August 22, 2019

Moving and shaking: ‘Iran: What Now?’, LEAP Foundation and more

Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy and a senior political scientist at the Rand Corp.; former U.S. Congressmember Mel Levine; and Omri Ceren, senior adviser at the Israel Project, participated in an Aug. 2 debate at Beth Jacob Congregation titled “Iran: What Now?” in which the three discussed the proposed agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which would lift international sanctions against Iran in exchange for an Iranian guarantee that it would not develop a nuclear weapon for a limited amount of time. 

Jewish Journal President David Suissa moderated the event, which drew approximately 200 attendees representing a cross section of viewpoints on the issue in the Jewish community, including Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Jay Sanderson; Federation Executive Vice President Andrew Cushnir; Temple Isaiah Associate Rabbi Dara Frimmer; Americans for Peace Now West Coast Regional Director David Pine; and left-wing LA Jews for Peace activist Jeff Warner, who stationed himself outside the venue prior to the event and handed out leaflets. 

During the impassioned 75-minute discussion, Kaye and Levine expressed views in favor of the deal, and each said that they hoped U.S. Congress would vote to support the deal. Ceren said he was opposed to the deal.

The Jewish Journal co-sponsored the evening event with Federation.

Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz spoke at Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills on Aug. 1, offering his support for Israel and speaking out against the proposed deal with Iran.

Nessah, a prominent Orthodox temple, is home to a large Iranian-American community. Cruz — who is Southern Baptist — has, more than any other candidate seeking the Republican nomination, sought out support from Orthodox Jewish communities. 

Cruz harshly criticized the Obama administration’s approach to combating Islamic radicalism and described the proposed Iran deal as the latest decision in a foreign policy he said has been defined by “weakness and appeasement.”

“When we look at the threats we face right now, none is greater than the threat of a nuclear Iran,” Cruz said, appealing to the Iranian heritage of many in the audience. “I believe this nuclear deal with Iran is the most catastrophic threat facing America today, and the only way to stop it is for all of us to come together and speak the truth.”

Cruz repeated a claim he has made repeatedly in recent days, that if the deal succeeds, “The United States government will become the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terror.”  Cruz challenged President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney — both of whom have criticized him for making the comment — to refute the claim. 

Cruz also claimed that the deal would accelerate Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon, comparing the proposed 24-day notice for inspectors to gain access to a site, to a local government giving a known drug dealer advance notice of a search warrant. A nuclear deal would pose an existential threat to Israel, Cruz said, repeating a claim made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as American Jewish groups, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. 

Mati Cohen, the president of Nessah Young Professionals, told the Journal that he hopes to bring other presidential candidates to the synagogue in the coming months.

— Aron Chilewich, Staff Writer

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFSLA) and National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles (NCJW/LA) teamed up to provide 250 children in need with backpacks, school supplies, new clothing and shoes on July 19 as part of the JFS Tools for School program and the NCJW/LA Back 2 School Store program, respectively. 

JFS Tools for School program participants included (from left) Dan Lipsman, Cate Lipsman, Erin Felman and David Felman.  Photo by Hilary Linderman

The agencies hold these events annually in advance of the school year, but the event last month, which was held at NCJW/LA’s Fairfax headquarters, marked the first time that the two worked together to provide those much-needed goods to children. 

“We were so happy to be able to provide new clothing and shoes to all of the participants at the Back 2 School Store,” Peggy Shapiro, NCJW/LA Back 2 School Store co-chair, said. “Education is such a vital part of NCJW’s mission, and we do our best to support women, children and families in our community.”

JFSLA board chair Debby Barak echoed Shapiro’s remarks, saying: “We know that thousands of families in the Los Angeles area continue to face financial hardship each day, and at JFS we want to make a difference. The support that JFS Tools for School gives to students and their families leads to greater success and brighter futures.”

Approximately 200 people volunteered their help at the event, according to a press release. Various organizations pitched in as well, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which offered “nutrition education and basic health screening information for families,” the release said; as well as the Sinai Temple Sisterhood and others. 

An array of celebrity guests — including singer Paula Abdul, television personality and former NFL player Michael Strahan, Olympian Apolo Ohno and others — turned out to deliver words of inspiration to high school and college students from Israel and elsewhere last month as part of a weeklong series of leadership skills-building events organized by the LEAP (Leadership, Excellence and Accelerating Potential) Foundation, a self-described “non-profit, motivational leadership program that helps high school and college students from around the world succeed.” 

From left: Bill Dorfman, co-founder of the LEAP Foundation, and television personality Michael Strahan attended a LEAP Foundation event at UCLA on July 15. Photo by Francois Noah

This year’s program took place July 12-18 at UCLA. 

Local Jewish community member and celebrity dentist Bill Dorfman, who was among those in attendance at the various events last month, is the co-founder of the organization, which was established in 2008.