September 22, 2019

Moving and shaking: Lev Chayal, Salute to Hollywood gala and more

Gal Malachi and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers under his command were stationed in a United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza when the building suddenly collapsed: It had been booby-trapped by Hamas. Three soldiers died and another 22 were injured, including Malachi. 

On June 28, Malachi spoke at a gala in Pico-Robertson honoring Israeli soldiers wounded during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He is one of 10 soldiers brought to Los Angeles for a 10-day vacation by the recently formed local organization Lev Chayal, which translates to “heart of a soldier.”

“We’re very honored that this whole event is for us,” Malachi said at the reception, held at The Mark event space. “It makes us feel so special and so loved.”

Brocha Yemini, 23, co-founded the organization in January with her childhood friend Chaya Israily, 24. Their aim in starting the group was to engage the local Jewish community, particularly young people, in supporting those who “sacrificed their bodies for the Jewish people,” Yemini said. They hope to provide this trip annually.

The trip included visits to Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm and Dodger Stadium, where Dodgers president and part-owner Stan Kasten brought them onto the field during a game.

“We basically brought them here to uplift their spirits,” Yemini said.

Marvin Markowitz, a real estate developer who owns The Mark, was one of a number of donors who helped fund the trip. 

“I love their energy,” he said of Yemini and Israily. “They really, really care about the work they’re doing.”

—Eitan Arom, Staff Writer

The third annual benefit gala for Yad Vashem, co-hosted by the American Society for Yad Vashem and Jewish Life Foundation, took place June 6 at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. More than 350 people attended the “Salute to Hollywood” evening, which honored Holocaust survivors and raised more than $600,000. 

From left: Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, Holocaust survivor Max Stodel and actor Edward James Olmos attended the American Society for Yad Vashem benefit gala, “A Salute to Hollywood.” Photo courtesy of American Society for Yad Vashem

Actor, director and producer Tony Goldwyn presented the Legacy Award to Meyer Gottlieb, film producer and former president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, and to Branko Lustig, Oscar-winning producer of “Schindler’s List.” Jeffrey Katzenberg presented the Vanguard Award to The Hollywood Reporter Entertainment Group President/COO Janice Min and The Hollywood Reporter Entertainment Group EVP/Group Publisher Lynne Segall. Real estate developer and philanthropist David Wiener was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“The inspiration for this year’s gala came straight from the pages of The Hollywood Reporter,” Ron Meier, American Society for Yad Vashem executive director, said at the event. “Their groundbreaking story ‘The Last Survivors’ appeared in December 2015 [and] … chronicled the stories of the 11 Holocaust survivors alive today who had each forged a prominent place in the entertainment industry. Two of those featured, Meyer Gottlieb and Branko Lustig, are among our honorees this year. It is through their stories and those of all Holocaust survivors that the history and significance of the Holocaust is imparted to our future generations.” 

“I don’t call these individuals ‘survivors,’ ” Katzenberg told the crowd. “I call them ‘triumphers’ as they have done more than survive; they have triumphed.”

— Lexi Freund, Contributing Writer 

Four hundred fifty attendees gathered at Chabad of the Valley in Tarzana to honor the late Rabbi Joshua B. Gordon at the organization’s 2016 banquet gala on June 16. Gordon and his wife, Deborah, founded Chabad of the Valley in 1973. 

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky speaks at Chabad of the Valley’s 2016 gala dinner. Photo courtesy of Chabad of the Valley

Since that time, the Chabad community in the Valley has grown to include more than 26 houses. Gordon was a pioneer in creating daily online classes on Chumash, Tanya and Rambam for’s network. 

Keynote speaker Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of the educational wing of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, spoke about Gordon, who was a close friend of his from their days in yeshiva.

“There is not one person here who was not touched by him and did not feel his warmth and love,” Kotlarsky said.

Jewish musician Mordechai Ben David, aka “The King of Jewish Music,” performed alongside 12-year-old singer Moshe Azulai. The evening featured a brief documentary that recounted Gordon’s works through statements from leaders such as Dennis Prager, nationally syndicated radio host and Jewish Journal columnist; Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal center; and former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), among others. 

Gordon “related to people — Reform, Conservative, secular, students. … I think the both of us believed you don’t give up on any Jew,” Hier said in the video.  

— Hannah Jannol, Contributing Writer

Rabbi Joshua Kalev was appointed to lead Congregation Tikvat Jacob (CTJ), effective July 1. Rabbi Mark Hyman, who has served the Conservative congregation in Manhattan Beach since 1986, will be transitioning to emeritus status. 

New Congregation Tikvat Jacob Rabbi Joshua Kalev. Photo courtesy of Congregation Tikvat Jacob

A Northern California native, Kalev taught at CTJ while attending American Jewish University, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as his rabbinic ordination. After ordination, he led Temple Beth Shalom in Mahopac, N.Y., while also serving as chaplain for the Putnam County Fire Department. In 2008, he became rabbi at Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, Pa. 

Hyman, who was involved in the choice of his successor, first became a member of the congregation in 1979, when it consisted of only 13 families, he told the Journal in an interview. 

He will continue to lead CTJ group trips to Israel and serve as a substitute rabbi.

CTJ is an egalitarian synagogue which, according to its website, welcomes all Jews and interfaith families “regardless of ability, background, sexual orientation and gender identity.” 

—Isaac Engelberg, Contributing Writer

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