November 19, 2019

Moving and Shaking: Brindell Gottlieb, Shabbat in the Park and political debate

If the doctorate couldn’t go to the university, the university would come to the doctorate. Breaking with longstanding tradition, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem President Menahem Ben-Sasson flew to Los Angeles especially to confer the degree of honorary doctorate on Brindell Gottlieb. It was the first time the university, founded in 1925 by the likes of Albert Einstein and Chaim Weizmann, has granted an honorary doctorate outside its Jerusalem campus.

The gala Sept. 10 outdoor, Roaring ’20s-themed affair at Gottlieb’s mountaintop Bel Air home drew hundreds of guests who feted the effusive, energetic honoree. Guests drank ’20s-themed cocktails, drank Prosecco poured by a flapper sitting in a giant, 7-foot champagne glass, and bopped to the sounds of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The nearly $1 million raised at the event — whose costs were underwritten by Gottlieb — will support student scholarships at The Hebrew University.

Brindell Gottlieb, recipient of the degree of Honorary Doctorate from The Hebrew University, with President Menahem Ben-Sasson.

After presentations to Corie and Michael Koss for the 2016 Humanitarian Torch of Learning Award, and a spirited auction conducted by event co-chair Patricia Glaser, it came time for the degree.

“If this is not a woman of valor, what is a woman of valor?” asked Ben-Sasson before draping Gottlieb with the traditional purple sash. Gottlieb and her late husband, Milton, have been instrumental in providing funds for student scholarships, the neurosciences, building and professorships on campus. “There are cohorts of students, professors and projects carrying the name of Brindell Gottlieb and Milton,” Ben-Sasson said.

Gottlieb touchingly acknowledged her late husband, and then succinctly explained the source of her devotion to Hebrew University. “I was born with a sense of embracing people,” she said.

Humanitarian Torch of Learning honorees Michael and Corie Koss, with award presenters Barry Lippman, left, and AFHU chairman Richard Ziman. Photos by Robert Lurie

Among those celebrating with Gottlieb were American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU) Western Region board chairman Richard Ziman and May Ziman, City Controller Ron Galperin and Rabbi Zachary Shapiro, Ada and Jim Horwich, Renae Jacobs-Anson and David Anson, Helen Jacobs-Lepor and Norman Lepor, Herta and Paul Amir, Joyce Brandman, Sharon and Mark Vidergauz, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Zachary Horowitz, and Western Region AFHU executive director Sheri Kaufer.

— Jewish Journal staff

Participants at Shabbat in the Park dance and cheer along, including, from left, Jill Namm, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Valley Alliance chair; Carol Koransky, Federation executive vice president; Rabbi Stewart Vogel of Temple Aliyah; Rabbi Richard Camras of Shomrei Torah Synagogue; Rabbi Jonathan Hanish of Kol Tikvah; and Rabbi Ira Rosenfeld of Or Echad. Photo by Anja Lou Photography

More than 800 people took over Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills for Shabbat in the Park on Aug. 26. The night included arts and crafts, a drum circle, Israeli dancing, a musical performance by Capa’im Band, and a Shabbat service led by community clergy. 

It was organized by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles partnering with 15 organizations and synagogues from the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. Carol Koransky, Federation executive vice president, and Jill Namm, Valley Alliance chair, lighted Shabbat candles. 

“Shabbat in the Park was an incredible success, and we are so glad everyone enjoyed themselves,” Koransky said in an email. “For the fifth year in a row, The Jewish Federation is proud to partner with synagogues and organizations across the San Fernando Valley to bring Shabbat into the greater community.”

Attendees included State Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Encino) and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks). “The annual Shabbat in the Park unites the Jewish community of the San Fernando Valley,” Sherman told the Journal.

— Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer

George Haroonian is not thrilled about either presidential candidate this year, and he suspects many fellow members of the Jewish Iranian-American community here feel the same. That’s why he organized the “Decision 2016 Debate” at Nessah Synagogue, where he sits on the board.

On Sept. 8, an audience of about 100 gathered under the soaring ceiling of the temple’s main sanctuary to hear from four local politicos — two Republicans and two Democrats.

Elan Carr speaks with 12-year-old Zhak Goldemberg on Sept. 8 after answering his question about the presidential candidates earlier at Nessah Synagogue. “I'm voting for Zhak,” he said. Photo by Mati Cohen

Sitting, appropriately, to the audience’s right were the Republicans, Joel Pollak, senior editor-at-large for the conservative website Breitbart News, and Elan Carr, a criminal gang prosecutor and one-time Republican congressional candidate. To the left were California Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), who introduced a state bill targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and Leeor Alpern, an air quality regulator and former president of Los Angeles Democrats for Israel.

Simon Wiesenthal Center associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper moderated the discussion, sitting next to longtime friend Haroonian onstage; Jewish Journal staff writer Eitan Arom posed the questions.

For the first part of the evening, the conversation wandered cordially across the issues of race politics, the Iran nuclear deal and the Syrian conflict. Then, a question posed by 12-year-old audience member Zhak Goldemberg palpably changed the tone: Which candidate would be the better president for Israel?

Pollak ceded his time to his opponents, challenging them to name a single pro-Israel accomplishment of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Bloom answered that Clinton’s Senate voting record was staunchly pro-Israel, but Pollak maintained he would be voting for Trump.

Meanwhile, Carr was not ready to declare for the Republican candidate: “I’m voting for Zhak,” he said.

— Jewish Journal staff

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