August 23, 2019

Moving & Shaking: JFS Groundbreaking, AISH Women Honored

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) held a groundbreaking on Dec. 18 for construction of the JFS Lois and Richard Gunther Center at 330 N. Fairfax Ave., which will transform the existing Freda Mohr Multipurpose Center into the organization’s new headquarters. The ceremony was attended by JFS leadership, staff, volunteers and clients, including JFS President and CEO Paul Castro and JFS Capital and Endowment Campaign Co-chairs David Levine and Dena Schechter. Civic and community leaders were there as well, including Los Angeles City Councilmen Paul Koretz and David Ryu, City Attorney Mike Feuer and state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).

“The new Center building will be as innovative and strong as the organization that is building it,” Castro said in a statement. “It will help us better integrate our services, expand and strengthen our reach within the greater L.A. community, consolidate our extensive array of programs, and increase our efficiency. This means that more time, energy and resources can be directed exactly where they belong: supporting the lives of our neighbors and community members.”

JFS expects to complete the construction, which follows a multimillion-dollar capital campaign, in two years. The new facility will house the Freda Mohr Multipurpose Center, the Hirsch Family Kosher Café, mental health services for Holocaust survivors, counseling services for victims of intimate-partner violence, an older-adult health and wellness center, and the JFS administrative offices.

The center is named for the couple who provided the lead gift for the capital campaign. Lois Gunther previously served as a JFS board president and has been a longtime JFS supporter; her husband, Richard, is a board member of Americans for Peace Now.

During construction, programs and services previously provided at the multipurpose center will be available at 6310 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 275, in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Yitzchak Sakhai, executive director of Sephardic Tradition and Recreation, lit a menorah at the L.A. Clippers’ Jewish Heritage night. Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/LA Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers paid tribute to the team’s Jewish fans with Jewish Heritage Night on Dec. 20.

The evening took place on the eighth day of Hanukkah and featured a pregame ceremony. Rabbi Yitzchak Sakhai, executive director of Sephardic Tradition and Recreation, lit a large menorah at center court. His wife, Esther, joined him.

The Los Angeles Jewish Community Children’s Choir performed the national anthem. Milken Community School’s Israel Dance Company performed at halftime. The Clippers defeated the Phoenix Suns, 108-95.

The 2017 David Twersky Journalism Award recognized Jewish Journal senior writer Danielle Berrin for her October 2016 feature story, “My Sexual Assault, and Yours: Every Woman’s Story.”

Berrin, the sixth winner of the prize for Jewish journalism, joins past winners J.J. Goldberg, Jane Eisner, Andrew Silow Carroll, Larry Cohler Esses and Johanna Ginsberg.

“[Berrin’s] story was very well received by the judges and received either a first, a second or a third rank from each and every judge to comfortably win out of a field of eight finalists that included two past winners,” said the prize’s founder and chair, Amir Cohen.

In her first-person story, Berrin recalled how an Israeli journalist, who was in Los Angeles to promote his latest book, made unwanted sexual advances toward her as she interviewed him. Berrin did not name the journalist. However, after publication of her story, speculation prompted Haaretz correspondent Ari Shavit to acknowledge that he was the journalist who had met with Berrin. Shavit subsequently resigned from the Israeli newspaper.

The David Twersky Journalism Award is named for the late Jewish journalist, Zionist and peace advocate, who died in 2010.

Jonathan Rifkind (left), son of the late David Rifkind, with Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, founder of Jews for Judaism. Photo courtesy of Jews for Judaism

International education organiza-tion Jews for Judaism held a gala event on Dec. 13 at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Westwood that presented Yaacov and Rayme Isaacs with its Community Service Award and commemorated the life of David Rifkind, a former board chairman and leader of multiple initiatives for the organization.

The event also marked the launch of the David Rifkind Legacy Fund, which will support JFJ initiatives.

The nonprofit works to discourage Jews from converting to other faiths via counseling and education centered on strengthening Jewish identity, addressing religious coercion and promoting critical thinking.

Speakers included Jews for Judaism founder Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz; Rifkind’s son, Jonathan; and screenwriter David Weiss, who served as master of ceremonies. He shared his story of how the organization played a role in his return to Judaism.

More than 200 people attended the event, which featured cocktails, a silent auction and dinner, and was co-chaired by Steve and Julie Bram and Alan and Dorit Teichman.

From left: Hollywood producer and philanthropist Steve Tisch; Tisch’s wife, Katia Francesconi; and Tel Aviv University alum and director and screenwriter Gideon Raff. Photo courtesy of American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University honored Hollywood producer and philanthropist Steve Tisch at its annual gala on Dec. 6 at the IAC Building in New York City.

Tisch is a key supporter of the university. In 2015, he gave a $10 million gift to transform its Department of Film and Television into the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television.

“We thank our honoree, Steve Tisch, for his investment in the future of our students and for helping to strengthen Israel’s influence on the cinematic arts globally,” said the university’s president, Joseph Klafter.

Tisch’s producer film credits include “Forrest Gump,” “Risky Business” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He is the co-owner and chairman of the National Football League’s New York Giants.

Marsha Katz Rothpan (center) received the Outstanding Development Professional Award at the JCamp 180 conference. Photo courtesy of the Shalom Institute.

Marsha Katz Rothpan, development director of the Shalom Institute in Malibu, was presented with the Outstanding Development Professional Award at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s 13th annual JCamp 180 conference on Oct. 22-24 in Springfield, Mass.

“With this award, Ms. Rothpan joins a distinguished group of development professionals who have made significant contributions to the world of Jewish camps,” JCamp 180 Director Mark Gold said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have been able to recognize her contributions through this award.”

Katz Rothpan’s contributions to the Shalom Institute have included the introduction of Jeffersonian Dinners — dinner parties that aim to build a sense of community and partnership around a shared issue.

In an email, Katz Rothpan told the Journal that the dinners have generated new leadership and excitement within the organization, which is home to Camp JCA Shalom.

“We’ve reaped many things as a result — increased and new donations over time, new board members and other volunteers, campers, program participants — and gained tremendous knowledge and ideas related to services and programs provided and needed,” she wrote in the email.

During the conference, Katz Rothpan and Shalom Institute Board Secretary Larry Cohen led a workshop on the Jeffersonian Dinners as a model for relationship building.

Additional guest speakers included Union of Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs; JCC Association of North America President and CEO Daron Krakow; and Jewish Funders Network President and CEO Andres Spokoiny.

Seated, from left: Jewish Women’s Initiative honorees Lisa Richards, Rivkah Eisenberg, Emuna Braverman, Rochel Markman and Sandy Gordon, and (standing, from left) JWI Director Chana Heller, JWI luncheon co-chairs Susan Berman and Stacy Tilliss, JWI honoree Holly Magady, JWI associate director Sharon Shenker, event co-chairs Carolyn Ormond and Lisa Kodimer, and honorees Debbie Hirschmann and Lucy Blinder at the third annual JWI luncheon. Photo courtesy of AISH Los Angeles.

Aish Los Angeles’ third annual Jewish Women’s Initiative (JWI) luncheon, held Dec. 10 at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, honored eight women: Lucy Blinder, Emuna Braverman, Rivkah Eisenberg, Sandy Gordon, Debbie Hirschmann, Holly Magady, Rochel Markman and Lisa Richards.

“This year’s honorees have been instrumental in lighting the way for Jewish moms to discover the significance of Judaism in their lives and their families’ lives,” JWI Director Chana Heller said in a statement.

The event, which drew about 300 JWI members and supporters, raised funds for JWI programming and scholarships for Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) trips to Israel.

The gathering began with a boutique, silent auction and event book signing, and it continued with a musical performance, lunch, tributes to the honorees and the awards presentation.

The honorees previously participated in the JWRP trips to Israel and have served as educators within the JWI movement.

“The mission of JWI is to empower Jewish women to communicate the beauty, joy and relevance of Judaism in their homes and communities,” a JWI press release said.

The organization holds weekly classes, monthly learning groups, a lunch-and-learn program, and an annual women’s retreat.


An earlier version of this article said the Shalom Institute in Malibu was a program of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. The two are not affiliated. [Correction made Jan. 5].