The Jewish dating Web site JDate recently announced results from a study that claims the site is responsible for facilitating more Jewish marriages than all other dating Web sites combined. The study, commissioned in-house by JDate’s parent company, Spark Networks, and conducted by the research company ResearchNow, reportedly was based on a survey of 948 Jewish Internet users who have married since 2003. Of those surveyed, 52 percent said they met their match on JDate, compared with Match.com, which facilitated 17 percent, and eHarmony, which can claim 10 percent.
Haim Saban is sitting at the head of the table in his conference room on the 26th floor of his Century City tower offices. Here, he is kingpin, an image strongly reinforced by where he sits, as well as the attentiveness of his traditionally dressed office butler, who ducks in and out of the meeting continuously, pouring Pellegrino and serving cappuccinos.
Jews are always talking about how Israel needs better PR — in Hebrew, hasbara, a term that connotes something between promotion and propaganda — so it’s worth asking, with so many Israelis working in Hollywood, what are they doing about it?
If you want to pack a ballroom full of Jews, try this theme: Hollywood and Israel.
One day last spring, Jill Schary-Robinson Shaw was walking through a quiet, darkened corridor in the long-term care unit at The Motion Picture Home, the iconic Woodland Hills nursing home for entertainment industry veterans and their families. Hardly anyone was around — lights were dim, residents alone in their rooms — as Schary-Robinson Shaw, the daughter of Isadore “Dore” Schary, who ran MGM in the 1950s, wheeled her husband, Stuart Shaw, a resident of the home, around his desolate indoor neighborhood.
It is 7 a.m. on a Friday, 12 hours before Shabbat, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has a dozen meetings ahead of him — an office Torah study, lunch with a network head, coffee with a potential employee, a new book to promote, a few TV shows to pitch and several family errands that will take him from Beverly Hills to Century City to Glendale to downtown Los Angeles and back again, plus a 40-minute walk from his hotel on Rodeo Drive to his brother’s house in Pico-Robertson — all before candlelighting.
Shabbat dinner with Shmuley Boteach and his family in Los Angeles is called for 8 p.m. But since I’ve spent all day with him and am, frankly, exhausted, I find myself power walking through Pico-Robertson 40 minutes late and absolutely petrified that I’m about to open the door and disrupt a serene Shabbos table in the middle of Kiddush.
Every year, one of Hollywood’s top talent representatives invites a group of industry executives and tastemakers to visit Israel for the first time. Although it’s nearly impossible to get on David Lonner’s guest list, you can get a taste of his trip as he shares his favorite, not-to-be-missed Holy Land hot spots.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance (MOT) once again proved that flaunting a cuddly relationship with Hollywood helps boost its cause. This year’s national tribute dinner, honoring director-producer team Ron Howard and Brian Grazer along with three recipients of the organization’s Medal of Valor award, attracted one of the most star-studded crowds in recent years. Some of the industry’s heaviest heavyweights — including DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Disney President/CEO Bob Iger and actor Russell Crowe — gathered in the Beverly Wilshire ballroom for a two-hour homage to MOT’s human rights work.
Doreen Seidler-Feller is in her kitchen fetching a glass of water as her husband, in the living room, is mulling over what might be most difficult about being married to her.
TreePeople, the environmental nonprofit committed to greening Los Angeles with trees, received a $50,000 donation on Feb. 24 from the Sempra Energy Foundation for reforestation efforts in the San Bernardino Mountains.
TreePeople Gets $50,000 for Reforestation
Hillel 818 held its ninth annual dinner celebration at Valley Beth Shalom on Jan. 28, honoring professors Donald Bleich, Zev Garber and Rita R. Werner with Distinguished Educator Awards. The dinner centerpieces, filled with needed school supplies, were donated to Community Build, an organization that helps at-risk youth. Hillel 818 represents more than 8,000 Jewish students at Pierce and Los Angeles Valley colleges and CSUN.
Gloria Steinem, the world-renowned feminist activist, writer and founder of Ms. Magazine, received an award from the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP) during a sold-out fund-raiser at the home of Eric Shore and Fred Paul in Beverly Hills on March 16.
Temple Beth Am and Pressman Academy celebrated Rabbi Emeritus Joel Rembaum for his 25 years of leadership and service to the Conservative synagogue at a gala dinner at the Universal Hilton on Jan. 30. Rembaum has served as Temple Beth Am’s senior rabbi since 1985 and will soon retire. Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys), L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Consul General of Israel Jacob Dayan attended to see Rembaum presented with the Etz Chaim Award for Distinguished Service in Education. During the dinner, Rembaum was honored for his spirituality, commitment to Israel and passion for Jewish education.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) feted litigator Wayne Barsky, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, with the 30th annual Learned Hand Award on March 17. Barsky is considered a leading figure in intellectual property law, and the dinner attracted many of Los Angeles’ top attorneys, judges and community leaders, including Barsky’s longtime partner and friend, Scott Edelman, who presented him with the award.
