August 23, 2019

Moving & Shaking: Chabad telethon, FIDF ReKood Music Festival, Rob Eshman leaving and more

The 37th annual Chabad “To Life” telethon on Sept. 3 raised more than $3.5 million for Chabad West Coast. The six-hour event was broadcast live from Illuminate Studios in the San Fernando Valley.

Rabbi Boruch S. Cunin, director of Chabad West Coast, was among the Chabad leaders in attendance. He described the telethon as the “biggest expression of Jewish pride that there is in the world. Any person who looks at the world — you have Texas underwater; you have [one of the biggest fires in Los Angeles history] burning in La Tuna; you have the world going nuts. You can’t change the darkness with a vacuum cleaner or a whisk broom, only with the light — and that’s what the telethon is.”

Actor Jon Voight, a regular participant in the telethon over the years, was raised Catholic but is a longtime friend of Chabad. Wearing a suit, tie, yarmulke and Nike sneakers, he told the Journal “he was having some fun and doing some good” this year.

The event made Voight, one of the stars of the Showtime series “Ray Donovan,” nostalgic. He recalled meeting Cunin 30 years ago and finding the rabbi arm wrestling with patients of the Chabad Residential Treatment Center. “He was so down to earth,” Voight said of Cunin, shortly before joining young Chabad followers in a dance to celebrate the conclusion of the telethon.

About 20 people on the telethon’s phone bank fielded a constant stream of calls from supporters donating to the cause. Chabad West Coast operates more than 200 branches that conduct outreach for the Orthodox Jewish movement.

Additional guests included former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is running for governor; actress Renee Taylor; attorney Marshall Grossman; and Chabad of Ojai Valley Rabbi Mordy Nemtzov.

Longtime telethon producer Michael Levin produced the event with the help of Rabbi Simcha Backman, co-director of Chabad of Glendale and the Foothill Communities, and Rabbi Shalom Cunin, director of Chabad of Westwood.

From left: ReKood Music Festival Co-Chair Ari Ryan; his wife, Rebecca; and former Israel Defense Forces lone soldiers Tamir and Addee Lerner attend the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Young Leadership Division of Los Angeles’ inaugural ReKood Music Festival at the Belasco Theater. Photo by Virginia Bulacio

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Young Leadership Division of Los Angeles, partnering with Israeli American Council Lead, a network of young professionals, held its inaugural ReKood Music Festival at the Belasco Theater on Aug. 26.

More than 1,200 FIDF supporters, along with 18 former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, attended the event, which raised more than $250,000 for FIDF programs assisting young men and women in the IDF.

Ari Ryan, co-founder and chairman of FIDF Young Leadership Los Angeles and FIDF western region vice president, co-chaired the festival.

“The contributions of our community,” Ryan said, “send a clear message to those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the Jewish homeland that they are not alone and that we are here for them today and always.”

The sold-out event — the title of which translates from Hebrew to “dance” — featured performances by Jewish rapper Lil Dicky, Iggy Azalea, DJ Vice, Maggie Speaks and Mark McGrath, and DJ Child’s Play. Warren G and DJ Aaron Colbert headlined the VIP lounge. As people enjoyed the live music, they also watched the live broadcast of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor boxing match, shown on screens around the venue.

Among the attendees was Daniel Babajoni, president of Nessah Educational and Cultural Center’s young adults group, LeDor VaDor.

“Being able to speak with the former soldiers one on one, connecting with them and having fun with them was the best part of the experience,” Babajoni said. “It makes me proud seeing how well-connected and influential the young leaders of FIDF are to put together such a great event in honor of the brave men and women of the IDF, and enabling our community to give back while having fun together.”

Among the other attendees were Simon Etehad, former FIDF western region vice president; Leore Ben-David, managing director of Zionist Organization of America Campus; and Robert Roig, FIDF Young Leadership executive board member and ReKood co-chair.

Mati Geula Cohen, Contributing Writer

Rob Eshman

Rob Eshman, longtime editor-in-chief and publisher of the Jewish Journal, has announced he will be leaving his position on Sept. 26, while Journal President David Suissa, formerly the founder of Suissa/Miller Advertising and editor and publisher of OLAM Magazine, will step into Eshman’s role.

Eshman, who has written and sold two movie projects while at the Journal, said that after 23 years at the publication, he wants to switch the focus of his career to writing full time. He will be working on a food book — Eshman writes the blog “Foodaism” — and another movie project.

“I couldn’t be prouder of what the Journal has become,” Eshman said. “And I am honored and grateful to have been a part of it. I will always love this paper, its staff and this community.”

Peter Lowy, chairman of TRIBE Media, which produces the Jewish Journal, said Eshman has been integral to the Journal and the Jewish community. “He brought curiosity, intellect and a sense of humor to his work,” Lowy said. “Most of all, he cares passionately about journalism and Judaism — and he showed that every week.”

Lowy said Eshman approached him in late July to begin discussing the move, and together with Suissa they worked toward a smooth transition.

“What makes the Journal great is a great staff, its board and the community we serve,” Eshman said. “Those will remain the constants of the Jewish Journal.”

The Journal combines news of the 600,000-strong Los Angeles Jewish community with commentary, features and national and international news. It publishes 50,000 print copies each week and updates, one of the world’s most widely read Jewish news sites, throughout the day.

Eshman, 57, is a native of Encino and a graduate of Dartmouth College. He is married to Rabbi Naomi Levy, an author and founder of Nashuva. They have two children, Adi and Noa.

— Jewish Journal Staff

Actress-comedian Caroline Langford performed a one-woman show at the Israeli-American Council’s Shepherd Community Center in Woodland Hills. Photo courtesy of Caroline Langford

Caroline Langford performed her humorous one-woman show, “The Ups and Downs of Caroline Langford,” at the Israeli American Council (IAC) Shepher Community Center in Woodland Hills on Aug. 22.

Langford, 59, who was born in England and made aliyah with her family when she was 14, starred in Israeli candid-camera movies in her youth, including the popular “Smile! You’ve Been Had.” She has since acted in numerous film, TV and stage productions.

In her show for the IAC event, which she performed in Hebrew, Langford recalled her father’s revelation as their family flew from England. “I asked him, ‘Why are we moving to Israel?’ He said, ‘Because we are Jewish.’ And I said, ‘Since when?’ ”

“I remember people in Israel asking me, ‘Why have you moved from England? Here, it sucks.’ Now, when I’m going back to Israel for a visit, they all say, ‘Why did you move? Here, it’s the best place in the world.’ ”

Langford, a mother of two, once was married to the son of former Israeli defense and foreign minister Moshe Dayan. They divorced and she has since remarried and now lives with her Israeli-born husband in Woodland Hills.

The IAC Social Club, which provides entertainment, lectures and activities to people age 50 and older, organized the evening.

Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has awarded 58 grants totaling more than $4.8 million to community clinics in the Los Angeles region, including five Jewish organizations.

Beit T’Shuvah, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Westside Jewish Community Center each received grants to continue their aid to underserved populations.

“We’re very grateful for Cedars-Sinai’s support in helping undocumented migrant children and their families cope with trauma,” said Lyn Morris, senior vice president of clinical operations for Didi Hirsch. “Many have suffered physical or sexual abuse and are struggling with culture shock as they begin lives in a new country where they don’t speak the language and have limited resources. This grant allows us to help people who have nowhere else to turn get the treatment and care they need to ensure healthy and brighter futures.”

Beit T’Shuvah’s Extended Care program was a recipient of a mental health grant that will provide “a crucial component of care for our clients as they move through our unique treatment program,” said Hayley Levy, executive director at Beit T’Shuvah. “We are truly grateful for the partnership that exists between Cedars-Sinai and Beit T’Shuvah. Without this grant, a critical aspect of client care would be missing from our program.”

— Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer

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