November 21, 2018

Cedars-Sinai, Gift of Life, Friends of Sheba

From left: Bert Salke, Jennifer Salke, Clive Svendsen, Rosanna Arquette and Todd Morgann arrive at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Dinner at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Courtesy of Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors

Leaders in entertainment, business, health care and philanthropy came together for the 2018 Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Gala on Oct. 27 at the Beverly Hilton, which raised nearly $1.6 million for the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute.

At the gala, Richard Sinaiko, a member of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Directors, announced that the Board of Governors fulfilled its $30 million pledge to the Institute in just four years, setting a fundraising record in the Board of Governors’ history. 

“The completion of the Board of Governors’ fundraising goal will help the Regenerative Medicine Institute continue its vital mission of restoring function in diseased or aged tissues by revitalizing existing cells or transplanting new ones,” a Cedars-Sinai statement said.

The Institute is led by Clive Svendsen, PhD, who is internationally recognized for his use of stem cell technology in an effort to create new treatments for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, Crohn’s disease and diabetes.

The event honored Todd Morgan, founder, chairman and CEO of Bel Air Investment Advisors, with the Philanthropic Leadership Award, which was presented by his wife, actress and honorary gala chair Rosanna Arquette

In his acceptance speech, Morgan spoke about his brother Tommy, who battled heart failure during a month-long hospital stay and surprised his family by recovering. 

“My brother was on the brink many times, but those Cedars doctors and nurses never gave up,” he said. “I’ll remember them as long as I live.”

Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, and Bert Salke, president of Fox 21 Television Studios, received the Hollywood Humanitarian Award, which was presented by actor Rob Lowe

“Dr. Svendsen’s work with stem cell technology is mind blowing,” Jennifer Salke said. “They are ahead in treating some of the most common and debilitating diseases.”

Actor Sean Hayes emceed the event. Additional guests included actress and producer Roma Downey (“The Bible”); Mark Burnett, chairman of MGM Worldwide TV; actor Max Greenfield (“The Neighborhood”); actress Marin Hinkle (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”); filmmaker Reggie Hudlin; music legend Smokey Robinson and Saudi Arabian actress Dina Shihabi (“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”)

The evening featured an acoustic set by Grammy-winning singer John Mayer.

Molly Soboroff, who was named executive director of Friends of Sheba Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Courtesy of Friends of Sheba Medical Center

Friends of Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer has named Molly Soboroff its Los Angeles executive director. 

In an Oct. 29 announcement, the organization highlighted Soboroff’s experience in Jewish nonprofits and fundraising and a passion for supporting Israel. 

Since July, Soboroff has been serving as interim executive director for the organization, which raises funds and awareness to support the largest hospital in Israel and the Middle East. 

Soboroff, 31, began working at Friends of Sheba Medical Center in August 2017 as associate director of development for the organization’s L.A. chapter. She previously served as regional director of the young leadership division of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).

Prior to her role at FIDF, Soboroff spent three years at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles as a KOREH L.A. AmeriCorps Fellow, a volunteer literacy program pairing community members with students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and as the Federation’s community engagement council coordinator.

“Molly Soboroff is a talented and dedicated individual, and I am confident that, as Friends of Sheba Medical Center executive director, she will take the organization to new heights,” Friends of Sheba Medical Center Board President Parham Zar said in a statement. “Her leadership and expertise are exactly what we need to continue to grow and provide instrumental support to Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s national hospital and the most comprehensive center for healthcare in the Middle East.”

Soboroff, who holds a master’s of business administration in nonprofit management from American Jewish University in Los Angeles and a bachelor of arts in marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston, said she is excited about her new role at the organization.

“It is an honor to work with Sheba Medical Center and Friends of Sheba Medical Center,” she said. “Because I have a true passion for tikkun olam, for health and for community building, this position is ideal. Sheba upholds all these values every day as the doctors at Sheba administer humanitarian aid and lifesaving care to patients across the world.”

Bone marrow recipient Tony Wolfe; his donor Alan Weinberg; Kim Kardashian West, Leah Mantel Krief and Gift of Life CEO and Founder Jay Feinberg attended the inaugural Gift of Life Marrow Registry gala in Los Angeles.
Photo by Kara Frans Photography

The inaugural Gift of Life Marrow Registry gala on Oct. 29 at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills honored reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian West for her support of Gift of Life and of the “Hope4Adam” campaign, which in 2016 sought to find a matching donor for a young Jewish father from Los Angeles named Adam Krief. 

Krief, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer, died in 2017 at the age of 32 following complications from a bone marrow transplant. 

During his illness, the Krief family launched a campaign to reach out to marrow donors and record Krief’s medical experiences. Kardashian West was among the celebrities who tweeted to her followers in the hope of finding a match for Krief, using the hashtag #Hope4Adam.

“It’s an honor to be here to accept the first-ever Gift of Life Impact Award,” Kardashian West said. “I was first introduced to Adam’s story by my best friend, Allison, whose son was in the same class as their boy. And once I heard his story, I just knew that I wanted to do something.”

“I made a simple tweet,” she added. “Knowing that it could change someone’s life, that’s the easiest thing that I could possibly do.”

Krief’s widow, Lia Mantel Krief, presented Kardashian West with the award.

Attendees included Gift of Life CEO and Founder Jay Feinberg, a survivor of leukemia; donor-recipient pair Tony Wolfe and Alan Weinberg; and event chairs Michal and Jeremie Braun of Los Angeles, and Norma and Mark Citron of Calabasas.

Wolfe received a life-saving stem cell transplant from Weinberg. They were connected during the “Hope 4Adam” campaign and learned each other’s identities at the gala.

Established in 1991, “Gift of Life has grown the registry to more than 310,000 individuals who have volunteered to donate blood stem cells or bone marrow to save a life,” the organization said in a statement.

Front left: Shari Safra, Rachel Cohn, Briana Benaron, Leslie Schapira, Dafna Landau and AMIT Western Region Director Liron Yadin celebrated the launch of Los Angeles AMIT NewGen. Courtesy of AMIT

Nearly 40 young professionals celebrated the launch of Los Angeles AMIT NewGen, on Oct. 24 on the SIXTY Beverly Hills Hotel rooftop, and learned about AMIT’s educational approaches and its national NewGen community.

Philanthropist Shari Safra, chair of New York City AMIT NewGen, was among the attendees.

Los Angeles AMIT NewGen is a network of local young professionals, ages 25-40, who support AMIT’s mission and seek opportunities to make a direct impact on Israel, network with others and inspire the next generation of Jewish philanthropic leaders. 

 AMIT Children, a nonprofit organization based in Israel, operates a network of 110 schools and programs, including surrogate homes and youth villages across 32 cities, and serves 34,000 Israeli students. With the message of “Building Israel, one child at a time,” the organization believes educating the next generation is key to ensuring Israel’s future. 

“AMIT enables Israel’s youth to realize their potential and strengthens Israeli society by educating and nurturing children from diverse backgrounds within a framework of academic excellence, Jewish values and Zionist ideals,” an AMIT press release said.

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Moving & Shaking: JWW Fundraiser, Big Brothers Golf Classic

Jewish World Watch (JWW) held its annual Global Soul fundraiser on May 8 at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, raising funds and awareness for the organization’s work fighting mass atrocities and genocide.

The Encino-based nonprofit celebrated its 14th year since its founding by honoring Ben Reznik, an attorney, philanthropist and activist who is also the husband of JWW co-founder Janice Kamenir-Reznik.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered a video address praising Reznik and JWW for their activism.

“My thanks to Jewish World Watch for your tireless efforts to build a world without genocide,” Garcetti said.

Officials and prominent community members in attendance included Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles Carlos Garcia de Alba; Los Angeles City Councilmembers David Ryu, Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin and Nury Martinez; Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Jay Sanderson; and Rabbis Mark Borovitz, Richard Camras, Noah Farkas, Ed Feinstein, Nina Feinstein, Arthur Gross-Schaefer, Chaim Seidler-Feller and Richard Spiegel, a JWW board member. Also present were Pastor Kasereka Kasomo of the African Christian Community Church of Southern California; attorney and activist Sam Yebri; Beit T’Shuvah founder Harriet Rossetto and Aziza Hasan, executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.

Former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a JWW board member, presented the Global Soul honor to Reznik, recounting their days carpooling to Hebrew school together and their activism in the Soviet Jewry movement, calling Reznik “a tough lawyer” and a “mensch.”

“He’s got the courage of his intellect and his convictions,” Yaroslavsky said.

The open-air event featured traditional African music — a nod to the organization’s humanitarian work in Africa — as well as excerpts from the play “Sister Africa” by playwright Stephanie Liss, performed by actors Takesha Meshé Kizart and Christopher McLellan, based on testimonies from survivors of rape and mass atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The event also showcased JWW’s work with impacted communities in Syria, Myanmar, Chad, Sudan and Iraq. Reznik, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, said the work of JWW is necessary to ensure that the world does not remain silent in the face of mass atrocities as it did during the Holocaust.

“That is why this honor from this organization means so much to me,” Reznik said. “I can think of no more deserving cause to support with my heart, my soul and my wallet.”

