December 10, 2019

Moving and shaking: Rosh Hashanah at City Hall, ‘Understanding the Iran nuclear deal’ and more

A Sept. 18 Rosh Hashanah celebration filled Los Angeles City Hall with the sounds of the shofar. “Tekiah gedolah,” said Rabbi Joshua Hoffman of Valley Beth Shalom, before delivering a long — and loud — blast on the ram’s horn.

As part of the event, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles CEO and President Jay Sanderson addressed the City Council from the center of the council chambers, a plate of sliced apples placed on the banister of the podium before him. 

“Thank you for all you do, thank you for your continued partnership, and happy new year,” he said.

Also speaking were Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel, Israeli-American Council board chairman Shawn Evenhaim and local officials. City Attorney Mike Feuer and City Councilmen Bob Blumenfield and Mitch Englander all delivered remarks, underscoring the relationship between Jewish community members and civic leaders as they marked the Jewish new year.

A trio of experts expressed support for the United States’ controversial deal with Iran during a UCLA forum titled “Understanding the Iran Nuclear Deal” on Sept. 16. The three panelists were Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corp.; Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus at UCLA; and Asli Bali, a UCLA law professor.

From left: Steven Spiegel of the Center for Middle East Development at UCLA, Dalia Dassa Kaye of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corp., UCLA Chancellor Emeritus Albert Carnesale and UCLA law professor Asli Bali. Photo by Ryan Torok

The agreement lifts sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear development for a period of 10 to 15 years.

Steven Spiegel, director of the Center for Middle East Development at UCLA, who spoke out in support of the deal during a previous public discussion panel at Valley Beth Shalom, moderated the UCLA afternoon discussion, which was held in the Westwood campus’ Bunche Hall.

The event, which was organized by the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, drew an estimated 150 people.

The UCLA Center for Middle East Development, the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies and the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies co-sponsored the event.

In an interview that followed the discussion, Alexandra Lieben, deputy director of the Burkle Center, said the event was organized as a way to educate people about the controversial agreement, UCLA students included — although few were in the crowd as the school year had not started yet at the time of the event.

“It’s important to get a dispassionate perspective on the deal to counter the screaming talking heads,” she said.

Sara Meric, an attendee and self-described “agnostic, secular, super-supporter of Israel,” was critical of the panel for exclusively featuring supporters of the agreement. She said the deal makes her worried about Israel’s safety.

“The panel implies if we make nice to Iran they’ll make nice to us,” she told the Journal. “Mullahs have all the power, and I don’t see a way to deal with that. I wish the panel would have told us how.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) marked five decades of Israel-Germany diplomatic ties on Sept. 8 with a discussion featuring German Deputy Consul General in Los Angeles Stefan Biedermann and Israel Consul for Political Affairs in Los Angeles Yaki Lopez

From left: Deputy Consul General of Germany Stefan Biedermann and Israel Consul for Political Affairs Yaki Lopez participate in a discussion that marked the anniversary of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. Photo courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

ADL regional board chairman Eric Kingsley moderated the discussion, which was titled “50 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between Israel and Germany.” It took place at the Century City office of the ADL Pacific Southwest region and drew approximately 60 attendees, according to Ariella Schusterman, ADL associate regional director. 

When Israel and Germany formalized relations in 1965, it marked a new beginning between the two countries, following Germany’s genocide of Jews during the Holocaust. 

“Both speakers discussed the historical implications of their countries’ efforts to create close relations so soon after the end of World War II,” according to the ADL website.

Today, Germany and Israel have robust military and economic partnerships, according to the ADL. Additionally, the countries have extensive ties in the areas of politics, culture and more, according to the website, which was launched to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of diplomatic relations.

“[Israel and Germany have] achieved a lot in 50 years,” Biedermann said during the event, as quoted on the ADL website, “but we still have a long way to go.”

Rabbi Keara Stein has been named director of the Los Angeles chapter of InterfaithFamily, an organization that provides resources to interfaith married couples and families while aiming to enlarge the Jewish communal tent to include interfaith members of the Jewish community.

Rabbi Keara Stein. Photo courtesy of InterfaithFamily

“We are proud to have Keara’s enthusiasm and commitment to inclusion on our team,” Jodi Bromberg, CEO of the Boston-based organization, said in a statement.

Stein, an Arizona native and 2014 graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, said she is excited about the new opportunity.

“I am looking forward to working in the greater Los Angeles area with InterfaithFamily to enhance our Jewish community,” she said in a statement.

Based in Pasadena, Stein previously served as interim assistant rabbi at Temple Judea in Tarzana and is the co-founder of Jews Next Dor, a young-adult community in Portland, Ore.

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