November 19, 2018

Moving & Shaking: IAC Raises $16.5 million; Moonves Honored

From left: Yehoram Gaon, Haim Saban, Shawn Evenhaim, and Miriam and Sheldon Adelson attend the Israeli-American Council gala at the Beverly Hilton. Photo by Idan Ozeri-Tal.

Pro-Israel philanthropists Sheldon and Miriam Adelson announced a $13 million donation to the Israeli-American Council (IAC) during the organization’s 10th annual gala on March 18 at the Beverly Hilton.

The Adelsons’ pledge was by far the largest of the event, which raised more than $16.5 million. Additional donors included Haim Saban, who pledged $1 million.

“The IAC has achieved remarkable progress in advancing its historic mission,” Sheldon Adelson said in a statement. “We are deeply invested in the organization’s long-term success and its vision of a coast-to-coast community with Israel in its heart. This is an investment in the future generations of Jewish Americans and the State of Israel.”

An IAC Board of Directors statement issued in appreciation of the Adelsons’ generosity said the couple are “among the great Jewish leaders of our time.”

“Their bold vision, passionate leadership, and unmatched generosity have been an inspiration to all of us, and have propelled the IAC’s rapid growth and great success,” the IAC statement said. “We look forward to partnering with the Adelsons in the years ahead to further the rapid growth of our community and our donor base, working together to make a historic impact for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

The 10-year-old IAC is one of the fastest-growing Jewish organizations in the country.

IAC Chairman Adam Milstein told gala attendees that the IAC owed its growth to a “strong nationwide movement … rooted in our unequivocal love and support for our Jewish homeland, the State of Israel.”

Keynote speaker Rabbi Avraham Infeld said that 250 years ago, Jews understood that being Jewish wasn’t necessarily being part of a religion but being a part of a people. Today, he said, many Jews view Judaism as solely a religion, to the detriment of the community at large.

“We are living in a period in which the concept of a Jewish people has almost been forgotten,” Infeld said.

The gala featured a performance by Israeli singer Yehoram Gaon and a video message from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We’re winning,” Netanyahu said in the video. “Israel is winning. Israel has never been stronger.”

Aaron Bandler, Contributing Writer

From left: Pico Shul Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and Rebbetzin Rachel Bookstein present the Pico Shul Couple of the Year Award to Lemor and Shuki Greer. Photo by Ryan Torok.

Pico-Robertson Orthodox congregation Pico Shul held its annual fundraising dinner, The Dinner Party, on March 21 at The Mark.

During the charity soiree, Pico Shul Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and Rebbetzin Rachel Bookstein presented its Pico Shul Couple of the Year award to Lemor and Shuki Greer, who have played an integral role in growing the Pico Shul community.

“Pico Shul is more than just a place to daven, a place to pray,” Lemor Greer said upon accepting the award. “It really is a community, a group of people who have come together with a similar mindset who dedicate themselves both to being religious and being proud of their Judaism, and also being open and accepting to everybody.”

Additional honorees included Legacy Trustee Jeremy Kagan, a film and television director and Pico Shul supporter.

Before honoring Kagan, Bookstein showed a video montage featuring clips from many of the director’s films, including “The Chosen,” a 1981 drama adapted from the Chaim Potok novel of the same name. Bookstein said Kagan’s films have tackled some of the greatest issues facing the American Jewish community in recent history.

The Booksteins also recognized Neuriel Shore, a Jewish communal professional who led the congregation’s men’s club for several years.

Pico Shul, located in a rented Pico-Robertson storefront, attracts observant young professionals, many of whom are returning to Judaism after years of leading nonpracticing lives.

In addition to leading Pico Shul, Rabbi Bookstein runs programs that seek to serve Jews where they are, rather than waiting for Jews to come to them. These efforts include Shabbat Tent, which arranges for Shabbat services at unlikely settings, including music and film festivals.

“[Bookstein] goes to places where there is no Judaism and puts on Judaism in all these different events,” said Ramtin Rafiee, who works in real estate and attended the dinner with his wife, Sherene. “He shows people you can be Jewish and have fun.”

The event drew about 150 attendees, including shul supporters Cheston Mizel and Josh Kaplan, and congregants Fabian Lijtmaer, Ronit Aranoff and Marcus Freed.

Beverly Hills Synagogue Rabbi Pini Dunner (left) presents the “Gibor Yisrael” Award to Ernie Goldberger, a Holocaust survivor who fought for Israel during the-then fledgling country’s War of Independence. Photo courtesy of Beverly Hills Synagogue.

