August 19, 2019

Moving & Shaking: Sharsheret California, Supporting Jewish Women Facing Cancer, Celebrates First Anniversary

Sharsheret California, a national nonprofit organization supporting Jewish women and families facing breast and ovarian cancer, held its first anniversary celebration at Robertson Art Space on Nov. 5.

In its first year Sharsheret hosted 62 outreach and education events from San Francisco to San Diego. The group has also held 13 cultural competency training sessions for health-care, mental-health and Jewish-communal professionals.

Nearly 150 guests attended the event, which included a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception and a performance by Israeli singer and songwriter Eleanor Tallie. Abbi Hertz, Lisa Hofheimer and Courtney Mizel — members of the Sharsheret California Community Advisory Committee — co-chaired the event.

“When we opened the California office last year, we knew we were addressing a critical need in the Jewish community here to educate women and men about their increased risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer,” Sharsheret California Regional Director Jenna Fields said. “We had laid the groundwork over the years to build our presence. But when we officially launched last year, we took a leap of faith, and our Sharsheret leadership took a leap of faith, with the hope that the dream of a few would grow to the vision of many, and it did.”

Attendees included Donna Schlessel; Shuli Bendheim Steinlauf and her husband, Avi Steinlauf; Sari Abrams and her husband, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Congregation B’nai David-Judea; Annie Spar and her husband, Elon Spar; Sharsheret Executive Director Elana Silber; and Sinai Temple Rabbi Nicole Guzik.

Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer

From left: Talent agent Adam Berkowitz, actors Lior Ashkenazi and Ania Bukestein, Israel Film Festival founder Meir Fenigstein and Mark Ivanir attend the festival’s opening night. Photo by Robert Todd Williamson

The 31st annual Israel Film Festival (IFF) began Nov. 5 with a gala at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills that honored actor Jeffrey Tambor and Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi.

Tambor was presented with the 2017 IFF Achievement in Television Award by Israeli actress Ayelet Zorer, who had a role in the Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated Amazon Studios series “Transparent,” in which Tambor plays a transgender woman. (Tambor subsequently announced he may be leaving the show after sexual harassment allegations were made against him.)

Ashkenazi, who received the IFF Cinematic Achievement Award, is starring in “Foxtrot,” which won the Ophir Award — the Israeli Oscar — and will be submitted by Israel for the Academy Awards’ best foreign language film category. Actor Mark Ivanir (“Homeland”) presented Ashkenazi with his award.

In his speech, Ashkenazi addressed the controversy surrounding “Foxtrot,” which was heavily criticized by Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev, who claimed the film supported the agenda of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

“There are those who try to mess with our art and work,” Ashkenazi said. “We as artists spark debate and make us all more tolerant, and we are going to continue creating and speaking our minds despite those who want to silence us.”

Yariv Mozer’s documentary, “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” winner of this year’s Ophir Award for best documentary, was the festival’s opening night film.

Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Artists Agency, chaired the festival. Also in attendance was the festival’s founder and executive director, Meir Fenigstein.

Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

From left: Hailey, Todd, Dana, Ron, Sarah, Randall and Kathy Katz come together at the Katz Family Pavilion and Shalom Garden dedication ceremony. Photo courtesy of Stephen Wise Temple

Stephen Wise Temple in Bel Air dedicated its new Katz Family Pavilion and Shalom Garden on Nov. 5.

About 700 people turned out to celebrate the completion of the 18-month, $9.2 million building project, including lead donor Ron Katz and his family — sons Randall and Todd, daughters-in-law Kathy and Dana, and granddaughters Hailey and Sarah — for whom the facility is named. Also in attendance were Stephen Wise Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback, Rabbi Emeritus Eli Herscher and Cantor Nathan Lam; its building committee chair Leandro Tyberg; and Ed and Deena Nahmias, benefactors of the pavilion’s Nahmias Family Plaza.

The 9,500-square-foot pavilion will be used for sports, cultural and lifecycle events. Working with Lehrer Architects, the temple replaced its historic Hershenson Hall at the center of its campus with the new pavilion. The project also transformed a parking area into a 7,000-square-foot park dedicated in honor of Herscher and his four decades of service to the Stephen Wise Temple community. He retired in 2015.