Friends of Sheba Medical Center supporter Marilyn Ziering (left) and 2018 Marjorie Pressman Legacy Award recipient Dvorah Colker attend the Friends of Sheba Women of Achievement Luncheon. Photo courtesy of Friends of Sheba Medical Center.

Friends of Sheba Medical Center held its annual Women of Achievement Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire hotel on April 26, raising more than $350,000 to benefit Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer.

Drawing 450 attendeees, the event honored Judy Flesh Rosenberg with the Women of Achievement Award and Dvorah Colker with the Marjorie Pressman Legacy Award. Helene Boston and Parvin Djavaheri co-chaired. Lynn Ziman served as the honorary chair and Beverly Cohen as the vice chair.

Serving as the emcee, Israeli-American actress Moran Atias (“Tyrant”) highlighted Sheba Medical Center’s position at the forefront of the fight against cancer. Sheba patient Tamir Gilat discussed his battle against an aggressive form of cancer under the care of Sheba Medical Center, thanking Sheba’s remarkable staff for providing world-class treatment, hope and support to him and his entire family.

“We were very happy to welcome so many new friends to our community and together make a direct impact on cancer treatment worldwide,” Friends of Sheba Medical Center President Parham Zar said after the event.

Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer is the largest and most comprehensive medical center in the Middle East. It combines an acute care hospital and a rehabilitation hospital on one campus, and it is at the forefront of medical treatments, patient care, cutting-edge research and education. As a university teaching hospital affiliated with the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, it welcomes people from all over the world. “

Esther Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer

From left: Joey Behrstock, Bob Waldorf and Steve Miller turned out for the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles 23rd annual golf classic. Photo courtesy of Jewish Big Brothers
Big Sisters of Los Angeles.

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA) held its 23rd annual golf classic on April 23, honoring former camper and longtime supporter Bob Waldorf.

The tournament brought together more than 150 players and supporters at the Valencia Country Club.

The event raised $265,000, which will enable underserved children to attend the agency’s camp, Camp Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus, for free this summer.

The event’s lead sponsor, Gelt, Inc., was founded by Keith Wasserman. Wasserman and his wife, Gelena, are volunteers in the agency’s mentoring program.

JBBBSLA CEO Randy Schwab said he was thrilled with the community support of this year’s golf classic.

“Camp Bob Waldorf is more than a summer camp. Campers from all over Los Angeles attend dynamic and innovative programming year-round. From our social justice winter break camp to teen electives that help them explore their passions, all our programs focus on positively impacting our camper’s self-esteem and feeling of community,” Schwab said. “Most importantly, they get to have a break from the stressors of their home life and just be kids.”

Many of the campers that attend Camp Bob Waldorf face disadvantages like food insecurity, poverty and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Through community support, campers receive partial or full financial aid.

“This annual event ensures that these vulnerable youth are able to experience the support, valuable life lessons and character-building skills that camp provides,” a JBBBSLA statement said.

Owned and operated by JBBBSLA, Camp Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus is a nondenominational residential camp located on 112 acres in the Verdugo Mountains of Glendale. Since 1938, the camp has helped more than 60,000 underserved children, offering youth development activities for children as young as 9 and providing services to them through the age of 17 and beyond.

From left: Incoming Temple Beth Am President Avi Peretz, L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz and Outgoing Beth Am President Susan Hetsroni enjoyed the Temple Beth Am groundbreaking gala.
Photo by Steve Cohn Photography.

Conservative congregation Temple Beth Am held its groundbreaking gala on May 6.

More than 350 people attended the evening event, which began with an outdoor reception and a “Passing the Shovel” ceremony, which recognized many in the community who have been involved in the congregation’s construction projects for nearly a decade.

The congregation will be renovating its historic sanctuary and building a new middle school facility that will provide innovative space for project-based learning and an enhanced STEAM (science, technology, engineering the arts and mathematics) curriculum.

The gala featured a dinner in the temple’s ballroom, where the congregation honored outgoing Education Vice President Karen Fried and President Susan Hetsroni for their passion and dedication to Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am, the congregation and the broader Jewish community.

Fried’s successor is Jennifer Elad and Hetsroni’s successor is Avi Peretz.  The new officers begin their terms on July 1.

Attendees included L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, who praised Temple Beth Am for its work and the partnerships it has forged.

From left: Sinai Temple Gala co-chairs Ebi and Lida Simhaee, Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe, Gala Co-Chair Judy Flesh, Sinai Temple President Angela Maddahi and Gala Co-Chair Tom Flesh celebrated Wolpe’s 20 years of leadership during the Sinai Temple Gala. Photo courtesy of Sinai Temple.