Celebrating Israel’s upcoming 70th birthday, Beverly Hills Synagogue Senior Rabbi Pini Dunner on March 18 presented Ernie Goldberger with the “Gibor Yisrael” (“Hero of Israel”) Award, in recognition of his heroism and bravery during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

The presentation was made during the synagogue’s annual fundraiser, which drew more than 250 guests to the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Goldberger, 90, a Holocaust survivor born in Romania, arrived in Palestine in 1944, and the Palmach recruited him in 1946. He supplied Israel’s defenders with munitions before an injury prompted him to move to the United States. Since coming to the U.S., Goldberger has earned a living in the jewelry business and supported numerous synagogues and charities.

The evening event drew more than 250 guests, who watched a newly produced mini-documentary about the honoree’s extraordinary life.

Speakers included Simon Wiesenthal Center founder and dean Rabbi Marvin Hier.

Beverly Hills Synagogue is a Modern Orthodox Zionist congregation that has served the Beverly Hills Jewish community since 1991.

From left: Sinai Temple Rabbi Nicole Guzik, longtime Sinai Temple member Malcolm Cosgrove, Sinai Temple Cantor and honoree Marcus Feldman, and Sinai Temple Men’s Club President Mark Haloossim celebrate at the Sinai Temple Men’s Club Burning Bush gala. Photo courtesy of Sinai Temple.

The Sinai Temple Men’s Club held its 31st annual Burning Bush gala, honoring Sinai Temple Rabbi Erez Sherman and Cantor Marcus Feldman, on March 18.

The Burning Bush Awards are presented annually to men and women of the Sinai community who represent strong Jewish values, unwavering support of Israel and a deep commitment to giving back. A Sinai Temple spokesperson described this year’s recipients as “pillars of Sinai Temple … deeply defined by their Jewish identities.”

Sherman’s award was presented to him by his colleague and longtime friend, Sinai Temple Rabbi Jason Fruithandler.

Fruithandler spoke of Sherman’s unwavering commitment to both his family and his synagogue, where Sherman’s wife, Rabbi Nicole Guzik, is also on the clergy team. He described Sherman as Sinai’s “Yes Man,” always willing to solve problems and make things happen.

In presenting Feldman with his award. Guzik highlighted the cantor’s ability to infuse joy and a love of Judaism, through song, into everyone he comes across.

The evening also raised more than $100,000 for two critical Jewish organizations, Beit T’Shuvah and the Israel Air Force Center Foundation.

Sinai Men’s Club members Farideh and Farshad Rafii co-chaired the gala.

Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) honoree Leslie Moonves (left) and SWC dinner chairman Jon Feltheimer pose at the SWC’s annual national tribute dinner. Photo by Benjamin Shmikler / ©ABImages.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) drew more than 800 guests to its annual gala at the Beverly Hilton on March 22, which raised $2.6 million to fund the center’s worldwide battles against anti-Semitism, threats to Israel’s existence and the rising wave of right-wing racism swelling in Europe.

Speakers who addressed those threats were Rabbi Marvin Hier, SWC’s founder and dean; SWC’s Executive Director Meyer H. May; and Hollywood studio executive and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. The latter shared master of ceremonies duties with television host James Corden.

The recipient of the evening’s top honor, the 2018 Humanitarian Award, went to Leslie Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corp.

Moonves is a semi-distant relative of Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who was honored posthumously with SWC’s Medal of Valor.

Among other entertainment industry leaders in attendance were Paramount CEO Jim Gianpulos, NBC Universal’s Ron Meyer, producer Brian Grazer, producer Burt Sugarman with his wife, Mary Hart, and the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter.

Another Medal of Valor winner was Raheel Raza, a Pakistan-born Islamic woman who delivered a surprisingly gutsy speech about her work in opposing her country’s and her religion’s male domination and their shared hostility toward Israel.

Raza noted that, while the Muslim establishment has ranked her as the sixth most-hated Islamic activist in the world, she was striving for the No. 1 spot.

Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

2011 top ten anti-Israel/anti-Semitic slurs

For the last two years, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights NGO, has compiled a list of the top ten anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs. The list continues to reflect the growing global anti-Semitism and de-legitimization of Israel coming from mainstream voices. It does not include statements by terrorist organizations, the lunatic fringe, or the government of Iran.

