June 12, 2003
"One land, one people, one bond."
A powerful slogan for any organization, but all the more powerful coming from State of Israel Bonds, which held its "Women of Power" annual spring luncheon, organized by Israel Bonds' Golda Meir Club, at the Four Seasons Hotel.
This year's gifted females in the spotlight: Grammy-nominated pianist sister act Mona Golabek and Renee Golabek-Kaye, overachieving Jewish community volunteer Annette Shapiro and Michele Bohbot, who with life partner and business partner Marc Bohbot, forged a fashion empire with their Bisou Bisou label.
More than 200 people packed the luncheon, which was a who's who of Mrs. Hollywood: Marilyn Hall, wife of "Let's Make a Deal" host Monty, and Shirley Turtletaub, wife of veteran TV producer Saul Turtletaub and mother of feature film director Jon Turtletaub. And, of course, there was the grand dame herself, beloved emcee Rhea Kohan, wife of veteran TV writer Buzz and mother of "Will & Grace" co-creator David, who kept the crowd in stitches with her verbal sleight of hand.
Kohan wasted no time skewering the other end of women with power: Heidi Fleiss, Monica Lewinsky and Anna Nicole Smith.
Shapiro, who has contributed to the Los Angeles Jewish Community Foundation, The Jewish Federation and Beit T'Shuvah, was visibly moved by her honor. She thanked husband, Leonard, for supporting her volunteer efforts in the Jewish community over the years.
"My husband and I," Shapiro said, "we share our 55th anniversary within a month of the State of Israel."
The Fez, Morocco-born Bohbot, who moved to Los Angeles from Paris in 1987 and helped build a company that nets $80 million annually and has 350 employees, touched on the anti-Semitism she encountered in both Morocco and France. The mother of seven shared her Jewish pride with the room and her glee with her husband, who was in the audience waiting with a bouquet.
Before performing at the function, Golabek and Golabek-Kaye told the poignant story of how parents Michel and Lisa, through good fortune, survived the Holocaust to find each other. The sisters said that their mother, before she passed away, urged them to always use their talents, as Mona put it, "In service of your people, in service of Israel and for the betterment of mankind."
Carole Shnier, who is on the committee to organize Israel Bonds' fall mother-daughter fashion show, has enjoyed being active with the organization since 1997.
"It's been rewarding in terms of meeting interesting people," Shnier said, adding that she believes in the cause -- supporting Israel.
Investing in Israel Bonds is an investment in Israel's economy, stressed organizers. The champions of State of Israel Bonds -- the Western region's own women of power, including club President Beverly Cohen and Women's Division Director Myrtle Sitowitz -- explained the mechanics of how contributing to the organization multiplies financial support for Israel. For example, buying bonds at a $750 annual investment over five years translates into $100,000 windfall for various areas of Israel's infrastructure.
Also in attendance: Iris Rothstein, luncheon co-chair with Hall; Joyce Black; Diane Glaser; Marilyn Ziering; Rosalie Zalis; Beverly Hills Courier publisher March Schwartz; and Mr. Blackwell, whose introduction made everybody in the room just a tad fashion conscious.
The American Jewish Committee's (AJC) Los Angeles chapter honored John Mack, the Los Angeles Urban League's president since 1969, with the C.I. Neumann Lifetime Achievement Award at its 58th annual meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Both organizations have been "successful in making Los Angeles a more livable city for all people," said Peter Weil, AJC chapter president.
During his acceptance speech, Mack emphasized that no one group has a monopoly on virtue or vice. Reducing the city's growing violence is not just a "problem for African Americans or the poor," he said. "We need everyone to be involved."
Mack believes that geographic divides compound Los Angeles' problems and that there is a need to redouble efforts to get to know each other.
"Mutual respect can get us through the difficult times," Mack told The Circuit, adding that he would like to see Angelenos "reinvigorate the enthusiasm of the Tom Bradley era."
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector of the University of Judaism, delivered the keynote address on the future of interfaith work. He said that while religious pluralism challenges us on a deep philosophical level, it's crucial to learn the traditions of others in a city with such tremendous diversity.
"You need to learn to get along," Dorff said. "Interfaith relations are not just a matter of not killing each other."
Also in attendance: City Council members Bernard Parks, Jack Weiss and Wendy Gruel; City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo; Police Chief William Bratton; Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Rabbi Harvey Fields; Julie Korenstein, Board of Education president; KTLA reporter Larry McCormick, and Dr. Steven Windmueller, director of the Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Service at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor