September 22, 2019

Moving and Shaking: JFedLA goes to Israel, JVS awards scholarships

delegation from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles traveled to Israel for the 13th annual Ted z”l and Hedy Orden and Family Entrepreneur of the Year Competition in Tel Aviv.

The July 19 event marked the conclusion of an annual program organized by Unistream, a nonprofit organization that cultivates entrepreneurial skills of Israeli youth in remote areas and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has provided more than $1 million to Unistream since 2015.

Becky Sobelman-Stern, Federation’s executive vice president and chief program officer, attended the competition, which showcased 60 business ventures managed by 1,500 teens from all sectors of Israeli society.

The Federation delegation was joined at the event by Rony Zarom, founder and chair of Unistream; Bat-Sheva Moshe, CEO of Unistream; Israeli Knesset member Ofir Akunis; and Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Israeli Innovation Authority.

The competition followed a June 9 visit by Federation CEO and President Jay Sanderson with Unistream participants in the northern coastal town of Akko, one of Unistream’s 13 youth-entrepreneurship centers in Israel. Sanderson announced that the 13 entrepreneurship centers will grow to 50 in the next few years.

Jacqueline Rafii

Jacqueline Rafii has been hired as a cantorial soloist at Shomrei Torah Synagogue while she completes cantorial school at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California.

Her hiring marks the start of a second career. For the past three years, Rafii has practiced entertainment law at Hertz Lichtenstein & Young.

She expressed enthusiasm about leaving behind a law career for the bimah.  “Bittersweet to close one chapter, but beyond excited for this next one,” she said in a June 26 statement.

Rafii joins a clergy team at Shomrei Torah Synagogue, a Conservative synagogue in West Hills, that includes Rabbi Richard Camras and Cantor Ron Snow.

Rafii previously served as a cantorial intern at Sinai Temple from 2014 to 2017 and as a cantorial soloist at Wilshire Boulevard Temple from 2005 to 2017, where she began leading services at age 18. She graduated from UCLA School of Law after completing her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she served as co-founder and president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish-interest sorority.

This year’s Jewish Vocational Service Scholarship Program recipients come together July 27 at Sinai Temple. Photo by Karina Pires Photography

Both incoming and current college students, along with their families and supporters, gathered July 27 at Sinai Temple for a celebration of the 45th annual Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) Scholarship Program, which awarded nearly $700,000 in scholarships to 220 students.

Undergraduate and graduate students from UCLA, USC, Johns Hopkins University and other schools attended the event to thank JVS, as well as private donors who have partnered with JVS, for helping them pursue their goals in higher education.

The program began at 7 p.m. and featured remarks by the scholarship program committee chairs, Leland Felsenthal and Matthew Paul, who wore JVS baseball caps.

Additional attendees included JVS CEO Alan Levey; JVS Board President Harris Smith; philanthropist Sharon Nazarian, who with her parents, Younes and Soraya Nazarian, have made matching grants to JVS for the past two years to help the organization expand its reach to the Iranian community; and Katherine Moore, vice president of communications at JVS.

Established in 1972, the JVS Scholarship Program serves Jewish students age 16 and older. Since its inception, the program has awarded more than 4,400 scholarships totaling more than $7.8 million.

From left: Former Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad; Holocaust survivor David Wiener and his wife, Cheryl; Chaya Block of Aleph Institute and Chabad Residential Treatment Center clinical director Donna Miller attend a discussion at the Chabad Residential Treatment Center. Photo courtesy of Aleph Institute.

Meyer Luskin, a philanthropist who is chairman and CEO of Scope Industries, and Holocaust survivor David Wiener joined men struggling with addiction at the Chabad Residential Treatment Center on June 20 and July 18, respectively, to discuss how they overcame hardships and found success.

Project Tikvah, a program serving young people at risk of incarceration, and the Chabad treatment center co-organized the two events, part of a weekly series featuring motivational speakers who have conquered adversity in their lives.

Wiener spoke of his experiences as a survivor before distributing 30 copies of his memoir, “Nothing to Lose but My Life,” which was published in 2007. Luskin discussed how he rose from humble beginnings to become a successful philanthropist. In 2011, he donated $100 million to UCLA, at the time the second-largest gift in school history.

Those attending included former Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad; Chaya Block of the Aleph Institute, which oversees Project Tikvah; and Donna Miller, executive clinical director of the Chabad Residential Treatment Center.

Rabbi Zvi Boyarsky, director of constitutional advocacy at the Aleph Institute and the operator of the organization’s West Coast offices, described the recent discussions as “even more phenomenal than usual.”

Located on Olympic Boulevard in L.A.’s Mid-City neighborhood, the Chabad Residential Treatment Center serves men dealing with abuse issues. The center recently underwent a major renovation and received the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care accreditation.

Cancer Free Generation founding board member Kelly Prather (left) and Tower Cancer Research Foundation (TCRF) board member Nancy Mishkin attend “Ante Up!” — the fourth annual TCRF Cancer Free Generation poker tournament. Photo by Vivien Best.

Young adults committed to ending cancer gambled for a more hopeful future on June 3 at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills hotel. The occasion was “Ante Up!” the fourth annual Tower Cancer Research Foundation (TCRF) Cancer Free Generation poker tournament and casino night that raises money for cancer research.

Attendees included Nancy Mishkin, a TCRF board member and chairwoman emeritus at Beit T’Shuvah; Olympic triple jump gold medalist Al Joyner; Cancer Free Generation founding board member Kelly Prather, who at the age of 35 was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer; Vanessa Marcil, an actress who converted to Judaism; and Polish-American model Joanna Krupa.

“So many people are affected by cancer,” Krupa said. “We need to work together to get rid of this horrible disease.” 

The event featured a Texas Hold’em tournament, blackjack tables and an open bar.

Founded in 1996 by a group of physicians, patients and volunteers, TCRF supports high-impact cancer research and clinical trials. The Los Angeles-based organization, which has raised more than $25 million in the last decade, awards scientific grants and provides support for cancer patients.

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

CORRECTION: Rabbi Yael Saidoff is no longer a member of the Shomrei Torah Synagogue clergy team as originally stated in this Moving & Shaking.