More than 720 Sinai Temple members and friends gathered to honor Sinai Temple Max Webb Senior Rabbi David Wolpe’s 20 years of leadership during the Sinai Temple Gala on May 6.

The themes of the evening were inclusion, acceptance and unity.

The Sinai Temple Gala not only celebrated Wolpe’s legacy of leadership and community building but also marked the official announcement of the naming of the Elaine and Gerald Wolpe Parenting Center of the Alice and Nahum Lainer School of Sinai Temple, in memory of Wolpe’s parents.

Accepting his award, Wolpe spoke words of admiration and appreciation for his parents, who, he said, shaped him into the inspirational, spiritual leader he is today.

Additional highlights of the program included a choir performance by Alice and Nahum Lainer School and Sinai Temple Religious School students, led by Cantors Marcus Feldman and Lisa Peicott; a musical performance by Craig Taubman; an invocation by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson; a video presentation highlighting the effects of Wolpe’s work and a ha-Motzi recitation, led by rabbis who have each touched Wolpe’s life over the years.

Emcee Rick Lieberman kept the program flowing and infused humor into the festivities.

The Sinai Temple Gala raised more than $1.6 million to benefit synagogue programming and the parenting center. The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation provided the lead gift.

Moving & Shaking: Film Fest Finale, Holocaust Education

The Israel Bonds luncheon drew (top row, from left) Nancy Sloan, Rochelle Boren, Ambassador Danny Danon, Talie Danon, Sharona Nazarian, Daniel Nazarian and Dalia Farkas and (bottom row, from left) Ghazal Rokhsar, Vera Liebenthal, Jacqueline Burdorf, Myrtle Sitowitz and Ruth Low. Photo courtesy of Israel Bonds.

The Israel Bonds Los Angeles’ Women’s Division Council held its 2018 Golda Meir Luncheon on May 1 at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Husband-and-wife Talie and Danny Danon, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, served as the event’s guest speakers. Talie discussed “The United Nations: A Women’s Perspective.”

Gina Raphael, the Los Angeles co-chair on the Israel Bonds L.A. Women’s Division Council, led an awards presentation honoring Abigail Kedem Goldberg; Georgette Joffe; Vera Liebenthal; Jennifer Meyers; Sharona Nazarian; Hannah Niman; and Ghazal Rokhsar.

Additional speakers included Karin Eliyahu-Pery, the consul for public diplomacy and culture at the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles; Mark Goldenberg served as master of ceremonies; Jean Friedman, women’s division council chair, delivered welcoming remarks; Sinai Temple Cantor Marcus Feldman sang the national anthems; and Jerry Friedman led the invocation and hamotzi.

The event acknowledged Israel’s 70th anniversary since its founding in 1948.

Israel Bonds is a broker dealer that underwrites securities issued by the State of Israel. It ranks among Israel’s most valued economic and strategic resources.

Producer and talent manager George Shapiro (left) and film composer Alan Bergman attended the screening of “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast” on the closing night of the L.A. Jewish Film Festival. Photo courtesy of RozWolfPR.

“We were focusing on what the spirit of life is and what makes them live,” Gold said.

The work features more than showbiz folks. Ida Keeling, one of the individuals profiled in the film, is a 100-year-old woman who, after losing two of her sons while in her late 60s, takes up running.

Classic film and music expert Michael Schlesinger moderated the discussion, which also featured film composer Alan Bergman (“Yentl,” “Toostie”).

LAJFF Director Hilary Helstein introduced the film in front of a nearly sold-out audience. She expressed gratitude to those who had turned up throughout the week to the various films screening around the city.

Holocaust survivor Joe Alexander showed his tattoo from Auschwitz to high school students Eli Sitzman, Sara Schechter and Adora Dayani during a Witness Theater: Voices of History production. Photo by Michael Canon.

Holocaust education program Witness Theater: Voices of History staged a student-led Holocaust remembrance program on April 16 at the Norman Pattiz Concert Hall at Hamilton High School.

More than 30 students from 11 local high schools wrote, directed and acted in dramatic vignettes inspired by the stories of Holocaust survivors Mary Bauer, Eva Wartnik, Tomas Kovar and Joe Alexander. Alexander, born in Poland, survived 12 camps during the war.

Ann Noble and Talya Waldman directed the performance, which culminated with the students and survivors appearing together onstage in front of an audience of more than 500 people.

This marked the first year that Witness Theater has staged a production in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and Beth Jacob Congregation served as partners on the production.

From left: Friends of Sheba Medical Center supporter Marilyn Ziering and 2018 Marjorie Pressman Legacy Award recipient Dvorah Colker attend the Friends of Sheba Women of Achievement luncheon. Photo courtesy of Friends of Sheba Medical Center.

