January 20, 2019

Moving and shaking: Pioneer Women Award, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and more

The Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women honored Molly Forrest, CEO and president of the Los Angeles Jewish Home, with the Pioneer Women Award during a ceremony March 27 at Los Angeles City Hall.

The award spotlights those who work to advance the welfare of women and girls in the Los Angeles community. 

“This award is bestowed on women throughout the city of Los Angeles who play vital roles in advancing gender equality, and Molly certainly meets that criteria,” L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who nominated Forrest for the honor, said, as quoted in a press release. “Considering all of her accomplishments as CEO-President of the Los Angeles Jewish Home, this is a well-deserved honor.”

Forrest expressed her thanks for the award.

“I am honored the commission has recognized me for this important award,” the 65-year-old said, as quoted in a release. “I gratefully accept it and share it with the Home’s dedicated board members, donors and staff.”

As the largest nonprofit skilled-nursing provider in California, Los Angeles Jewish Home provides senior health care services to more than 5,000 seniors annually. Forrest has led and grown the Home, which encompasses three San Fernando Valley-based campuses and 21 programs, since 1996. 

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has appointed Steven Klappholz as its new Western regional director.

Steven Klappholz, new Western regional director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Photo courtesy of USHMM

Klappholz served as executive director of development at the USC Shoah Foundation-The Institute for Visual History and Education in Los Angeles for the past 14 years and was director of development for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for more than a decade before that.

Jordan E. Tannenbaum, USHMM’s chief development officer praised the appointment. 

“Steven is an accomplished and experienced development professional. We very much look forward to him joining the team in our Los Angeles office,” Tannenbaum said in a statement. 

Klappholz succeeds Michael Sarid, who departed from the job last September. 

The new Western regional director, who is charged with working with donors and bringing museum-based programming to Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington, said, in taking on the new role,  “My passion for development is underscored by my desire to raise awareness of the Holocaust and inspire people to confront hatred, anti-Semitism and, ultimately, genocide, especially with the recent rise in anti-Semitism worldwide, including the lands in which the Holocaust occurred,” Klappholz said in a statement.

USHMM is a Washington, D.C.-based Holocaust education museum that has received 36 million visitors since opening its doors in 1993. 

In the world of music, someone might not typically consider Jewish music to be among the likes of today’s pop, hip-hop and rock ’n’ roll. But a new social experience called “SoulSpark: An Evening With Jewish Songwriters” is seeking to change that view. 

Held at Room 5 Lounge in Los Angeles, the March 28 show featured the talents of five Jewish songwriters: Molly Williams, Todd Kessler, Dov Rosenblatt, Chanie Kravitz and Mikey Pauker.

From left: Todd Kessler, Mikey Pauker, Molly Williams, Chanie Kravitz and Dov Rosenblatt. Photo by Joe Shalmoni photojournalist © 2015, all rights reserved.

The event was sponsored by Merkava Mentors, a six-month mentorship program that pairs up-and-coming Jewish songwriters with established Jewish songwriters, and was founded by Pauker.

“I wanted to find people who were strong songwriters, who understand the art form of creating music and who inspire people, to connect them in spirit,” Pauker said of the artists he asked to feature in the SoulSpark event. 

SoulSpark debuted during the SXSW Festival (South by Southwest) on March 17 in Austin, Texas.

Playing to an audience of about 60 people, the songwriters began the evening together with Havdalah, followed by individual pieces from each artist. After the show, some audience members approached Pauker to say how the music had touched them.

Because this particular show was restricted to the 21-and-older age group due to the venue, Pauker is hoping to have a future Los Angeles show with a location that would allow for a younger audience.

“I would like to have a venue that is more accessible to youth groups and families,” he said. 

The messages Judaism teaches are universal, and Pauker believes the same is true for the messages in Jewish music.

“We’re working on building sacred Jewish music coming from a spiritual standpoint,” Pauker said.

— Leilani Peltz, Contributing Writer

Rabbis Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, and David Wolpe of Sinai Temple and Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller of Temple Beth Torah of Ventura, earned spots on the Jewish Daily Forward 2015 America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis list, which featured 33 “men and women who move us” according to the Forward’s website. 

Forward Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner’s introduction to the annual list spotlights Wolpe, specifically, saying the Conservative leader “sends out insightful comments from his perch in Los Angeles to more than 55,000 Facebook followers everywhere.” 

Writers Anne Cohen and Maia Efrem compiled the list with the help of an array of contributors. Those noted also include clergy from New York, Pennsylvania, Quebec and elsewhere. 

The plaudits on Geller accompanying the list spotlight the Reform rabbi’s commitment to baby boomers, saying, “Recently, she led the [Emanuel] congregation and the wider L.A. Jewish community to honor a new stage of life, between midlife and frail old age. It has led to an extraordinary transformation in the lives of many individuals as we explore what it means to understand that there is less time ahead of us than behind.” 

The description of Wolpe’s accomplishments says the rabbi is “definitely a man worthy of recognition for his contributions to so many.” 

And the praise for Hochberg-Miller spotlights the Reform rabbi’s commitment to interfaith work.

Attorney Andrew Friedman and his wife, Chanie, hosted Carolyn Ramsay, who is currently running for Los Angeles City Council and is Jewish, at their home on March 29 for a breakfast with leading members of the Jewish and Hungarian communities.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.