After the event in an interview with the Journal, Zweiback expressed gratitude to the Katz family. “The way you say thank you,” he said, “is you live the values that inspire this place and then you build for the future.”

From left: Netiya Executive Director Devorah Brous, L.A. City Councilman David Ryu and L.A. Food Policy Council Executive Director Clare Fox.

Devorah Brous, executive director of Netiya, was honored as a Los Angeles Good Food Champion by the City Council on Oct. 24 as part of Food Day in Los Angeles.

Brous, whose organization is working to transform unused land at religious congregations into urban gardens, was one of 15 people honored from each city council district. She was chosen for the honor by District 4 Councilman David Ryu. Food Day was an effort organized by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

“They are all food champions,” Brous said of her fellow honorees. “One is
opening a restaurant. One has started a community garden in East L.A. That’s what makes the award cool. It’s really diverse, with people from every racial and ethnic background. It’s really interesting and exciting to see the council members are getting behind some of the initiatives we’ve been launching.”

Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback, who bet on the Dodgers in the World Series, appears in a YouTube video about the bet. Photo from YouTube

Earlier this month, Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback lost a friendly bet to Rabbi Oren Hayon of Congregation Emanu El in Houston over the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros.

At stake were food and tzedakah. Zweiback and the Stephen Wise congregation promised to buy the Houston congregation a Factor’s Famous Deli platter and to make a donation to a cause of Emanu El’s choice if the Astros won. Emanuel El promised pecan pies and a donation to Union of Reform Judaism’s Camp Newman, which was devastated during the recent Northern California fires, if the Dodgers won.

The synagogues’ two rabbis exchanged humorous videos on YouTube over the course of the seven-game series. In one video, after the Astros beat the Dodgers, 7-6, in 11 innings, Hayon created a video of him eating pecan pie. Zweiback made a video in which he pretended to be on the phone with the Dodgers’ Jewish outfielder, Joc Pederson — who Zweiback referred to as “Yaakov.”

After the Astros beat the Dodgers in seven games, Stephen Wise sent the Houston congregation the Factor’s platter and made a donation to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. More than 150 families in the extended Emanu El family were affected by the storm. Despite winning the wager, Emanu El graciously made a donation to Camp Newman.

From left: Ben Savage, Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) honorees Dr. David Snyder and actress Bonnie Hunt, Avram Hershko, Candice Rosen and David Goodman attend the ICRF 2017 “Unlocking Cures” gala. Photo by Lindsey Boise

The Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) held its “Unlocking Cures” gala on Nov. 11 at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, honoring actress, producer, writer and director Bonnie Hunt and City of Hope Dr. David Snyder.

Hunt’s credits include the movies “Jumanji” and “Jerry Maguire.” Before getting into show business full time, she was an oncology nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where she worked closely with Dr. Steven Rosen, now CEO of City of Hope, a cancer treatment and research center in Duarte, Calif. She continues to support patient advocacy, medical research and many medical-related causes.

Snyder is an expert in stem cell transplantation for the treatment of leukemia and other blood disorders. He has been at City of Hope for more than 30 years.

The program for the event said Hunt and Snyder “exemplify the mission of the ICRF to improve the lives of those around the world by supporting world-class medical research in Israel.”

City of Hope and ICRF announced a collaboration in 2016 with the establishment of the Jacki and Bruce Barron Cancer Research Scholars Program to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information between cancer researchers in the United States and Israel.

The event, which opened with a cocktail reception and a silent auction, was attended by 250 people and raised more than $330,000. Actor Ben Savage was the emcee for the dinner and awards presentation, and Nobel laureate Avram Hershko, an Israeli biochemist, delivered the keynote speech.

Among those in attendance were ICRF Los Angeles board president and Jewish Journal advertising director Marty Finkelstein and ICRF board members David Cohan and Candice Rosen, who co-chaired the event.

“ICRF is that wonderful organization that merges the needs of cancer researchers with the ingenuity and resources of Israel,” Cohan said. “This gala is our opportunity to do our part to support them both. We must do our part!”