June 14, 2001
New and Improved
Aish HaTorah celebrated the opening of the completed Aish HaTorah Community Outreach Center last week at its annual banquet at the Beverly Hilton. Doubled in size from the original Pico-Doheny headquarters, the center comes complete with Jerusalem stone exterior, high-tech audio/visual/telecommunication facilities, and numerous rooms and educational facilities.
"We made the center as a portal to Jerusalem," Rabbi Aryeh Markman told The Circuit, "to connect L.A. with Jerusalem and bring back young Jews to their heritage."
Jona and the Whale-of-a-Tribute
At The Jewish Federation's Real Estate and Construction Division's annual banquet, the evening's motto -- A Blueprint for Jewish Philanthropy -- summed up honoree Jona Goldrich.
No stranger to our pages, Goldrich, revered humanitarian and partner, with Sol Kest, of Goldrich & Kest Industries, has a philanthropic record the length of a football field. Aside from establishing the Holocaust Monument at Pan Pacific Park, Goldrich has supported numerous Jewish organizations. The Polish-born freedom fighter, who served in Israel's War of Independence, is a self-made success story. He arrived in Los Angeles and parlayed the $50 in his pocket into a thriving cleaning business before segueing into real estate. Goldrich has demonstrated a combination of business savvy and community connection that has made him the envy -- and the role model -- of many, including Evan Roklen, who manages real estate portfolios for Goldrich, and Steve Bram, the evening's dinner chair.
"He's a superb, energetic and tough businessman. While so many people amass dollars for [themselves], Jona figures out how to give it all away," said Bram. "Jona is one person who leads by example," Roklen said.
Z Valet and Shuttle Service founder Daniel Ziv has considered Goldrich a good friend and a community role model since 1990, when philanthropist Stanley Black introduced him to Goldrich.
"We immediately saw eye to eye on Jewish issues," said Ziv, who will marry economist Gali Fellah in Tel Aviv on July 3.
Gov. Gray Davis, Federation General Chair Michael Koss, and close friends Black and Max Webb all toasted Goldrich from the stage. In the audience: Federation President John Fishel and Executive Vice President William Bernstein; then-campaigning municipal politicians Rocky Delgadillo, Mike Feuer, Tom Hayden, and then-mayoral rivals James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa; Rep. Brad Sherman; Sheriff Lee Baca; Terri Smooke, liaison to Davis; and recent catalyst of Judaic debate Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple.
"In addition to doing a mitzvah, it's good business to give to The Federation," Goldrich said, appreciative of the friends and well- wishers he's met since becoming an active member of the outreach organization 45 years ago. Judging by the 800-plus turnout, Goldrich has met many of them -- his gala was the largest in the division's history.
Don Francisco's Treat
Mario Kreutzberger received his Hollywood Walk of Fame tribute last week. If the name doesn't ring a bell, perhaps it's because he is better known in 42 countries as Don Francisco, the 60-year-old host of the Spanish-language TV program"Sabado Gigante" (Giant Saturday).
The son of Jewish German immigrants who fled Europe for Chile in the late 1930s, Francisco defied his father's dreams of making him a clothing designer and went into entertainment.
The sidewalk star is just the latest honor for Francisco, who has already achieved much acclaim during his 40-year career in entertainment, as well as serving as a UNICEF ambassador, including a decoration from the pope and an entry in "The Guinness Book of World Records" for longest-running program without a rerun.
Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Placido Domingo have all appeared on Francisco's program. Francisco also received Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush during their 2000 presidential campaign.
Francisco, as it turns out, also happens to be the Chilean Regis, hosting the country's "Quien Quiere Ser Millonario" ("Who Wants to Be a Millionaire") since its debut in April.
"Sabado Gigante" can be seen locally Saturdays at 7 p.m. on Univision, KMEX-TV (Channel 34).
Bar Mitzvah Buggy
Alan Fisher contacted The Circuit to tell us that the Movable Minyan celebrated its 13th anniversary with a historical tour of Jewish L.A. Participants partook in home-baked chocolate chip cookies and quickie Torah studies as it hit some Fairfax District sites. Also included was a movable feast even Ol' Man Hemingway would have enjoyed. A video documentary of the minyan's activities was screened post-dessert, including scenes from last year's programming under the leadership of Moshe Ben Asher and Khuldah Bat Sara, in which youngsters performed in senior convalescent homes during the High Holidays.
The Movable Minyan celebrates Shabbat at the Westside Jewish Community Center. For more information, call (310) 285-3317.
Adat Ari El Tribute
More than 350 people gathered at Adat Ari El to honor Sybil and Manny Kaplan of Studio City for their philanthropy, leadership and volunteerism. Manny Kaplan, managing partner of the accounting firm Miller, Kaplan, Arase and Co., has been active in various Jewish organizations, including serving on the board of directors for Camp Ramah, University of Judaism and United Jewish Fund. Sybil Kaplan has served as past president of the Associates of the Jewish Home for the Aging. She also co-founded the San Fernando Valley Region of the Jewish National Fund, and served as its president and chairperson. The Kaplans made a major gift to establish the Sybil and Manny Kaplan Department of Jewish Studies at Adat Ari El Day School.