December 10, 2019

Moving and shaking: Daniel Pearl Music Days; Remembering Leo Frank and more

An interfaith concert featuring 200 students held Oct. 15 at Weizmann Day School in Pasadena celebrated the life of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl as part of the 13th annual Daniel Pearl Music Days series. The “Harmony for Humanity Concert” featured pupils from Weizmann and B’nai Simcha Jewish Community Preschool, as well as the Episcopal Saint Mark’s School and New Horizon School, which is a Muslim elementary school.

“Lately, the news focuses on conflict within interfaith relations in our own country, and the challenges to achieving peace in the Middle East, yet there are so many positive stories to share — and this event is a perfect example,” Lisa Feldman, event emcee and Weizmann head of school, said in a statement.

At the event, Judea Pearl, the late journalist’s father, performed the Yiddish folk song “Donna Donna” and “Oseh Shalom.” Other attendees included Daniel Pearl’s mother, Ruth; B’nai Simcha Director Judy Callahan; Saint Mark’s head of school Jennifer Tolbert and New Horizon Middle School Director Nahid Ansari.

The Daniel Pearl Music Days series is a network of concerts that celebrates the journalist’s legacy and promotes interfaith dialogue. Upcoming events include a concert slated for Oct. 25 at Sinai Temple.

The local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) marked the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Jewish businessman Leo Frank during an event Oct. 13 at the organization’s Century City headquarters.

Steve Oney, author of “And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank,” addresses the ADL. Photo by Ryan Torok 

Frank’s death occurred in Atlanta after he was accused and convicted of murdering a young girl who worked in his factory. When his conviction was reduced from a death sentence to life in prison, an angry mob broke into the prison where he was being held and killed him. The incident galvanized the young ADL, according to a press release.

“The ADL, which started in 1913 but didn’t have a sense of purpose, looked at the Frank case and said, ‘We thought America was a great exception, but there is indeed anti-Semitism in America,’ and this was a vicious enactment of it,” said Steve Oney, author of “And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank,” addressing a crowd of approximately 30 people. “The ADL really took life from this death.”

The lunchtime discussion, held for ADL executive committee members and ADL Second Century Campaign donors, also featured a presentation by ADL investigative researcher Joanna Mendelson. Each speaker delivered 15-minute presentations before participating in a Q-and-A.

Among those at the event were ADL regional board chairman Eric Kingsley and executive committee member Harvey Prince.

The Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles hosted its third annual Woman to Woman Conference on Sept. 17 at the Skirball Cultural Center. 

More than 500 people attended the sold-out event, presented with the aid of the JVS Women’s Leadership Network. 

The JVSLA Women’s Leadership Network’s Third Annual Woman to Woman keynote speakers (from left): Heather Thomson, Dr. Kristi Funk, Kiki Elrod (host), Chief Ethel McGuire and Anita Mann. Photo courtesy of Lindberg Photography for JVSLA

Kristi Funk, a surgeon and co-founder of the Pink Lotus Breast Center, opened the conference with a presentation on empowering women to be proactive about their health.  

Assistant Chief of Airport Police Ethel McGuire shared her struggle to balance the demands of her 23-year career in the FBI while maintaining her marriage and raising her two young daughters. During her speech she said, “Strength doesn’t come from what you do; it comes from overcoming what you couldn’t do.” She received a standing ovation and was joined onstage by her two daughters, one an FBI agent and the other an attorney. 

Emmy Award-winning choreographer Anita Mann shared her journey in the male-dominated entertainment industry. She was joined by veteran dancer Cooley Jaxson, whose performance brought the crowd to its feet. Heather Thomson, designer and founder of the popular Yummie fashion brand and cast member of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York,” closed the conference saying, “Without risk there is no reward, so when given an opportunity, you have to take the chance.”

In a short presentation about the work of JVS, Paula Stern spoke about how the JVS Veterans First and WoMentoring programs helped her daughter Shaina find a job and transition back to civilian life. “Thanks to everyone who worked with her at JVS, she has begun her career in earnest,” she said. Deborah Smith, a domestic abuse survivor, spoke about the support she received from multiple JVS job training and mentoring programs that helped her find a job. “Success happens when opportunity meets preparation, and because of JVS, I was ready when my moment came,” she said.

Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer

Adeena Bleich has been named regional director of the Jefferson Awards Foundation, an organization that champions public service. An Orthodox community member who was once a candidate for Los Angeles City Council, Bleich previously worked for American Jewish University, AIPAC and other organizations.

Adeena Bleich, regional director of the Jefferson Awards Foundation. Photo courtesy of Adeena Bleich 

She said in an email that her previous work experience “helped her to further understand the great need that exists for organizations such as The Jefferson Foundation to help expand public service for youth and other community partners.”

Bleich began at the Jefferson Awards Foundation in March and said in an email that her work will include engaging with students at Jewish day schools, specifically in helping them understand the value of public service. She is a graduate of Pitzer College, where she studied psychology, and Antioch University, where she earned a master’s degree in organizational management.

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