These citings should serve as a wake-up call to those who believe that such rants are the exclusive domain of Neo-Nazis and crackpots.

1. “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and the birthplace of Jesus Christ peace be upon him, to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people…”

– Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his UN General Assembly address, September 23, 2011. Speaking to the world, Abbas omitted any reference to the Jewish people’s connection to the Holy Land. No reference to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, nor King David, King Solomon, or Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. READ SOURCE…

2. “I would like to see accurate statistics of how many Israelis have been killed by the bombs thrown by Palestinians or with the rockets that were launched by them?…. we know that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were killed… neitherTurkey nor the Muslims in the region have exerted such cruelty on Israel… Israel is inexplicably cruel, against innocent Palestinians, hiding behind the Nazi Holocaust and seeking victimhood…. Everybody knows what Israel is about.”

– Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during CNN Interview with Fareed Zakaria, September 25, 2011. READ SOURCE…

3. “Everything that happens today in the world has to do with the Zionists… American Jews are behind the world economic crisis that has hit Greece also.”

Zorba The Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis, winner of the International Music Council-UNESCO International Music Prize, also told Greek TV that he was “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic,” February 15, 2011. READ SOURCE…

4. “I love Hitler…People like you would be dead.Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f****** gassed,”

– The renowned Christian Dior fashion designer John Galliano was fired and later convicted in a French court for his anti-Semitic rants screamed at Jews in a Paris bar. Galliano later apologized. READ SOURCE…

5. “I understand Hitler… He’s not what you would call a good guy, but yeah, I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I’m not for the Second World War, and I’m not against Jews… I am of course, very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass… I’m very much for Speer. Albert Speer [Hitler’s Architect]… He was also maybe one of God’s best children… Okay, I’m a Nazi.”

– Director Lars Von Trier was thrown out of the Cannes Film Festival after this rant, May 18, 2011. He later apologized. READ SOURCE…

6. “[Jews] want that sucker of Syrian blood to remain and continue to prey and suck blood.They not only want their security, but also to enjoy the sight of Syrian blood being spilled…. Asking myself why Jewish support of Bashar [Assad] increased after they saw the rivers of Syrian blood this mass-murderer spilled in Syrian towns, an old image leapt to my mind, of Jews bleeding people and using their blood to prepare matzas. Logic does not accept this, but the facts prove it.”

– Syrian writer Osama Al-Malouhi, an opponent of President Bashar Assad, posted on an opposition website, October 26, 2011, The Middle East Media Research Institute. READ SOURCE…

7. “Not all the Jews in the world are evil….The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40 percent are not evil.”

– Tawfiq Okasha, a presidential candidate in post-Mubarak Egypt added that among the 40% of ‘non-evil’ Jews there is only one in a million who is blameless and that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is “one of those Jews who adhere to the Zionist ideology…one of the worst ideologies,” Al-Faraeen TV, October 31, 2011. READ SOURCE…

#6 and #7 originally reported in “Praise Arab Spring, Except for Anti-Semitism” by Jeffrey Goldberg. Bloomberg, November 28, 2011

8. “The source that finances and incites all these international organizations… especially in the Arab world… are led by a single, evil organization, known as Zionism. It is behind all these movements, all these civil wars, and all these evils… Jesus Christ healed the sick among the Jews… and resurrected their dead. [How did they repay him?] “They strived to crucify him until he died…”

“Do the people of the opposition [today]… belong to Christianity or to Islam? No. They are deeply rooted in Judaism and in Zionism… Any intelligent person who reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion will see the extent of its influence on the politics of our region and the world.”

– George Saliba, Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon, Al-Dunya TV, July 24, 2011. The Middle East Media Research Institute. READ SOURCE…

9. “Oppose the moral blackmail of the so-called Holocaust! [“Arbeit macht Frei!”]Truth makes free!”

– Hermann Dierkes, leader of the Left Party in Duisburg, Germany, April 2011. Dierkes posted a flyer on the website with a swatiska morphing into a Star of David and called for a boycott of Israeli products, labelling Israel a “rogue state” and a “warmonger.” “Arbeit macht Frei!” is inscribed on the gates of Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz and Dachau. READ SOURCE…

10. “The state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal place… to equate Judaism with the state of Israel is to equate Christianity with [rapper] Flavor Flav.”

– Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a speech to thousands of people, June 14, 2011, Baltimore, Maryland. READ SOURCE…