September 20, 2019

Moving and Shaking: ‘Prisoners of War’ screening, Sukkot and AJC

Nearly 200 Hollywood leaders and Jewish community members gathered at the Skirball Cultural Center on Oct. 13 for a special screening of the first episode of “Prisoners of War” (“Hatufim” in Hebrew), the critically acclaimed Israeli television series that served as inspiration for the Showtime hit “Homeland.” 

The screening was sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Following the screening, a panel featuring Danny Sussman, manager of Brillstein Entertainment Partners; Lorraine Hess, vice president of program acquisitions at KCETLink Media Group; Avital Onn-Sachar, vice president of business affairs for Keshet Studios and general legal counsel and business affairs at Keshet International; and Israeli actress and producer Noa Tishby discussed the show and how Israeli content is adapted for Hollywood. Federation President and CEO Jay Sanderson moderated the panel.

“Prisoners of War” follows three kidnapped Israeli soldiers and their return after 17 years in captivity. The tense drama examines their reintegration into their families and into Israeli society, as they are also investigated by a military psychologist who is trying to determine where their loyalties lie after years of torture.

The event was held to celebrate the Oct. 24 U.S. broadcast premiere of the show on Link TV and KCET. The premiere also featured a special on-air introduction and post-episode Q-and-A with series creator, producer, writer and director Gideon Raff (“Homeland,” “Tyrant,” “Dig”).

Others in attendance included Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Arts Agency; Michael Riley, CEO and president of KCETLink Media Group; Robert Braun, president of Long Beach Opera and co-founder of the Los Angeles Music Center; and Beverly Cohn, editor-at-large at Mirror Media Group.

— Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, standing, explains the rituals of Sukkot to staffers of Los Angeles Councilmember David Ryu in a Hancock Park sukkah on Oct. 20. Photo by Eitan Arom

Occasionally during Sukkot, the Council District 4 office of Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu receives a complaint of an illegal structure in a yard in Hancock Park or Sherman Oaks.

To clear up such misunderstandings, Adeena Bleich, a Jewish deputy chief of staff for Ryu, arranged for about a dozen non-Jewish members of the office’s staff to sit in a sukkah on Oct. 20 to learn about the Festival of Booths.

They met in a well-appointed sukkah at the Hancock Park home of Steven and Helena Usdan, where they sipped coffee, ate quiche and listened to Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of interfaith affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, talk about Sukkot and its meaning.

Adlerstein told them how he’d dozed off in his sukkah a couple nights before, only to wake up at about 2 a.m., looking up at the stars. At a time like that, he said, “You’re reminded of the fact that there is no protection but God above.”

Also in attendance was Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, dean of Yavneh Hebrew Academy. Yavneh is just around the corner from the Usdan residence, and Steven Usdan is the president of the elementary school’s board. Ryu was slated to attend but was absent due to the death of his father.

For most of the staff members present, the gathering was their first introduction to a sukkah — and it was a luxurious one at that: More reminiscent of an upscale restaurant patio than a makeshift hut, the sukkah featured a wraparound trellis of plastic flowers and ceiling fans hanging from the roof beams.

When Adlerstein retrieved the ritual species — the lulav and etrog — from a special nylon case in the corner that could have held a stringed instrument, one staff member muttered, “That’s the strangest violin I’ve ever seen in my life.”

— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer

Seth Zachary, chairman of Paul Hastings, with Nancy Abell, partner at Paul Hastings and the recipient of the Learned Hand Award. Photo by Marvin Steindler Photography

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles’ 36th annual Learned Hand Award ceremony on Sept. 22 honored Nancy Abell, a partner at the Paul Hastings employment law practice. The Learned Hand Award, established by AJC in memory of the late Judge Learned Hand, recognizes outstanding persons in the legal profession.

The event’s keynote speaker, Deidre Berger, director of the AJC Lawrence and Lee Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations in Berlin, discussed AJC efforts in Germany to aid Yazidi refugees from Iraq.

“I hope that you will think of Deidre Berger’s message tonight and help continue to write the story we started together here, so that for all time we collectively will be known as leaders who gave a life of hope and security to people who so desperately need it — in our own city, our country and abroad,” Abell said in her acceptance speech, according to an AJC press release.

Approximately 300 people attended the event at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City, including elected state and city leaders.

Moishe House kicked off its 10th anniversary celebration on Sept. 23 by hosting Shabbat gatherings at 88 locations with 2,708 participants in the Los Angeles area and throughout the world.

“This was the kickoff to Moishe House’s 10th anniversary celebration and we wanted to have our houses each host a Shabbat celebration around the world,” said Jason Boschan, director of marketing and communications at Moishe House.

As part of an initiative called the 10th Anniversary Global Shabbat, the organization’s houses in West Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Venice joined forces for a dinner at the West Los Angeles house on Blythe Avenue. The organization’s houses in downtown Los Angeles and North Hollywood held dinners on their own as well.

Moishe House, which was founded in 2006 and has 93 outposts in 21 countries, provides young-adult programming — led by its houses’ residents — including Shabbat dinners, holiday celebrations and volunteer opportunities.

— Kylie Ora Lobell, Contributing Writer 

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