November 21, 2018

Moving and Shaking: Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, David Myers and Richard Sandler

A red carpet ceremony and a screening of “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” kicked off the 10th annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (LAJFF) on April 30 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. 

The opening gala, which drew approximately 700 people, was just the beginning of a week of 25 films — including feature-length movies, shorts and documentaries — at theaters citywide.

Among those seen on the red carpet on opening night were Hilary Helstein, LAJFF executive director; philanthropist Daphna Ziman; and actors Radha Mitchell (“Finding Neverland”), Beverly Todd (“The Bucket List”), Max Ryan (“Death Race”) and Ken Davitian (“Borat”). Helstein spotlighted how far the festival has come since its founding a decade ago.  

“Why is this year different from all other years? We finally made it to our 10th — and what a milestone it is!” she said in a statement.

LAJFF founding co-chairs Kim Cavallo and Michele Kaufman were honored “for their creative vision and dedication to the Jewish community,” Helstein said. 

Annette and Robert Lichtenstein co-sponsored the opening night of the festival. 

TRIBE Media Corp., parent company of the Jewish Journal, is the nonprofit sponsor of the LAJFF.

The opening night event’s centerpiece was “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker,” a documentary about the iconic 20th-century superstar who made a name for herself in vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television and Hollywood. A discussion followed with the film’s producers, husband-and-wife team Lloyd and Susan Ecker.

Later during the festival, E. Randol Schoenberg, board president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and art restitution lawyer, participated in a Q-and-A after the May 2 screening of “The Art Dealer,” a movie involving Nazi-looted art. Filmmaker Melissa Donovan participated in a discussion after  screenings of her film about an Ethiopian and an American doctor, “Zemene,” on May 3 and 4. 

The closing night ceremony at ArcLight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks featured the first two episodes of the dramatic Israeli television series “Prisoners of War” (“Hatufim”), which inspired the award-winning Showtime series “Homeland.” A Q-and-A followed with Rob Eshman, the Journal’s publisher and editor-in-chief interviewing series creator Gideon Raff, whose latest show, “Dig,” is now on American television network USA. 

David Myers, the incoming inaugural UCLA Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History. Photo courtesy of UCLA

UCLA professor David Myers has been named the university’s inaugural Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History, UCLA announced May 19. 

The chair will provide funds for research, graduate student support and more for Myers, the current Robert N. Burr Department Chair in the history department (a position from which he will step down at the end of June).

 “It is a great honor to be the first holder of this chair, which will ensure that the poignant and powerful story of Sady and Ludwig Kahn — and of so many other Jews from the near and distant past — will be taught to generations of students at UCLA,” Myers said. “The Kahn Chair affirms UCLA’s place as a major center for the study of Jewish history in the United States and the world.” 

The late Sady and Ludwig Kahn were German Jews who fled Germany in the late 1930s before starting a successful hat-making business in Los Angeles. Sady, according to a UCLA press release, did not have any children and felt that UCLA, given its role in educating young people, was a deserving beneficiary of the Kahns’ money. She died in 2009. 

Myers has a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a doctorate from Columbia. He has edited eight books and authored several others, including “Re-inventing the Jewish Past: European Jewish Intellectuals and the Zionist Return to History.”

An architecture contest is underway — and may be nearing completion — at Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s (WBT) Koreatown-based Erika J. Glazer Family Campus, in which four major architectural firms have submitted proposals to create a new, 55,000-square-foot event and meeting building, dubbed The Gathering Place. 

The competing architecture firms are Kengo Kuma and Associates, Morphosis Architects, Rem Koolhaas’ OMA and Steven Holl Architects, according to an April 23 press release. Susan Gordon, WBT director of communications and marketing, told the Journal on May 19 that the contest jury committee has recommended architect Koolhaas for the job and that the synagogue is working with the firm to make its plans work financially. She did not provide a cost estimate.

“We didn’t officially announce the choice because we are in a period of due diligence, finding out if what they proposed could be done with a budget we can afford. … In effect, we are working with them to try to come to an agreement,” she said in a phone interview. 

The “inspiring architectural setting … will include a banquet hall with a commercial kitchen, as well as a cafe, meeting and conference rooms, and administrative space,” a press release said. The hope is for groups and individuals both from WBT and from the greater community to hold meetings, programs and other events there.

WBT Senior Rabbi Steven Leder, a jury committee member, said in a statement that architecture holds an important place in the hearts and minds of his worship community. 

“Architecture is a form of prayer. With this building, the temple brings another strong, radiant landmark to our local community, and the larger city of Los Angeles, to further our role as an institution of learning, gathering and giving,” he said.

Among the others on the jury are philanthropist and famed art collector Eli Broad; Hyatt Hotel heir Anthony Pritzker; Lauren Taschen, wife of art-book publisher Benedikt Taschen; philanthropist Erika Glazer; and Richard Koshalek, former head of the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

The completion of the building, expected in 2020, will represent the final phase of the synagogue’s ambitious, three-phase construction effort, the first phase of which focused on the Byzantine-Revival sanctuary that sits on the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. That construction was completed in 2013. 

The synagogue is in the midst of its second phase of construction — a 6,000-square-foot Karsh Family Social Services Center. 

WBT already has raised more than $100 million, but additional money will be needed for the new building. Its Koreatown campus is one of two of its campuses in Los Angeles. The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus is located in West Los Angeles, at Olympic Boulevard and Barrington Avenue. 

Richard Sandler, incoming Jewish Federations of North America board chair. Photo courtesy of Milken Family Foundation

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has nominated Richard Sandler — immediate past chair of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles — as its next chair of the board.

The organization’s board of trustees nominating committee, led by Lori Klinghoffer, will vote on the nomination in November during the JFNA General Assembly, according to a May 14 email from JFNA to its constituents.

Sandler is a past vice chair of the JFNA board and current executive vice president and trustee of the Los Angeles-based Milken Family Foundation. He will succeed Michael Siegal as chair at JFNA, which represents more than 150 federations across the continent.

“As Jewish Federations look to build a strong future for our children and grandchildren, we need a national leadership that will inspire others and help them connect to our critical work,” Siegal said in a statement. “The nominating committee has identified an outstanding slate of individuals that includes a diversity of experience and leadership skills.”

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