Topping-smothered mashed potatoes in martini glasses don't make appearances at typical synagogue shindigs, but Betty's Birthday Bash was no standard function.
Thrown by the atypical Westwood Village Synagogue, the evening Bash took place Dec. 24 at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. The purpose of the evening was twofold: to celebrate the 100th birthday and lifelong philanthropy of synagogue member Rebecca "Betty" Matoff; and to raise funds for the Modern Orthodox synagogue's building fund, which Matoff established.
The event included a celebratory dinner, dancing and a video presentation chronicling Matoff's dedication to charitable causes.
"I've been so blessed to have the chance to help others," Matoff said. "It's a great honor to serve, in essence as 'Hashem's Treasurer,' being able to give to those individuals in need and the organizations doing God's work."
-- Ali Austerlitz, Contributing Writer
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles joined the Council of Israeli Community (cicisrael.org) at a reception Feb. 2, highlighting a wartime joint effort in the local Jewish community.
Following the outbreak of the second Lebanon war, local Israeli organization leaders formed the Giyus Hul-Oversees Draft committee, which raises funds for Ziv Hospital in Tsfat and Kiryat Shmona Fire and Rescue Services Station. More than $178,200 was raised through community events, with The Federation matching the funds to total $356,542.
The funds will be used to equip the first of five new operating rooms in Ziv Hospital and to upgrade the command and control communication center at the Kiryat Shmona fire station.
The effort brought together various organizations that would ordinarily compete for the same dollars. Giyus Hul also worked with the Lions Club, an international nonprofit organization with chapters in Israel, to ensure that 100 percent of the funds raised were used for the intended purposes, with no overhead expenses.
Following the first katyusha rocket on Zefat in July 2006, the emergency room and trauma center at Ziv Hospital treated 687 civilian victims and 820 Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The 1,507 casualties were more than those treated at any two hospitals in the north of Israel combined.
Kiryat Shmona Fire Station is headquarters for the Upper Galilee; during the war 1,780 katyusha rockets hit Upper Galilee and 1,072 katyusha rockets hit Kiryat Shmona and surrounding area. As a result, 2,500 acres of forest and 5,000 acres of fields and parkland were burned.
In a letter read at the event, Israel's Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shimon Romach expressed his appreciation for the generous donation, which will "significantly improve Israel's ability to respond promptly to any emergency situation."
Actor-comedian and Israel advocate Larry Miller emceed the event.
Hereos of Sherwood
California Attorney General Jerry Brown was the guest speaker when the Anti-Defamation League Pacific Southwest Region awarded the Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate at an awards ceremony Feb. 15 at the Skirball Cultural Center.
The Sherwood Prize recognizes committed law enforcement personnel who make a significant difference in their communities and serve as role models for their departments. Individual honorees were: Lt. Fred Booker, Los Angeles Police Department; Commander Lynda Castro, L.A. County Sheriff's Department; Deputy Sheriff Rafer Owens, L.A. County Sheriff's Department; and Corporal Alexandro Peinado, Pasadena Police Department.
Also honored with the unit award were the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Attorney's Office and United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division for the investigation and prosecution of the Avenues Street gang -- the first conviction of a street gang for violating federal hate crime laws. Sherwood award founder Joseph Sherwood told the group, "With this award, we are able to achieve the well-deserved recognition for individuals who have dedicated their lives to making our community safer by fighting bigotry and combating hate, wherever it rears its ugly head."
Rocking for Research
It was a night for music lovers to celebrate love and rock and roll while supporting Cedars Sinai Women's Cancer Research Insitute (WCRI) at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Almost $300,000 was raised as music legends Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and John Trudell presented the Give Love, Give Life benefit concert.
One-hundred percent of the net proceeds from the show benefit the Cedars-Sinai WCRI, a multidisciplinary program working to eradicate women's cancers through research, education, early detection and prevention and advocacy.
WCRI's Dr. Beth Karlan and a coalition of women's health groups recently secured passage of federal legislation called Johanna's Law, which will fund education and outreach about the symptoms of gynecologic cancer.
Under the leadership of Dr. Karlan, WCRI works side-by-side with Cedars-Sinai's patient care programs to integrate innovative research into programs devoted to preventing, diagnosing and treating women's cancers.
The choice of all male artists for the Give Love, Give Life concert was intentional. Each of the artists has long advocated peace, environmental and social justice issues, but this is the first time they have collaborated on behalf of women's health and women's cancers.