December 10, 2019

Moving and shaking: Jewish Educator Awards, StandWithUs Festival of Lights and more

The 26th Jewish Educator Awards luncheon Dec. 15 singled out the four winners of the annual initiative of the Milken Family Foundation, which gives $15,000 to outstanding educators from day schools affiliated with Builders of Jewish Education (BJE).

Honored at the event, which took place at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, were Kelly Shepard, performing arts department chairman at Milken Community Schools; Jamie Gomer, a kindergarten and elementary school general studies teacher at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School; Hanna Keynan, an arts specialist at Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am; and Emek Hebrew Academy Principal Rabbi Levi Solomon.

An array of local Jewish leaders attended the luncheon, including Gil Graff, BJE executive director; Mark Goldenberg, BJE board member; Lowell Milken, Milken Family Foundation chairman and co-founder; Richard Sandler, executive vice president; Temple Beth Am Rabbi Adam Kligfeld; and David Siegel, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles.

Opening the ceremony, Graff summarized what the event is all about, saying, “I am delighted to be here to celebrate the richness and diversity of our community’s Jewish education,” according to the Jewish Educator Awards website. 

The 14th annual StandWithUs Festival of Lights at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel Dec. 13 featured Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, as its keynote speaker. Comedian Elon Gold emceed.

From left: The StandWithUs Festival of Lights celebration drew (from left) StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein; Naty and Debbie Saidoff; honorees Leo David and David Wiener; keynote Malcolm Hoenlein; Ellie and Bruce Lederman; StandWithUs President Esther Renzer and StandWithUs COO Jerry Rothstein. Photo by Jonah Light Photography

During the event, which featured a reception and dinner and drew more than 1,200 people, the pro-Israel organization honored supporters Leo David, founder of the West Coast division of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and David Wiener, a Holocaust survivor. 

Additional honorees were Republican Rep. Ed Royce and Democratic Rep. Juan Vargas, each of whom was named a Guardian of Israel for supporting the Jewish state and opposing the Iran nuclear deal.

Attendees included StandWithUs leaders Roz Rothstein (CEO) and Esther Renzer (president) and Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel. Bruce and Ellie Lederman and Naty and Debbie Saidoff served as co-chairs of the event. 

StandWithUs is a nonprofit Israel education organization that focuses on, among other things, bolstering Israel’s image on college campuses. The group was founded 14 years ago by Renzer, Rothstein and Rothstein’s husband, Jerry

On Dec. 13, American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles presented Adele Yellin with the Ira E. Yellin Community Leadership Award, thus “honoring her monumental vision and leadership in the downtown Los Angeles renaissance,” a press release says.

American Jewish CommitteeLos Angeles board member Cathy Unger (right) presented honoree Adele Yellin with an award at an American Jewish Committee gathering at Grand Central Market. Photo by David Medill Productions 

Yellin is the widow of Ira Yellin, who died in 2002 and was known for his restoration of Grand Central Market, as well as other downtown landmarks. 

AJC L.A. board member Cathy Unger presented Yellin with the award at Grand Central Market and also unveiled “a new community initiative to provide voter registration at the market in a joint venture of AJC Los Angeles, League of Women Voters and Grand Central Market,” according to a separate press release.

Speakers included Jessica Yellin, the honoree’s daughter and a television journalist.

Event co-chairs were David Bohnett, founder and chairman of the David Bohnett Foundation; David Fisher, equity manager at Capital Group and chairman emeritus of Capital Group International; Fisher’s wife, Marianna; Art Bilger, founding partner at Shelter Capital Partners; his wife, Dahlia; and Unger and her husband, Len, who also serves on the AJC board.

Among the 200 attendees were entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad; L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer; former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; and AJC L.A. President Dean Schramm. 

The event featured entertainment by the band California Feetwarmers; catering by Wexler’s Deli, which is located in Grand Central Market; a Chanukah celebration and more.

AJC is a global Jewish advocacy organization focused on domestic and international issues.

Nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and Jewish Journal columnist Dennis Prager spoke to more than 1,400 people about “Israel’s Right to Existence” during the Dec. 10 Jewish National Fund (JNF) breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel.

Radio personality and Journal columnist Dennis Prager was the keynote speaker at the Jewish National Fund annual breakfast Dec. 10. Photo by Adam Parth

In his remarks, Prager denounced anti-Israel teachings at colleges and universities, as well as the way in which the Jewish community places college on a pedestal. “We revere something that has become a moral wasteland,” he said, appearing before a sea of banquet tables set up in a ballroom of the upscale hotel. 

The amount of money raised was not immediately available. JNF is attempting to raise $1 billion over the course of a decade as part of a campaign that began at the start of 2014.

Additional participants in the program were Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel; breakfast co-chairs Douglas Williams and Barak Lurie; Larry Russ and Mark Egerman, members of the JNF board of directors in Los Angeles; and JNF Los Angeles Executive Director Louis Rosenberg.

“I am grateful to our breakfast chairs, lay leaders, donors and speakers for helping us shatter records and continue JNF’s ongoing work to improve the quality of life for the people of Israel,” Rosenberg said, as quoted in a press release. “This tremendously successful event is indicative of the passionate, giving community that we at JNF are so proud to be a part of.”Siegel delivered greetings to the crowd and led an intimate Q-and-A in a room adjacent to the ballroom following the breakfast. There, the Israeli diplomat discussed Israel’s relationship with Russia and Germany, ISIS and more. Students from Shalhevet High School were among those in the audience.

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