It’s tough to be religious in Hollywood.
How could it be otherwise, since the industry itself demands absolute devotion? Ask anyone how they got their start, and they’ll tell you amusing stories about early bosses who treated them like indentured servants.
Jewish Women International celebrated their 12th annual group of “Women to Watch” by honoring IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous with one of its 10 national awards.
Essayist and novelist Lori Gottlieb, who has written a great deal about her own life, including her choice to become a single mom, has a new book out with some tart advice for picky single women: “Settle!” She talked with The Journal about the importance of shared values, why falling in love doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthy marriage and why she blames feminism for messing up her love life.
More than 300 entertainment executives and supporters of West Coast American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro gathered to honor Avi Lerner, independent film producer and co-chairman of Nu Image and Millennium Films, for his support of special-needs children. The annual West Coast gala dinner took place Dec. 2 at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in West Los Angeles, where Dr. Shlomo and Ilana Melmed as well as Dennis and Myra Monk were also honored for their philanthropic support of the organization.
While visiting Israel with The Jewish Federation’s Real Estate and Construction Division last November, Bryan Berkett snuck away from the group to check on a little project he had going.
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life has formally partnered with City Year, the national service corps organization, to promote civic engagement among young Jewish adults. The move, which affects Jewish students from more than 25 college campuses, represents a rare large-scale partnership between a Jewish and secular organization.
Josh Neuman is the publisher of Heeb magazine, which offers an irreverent and often satirical take on the intersection of American Jewish life and popular culture. He talks here about the rumors that Heeb is folding, what sort of Jews you find in Hollywood and why he once dressed Roseanne Barr as Hitler.
Despite a tense giving environment, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust reported a 50 percent increase in attendance at their second annual fundraising dinner, which took place at The Beverly Hills Hotel on Nov. 8.
The America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) may not be the biggest or best-known Jewish philanthropy in the United States, but on the Israeli creative arts scene it is one of the most influential players.
Grammy-nominated artists attracted 800 music lovers to Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services’ first annual jazz festival.
Nooshin Meshkaty, Beverly Hills Board of Education president, and Beverly LeMay, program manager for the Museum of Tolerance’s Tools for Tolerance, are working together to expand character education for elementary and middle school students.
“Tonight we’ve heard from a small Jew, a medium-sized Jew, and now we’re about to hear from the world’s biggest Jew,” comedian Ray Romano cracked to an auditorium full of Hollywood bigwigs.
Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of “The Twilight Saga,” is 6 feet tall with straight blonde hair, a pale complexion and a long, slim nose. Not exactly the most ethnic mien imaginable.
A diverse group of do-gooders, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israel’s “disco rabbi,” Yitzhak Dovid Grossman, were among those honored on Oct. 13 by the Caring Institute, the Mother Teresa-inspired nonprofit, which promotes the values of caring, integrity and large-scale public service.
Corky Hale, a Jewish jazz musician, who turns out tunes on the piano and harp, celebrated the release of her new CD, “Corky Hale and Friends - I’m Glad There Is You,” during a swingin’ soiree held at Bel Air’s Vibrato on Sept. 21.
Dentist to the stars Dr. Jay Grossman attended A Smile for Every Child, a Sept. 10 gala for his nonprofit Homeless Not Toothless. The local organization has brought together nearly three-dozen Los Angeles-area dental offices to provide free care to the homeless and underserved.
Democrats for Israel (DFI) gathered at a private Beverlywood home on Sept. 13 for its annual Garden Party fundraiser.
Rob Kutner is a veteran comedy writer for “The Daily Show” and author of the tongue-in-cheek “Apocalypse How” (Running Press, 2008). Having just returned to Los Angeles to work for “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien,” he talks about being an observant Jew in Hollywood, why George W. Bush is more fun to write about than President Obama and why he doesn’t believe you ever really “make it” in Hollywood.
Howie Mandel, host of “Deal or No Deal,” paid a visit to the Chabad Drug Treatment Center in Los Angeles, where director Kevin Bright, co-creator of “Friends,” filmed a documentary of his visit. The short segment, which includes Mandel putting on tefillin with Rabbi Chaim Cunin, will air during the upcoming 29th annual Chabad “To Life” Telethon. The telethon airs Sept. 13.
