December 10, 2019

Moving and shaking: JBBBSLA, Janice Kamenir-Reznik steps down and more

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA) CEO Randy Schwab appeared at the organization’s centennial at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Feb. 4, dressed appropriately for the venue by wearing a jacket once donned by Hollywood icon Steve McQueen.

The event raised more than $650,000, according to Laurie Feldman, vice president of development at JBBBSLA; drew 470 attendees, including JBBBSLA Board Chairman Brian Appel; and honored 2016 Big Brother of the Year Aaron Cohen, Big Sister of the Year Tanya Rabie and JBBBSLA board member Daniel Dworsky, who accepted the organization’s Legacy Award.

The honorees each boast longstanding commitments to the organization, which, according to its website, oversees Camp Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus, a residential camp and retreat center in Glendale. It runs “community-based mentoring programs, offers college scholarships” and more.

Dworsky, an architect, joined the JBBBSLA board of directors in 1994; JBBBSLA board secretary Cohen became a Big Brother in 2006; and Rabie, who became involved in 2009, remains close with the then-9-year-old she was paired with upon beginning work with the organization.

According to a press release, the event celebrated “the past 100 years and envision[s] the next century of helping children and young adults in the Los Angeles community.”

The Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel & Pomona Valleys honored Lisa Feldman with the Professional of the Year Award and Josh Pais with the Volunteer of the Year Award, on Jan. 10, at Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center (PJTC).

From left: Former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Weizmann Day School Head of School Lisa Feldman and Jason Moss, executive director at the Jewish Federation of Greater San Gabriel & Pomona Valleys. Photo by Debrah Lemmatre 

Feldman is head of school at Weizmann Day School, a Jewish day school in Pasadena, and Pais has been active in the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater San Gabriel & Pomona Valleys. Both honorees are members of PJTC, a Conservative congregation in Pasadena.

The event also marked the installation of the Federation’s newest board members and governors, with outgoing Federation President Stuart Miller discussing the “State of the Jewish Federation,” according to Marcia Alper became president on Jan. 10. 

Additionally, event keynote speaker and former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky presented a talk titled “Reflections on 40 Years in L.A. Local Government.”

Although it was not a fundraiser, the event garnered $1,284 in donations for Weizmann Day School and more than $2,500 for the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel & Pomona Valleys. The amount of funds raised for the PJTC Sisterhood was not immediately available. 

A total of 170 people turned out for the gathering.

The event also honored Gabrielino High School senior and Temple Beth David member Benjamin Schwartz, 17, with the Kimberly Dawn Ellis Memorial Scholarship Award, presented to him by Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater San Gabriel & Pomona Valleys.

Nolan Lebovitz has been named rabbi at Conservative Westwood congregation Adat Shalom. He has been serving as the congregation’s rabbinic intern and sole spiritual leader since Sept. 1, 2015. 

Adat Shalom Synagogue's Nolan Lebovitz. Photo courtesy of Nolan Lebovitz

His upgraded and expanded role will become official June 15, and he begins in the role on July 1.

“With much gratitude, I have accepted the position of rabbi at Adat Shalom Synagogue in West L.A. My family and I felt the synagogue’s warmth and love from our first Shabbat here. … I look forward to serving the community for years to come,” he said in an email to the Journal.

Lebovitz, who is from Chicago, is a rabbinic student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University. His ordination will take place May 16. He previously served as an intern at Sinai Temple and, perhaps unusual for a rabbi, is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, formerly USC School of Cinema-Television. He is the creator of the documentary film “Roadmap Genesis.” 

Jewish World Watch (JWW) President Janice Kamenir-Reznik announced plans on Feb. 8 to step down from her leadership position with the organization devoted to fighting genocide.

“In January, I informed the Board of JWW that I would be stepping down as Board Chair in order to run for [a] California State Senate seat. As many of you know, my heart has been with JWW since I co-founded the organization with the great Rabbi Schulweis (z”l) in 2004. My heart will always remain with JWW,” she said in a statement.

Succeeding her is current JWW board member David Straus, CEO of rights-tracking specialist Critical Mass Studios, according to the announcement.

David Straus. Photo courtesy of David Straus

The organization, led by 21 board members, is undergoing several leadership transitions. Diana Buckhantz, Vaughan Meyer and Zev Yaroslavsky, who are all current board members, “have each agreed to serve as vice-chairs,” according to the statement.

Kamenir-Reznik has led the board for the past 11 years. Under her leadership, JWW has gained recognition for its work in far-reaching corners of the world, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and elsewhere. Recently, the organization has worked to educate the public about the Syrian refugee crisis and raise funds for agencies offering aid to those impacted by the crisis. 

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