December 10, 2019

Moving and shaking: Early Childhood Center, JVS, AFOBIS and more

Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos participated in the Aug. 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating the opening of the Harry Rubinfeld Jewish Education Center, an expansion of the Early Childhood Center (ECC) at Burbank Temple Emanu El. 

He was joined at the event by Rabbi John Carrier and other community leaders, including Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, City Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy, Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill and school board member Steve Ferguson

The new facility occupies a former residential home adjacent to the temple campus and offers two new classrooms. The property was donated by and named in honor of the late Harry Rubinfeld, father of Nat Rubinfeld, a former president and longtime board member of the congregation. 

Representing the Rubinfeld family at the ceremony were Nat Rubinfeld; his wife, Alma; and their children, Debbie, Jonathan and Paul Rubinfeld.

Leeron Dvir, ECC director, offered remarks that were full of gratitude. “I see four important values that we as early childhood educators teach your children daily that all have roots in Judaism and are all exhibited here tonight: team work, perseverance, mitzvot and community,” she said. “It truly does take a village, and what an amazing village we have to be raising our kids in.”

— Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer

Fifteen young Angelenos — ages 18 through 21 — left the city Aug. 19 to make aliyah and join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) through the Garin Tzabar program, according to Tali Lipschitz, regional representative to the West Coast for the Jewish Agency for Israel, one of the sponsoring organizations.

Tali Lipschitz (center) of the Jewish Agency for Israel, with aliyah coordinators Sara Naor (left) and Ellen Deker. Photo courtesy of Tali Lipschitz

The participants join the IDF together as a group and are overseen by the Israel Scouts. They stay on kibbutzim with host families, learn Hebrew, and complete four seminars throughout the year that prepare them logistically, emotionally and culturally to become Israeli citizens, Lipschitz said.

“Through our program, you get people doing the process with you, helping you along, and showing you how to navigate the bureaucracy of getting into the army and receiving benefits from the government,” Lipschitz said. “In a lot of ways in Israeli society, going through the army is a ticket for a better adjustment to the country.”  

Created in 1929, the Jewish Agency has a wide array of goals, including facilitating aliyah and engagement with Israel, building a better society in Israel and rescuing Jews from other countries where they are at risk.

—Kylie Ora Lobell, Contributing Writer

About 20 local health professionals convened Sept. 8 in support of American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro (AFOBIS), a nonprofit that raises money to help Israeli children living with developmental disabilities.

The event took place at Pats Next Door, a private Pico-Robertson event space at Pat’s Restaurant. Enlarged photographs of the Beit Issie Shapiro campus in Ra’anana decorated the intimate venue. 

Pat Levitt of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro

Pat’s Restaurant owner Errol Fine, who serves as chairman of the Los Angeles board of AFOBIS; Ernest Katz, a board member from the group; and Pat Levitt of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles addressed the small crowd on a variety of topics related to the organization’s mission and goals for the years ahead. The speakers also discussed their experience of attending the sixth Beit Issie Shapiro International Conference on Disabilities in Tel Aviv this past July.

The AFOBIS gala takes place Nov. 8 at Sinai Temple and will honor Katz with the Humanitarian Award.

Beit Issie Shapiro goes beyond providing services and therapy for children with special needs. In 2005, the organization created Park Chaverim (Hebrew for “friendship park”), a playground in Israel for kids with and without special needs, according to the Beit Issie Shapiro website. A South African family that had made aliyah to Israel founded the organization in 1981.

Emerging entrepreneurs and young professionals linked up when 100 people attended a garden party luncheon for the new Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVS) Young Leaders Network on July 18.

Steve Seigel (left) and Matt Winnick, event co-chairs and founders of the JVS Young Leaders Network, with JVS CEO Vivian Seigel.
Photo by Karina Pires

JVS board members Steve Seigel and Matt Winnick hosted the event at the Bel Air home of Winnick’s parents, philanthropists Karen and Gary Winnick, who run the Winnick Family Foundation. 

The luncheon, which included a silent auction, featured speeches by Oscar Hernandez, who graduated from the JVS BankWorks program, which prepares job seekers for positions as bank tellers as a first step in the financial services industry, and Meredith Burnley, who completed the WoMentoring program, which helps women in transition. Seigel, a co-founder of the Young Leaders Network and the son of JVS CEO Vivian Seigel, also spoke to the crowd. 

Matt Winnick, who co-founded the group, said in a statement, “Our hope was that if we could inspire and engage people, and they in turn volunteered or made a donation, or simply shared the stories they heard, we could increase the reach and the impact JVS has in the community. … Guests were amazed to see the breadth of what JVS does, and many have committed to stay connected.”

—Kylie Ora Lobell, Contributing Writer

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