-only event at the San Diego Civic Theatre, one of the largest opera venues in the United States. 

From left: Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev; members of Azerbaijan Parliament Samad Seyidov and Asim Mollazade; and Vice President of Human Resources and Regulations for the State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic Khalik Mammadov. 

Sponsored by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, this was the first time that this ballet had been performed on such a large scale in this country. San Diego Ballet Artistic Director Javier Velasco choreographed the ballet, and the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra played the music.

A delegation of Azeri leadership attended the ballet while visiting California for meetings with Jewish leaders in Los Angeles to discuss the importance of Azeri-Jewish relations: Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev; Vice President of Human Resources and Regulations for the State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic Khalik Mammadov; and Azerbaijan Parliament members Samad Seyidov and Asim Mollazade

The ballet was composed in 1952 by Azeri composer Gara Garayev, who based the lines of the ballet on the 1197 poem “Seven Beauties” by Azeri poet Nizami Ganjavi. 

— Amanda Epstein, Contributing Writer

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