October 13, 2019

Moving and Shaking: Cedars-Sinai gala, Boyle Heights walking tour and more

At its Board of Governors Gala at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Oct. 20, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was celebrated as much more than just a hospital for celebrities and Jews.

“Cedars Sinai, unfortunately, has always been termed the celebrity hospital. That is a complete falsehood,” Vera Guerin, chair of the Cedars-Sinai board of directors, told the Journal. “Cedars-Sinai is a hospital for all people. The care is the same for everyone. It’s the very best because it will always try to make itself better and improve, and give the very best it can to the community.”

The event, which drew about 900 attendees, honored actor Sylvester Stallone with the Heart of Hollywood Award and philanthropists Beny and Adele Alagem with the Philanthropic Leadership Award.

Sylvester Stallone (left) received the Heart of Hollywood Award, and Matthew Morrison was the featured performer at the Cedars-Sinai 2016 Board of Governors Gala.

Stallone attended the event with his wife, Jennifer. The two are supporters of Cedars-Sinai programs focused on underserved children. The Alagems, meanwhile, are supporters of numerous causes, including Cedars-Sinai, March of the Living and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Beny Alagem owns the Beverly Hilton.

The event raised about $2.1 million for the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, which is focused on stem cell research. Jay Leno was the evening’s master of ceremonies and Matthew Morrison (“Glee”) was the featured performer. The gala co-chairs were Paul Guerin and Robert Barth.

Jimmy Delshad, the former mayor of Beverly Hills and an attendee at the gala, said Cedars-Sinai transcends its stereotypes. “Cedars-Sinai is very unique,” he said. “It’s the top of the line for services, not only for Jews but for the entire community.”

On Oct. 23 nearly 60 people attended the Jewish Journal’s walking tour of historic Boyle Heights. Photo by Julia R. Moss

Nearly 60 people attended the Jewish Journal’s inaugural “Wandering Jewish LA: A Walking Tour of Historic Boyle Heights” event on Oct. 23.

Led by Avishay Artsy, a reporter for KCRW-FM and a contributing writer for the Journal, the tour included several firsthand recollections of the Boyle Heights Jewish community between 1920 and the late 1950s, when 70,000 to 90,000 Jews lived in the area.

Don Hodes, an 87-year-old retired school superintendent who lived in Boyle Heights from 1932 to 1954, animated the tour with colorful stories of his childhood escapades in the neighborhood.

“My cheder [Hebrew school] was the pool hall,” he told the attendees.

The tour, which began and ended at the Breed Street Shul, included a number of stops in front of buildings that once housed legendary Jewish businesses — such as the original site of Canter’s Deli, Phillips Music Company and Solomon’s Judaica and Hebrew Bookshop, the first Judaica store in Los Angeles.

Among the speakers and participants on the tour were Dean Zellman, grandson of Elmer Zellman, founder of Zellman’s Menswear, a landmark of Boyle Heights that closed in 1999 (where “everyone got their bar mitzvah suits,” Hodes said); Stephen Sass, founding and board president of the Breed Street Shul Project and president of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California; community activist Shmuel Gonzales, a Boyle Heights native whose family has been in the neighborhood since the 1890s and author of the blog “Barrio Boychik”; and Art and Victoria Torres, president and chief financial officer, respectively, of the Boyle Heights Historical Society.

 “My favorite part of the day was meeting members of our community who grew up in Boyle Heights, listening to their stories and hearing about how their families came to L.A. from Europe,” said tour participant Adina Hirsch, 30. “I hope there are more events that connect the current Jewish community of Los Angeles to our Jewish roots and history in the area.”

The tour was sponsored in part by a grant from the California Humanities foundation.

Julia Moss, Jewish Journal Staff

Heath Blumstein, executive director of Israel Cancer Research Fund Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Israel Cancer Research Fund

Heath Blumstein has been appointed executive director of Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) Los Angeles, effective Oct. 1. In the position, Blumstein will focus on raising funds for and awareness of an organization that, according to a press release, has awarded grants “totaling more than $59 million to 2,300 Israeli cancer projects via fellowships, project grants, career development awards and professorships.”

“Heath brings real passion and energy to ICRF,” said Eric Heffler, executive director of ICRF National. “His commitment to Israel and to the Jewish community are evident in the significant contribution he has made serving the philanthropic communities of Los Angeles and Phoenix over the last several years.”

Blumstein has worked at both Jewish and non-Jewish nonprofit organizations, including The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, where he was campaign director at the Federation’s Valley Alliance, and Free Arts of Arizona.

“I am honored to join this inspiring organization,” Blumstein said. “Through expanded funding, we can continue to support the vital research that is needed to treat and ultimately cure cancer, while playing a critical role in helping to keep Israel’s finest scientific talent in Israel.”

Deborah Lipstadt at “Denial” Q&A. Photo by Ryan Torok

Following a Sept. 29 screening of the film “Denial,” academic and author Deborah Lipstadt (“History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier”) participated in a Q-and-A at the Pacific Theatres at The Grove, moderated by the Jewish Journal arts and entertainment editor Naomi Pfefferman.

 “Denial,” inspired by Lipstadt’s book, follows a 1996 court case between Lipstadt and Holocaust denier David Irving, who sued Lipstadt for defamation following the publication of her book “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.” Lipstadt won the suit, widely considered a pivotal moment in debunking Holocaust denial.

 “We wanted to present to the judge that we thought the Holocaust was a fact, and we were proving David Irving was a liar,” Lipstadt said at The Grove.

Additional participants in the panel included the film’s director, Mick Jackson, and its producers, Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff.

 “Truth is different than opinion,” Jackson said in emphasizing one of the film’s themes.

Rachel Weisz portrays Lipstadt in the film, which was released in a limited number of theaters on Sept. 30. During the Q-and-A, Lipstadt recounted being pleased when she found out Weisz would be playing her. The two were in constant communication throughout the production as Weisz attempted to get to know her character, Lipstadt said.

Attendees at the screening, organized by the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH), included Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Amanda Susskind, LAMOTH President Beth Kean, LAMOTH honorary director E. Randol Schoenberg and many Holocaust survivors.

Sherry Lansing, former studio executive and a member of the University of California Board of Regents, where she chairs the health services committee, attended the Oct. 27 event. Photo by Ryan Torok

Moving & Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.