All About Aviva
It was a night of stargazing...and trying unsuccessfully to spot any flaws on the amazing "Desperate Housewife" Teri Hatcher, when Aviva Family and Children's Services presented its annual Triumph of the Spirit Awards Gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. The evening sparkled as honorees recognized with Aviva Spirit of Compassion awards included Carolyn Strauss, president of HBO Entertainment; actress Raven; restaurateur and architectural designer Barbara Lazaroff, president of Imaginings Interior Design and partner and co-founder of the Wolfgang Puck group of businesses; and community leader and philanthropist Susan Casden. Hatcher served as honorary dinner chair, Jeff Garlin emceed and Macy Gray and Melissa Manchester performed.
Aviva is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, multiservice agency that provides care and treatment to abandoned, neglected, abused and at-risk youth in the greater Los Angeles community.
For more information, visit www.avivacenter.org.
Bless the Beasts
It was a great day for our feathered and furry friends June 17 as the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association(GLAZA) honored Disney for its legacy of support for animals and conservation at the 36th annual Beastly Ball. The event is always one of the most highly anticipated of the season and was attended by more than 900 guests. The $1,147,000 in proceeds go toward the development of exhibits, conservation, programming, education programs, research and other programs for the city-owned Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Disney, which underwrote the event, also made a $100,000 donation.
The event was co-chaired by the beloved Emmy-award winning "Golden Girl" and animal activist Betty White and Lori Winters Samuels, both long-time GLAZA trustees. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook accepted the 2006 GLAZA Award from GLAZA President Connie Morgan as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other notables walked about, noshing goodies and enjoying the zoo residents.
Disney's animal legacy dates back to its earliest films, including "Bambi," (and we all remember the unmentionable part with Bambi's mom) to more recent titles like "The Lion King."
This year was made more memorable because of the entertainment by jazz vocalist Steve Tyrell.
At the Bar
It was a moving and inspirational evening at LACMA May 31 when the Beverly Hills Bar Association honored attorney E. Randol Schoenberg as Outstanding Attorney for Justice for recovering five Nazi-looted Gustav Klimt paintings for Maria Altmann.
A moving film about the struggle of Altmann to regain her family's treasured Gustav Klimt paintings began the evening and culminated in a showing of the artwork. After battling the Austrian government for years, Schoenberg's efforts not only secured the paintings for Altmann, but paved the way for other families to regain their art treasures as well.
The Sporting Life
It was prizes and fun galore and the best goody bags of any event, as always, at the 28th annual Sports Sweepstakes June 5 at the Beverly Hilton. The signature fundraiser for Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services was host to more than 500 guests and chaired by Stanley Black, who created this fundraiser, with Bob Barth as the dinner chair. The evening raised funds for the 5,500 troubled and at-risk youths and their families served by Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services and its divisions annually.
A True Hacham
Roughly 1,000 members of the local Iranian Jewish community crowded the main sanctuary at the Nessah Cultural Center in Beverly Hills on June 11th for prayers marking the first anniversary of the passing of Hacham Yedidia Shofet, the late spiritual icon for Iranian Jews both in Iran and the United States. For nearly seven decades, Shofet, who died at 96, served both as a religious leader and as the liaison representing Iran's Jewish community before the Shah's government in Iran. Shofet joined the thousands of Jews who left Iran following the 1979 Iranian revolution and in Southern California continued to serve as a religious leader for Iranian Jews living in America. Community leaders and close friends spoke of Shofet's remarkable speaking ability and compassionate leadership style.
"Hacham Yedidia proved that he had the leadership ability to help maintain our sense of Judaism and the community warmly accepted him," said Dr. H. Kermanshahchi, one of the founders of the Iranian American Jewish Federation.
Last October, nearly 90 religious and social leaders from Southern California's Iranian Jewish community formally recognized Shofet's son, Rabbi David Shofet as the community's new spiritual leader. -- Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer
Heroes Among Us
June 7 was a time to honor two community heroes as University Synagogue hosted its "Heroes Among Us" event honoring Susan Corwin with the inaugural Margaret Zaas Avodah Award for Community Service. The award is named after Zaas, a local and beloved resident who dedicated her life to helping others and spent 16 years at New Directions, a residential rehabilitation program for homeless and addicted veterans. Corwin initiated the Mitzvah Corps program at University Synagogue in 2002 and created programming that extends into the community including a Shabbat shuttle and bikur cholim program. She has launched support groups for people with aging parents, a cancer survivors network, parents of special needs children and the gay and lesbian social outreach. Corwin is also the Regional Representative for the Los Angeles Area and Pacific Southwest Council of the Union for Reform Judaism.
The evening also honored Richard Weintraub as Educator of the Year, for his long-standing history of working with and on behalf of youth at University Synagogue. Weintraub was the president of the California Council on Children and Youth, and supervisor of the Dare Plus Program, an after-school program for at-risk youth.