January 27, 2020

Israeli Graffiti Artists, Survivor’s Bar Mitzvah

At the end of July and in early August, Israeli graffiti artists Dede Bandaid and Nitzan Mintz (shown in image to the left) were in Los Angeles for an art project. During their visit, the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles contacted the office of L.A. City Councilman David Ryu to collaborate with his Utility Box Program, an initiative announced in November 2017 that beautifies L.A. neighborhoods while supporting local artists.

“This program sponsors local artists up to $250 in discretionary funding to turn blank utility boxes into stunning works of public art,” states a description of the program on Ryu’s council website.

Primarily local artists participate. This was the first time international artists took part in this project, according to the Israeli consulate.

The utility boxes are located at the intersections of Vermont and Franklin avenues and Hillhurst and Franklin avenues in Los Feliz.

Mintz, who specializes in street poetry, designed a box featuring the words, “Try to levitate over this city / Everything is light as a feather.”

Bandaid’s boxes feature depictions of his signature Band-Aids. The artist is based in Tel Aviv and describes himself as an “urban narrative artist, who utilizes various mediums to communicate within the public arena.”

Photo courtesy of Bob Geminder

Holocaust survivor Bob Geminder had a second bar mitzvah ceremony, which was held on Aug. 18 at Congregation Ner Tamid in Rancho Palos Verdes. 

“I am 83 and I live life to the fullest,” Geminder said in an email to the Journal. “After my past experiences, I feel like I need to have a ‘happy childhood’ now.”

About 200 people attended the simcha, including friends and family from all over the country.

Geminder, who is from Bielsko, Poland, did not have a bar mitzvah at the age of 13 because it was just three years after the end of the Shoah and he was focused on learning English and starting school. His first year in school was in the seventh grade in Pittsburgh. His first bar mitzvah was with his daughter when he was 41.

Ner Tamid Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei officiated the ceremony, which drew Geminder’s childhood friends; his children; the leadership from the March of the Living, which Geminder goes on every year; Holocaust survivors from several different countries; a Yad Vashem representative; and docents from the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.

Front row, from center: StandWithUs (SWU) Hispanic Fellow Marcos Carrillo and SWU Southwest Campus Coordinator Charline Delkhah. Back row, from left: Adam Meleo; SWU Hispanic Outreach Coordinator Sebastian Parra; Maayan Bahalul; Ariel Berdugo and Sarah Eizner. Photo courtesy of StandWithUs.

Coinciding with the start of the 2018-19 school year, pro-Israel education organization StandWithUs (SWU) has hired new staff members and selected its high school interns and college Emerson Fellows.

The new members are Southwest High School Coordinator Kate Chavez and Southwest Campus Coordinator Charline Delkhah.

The interns are Nicole Bardi of Milken Community High School, Danielle York of Palisades Charter High School, Yael Gluck of YULA Girls High School, Gabby Grunfeld of Shalhevet High School, Rachel Pistol of Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, Danielle Efrat of Santa Susana High School and Melina Feradouni of Taft Charter High School.

The Emerson Fellows are Maayan Bahalul of USC, Ariel Berdugo of UC Irvine, Sarah Eizner of UC Santa Barbara, Noa Grunfeld of Cal State Long Beach, David Kaziyez of UC Riverside, Naomi Kisel of UCLA and Adam Meleo of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Azusa Pacific University’s Marcos Carrillo is the Hispanic Fellow.

The organization’s high school and college programs each select and train about 90 students from 90 North American schools to educate their peers about Israel and respond to anti-Israel rhetoric. The Emerson Fellowship was founded in 2007 by philanthropists Rita and Steve Emerson of Los Angeles.

During recent conferences, the Emerson Fellows and high school interns learned leadership skills; participated in sessions on countering boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns; practiced how to run effective programs and form coalitions with other groups, and how to utilize SWU’s resources, including the legal department and social media. They also received a Middle East update and learned how to determine when legitimate criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism.

From left: Shalom Institute (SI) President Gil Breakman; SI Board Member Dr. Clive Segil; philanthropist Lisa Friedman and SI Executive Director Bill Kaplan. Photo by Marsha Katz Rothpan

The Shalom Institute on Aug. 19 held its Apples N’ Honey Celebration with 130 of Shalom Institute’s supporters and friends. 

During the event, the organization celebrated five years of Shemesh Enterprises, which serves young people with special needs, and dedicated its new Bee and Pollinator Education Center. The institute also honored supporters of these initiatives.

“It’s a perfect space for infusing Jewish values into teaching experiential environmental education using bees and their huge function in the world’s ecosystem as a touchstone,” said Lisa Friedman, a supporter of the Bee and Pollinator Education Center.

Other attendees at the gathering included Larraine and Dr. Clive Segil; Lew Groner, vice president of marketing and communications at the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles; and Marisa Kaplan, senior vice president of Caring for Jews in Need at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Sinai Temple President Angela Maddahi. Photo courtesy of Sinai Temple

Sinai Temple in Westwood held a musical Sephardic-style Shabbat service followed by dinner and the installation of its 2018-19 board of directors on Aug. 17.

Chaired by Sinai Temple Vice President of Membership Mehrzad Roshan, the event was attended by more than 120 temple members.

Max Webb Senior Rabbi David Wolpe installed incoming temple board members and officers. The new 2018-19 board members are Michael Arnall, Robert Galperson, Raquel Harris, Janet Rosenblum and Mitra Simanian. Temple 

President Angela Maddahi also accepted her second year of leadership and spoke about her passion for the community and her goal to make it an even more inviting and inclusive place. She also announced Sinai Temple’s inaugural annual report, which outlined the achievements of the community in 2017-18. 

The evening concluded with a Sephardic-style musical performance by the Asher Levy Trio.

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