Friends of Sheba Medical Center held its annual Women of Achievement Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on April 26, raising more than $350,000 to benefit Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer.

Drawing 450 attendeees, the event honored Judy Flesh Rosenberg with the Women of Achievement Award and Dvorah Colker with the Marjorie Pressman Legacy Award. Helene Boston and Parvin Djavaheri co-chaired. Lynn Ziman served as the honorary chair and Beverly Cohen the vice chair.

Serving as the emcee, Israeli-American actress Moran Atias (“Tyrant”) highlighted Sheba Medical Center’s position at the forefront of the fight against cancer. Sheba patient Tamir Gilat discussed his battle against an aggressive form of cancer under the care of Sheba Medical Center, thanking Sheba’s remarkable staff for providing world-class treatment, hope, and support to him and his entire family.

“We were very happy to welcome so many new friends to our community and together make a direct impact on cancer treatment worldwide,” Friends of Sheba Medical Center President Parham Zar aid after the event.

Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer is the largest and most comprehensive medical center in the Middle East. It combines an acute care hospital and a rehabilitation hospital on one campus, and it is at the forefront of medical treatments, patient care, cutting-edge research and education. As a university teaching hospital affiliated with the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University, it welcomes people from all over the world. ”

Esther Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer

Aziza Hasan, executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, and human relations consultant Lloyd Wilkey speak at the Museum of Tolerance screening of Katie Couric’s new National Geographic series. Photo courtesy of Museum of Tolerance.

The Museum of Tolerance on April 25 screened “White Anxiety,” the fourth episode of Katie Couric’s new documentary series, “America Inside Out,” which is airing on the National Geographic Channel this month.

Couric’s six-part series is about social upheaval across the United States, which is why the Museum of Tolerance was interested in screening the film for the Jewish community of Los Angeles, Museum of Tolerance communications director Michele Alkin told the Journal.

“The Museum of Tolerance plays a crucial role in bringing people together for solutions-oriented community dialogue that has a call to positive action,” Alkin said. “We are working with people with whom we have worked many times in the past on films with a social action message.”

The audience of 300 at the Museum of Tolerance enthusiastically  embraced the theme of Couric’s series.

Speakers included human relations consultant Lloyd Wilkey and Aziza Hasan, executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.

“White Anxiety,” which premiered on May 2, is about large numbers of immigrants pouring into small, insular communities often dominated by a single industry, and about technology taking over traditional working-class jobs. Both developments ignite social and labor upheaval.

The Couric series carries titles including “Re-Righting History” and “The Muslim Next Door.” The series’ finale, “The Age of Outrage,” will air May 16 on the National Geographic Channel.

Ari Noonan, Contributing Writer

Moving & Shaking: Focus on Women’s Health; Bialik at UCLA

From left: Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Board Chair Julie Platt, L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin and L.A. Federation CEO Jay Sanderson attend the Federation’s community leaders’ Passover seder in Venice. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles held its annual community leaders’ Passover seder on March 28 at the Israel Levin Center in Venice, bringing together elected and civic representatives from multiple faiths and backgrounds to celebrate the holiday.

Elected officials in attendance included Los Angeles City Council members Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz and David Ryu; L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin; state Treasurer John Chiang; state Sen. Ben Allen; and Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg.

From left: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz​; ​Friends of Sheba Medical Center (FSMC) supporter ​Myrtle Sitowitz; ​Sheba Medical Center ​Dr. Romana Herscovici; FSMC Senior Vice President ​Ruth Steinberger; FSMC President Parham Zar; and FSMC Executive Director David Levy attend “Women’s Heart Health,” a salon-style discussion in Beverly Hills. Photo courtesy of Friends of Sheba Medical Center.

Friends of Sheba Medical Center (FSMC) held its “Women’s Heart Health” salon on March 21 to discuss preventive measures against women’s cardiovascular disease, the world’s leading cause of death in women.

Nearly 100 people attended the sold-out gathering that featured Sheba Medical Center’s Dr. Romana Herscovici and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz speaking about heart health for women. The event was held at the Beverly Hills home of longtime FSMC supporter Myrtle Sitowitz.

Herscovici is spending two years as a research fellow at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, working under Bairey Merz’s mentorship in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center. Upon her return to Israel later this year, Herscovici will continue her work focusing on women’s heart health at Sheba Medical Center, which is the largest, most comprehensive medical center in Israel and the Middle East. Herscovici’s fellowship at Cedars-Sinai is an example of one of Sheba’s many global partnerships working to advance medicine worldwide.

