July 31, 2008
Daphna Ziman praised, Justice Ball raises big bucks for Bet Tzedek
Back in April, Daphna Ziman set off a firestorm when she alleged that African American Rev. Eric P. Lee made anti-Semitic comments at an event in which she was being honored for charity work. In the ensuing months, national newspapers picked up the story (first reported in this paper); eventually the incident was chalked up to a misunderstanding, and Ziman and Lee publicly reconciled.
In praise of her effort to rekindle ties between the Jewish and African American communities, Ziman was recognized by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding on July 22 at Brett Ratner's Benedict Canyon abode, Hillhaven Lodge. The Hollywood playboy actually attended the benefit this year (last year's absence was due to an on-location film shoot) and hosted a mélange of industry players for cocktails and appetizers by the pool.
The foundation, led by Hamptons rabbi Marc Schneier and chaired by music mogul Russell Simmons, promotes dialogue among different ethnic communities. Vicangelo Bulluck, director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, and Jay Faires, president of Lionsgate music were also honored at the L.A. event.
Even while certain members of each community suggest a diminishing relationship among blacks and Jews, the foundation's ability to attract high-powered Hollywood to support its mission is proof that strong ties are still possible.
ACCESS to the Media
"It's the wild west of journalism," columnist Bill Boyarsky declared to a group of young professionals languishing on Judi and Roy Kaufmans' leather couches one recent Sunday afternoon. Boyarsky, who also writes a monthly column and blog for The Journal, was referring to the changing landscape of print journalism, which has been in flux since the advent of new media. The topic served as the focus of American Jewish Committee's ACCESS media forum on July 20.
Five reputable panelists representing print, radio, Internet and a public relations firm sat at the front of the room dishing their expertise. Joel Stein, a Los Angeles Times columnist and contributor to Time magazine, whose bio says he is "desperate for attention," did his very best to crack jokes for an unmoved crowd.
Despite the panelists' best efforts -- good blogging tips, discussion about the future of journalism and the importance of community-building media organizations, -- they couldn't ward off the end-of-weekend blues.
From 'Justice' to 'Glow'
Although the party itself leaves something to be desired, The Justice Ball still has powerful allure. The economic downturn felt throughout the country has only slightly affected Bet Tzedek's second-largest fundraiser of the year. Geared toward young professional types and aspiring philanthropists, the annual event, held July 19 at West Hollywood's The Lot, raised just under $500,000, close to their take at last year's event.
Although there were fewer bodies this year, the clubby party attracted nearly 3,000 Angelenos who donned their dressy duds to check out the scene. With casino tables, outdoor karaoke, music by The Psychedelic Furs and VIP bars spread throughout the former Warner Bros. backlot, event patrons got their fun out of giving. Still, the evening's biggest buzz circulated elsewhere, at Santa Monica's outdoor art experience, "Glow," which became the unofficial afterparty.
At the beach, thousands of people strolled through the sand from dusk to dawn in a maze of illuminated art installations inspired by the fabled grunion that spawn on the shore. Trippy music and a bright palette of colored lights attracted huge crowds to the all-night beach party, which had the combined vibe of Woodstock meets European discothèque. It was the proper ending to a Saturday night, one that did the whole evening a bit more justice.
Mitch Kamin (far left), president and CEO of Bet Tzedek, his wife Susan Genco (fourth from left), senior vice president business affairs, Warner Bros. Records, and friends enjoying The Justice Ball.