December 10, 2019

Moving and shaking: ‘Bridging the Divide,’ Project Angel Food, Kirk Douglas and more

“Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race,” a new PBS documentary about the first African-American mayor of Los Angeles, screened Aug. 12 at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills during an event organized by the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (LAJFF).

The event drew 150 people and included remarks by Hilary Helstein, festival executive director. A panel moderated by Journal Executive Editor Susan Freudenheim featured “Bridging the Divide” filmmakers Lyn Goldfarb and Alison Sotomayor; Lorraine Bradley, the oldest of the late mayor’s three daughters; Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at CSU Los Angeles and a Journal columnist; actor and activist George Takei (“Star Trek”); and former City Councilman Robert Farrell. The panelists discussed Bradley’s family history, the legacy of African-Americans in Los Angeles and more.

The film’s release coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots, during which tensions between the Los Angeles African-American community and police reached a flashpoint. Bradley became mayor in 1973 by bringing together a multiracial coalition in the years after the riots.

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

Former Temple Israel of Hollywood Chazzan Danny Maseng has launched Makom LA, the House of Song and Prayer, a nondenominational and musically driven spiritual congregation.

Chazzan Danny Maseng. Photo courtesy of Makom LA

“It is a community of people who are interested in the actual spiritual practice of Judaism as opposed to the so-forth-and-so-on denominational model,” Maseng said in a phone interview. 

The congregation debuted on July 24 with a Kabbalat Shabbat service at Hollywood Temple Beth El that attracted more than 300 people, according to Maseng. Subsequent services took place Aug. 14 and 15, each drawing more than 100 people, and it will hold services again on Aug. 28. The congregation will hold High Holy Days services on erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah morning, Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur. 

A Makom LA service in July drew a large crowd of attendees. Photo by Jonathan Maseng

Makom’s debut marks a new partnership between the old — Beth El, a historic Conservative synagogue on North Crescent Heights Boulevard — and the new. Beth El will host Makom services on the second and fourth Fridays of every month, as well as on the second Saturday of every month. Beth El Rabbi Norbert Weinberg will contribute to the Makom Saturday morning services, and the two congregations will partner on Yom Kippur, Chanukah and on other events, according to the Beth El website. Maseng called it is an opportunity “to bridge gaps and bridge generations and to cross denominations without anyone losing their own unique identity.” 

Carmen Fraser, a Beth El board member, echoed those remarks: “To me it doesn’t matter if they come for Beth El or Makom, as long as they are not leaving the community, as long as we are giving them something that is of interest to them.”

Maseng previously served as cantor and music director at Temple Israel of Hollywood, where his tenure ended on June 30. He said he is grateful for his experiences there and is concentrating on the future with Makom LA. 

Actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, have announced plans to donate $80 million in new gifts to an array of charitable causes, including Sinai Temple, which houses the Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center.

Kirk Douglas

In a Hollywood Reporter interview published Aug. 24, Douglas, 98, said major beneficiaries will include Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The two already have donated millions of dollars through their Douglas Charitable Foundation.

In the interview, Douglas recalled his modest childhood as the son of Russian immigrants.

“Sometimes we didn’t have enough to eat, but very often there would be a knock at the door and it would be a hobo wanting food, and my mother always gave them something,” he recalled. “My mother said to me, ‘You must take care of other people.’ That stayed with me.”

In 2013, the most recent year for which tax information is available, the Douglas Foundation gave away more than $2 million in grants. Jewish beneficiaries included Jewish Family Service, Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl and the Anti-Defamation League.

Douglas is the father of Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, who this year won the $1 million Genesis Prize, which is known informally as the “Jewish Nobel.” 


Hundreds of supporters of Project Angel Food gathered at Hollywood’s Taglyan Complex to celebrate the organization that began to provide food and nonmedical services to people with HIV and AIDS and has since grown to serve a variety of needy clients throughout the city. 

From left: David Kessler, Marianne Williamson, Howard Rosenman, Freddie Weber and Ed Rada. Photo by Charlie Steffens/Gnarly Photos

The glittery but down-to-earth event on Aug. 22 honored Project Angel Food founder Marianne Williamson and founding team David Kessler, Ed Rada, Howard Rosenman and Freddie Weber. Actresses Jane Lynch and Kate Flannery performed a duet from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Olympic diver Greg Louganis, fashion expert Lawrence Zarian, and actors Nathan Lane, Judith Light and Frances Fisher were among the guests.

— Staff report 

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