“It was exciting to participate in such an important and informative conversation that affects all women and our families,” said Barbara Lazaroff, vice president of the FSMC board. “I am very proud of the partnership between Sheba Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai, knowing it will make a significant difference in women’s heart health across the globe.”

Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer

Mayim Bialik, who has been selected to deliver the commencement address at UCLA in June. Photo courtesy of UCLA.

UCLA has selected actress Mayim Bialik of “The Big Bang Theory” as its distinguished alumna speaker for the UCLA College commencement on June 15. Bialik holds a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA.

“Dr. Bialik embodies the values of a Bruin,” UCLA College Senior Dean Patricia Turner said in a statement. “Throughout her career, she has shown how hard work, determination and civic duty can lead to success. I know that our graduates will be inspired by her story as they set out to make their own mark in the world.”

Bialik will address both commencement ceremonies, scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., in Pauley Pavilion.

Since 2010, she has appeared on the popular CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” playing Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist who is the fiancée of Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons.

Among her several acting roles as a youth, Bialik portrayed the title character in the 1990s sitcom “Blossom.” After that show ended its run, Bialik left acting and earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from UCLA in 2000, with a minor in Hebrew and Jewish studies. She earned her doctorate in neuroscience in 2007. Her thesis examined the role of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin in obsessive-compulsive disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome.

While at UCLA, Bialik was a student leader in UCLA Hillel, founding a women’s Rosh Chodesh group, chanting and blowing shofar for High Holy Days services, and conducting and writing music for UCLA’s Jewish a capella group.

Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg and actress Mayim Bialik attend the Sixth Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. Photo courtesy of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Sixth Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem from March 19–21, drew foreign ministers, politicians and community leaders from around the world.

Actress Mayim Bialik, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg and Sharon Nazarian, senior vice president of international affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, were among the attendees from Los Angeles.

Bialik delivered the keynote address, about her personal experiences dealing with anti-Semitism and her love for the State of Israel and its people.

“It was a privilege to take part in the Sixth Global Forum with leaders from around the world,” Grundwerg said. “It is critical to focus on the importance of fostering tolerance and the need to continue to fight anti-Semitism on every front. Having the opportunity to bring Mayim Bialik, a leading and courageous voice of moral clarity in the community, is one of the true highlights of my posting. Her passion, love of the Jewish people and strong message of support for Israel resonated deeply with all who were present, including myself.”

Panels at the event addressed, among other topics, anti-Semitism in European far-right movements, anti-Semitism in the intersectionality of the far-left, and cyberhate.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush and Jewish Federation of North Americas Board Chair Richard Sandler appeared in conversation before major Federation donors. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Former President George W. Bush and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Board of Trustees Chair Richard V. Sandler appeared in conversation on March 21 at the Conrad Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before 150 members of the JFNA Prime Minister’s Council.

Sandler, of Santa Monica, is the former board chair of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

In the conversation, Bush discussed the challenges of presidential decision-making, fatherhood, the 9/11 attacks, the need to help free people from tyranny and his decision to pursue painting after leaving the White House.

The JFNA Prime Minister’s Council is a group of families that have contributed more than $100,000 each to their local Federation annually or have made an endowment commitment to their Federation of $2 million.

From left: JNF Los Angeles Board President Alyse Golden Berkley, Judy Levin, Alon Ben-Gurion, Victoria Davis and JNFuture Chair Jordan Freedman attend a JNF breakfast in the San Fernando Valley. Photo courtesy of Jewish National Fund.

More than 400 people who attended the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Breakfast for Israel at the Woodland Hills Marriott on March 28 heard Alon Ben-Gurion recount stories about his grandfather — Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

“The historical, touching and humorous anecdotes were a wonderful way to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary,” said JNF spokeswoman Marina Brodetsky.

Alon Ben-Gurion, who served as a paratrooper during the Yom Kippur War, is a hospitality consultant who previously was a general manager for the Hilton hotel chain, including at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York from 1997-2004. In recent years, he has been focused on development issues in the Negev desert in Israel.

Attendees at the breakfast included JNF Los Angeles Board President Alyse Golden Berkley, JNF CEO Russell Robinson, breakfast co-chairs Judy Levin and Victoria Davis, JNFuture Chair Jordan Freedman, JNF supporters Marilyn and Allen Golden, and children from the MATI Israeli Community Center in Tarzana.

The nonprofit JNF, according to its website, is committed to ensuring a “strong, secure and prosperous Israel for the Jewish people everywhere.” Its programs include agricultural research farms in the Galilee, developing housing projects for young families in the Negev, and making Israel more inclusive for people with disabilities and special needs.

