November 4, 2004
Cast members from the new "Ten Commandments" musical performed for about 120 people at AMIT's Cherish The Children dinner on Oct. 25 at Brentwood's Luxe Hotel, with the organization event raising money for AMIT's 60 schools serving 15,000 at-risk Israeli youth.
"Tonight we honor the vision of 'The Ten Commandments,' pro-active in a child's world," said AMIT National Director Marvin Leiff as AMIT honored BCBGMaxAzria Entertainment's Charles Cohen and Max Azria who co-produced the musical at the Kodak Theatre.
"During these dangerous times for Israel, AMIT takes on even a greater role; to save the forgotten children of Israel," Cohen said. "I really do believe that tonight is about AMIT and its work."
Much of money raised on Oct 25 will be earmarked for food and other basics for AMIT's poverty-stricken charges.
"I think that everybody should concentrate themselves on the kids," Azria said.
Items auctioned off for charity included $4,500 for a private movie screening for 50 people at the Charles Aidkoff screening room in Beverly Hills, plus Tova Moon jewelry, a Beauty By Bella facial and VIP box seats for "The Ten Commandments."
Attending the dinner were AMIT Los Angeles Council President Debbie Herbst, vice-president Joy Volk, AMIT Western Regional Area Director Gail Bershon, actress Deborah Raffin, documentary filmmaker Eva Shpak and Margot Atlas, AMIT's New York-based national director of development.
"Commandments" star Val Kilmer did not attend the dinner, although other cast members performed including ensemble member Spring, who sang "Hatikvah."– David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
Poetry for the Brain
On Oct. 16, UCLA's Royce Hall hosted 800 supporters of Art of the Brain, the fifth annual fundraiser for the school's brain cancer research programs, and named Sinai Temple's Rabbi David Wolpe as one of its five poetic honorees.
Wolpe had a lesion removed from his brain last fall after suffering a seizure. His recovery was documented in one of six poems about brain cancer victims written by members of the Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective.
Actor Leonard Nimoy's son, Adam Nimoy, directed the poetry reading and also his read own work, "Second Chances," about Wolpe, written in Wolpe's first-person voice: "The morning of the surgery, as my bed was wheeled out of the prep room, I said the Shema with the knowledge that this could be the last time."
The evening's other honored brain cancer survivors included firefighter Hank Zavaleta, nurse Aerika Wiseman, computer consultant Richard Jones and Jenna Mathioudakis, an opera singer who performed on the Royce Hall stage. One chair was left empty for brain cancer victim and band manager Steve Richards, who handled heavy metal bands Slipknot and Mudvayne before dying this past March at age 36.
Also honored on Oct. 16 for their philanthropic efforts were UCLA's Dr. Paul Mischel and City National Bank executive vice president Martha Henderson.
Created by brain cancer survivor Judi Kaufman, the five Art of the Brain fundraisers have raised $1 million for UCLA's brain cancer work. This year's event raised $300,000. – DF
Thank God It's Friday
Sinai Temple's first Friday Night Live of the 5765 on Oct. 8 attracted about 1,000 young Jewish professionals, including singles veteran Ken Scalir, who last fall was dubbed the "Una-Dater" by Journal columnist Teresa Strasser for his disheveled appearance at the singles event, but this fall he has cleaned up a bit.
"I cut my hair, I had a manicure the other day," said the 34-year-old Winnetka resident, who added that a recent disastrous date will be on the show "Blind Date" in early December.
One change from prior Friday Night Lives was the folk dancing; it used to be less organized but now is supervised by Israeli folk dancing teacher David Dassa, whose popular weekly classes at Temple Adat Shalom attract about 150 to 200 people.
"He's created a great community," said Culver City middle school science teacher Lisa Niver, whose 37th birthday was celebrated at the Oct. 20 Adat class.
Niver's friend, 24-year-old clothing designer Orly Star said folk dancing, "is one way to stay connected to your culture, through your feet." – DF
In 1953, Rabbi Simcha Wasserman settled in Los Angeles, looked around the city, and realized that it was bereft of an Orthodox Yeshiva. So Wasserman started the West Coast Talmudical Seminary, also known as Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon, located on Waring Boulevard. He named the Yeshiva after his late father, Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, who was a leader of European Jewry during World War II. In the 1970s, when Simcha Wasserman moved to Israel, he transferred the custodianship to Chabad, which maintains Ohr Elchonon as a boys high school yeshiva and post high school rabbinical college.
In Israel, Wasserman continued to establish Ohr Elchanan Yeshivas where young men from all over the world would come to immerse themselves in rabbinic scholarship. His final project, before he died 10 years ago, was to establish an Ohr Elchanan Yeshiva in Tiberias. Now the yeshiva draws students from all over the Gallilee area and the influence of the Yeshiva has helped drop the delinquency and drug rates in the city.
On Nov. 16, friends of Ohr Elchanan will be gathering at Sephardic Temple Tifferet Israel on Wilshire Boulevard at 6:30 p.m. to pay tribute to Wasserman and to raise funds for the Tiberias campus. Tickets are $400 per couple. For more information, call (323) 932-6333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Oct. 20, WIZO held its annual Tribute to Our Members luncheon, hosted at the Beverly Hills home of Aline and Izek Shomof. The guest speaker was Michele Bohbot, president and designer of fashion apparel company Bisou Bisou, who spoke to the organization about the power of women.
WIZO, which is a nonpartisan, voluntary movement of Zionist women, was founded in London in 1920 and has more than a quarter-million members worldwide.
Mickey's Missing Mezuzah
Jewish visitors to the Happiest Place on Earth might have felt a little spiritually unsafe in these past few weeks because the Disneyland mezuzah was stolen. Disneyland Park put up the mezuzah on the west side of Main Street, USA, next to the door of Dr. Benjamin Silverstein in the late 1990s.
According to John McClintock of Disneyland press and publicity, the mezuzah was removed from the park sometime over the last few weeks and has been missing at least since Oct. 9. The park is working on replacing the mezuzah, which McClintock says will happen prior to the start of Chanukah on Dec. 7.
While Disneyland honors its creators with windows along Main Street, Dr. Silverstein is a entirely a work of Disney fiction. He was given a door while Paul Pressler's was president of Disneyland so there would be a place to hang Chanukah decorations (the park is known for its seasonal decorations). Let's just hope for another holiday miracle. – Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer
The Sound of Psalms
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Hasidic mystic of the 18th century, wrote, "You are whereever your thoughts are."
Little did he know that more than 200 years later he would be at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, as his words were sung by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, in a musical composition by Steve Reich and conducted by Grant Gershom. The piece was one of four movements of the evening program "You Are (Variations)" with each movement a setting of a short text. The other three movements were "Shiviti Hashem L'negdi" (I place the Eternal before me) – from Psalm 16, "Explanations come to an end somewhere" from Ludwig Wittgenstein, and "Ehmor m'aht, v'ahsay harbay" (Say little and do much) from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers).
The concert was part of Daniel Pearl Music Day being celebrated around the country.