September 23, 2019

Moving and shaking: Atid, YRF Darca, Parviz Nazarian and more

Atid, the young professionals group of Sinai Temple, has named Becky Blitz the Atid Outstanding Leadership Honoree for 2016. The UC Santa Barbara alumna, Emmy Award winner, marathon runner and certified yoga instructor was honored during Atid’s “Second Annual Gala: A Casino Royale” on Aug. 6 at Sinai Temple.

Blitz, who teaches yoga classes regularly at Sinai Temple to Atid members and was introduced to the congregation through the Friday Night Live service, said Atid is an important part of her life.

“Right now is a very special time for Atid, and I’m very proud to be part of it,” Blitz, a supervising producer on the reality television series “Shark Tank,” said in a statement.

Dressed in cocktail attire, attendees who gathered in her honor mixed and mingled over drinks, craps tables and more. They included Sinai Temple Cantor Marcus Feldman, Atid Director Matt Baram, Sinai Temple Rabbi Jason Fruithandler, Atid Coordinator Emily Dusedau and Bryce Emily Megdal, the JCamp summer song leader at the Westside Jewish Community Center.

Sponsors were Sinai Temple Men’s Club, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, the American Jewish University Graduate School of Education and American Jewish Committee ACCESS.

More than 100 people filed into Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills on Aug. 13 to take part in a program titled “Tisha b’Av: Reimagined.”

An annual fast day in Judaism, Tisha b’Av commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The Washington D.C.-based Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) and Reform CA, a network of Reform leaders pushing for social change, created the program.

As part of the evening, Temple Emanuel Cantor Lizzie Weiss and Senior Rabbi Jonathan Aaron joined Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Rabbi Jocee Hudson in leading an interactive discussion connecting the ancient destruction commemorated by Tisha b’Av to relevant modern tragedies. Discussion centered on study, prayer and action’s role in framing the issue of mass incarceration.

But the goal was to do more than start a conversation, Weiss said. “It’s one thing to just reflect on what mass incarceration has looked like, but it’s something else to look forward,” she said. “This was also about looking at how to take action.”

RAC representative Lee Winkelman was on hand to encourage voter participation this November to help pass Prop 57, a ballot measure aiming to allow for the early release of nonviolent offenders and transfer authority from prosecutors to judges on whether or not to try juveniles as adults. 

This was the second year Los Angeles’ congregations have come together to take part in “Tisha b’Av: Reimagined”; Leo Baeck Temple served as host last year, when gun violence was the main topic. The goal is to have a different synagogue host the program each year, Weiss said.

— Oren Peleg, Contributing Writer

Nearly 600 Iranian-Jewish community members attended the Aug. 7 release of local Iranian-Jewish businessman and philanthropist Parviz Nazarian’s Farsi-language memoirs at the Director’s Guild of America theater in Los Angeles. 

From left: Soraya Nazarian, Younes Nazarian, Parviz Nazarian and Pouran Nazarian. Photo by Karmel Melamed

The evening featured a brief documentary of Nazarian’s life, from his beginnings in the poverty-stricken Jewish ghetto of Tehran in the late 1920s to his emigration to Israel in 1947, where he fought in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The film also highlighted Nazarian’s business career in the manufacturing sector in Iran and the United States, and as one of the founders of Qualcomm in the late 1980s.

Speakers shared highlights from Nazarian’s memoirs, “My Walk Toward the Horizon: A Memoir by Parviz Nazarian” (Ketab Corporation). Local Iranian-Jewish community activist Frank Nikbakht praised Nazarian’s work ethic and generosity toward Jewish causes in Los Angeles and Israel. “Nazarian’s memoirs are … the tale of a person possessing an indomitable pioneer spirit who overcame many obstacles,” Nikbakht said.

The evening included traditional Persian instrumental music performances and live Middle Eastern dance. Nazarian, who was born in 1929, was joined by his younger brother and business partner Younes Nazarian, as well as close friends and family members. His eldest daughter, Dora Nazarian Kadisha, spoke about her father’s role as an Iranian-Jewish community leader over many decades. “What stands out for me is what was most important to him throughout his life — love, forgiveness and generosity,” she said.

Nikbakht, who helped edit the Farsi memoirs and translated the book into English, said he expects the English version to be published in the coming year.

Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

Youth Renewal Fund (YRF) Darca honored two of its Los Angeles leaders, Allison and Bennett Rosenthal, at its May 16 New York gala, held at Spring Studios. YRF Darca is the philanthropic funding partner of the Darca schools in Israel, a network of 25 schools and two learning centers that support low-income students in 16 Israeli cities. 

YRF Darca Board Member Bennett Rosenthal and his wife, Allison, were honored by YRF Darca. Photo by Jayd Jackson Photography

“Our success wouldn’t be possible without the exemplary leadership and vision of our dear friends Allison and Bennett. As longtime supporters, Allison and Bennett have dedicated over 25 years toward advancing the scholastic excellence of Israel’s underserved populations and have spearheaded the exponential growth in L.A.,” YRF Darca CEO Raphael Sutton said in a statement.

Bennett is on the board of directors of YRF Darca and is the co-founder of Ares, an asset management company. Allison is a retired attorney and is on the board of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ NuRoots, which engages Jewish young adults.

Approximately 450 people attended the event, including upward of 50 Los Angeles residents, and more than 250 Los Angeles-based YRF Darca supporters contributed to the fund-raiser, according to YRF. The event raised more than “$1.5 million to boost social mobility for lower-income students in Israel,” according to a YRF press release.

Singer-songwriter Rachel Platten, whose hit “Fight Song” was featured during the recent Democratic National Convention, performed at the gala.

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