Moving & Shaking: Sukkot Brunch to Address Homelessness, Jewish Teen LGBT forum, John Lithgow emcees Friends of Sheba gala

California state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (left) and Valley Beth Shalom Rabbi Noah Farkas attend a Sukkot bagel brunch and legislative update at a sukkah set up in Hertzberg's Van Nuys home. Photo by Barri Worth Girvan.

California State Sen. Robert (Bob) Hertzberg’s Oct. 8 Sukkot brunch and legislative update drew about 30 Jewish social justice leaders.

Guests gathered inside a sukkah at his Van Nuys home as Hertzberg, a member of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, discussed a package of housing bills written to address the state’s homeless crisis and his commitment to reforming the cash bail system, which he said undermines the American idea of the presumption of innocence.

Valley Beth Shalom Rabbi Noah Farkas also attended and was a guest speaker. He drew connections between the fragility symbolized by the sukkah and the situation facing the homeless. He also discussed the symbolism behind the lulav and the etrog, two of the four species used during the holiday of Sukkot, which was Oct. 4-11.

Barri Worth Girvan, Hertzberg’s district director, welcomed guests and asked everyone to introduce themselves as one big family.

Artwork from San Fernando Valley synagogues Temple Beth Hillel and Adat Ari El, which are located in Hertzberg’s legislative district, decorated the sukkah.

From left: Teenagers Yoni Kollin, Sunshine Schneider, Maccabee Raileanu and Anthony Palomera participated in a JQ International Forum, “Today’s Teens: Voices of Queer and Ally Youth.” Photo by Anna Michele Falzetta.


The Teen JQSA (Jewish Queer Straight Alliance), the first communitywide youth group in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning (LGBTQ) and ally Jewish teens ages 13-18, held an Oct. 8 panel titled “Today’s Teens: Voices of Queer and Ally Youth” at the West Hollywood City Council chambers.

JQ International, Builders of Jewish Education and the city of West Hollywood organized the event. Teen JQSA is a JQ International program.

Panelists Maccabee Raileanu, Yoni Kollin, Sunshine Schneider, Anthony Palomera and Emma Aronoff-Aspaturian discussed challenges facing LGBTQ youth.

“I just want my administrators and directors and adults in my corner of the Jewish community to realize what they’re really asking when they ask for queer teens to be their own advocates,” said Raileanu, a longtime JQSA participant and El Camino Real Charter High School senior. “I want them to step into the shoes of the people they’re talking to, because then I think a lot of changes will happen. They will realize how scary and how weird and uncomfortable that experience can be, and they’ll step up as the adults in the situation and realize what they’re working with.”  

Social media personality Stephanie Frosch, known on YouTube and Instagram as ElloSteph, moderated.

The gathering drew about 50 attendees, including JQ staff members Asher Gellis, Arya Marvazy, Anna Goodman and David Kazdan, and Temple Judea Rabbi Samuel Spector.

Organizations that partnered with JQ to make the event possible included Congregation Kol Ami, Hebrew Helpers, the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, Kol Tikvah, IKAR, Adat Ari El and Camp Lightbulb, an overnight summer camp for LGBTQ young people.

JQ has been engaging in teen health and wellness work thanks in part to a grant from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and its L.A. Jewish Teen Initiative.

Alyse Golden Berkley, the new board president of the Jewish National Fund Greater Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Jewish National Fund.


The Jewish National Fund (JNF) Greater Los Angeles has named Alyse Golden Berkley as its board president.

Berkley succeeds Matt Fragner, who has served as JNF regional president for the past two years.

A JNF Oct. 16 press release announcing Berkley’s appointment said she is a “proud Zionist and active within the Jewish community.”

In a 2016 video, Berkley said her life changed after participating in a five-day JNF mission to Eilat.

“I actually could see the difference that I could make in my lifetime for Israel,” she said. “I could make a difference and I could improve the life of Israelis. Now, I devote pretty much close to full time volunteering for the Jewish National Fund, which is my pleasure, my honor.”

In a statement, JNF Greater Los Angeles Executive Director Lou Rosenberg welcomed the new regional president.

“We are very excited to have Alyse assume the leadership of Greater Los Angeles,” he said.

According to its website, JNF is the “single largest provider of Zionist programs in the U.S. Its work is divided into seven program areas: Forestry and green innovations, water solutions, community building, Zionist education and advocacy, research and development, heritage sites, and disabilities and special needs.”

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller was named a Next Avenue Top 50 Influencer in Aging for 2017.


Next Avenue, a journalism website focused on America’s booming older population, has named Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller as one of its Top 50 Influencers in Aging for 2017.

