December 10, 2018

Moving and Shaking: AFHU award dinner, TRZ Yom HaShoah event and fire safety at B’nai David-Judea

American Friends of The Hebrew University’s (AFHU award ) Harvey L. Silbert Torch of Learning Award Dinner on April 13 honored attorneys Jonathan Anschell and Dick Volpert while raising more than $1 million to support the prominent Israeli university.

“Hebrew University is a shining example of quality, pluralism, academic freedom and the unifying power of the unbridled pursuit of knowledge,” Anschell said from the stage of the Beverly Hilton hotel, addressing the hundreds of people in attendance.

Anschell is executive vice president and general counsel at CBS Television, a media and communications law expert, and a board member at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Sinai Temple. He called the night “a resounding success for the university.”

The other honoree, Volpert, a senior partner at the law firm Glaser Weil, is a leader in real-estate law and Los Angeles civic life. He’s been involved with the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, and he is the founding publisher of the Journal.

Volpert was unable to attend because of a back injury, but his family — including his children, Barry, Sandy, Nancy and Linda Volpert Gross — accepted the award on his behalf. 

“The Harvey L. Silbert Torch of Learning Award is presented annually to distinguished members of the legal community and recognizes their leadership, scholarship and dedication to the betterment of humanity,” a press release said.

The event featured historian and author Deborah Lipstadt as the keynote speaker. Rabbis David Wolpe of Sinai Temple and Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom delivered the invocations. Feinstein said it was ironic that Volpert, who has more backbone than anybody he knows, should be out with a back injury.

Civics leaders in attendance included former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who presented the award to Volpert’s family, and L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin. Patricia Glaser and Sam Mudie chaired the event. 

Consul General of Germany in Los Angeles Bernd Fischer (above) and Consul General of France in Los Angeles Axel Cruau (below) attended a Yom HaShoah event at Temple Ramat Zion. Photos by Caryn Baitel

Temple Ramat Zion’s (TRZ) Yom HaShoah event, “We Will Never Forget,” drew more than 20 dignitaries from many foreign nations on April 12, including local consuls general of France, Germany, Poland and Bulgaria — Axel Cruau, Bernd Fischer, Mariusz Brymora and Marin Dimitrov, respectively.

Cruau spotlighted recent anti-Semitic acts of terror in Paris, as well as the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

“No one stands alone — it is not the task of one person to fight racism and anti-Semitism but everyone,” he said, according to TRZ spokesperson Michele Nachum.

Fischer spoke of Germany’s commitment to Holocaust remembrance.

“I stand by you in shame and sorrow. … There is no way to remedy this … but we must prevent this from ever happening again,” he said.

As part of the program, professional violinists Joseph and Raphael Gold performed original pieces they wrote for Yom HaShoah. Valley Beth Shalom Cantor Herschel Fox sang “El Maleh Rachamim.”

TRZ Rabbi Ehud Sela and Cantor Daniel Friedman addressed the crowd, which Nachum said numbered in the hundreds.

Cameron Barrett, education director of My Safe L.A., leads a fire safety symposium in Pico-Robertson. Photo by Joe Shalmoni Photography © 2015, all rights reserved

A fire safety symposium, held in response to last month’s tragedy in Brooklyn, N.Y., that killed seven Orthodox children, took place at B’nai David-Judea Congregation on March 29. It drew officials from the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), along with hundreds of community members. 

Participants included LAFD Deputy Chief Daren Palacios, LAFD Battalion Chief Ed Bushman, LAPD Deputy Chief Beatrice Girmala and LAPD Capt. Howard Leslie, as well as members of the Beverly Hills Police Department and Hatzolah of Los Angeles. South Robertson Neighborhoods Council members Kevin Gres and Michoel Bloom helped organize the event at the Pico Boulevard shul. 

The community planned the event after a hot plate that was left on during the Sabbath caused a fire that killed seven siblings on March 21.

A similar gathering was held at the Sherman Oaks-based Emek Hebrew Academy on the same day, where fire safety experts handed out smoke detectors to those in attendance.

U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu attended a Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles seder at the Breed Street Shul. Photo courtesy of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Valley Beth Shalom Rabbi Noah Farkas led attendees through the journey of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt during The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Breed Street Shul seder on April 1. The event marked the third annual community seder at the historic Boyle Heights synagogue.

“A once-vibrant Jewish neighborhood, it was the perfect setting for this yearly event that brings together local leaders who are helping transform Los Angeles and build a better community for all,” the Federation website states.

The seder attracted community leaders and activists, Federation board members and other officials. L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin sang a song he used to sing with his grandparents during his youth.

Among the attendees were Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Culver City). 

Federation representatives included Jay Sanderson, president and CEO; Les Bider, board chairman, who led a blessing over the wine; board member Cece Feiler; Valley Alliance Campaign co-chair Karmi Monsher; and general campaign chairwoman Julie Platt.

The event was one of two seders that Federation held this year. On April 3, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — along with 40 Federation staff members and Federation Community Leadership Institute (CLI) graduates — attended the first night’s Passover seder in the home of Sanderson and his wife, Laura

Amy Shpall, Federation’s vice president of community engagement, said the event was a success: “The seder and dinner was accompanied by poignant remarks …[and] moving speeches.”

Garcetti and Sanderson delivered remarks, and Federation staffers Gamal Palmer, CLI senior director; Aubrey Farkas, director of civic engagement; and Jocelyn Orloff, senior director of Young Adults of Los Angeles, also spoke.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email