Jewish Journal


August 14, 2003

Michael Aushenker


House Party

What's green on the outside and has more than 2,000 of Los Angeles' sharpest legal minds on the inside? The Wiltern Theatre, when it became the site of Bet Tzedek Legal Services' seventh annual Justice Ball.

Bet Tzedek -- known as the "House of Justice" -- provides free legal representation to low-income, elderly and disabled L.A. County residents. The nonprofit law center courts young legal professionals with this hip fundraiser, which was held for the first time at the Wiltern.

The Koreatown landmark -- with its mint green, art deco edifice and a dazzling interior that was renovated a decade ago -- provided a unique setting for a night of live music.

File this case under "fro vs. faux fro" as the high-haired, multiplatinum funk diva Macy Gray shared a stage with tongue-in-cheek, big wig-wearing disco cover band The Boogie Knights, which ensured that the '70s dance music was "stayin' alive" all evening long.

Gray galvanized the crowd with '70s R & B-flavored songs. Just three days shy of the release of her latest album, "The Trouble With Being Myself," Gray played a mix of hits and new songs from her third collection. "Oblivion" -- off her second CD, "The Id" -- practically got the men in the room doing a hora with its klezmeresque instrumentation.

Was Gray apprehensive about playing her sample-heavy music before hundreds of lawyers?

"We thought it was gonna be real stuffy," Gray told The Circuit backstage after the show. "But everyone was partying. We had fun."

Before the concert, special presentations were made -- courtesy of Lara Kaplan, wife of Justice Ball creator Randall Kaplan -- to actors Joshua Malina ("The West Wing") and Camryn Manheim ("The Practice") for their solid and long-running support of Bet Tzedek.

Much was made of Malina's $50,000 win on "Jeopardy," in which he earmarked his winnings toward the House of Justice.

"The real winner," Malina said, "are the heroes of Bet Tzedek ... the volunteers who give their energy, time and passion [to helping those who can't afford legal services]."

Also in attendance: Timothy Busfield ("The West Wing"), Tom Everett Scott ("ER"), former Anti-Defamation League Western Region head David Lehrer, and Bet Tzedek's immediate past executive director, David Lash, who brought wife, Beth Becker, and daughter, Drew, to the party.

This year's Justice Ball turned out to be the most successful ball yet, raising more than $424,000, according to Lash's successor, Bet Tzedek Executive Director Mitch Kamin.

"I got a lot of calls from people trying to get tickets," said Lash, who, after nearly a decade at Bet Tzedek, left his post in April. Apparently, some things never change.

Military Tutorial

"If you really want to support Israel, then supporting a hesder yeshiva is the perfect way," said Internet businessman Jason Ciment at the Capstone Brunch for the Kiryat Shemona College of Jewish Studies, which was held at the home of Jack and Rachel Gindi.

The northern Galilee city of Kiryat Shemona is often attacked with Kaytusha rockets, so the yeshiva doubles as a community center, where soldiers mentor area youngsters with bar/bat mitzvah lessons and Jewish enrichment classes.

Rabbi Zefania Drori, who started the Kiryat Shemona College, made the trip to Los Angeles for the brunch, which attracted 100 people and raised money to put the capstone in the yeshiva's walls.

Drori was joined by Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador the United Nations, the Simon Weisenthal Center's Rabbi Abraham Cooper and brunch chair Lee Samson. -- Gaby Wenig, Contributing Writer

Shining Starr

Dr. Uri Herscher, founding president/CEO of the Skirball Cultural Center, has announced the appointment of Lori Starr as director of the Skirball Museum. Starr currently serves as the Skirball's senior vice president.

Starr will guide the Skirball as construction continues on the new Winnick Hall and Ziegler Amphitheater, scheduled to open in September 2004.

Bonding with Bonds

Richard Ziman, Arden Realty CEO, was honored by State of Israel Bonds at a national real estate dinner that topped $46 million in bond sales.

Ziman, Israel Bonds' co-chairman in Los Angeles, received a limited edition representation of a menorah designed by Salvador Dali.

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