Next Avenue recognized Geller for her efforts in creating Next Stage: Boomers & Beyond, an initiative designed to address the needs of community members who are 50 and older, and her more recent venture founding ChaiVillageLA, a partnership between Temple Emanuel and Temple Isaiah that enables people to age in place as they grow older.

Working in partnership with public television organizations, including PBS, Next Avenue divides its coverage into five areas: health and well-being; caregiving; money and security; work and purpose; and living and learning.

Geller, the third woman to become a rabbi in the Reform movement upon her ordination in 1976, was the only Jewish clergy member named to this year’s list. She made baby boomers a focus of her pulpit before her retirement in 2016, even speaking about it from the bimah during the High Holy Days.

Geller served at Temple Emanuel for 22 years. She currently is working with her husband, Richard Siegel, on a book titled “Getting Good at Getting Older: A Jewish Catalog for a New Age.”

Based on a statement she provided to Next Avenue regarding one thing she would change about aging in America, Geller said, “I would encourage the creation of religious and secular rituals to mark transitions in the journey of growing older, whether closing a family home, becoming a grandparent, reaffirming marital vows, sharing ethical wills or beginning new adventures. Marking transformations provide spiritual and practical guides for growth, connection and wise aging.”

Entertainment executive David Geffen has pledged $150 million to the building LACMA campaign. Photo by Bruce Weber


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has received a $150 million pledge from Jewish philanthropist and entertainment executive David Geffen toward the museum’s new galleries, raising the fundraising total for the Building LACMA campaign to $450 million. The campaign goal is $650 million.

In a press release, LACMA described the donation as “the largest single cash gift from an individual in the museum’s history. … [T]he new Peter Zumthor-designed building will be called the David Geffen Galleries in honor of his extraordinary gift.”

The David Geffen Galleries will replace four of the museum’s current seven buildings.

“At a time when federal funding for the arts is threatened, it’s important that we foster public-private partnerships, like this one, to support arts and cultural institutions,” Geffen said in a statement. “We must ensure that the public, everyone, has access to these venerable institutions. I am proud to partner with the County and other members of the community in helping LACMA move this remarkable project from vision to reality. Together, we can and must make sure every person has access to the arts.”

LACMA CEO and Director Michael Govan said Geffen’s gift is an unprecedented gesture of dedication to the exhibition of the arts in Los Angeles.

“David’s commitment demonstrates his belief in the power of art museums to reach a broad and diverse public and create significant civic benefit,” Govan said.

LACMA board of trustees co-chairs Elaine Wynn, a Jewish businesswoman who co-founded Mirage Resorts and Wynn Resorts, and Jewish-American businessman Tony Ressler also expressed gratitude for Geffen’s contribution.

Geffen, 74, is a movie and music mogul who founded Asylum and Geffen records and co-founded DreamWorks SKG with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The son of parents who met in what was then Palestine, his estimated net worth is $7.8 billion.

From left: Friends of Sheba Medical Center Executive Director Nina Lieberman, honoree Shannon Massachi and gala emcee John Lithgow. Photo courtesy of Friends of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.


Actor John Lithgow hosted the Friends of Sheba Medical Center’s 47th anniversary gala, “Embracing Our Future,” on Oct. 15 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Philanthropists Robert and Beverly Cohen co-chaired the event, which drew 725 guests and raised more than $2.5 million for the medical center in Tel Hashomer, Israel. The funds will be used to support Sheba Medical Center’s new neonatology center. Sheba’s Department of Neonatology and Neonatal Intensive Care is one of the largest in Israel and births approximately 170,000 babies annually, including those born prematurely or requiring intensive care treatment.

Keynote speaker Dr. Tzipi Strauss, chief of neonatology at Sheba Medical Center, discussed Sheba’s work in advancing neonatal care.

Meanwhile, Lithgow presented Shannon Massachi, an e-commerce entrepreneur who has helped promote and advance Sheba’s medical research and pediatric neuro-oncology work, with the Laurel of Leadership award. After dinner, the Ruth Flinkman-Marandy and Ben Marandy family received the Professor Mordechai Shani Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their support for education, art, research, health, Israel and Sheba Medical Center.

Attendees included Marilyn Ziering, who announced a $1 million donation; Max Webb; Soraya and Younes Nazarian; Stanley Black; Jean and Jerry Friedman; and Dina Leeds.

Lithgow’s appearance included the reading of an original fairy tale about the life-saving work of the medical center, written by Hollywood writer and producer Jeff Astrof. The fairy tale featured a tiger and a goat — natural enemies — meeting and becoming friends through their life-saving treatment at Sheba Medical Center.

— Esther Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer