September 18, 2019

Moving & Shaking: Sept. 11 anniversary, Larger Than Life gala, TEBH appointments

On the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the plane crash in western Pennsylvania, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg visited Beverly Hills to present the city’s fire chief, Ralph Mundell, and police chief, Sandra Spagnoli, with a framed photograph of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) 9/11 Living Memorial in Jerusalem.

The Israeli memorial is a 30-foot-high bronze sculpture of a waving American flag that transforms into a memorial flame. Its base includes a beam from the original World Trade Center towers.

The ceremony, held at the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden, also drew Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch, members of the City Council and JNF Los Angeles board members Mark Egerman, who is immediate past president, and Gina Raphael.

Israel, according to the JNF website, is the “only place outside of the United States that recognizes the names of the people who were killed on 9/11 as well as their countries of origin.” There were five Israelis who were killed in the attacks.

From left: Larger Than Life — L.A. Family President Yair Gavrielli, with honorees Ilan Kenig, Sarah Isaac and Stanley Black, with Chairman Eli Kroh. Photo by Orly Halevy

For each of the past 13 years, a group of Israeli children fighting cancer has landed in Los Angeles for a 10-day dream vacation sponsored by a nonprofit called Larger Than Life — L.A. Family.

During a Sept. 15 gala event that took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, members and supporters of the organization celebrated its bar mitzvah anniversary with a group of 35 children being helped by the charity. 

Stanley Black, Sarah Isaac and Ilan Kenig all were honored during the gala for their charity work and philanthropy. Two of them were touched by cancer at one point in their lives: Black lost his wife, Joyce, two years ago to cancer, and Isaac was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago. 

As for the kids, some had just finished their chemotherapy, some are still in treatment, but all were smiling. There were no traces of self-pity in the likes of Chris Meirov, 18, who will continue his battle against the disease while his friends enlist in the army.

“I live each day like it’s the last day,” he said. “This disease made me put everything in perspective. I’m no longer occupied about things that used to bother me in the past. I live my life to the fullest and enjoy each day as it comes.”

“I live each day like it’s the last day,” says Chris Meirov (left), with friend Ran Yfrach, who he met through the program.

Meirov’s friend, Ran Yfrach, 18, whom he met through the program, added: “We enjoyed going to the different amusement parks, going on rides. We had a blast, but the best part is simply being with this group of kids who really understand what you are going through. They are like family to us.”

The visiting children, all between the ages of 12 and 18, were Jewish, Muslim, Israeli-Arab, Bedouin and Druze. They stay in touch with volunteers in Los Angeles long after they leave, according to Yair Gavrielli, Larger Than Life — L.A Family president and one of its founding members. “When we go to Israel, we often visit them. We grow very attached to each and everyone of them,” he said. 

Comedian Modi served as master of ceremonies. Sarit Hadad, one of Israel’s leading singers, concluded the evening with a performance, with the children joining in for the last song. 

— Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

From left: Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Cantor Lizzie Weiss and Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Board President Barry Brucker. Photos courtesy of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) recently announced two major leadership appointments.

On Sept. 7, Eric Reiter, the Reform congregation’s executive director, said that Lizzie Weiss has been named the new cantor and Barry Brucker is the new president of the board.

Weiss, who began July 1, attended cantorial school at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and spent her final year as student cantor at the temple. She is a lifelong member of TEBH and succeeded Cantor Yonah Kliger, who now is part of the clergy team at Temple Judea in Tarzana.

Senior Rabbi Jonathan Aaron expressed excitement about Weiss joining the TEBH clergy team, which also includes Associate Rabbi Sarah Bassin and Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller.

“Together with our members and Board, we made an extensive national search for a cantor who would bring not only beautiful musicality to our community but soulfulness, experience working with children and teens, and an exuberance for creating musical events, training and performing opportunities for our members,” Aaron said in a statement.

Brucker, also a lifetime member of TEBH, is the former mayor of Beverly Hills and is the CEO of Independent Ink. The Beverly Hills-based business owner also is an inventor who holds 13 patents, according to a TEBH press release.

“Barry Brucker’s leadership and presence on our board will enable us to continue building the strong and vibrant community we envision,” Reiter said.

Ron Solomon is executive vice president of AFBIU. Photo courtesy of Ron Solomon

Ron Solomon has been named the executive vice president of American Friends of Bar-Ilan University (AFBIU). His Aug. 1 appointment follows more than 30 years of service as executive director of the AFBIU western region. The Los Angeles-based fund-raising professional will now oversee all fundraising operations in the United States for the university based in Ramat Gan, Israel.

“We are elated that he [Solomon] will now be assuming the national fundraising oversight for the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University,” AFBIU President Ronnie Stern said in an Aug. 18 statement.Solomon began working as the executive director of the western region of AFBIU in 1984. Before that he was the managing editor of the B’nai B’rith Messenger in Southern California.

Allison Lee, vice president of external affairs at Bet Tzedek. Photo courtesy of Allison Lee

Legal services nonprofit Bet Tzedek has hired Allison Lee as its vice president of external affairs. Lee previously served as the founding executive director of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Los Angeles. She joined the Bet Tzedek staff on Sept. 6, after more than eight years of work at AJWS, which is dedicated to ending poverty and advocating for human rights in the developing world.

Founded in 1974, Bet Tzedek offers pro bono law services in matters involving consumer rights, elder law, housing, public benefits and workers’ rights to low-income, disabled and elderly people of all racial and religious backgrounds. The organization has a network of hundreds of attorneys across the country who offer legal help to Holocaust survivors.

“Similar to AJWS, I am inspired by Bet Tzedek’s mission, which is rooted in the Jewish tradition to pursue justice, but to do that work for disadvantaged and marginalized people … right here in Los Angeles,” Lee said in a phone interview.

At Bet Tzedek, she will be leading development work related to obtaining private and public grants, overseeing the annual Bet Tzedek gala and facilitating individual giving, as well as running the nonprofit’s communications efforts.

AJWS Los Angeles has promoted Emma Nesper Holm to acting associate director. She had previously served as senior development officer.

Tali Klein has joined the regional staff of American Jewish Committee (AJC) as its assistant director for the AJC Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA).

“The new position represents a major expansion of AJC’s programmatic activities aimed at deepening Latino-Jewish partnerships in Southern California,” according to a Sept. 12 AJC press release.

AJC Regional Director Janna Weinstein Smith and BILLA Director Dina Siegel-Vann released a joint statement welcoming Klein to the position: “Tali is well prepared to help us meet these challenges by expanding our strategic partnerships with Latino leaders in Southern California.”

Klein is multilingual, fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Hebrew. She has lived and worked in Spain, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.

Created in 2005, BILLA is focused on “promoting Latino-Jewish alliances in the U.S. and strengthening the relationships among the U.S., Israel and each of the Ibero-American countries,” according to AJC, a global Jewish advocacy organization.

The “Heroes of Hatzolah” gala on Sept. 14, organized by Hatzolah of Los Angeles and United Hatzalah of Israel, honored Elie and Siona Alyeshmerni with the Champion Award. The Iranian-American couple moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and became active at Sinai Temple, where Elie served as president of the Men’s Club and currently is the temple’s vice president of administration.

The event at the Beverly Hilton also honored Matthew and Chelsea Schames, giving them the Young Leadership Award. 

The emcee of the evening, David Weiss, is a Hollywood screenwriter and Emmy-award nominee.

Hatzolah of Los Angeles is the local Jewish volunteer emergency response corps that responds to emergency medical and mass casualty incidents in the community. United Hatzalah of Israel “provides the fastest and free emergency medical first response throughout Israel,” according to the nonprofit’s website.

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