November 17, 2018

Moving and shaking

Rabbi David Ellenson, immediate past president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), and Sue Neuman Hochberg, chair of the HUC-JIR Western Region Board of Overseers, were honored with a musical tribute at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Feb. 9.

More than 650 people packed the venue to salute Ellenson for his years of service to the Reform seminary — more than 10 as president. He retired from that position on Jan. 1, when he became chancellor. 

Hochberg joined the board of overseers in 2000 and has served for the last four years as board chair in Los Angeles. She is also an officer of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors and a member of the executive committee. She has held leadership positions on the board of directors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and other local organizations.

The theme of the evening was “Music of the Night,” and it featured performances by cantorial graduates of HUC-JIR’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. The evening was emceed by Rabbi Michael Marmur, HUC-JIR provost. 

Among those providing tributes to the honorees were Rabbi Uri Herscher, founding president and chief executive officer of the Skirball Cultural Center; Rabbi Aaron Panken, HUC-JIR’s new president; and Joshua Holo, dean of the Jack H. Skirball campus.

The gala co-chairs were Debbie and Rick Powell and rabbis Laurie and Philip “Flip” Rice.

David Bohnett was named the recipient of American Jewish Committee Los Angeles’ (AJC-LA) Ira E. Yellin Community Leadership Award on Jan. 29.

Appearing at a gala fundraiser organized by AJC-LA at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, California Gov. Jerry Brown showed his support for the evening’s honoree by delivering a keynote address. 

From left: Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and David Bohnett, who was named AJC-Los Angeles’ 2014 Ira E. Yellin honoree. Photo by Michael Kovac

Jessica Yellin, former chief White House correspondent for CNN, appeared as one of the night’s speakers. Her remarks highlighted the legacy of her father, for whom the award is named. The late attorney, activist and urban developer’s accomplishments included the restoration of downtown’s Grand Central Market. AJC-LA gives out the Ira E. Yellin award annually in recognition of human rights work, advocacy efforts and more.

Bohnett, who is not Jewish, is a philanthropist, technology entrepreneur and activist. He is chairman of the David Bohnett Foundation, an organization that describes itself as “committed to improving society through social activism.” This includes providing resources to LGBT nonprofits.

His communal work includes serving on the board of directors for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the board of trustees at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as the Johnv F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

His remarks demonstrated how Judaism has touched his life. Quoting from the bar mitzvah speech of his late partner, Rand Schrader, who died in 1993 of AIDS: “For Judaism as a way of life says that each individual should strive for the best — within himself. Since God gave man the facilities to think better than anything else in this world, man should use those facilities to better himself and his fellow man.”

The evening’s attendees included philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, who served as the event’s co-chair along with Eli and Edye Broad. Los Angeles. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was seated at the head table, next to the governor. Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin and City Councilman Paul Koretz were nearby. 

AJC-LA President Clifford Goldstein also delivered remarks and Rabbi Mark Diamond, AJC-LA director, offered the evening’s invocation.

“Moving and Shaking” highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? E-mail