Daoud Nassar is talking to a large group of Jews gathered on his 100-acre farm in the West Bank, which lies southwest of his native Bethlehem. Nassar explains that his property has no running water, no electricity, and he’s forbidden from building on it. An Arab-Christian Palestinian educated in Austria and Germany, Nassar lives on land purchased by his great-grandfather in 1916, which has remained in the family throughout Ottoman rule, the British Mandate and Jordanian control. In 1991, Israel declared his farm property of the state and pulled the plug on its utilities. Twice, neighboring Israeli settlers damaged his property, uprooting trees and puncturing a water tank. For the past 12 years, Nassar has been embroiled in an expensive legal battle trying to win back ownership — or, at least, a building permit. So far, he has only succeeded in accruing more than $140,000 in legal fees, an amount barely offset by growing almonds, olives and grapes.
J.J. Abrams is responsible for some of the most beloved entertainment of the past two decades. He is the writer/creator of the television dramas “Felicity,” “Alias,” “Lost” and “Fringe.”
Among Hollywood’s most sought-after publicists, Howard Bragman, 53, has a celebrity clientele that includes Stevie Wonder, Ricki Lake, Mischa Barton and Ed McMahon. In 1989, he founded Bragman Nyman Cafarelli Public Relations and Marketing (BNC), which became one of the premier PR firms in the country before it was sold in 2001. In 2005, he founded Fifteen Minutes, his own boutique agency, where he specializes in entertainment, crisis management and the gay/lesbian market.
On a rainy December morning at Marta Kauffman’s office at Warner Bros. Studios, the producer’s assistant brought in some good news:
For every 100,000 babies born, 6,500 mothers die in the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan due to unavailable or inadequate medical care. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, violent conflicts over control of its rich mineral deposits have killed more people than the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Darfur combined.
Pressman was a founding father of Camp Ramah in California, University of Judaism (now American Jewish University), Brandeis-Bardin Institute and Los Angeles Hebrew High School, among other projects
The Jewish character has become the American Jewish character, disassociated from an ethnic history and assimilated into American culture. And the assimilation hasn't only been for Jews.
" . . . In a business deal, he's going to try to kill for you, and its just going to be about putting as much money in your pocket as he can, until you tell him that there's something else that's important to you . . . " -- Aaron Sorkin
" . . . Do I like to have fun? Yeah. Do I like to enjoy myself, enjoy my life? Yeah. But I'm not a decadent person. I'm not into dark stuff. I'm just a nice Jewish kid from Miami Beach who loves movies and pretty girls . . . ."
The U'netaneh Tokef prayer-poem (who shall live and who shall die) can be seen as ominous or beautiful, depending upon the prism of the interpreter. Rabbi Naomi Levy pointed out that the prayer was written by "one dude" and should not be seen as a divine writ.
Watch the Torah Slam in this video from our friends at the Jewish Television Network
For as long as rabbis have been arguing Talmud, their wives have been at home preparing Shabbat dinner. Yet that image, along with expectations for clergy spouses, has evolved. For one, they're no longer all women. They're no longer always hovering in the background. And they're not always different genders.
Photo: Rabbi Brian, Rabbi Deborah and Heshel Schuldenfrei
Rhoda Weisman, executive director of the Professional Leaders Project, which is designed to engender and support a new generation of leaders in the Jewish community, talks about why the Jewish establishment needs to change, why young leaders are just as crucial as big donors and what it's like to be a woman at the top.
Talent manager Joan Hyler makes slow, steady progress after a life-threatening accident.
The bulk of the upswing in support has come from synagogues, where lay leaders have taken an active role in engaging with legislators, and rabbis increasingly use their pulpits to educate congregants on how to support the Jewish state short of living there
Scene & Heard
Tony Snow declared himself "the sacrificial lamb" the moment he stepped on stage at Universal Studios Gibson Amphitheatre, rightly anticipating a rough tumble with the provocative HBO pundit Bill Maher during the final installment of American Jewish University's (AJU) 2008 Public Lecture
What bestselling author Jennifer Weiner remembers most about her bat mitzvah is her hair.
"It was really unfortunate hair, really tragic -- like short and feathered and awful," said Weiner, author of "In Her Shoes," which was adapted as a 2005 film starring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette.
Current statistics suggests that, even though France is depicted as less than empathetic to the Jewish community, the Jewish population there has actually grown.
Local Students Lobby at the Capitol
A group of University Synagogue religious school students paid a springtime visit to Washington, D.C., where they