August 23, 2019

Moving and Shaking: Kirk Douglas birthday, JCC’s ‘One. Healthy. Community.’, and more

Legendary actor Kirk Douglas celebrated his 100th birthday with family, friends and a shot of vodka during a party in the Sunset Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel on Dec. 9.

The approximately 135 attendees included Douglas’ wife, Anne; his son and fellow actor Michael Douglas and his wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, and their children Dylan Michael and Carys Zeta.

Also in attendance were Don Rickles, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Arthur Cohn, Jeff Kanew and Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe, who has been Douglas’ Torah study teacher for many years.

“It was a great privilege to celebrate a century of Kirk surrounded by his family, his friends and screens around the room with clips of his astonishing career,” Wolpe told the Journal. “I offered a blessing, but more, I felt blessed.” 

From left: Lenny Levi, Celine Kabaker, Julia Trakhtenberg, David Fox and Peter Genov attend a retreat in Malibu organized by graduates of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Community Leadership Institute. Photo courtesy of Celine Kabaker

On the weekend she graduated from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Community Leadership Institute, Celine Kabaker, a merchandiser at Juicy Couture, helped organize a gathering for more than 20 people at Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu.

The Dec. 9–10 event was her final project as a participant in the institute’s 15-month leadership training program for people ages 25 to 40.

As the sun went down that Friday, the event kicked off with an intimate Reform Shabbat service led by singer, guitarist and Kehillat Israel b’nai mitzvah teacher Bryce Megdal. The service was followed by a salmon dinner and a bonfire, where the attendees enjoyed s’mores, wine, beer and music. Around midnight, people retreated to their cabins.

In the morning, Kasey Jones of the Los Angeles fitness studio Aura led a yoga class for half the group while the others hiked in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu.

 “We wanted to really have that kind of shabbaton-camp-experience vibe, and also wanted people to feel like they could unwind and celebrate Shabbat fully,” said Kabaker, a 2008 graduate of The American University of Paris.

The institute’s program, which this year had 68 graduates, helps working young adults become philanthropically minded Jewish leaders. Individuals who work in real estate, entertainment and other fields — as well as members of the young-adult Russian Jewish community — participated in the program, which included a 10-day trip to Israel, a one-on-one mentoring experience and training in various aspects of leadership.

Before they graduate, participants are asked to complete a final project that engages the community in Jewish life.

Chabad West Coast Director Rabbi Boruch S. Cunin and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti embrace at the 34th annual Chabad of the West Coast menorah lighting at L.A. City Hall. Photo courtesy of Chabad of the West Coast

The 25th yahrzeit for Rabbi Avraham Hyam Lapin, who served as chief rabbi of Cape Town, South Africa, before serving at a small congregation in San Jose, was held Dec. 11 at Congregation Beth Jacob.

More than 150 people attended the ceremony, including two of Lapin’s sons, Raphael Lapin and Rabbi David Lapin — a leader in the ba’al teshuvah (return to Judaism) movement in South Africa in the 1970s and ’80s — and syndicated radio host Michael Medved, a former student of the late rabbi, who died in 1991 in San Jose and is buried in Jerusalem.

The 34th annual Chabad of the West Coast menorah lighting at Los Angeles City Hall on Dec. 13 drew an array of local leaders, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chabad of Downtown Los Angeles Rabbi Moshe Greenwald, West Coast Chabad Director Rabbi Boruch S. Cunin and others.

Greenwald emceed the event. Garcetti’s remarks stressed lessons gleaned from the perseverance of the Maccabees.

The Kol Yakov Yehuda Boys Choir, led by Rabbi Mendel Duchman and his son, Yakov Yehuda, performed classic Chanukah songs.

A menorah rescued during the Holocaust from Katowicz, Poland, was lit at the ceremony, which was held 11 days before the first night of Chanukah. 

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