In conversation with Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW's "Good Food" and owner of Angeli Caffe on Melrose, Morimoto recalled fond childhood memories of dining in sushi restaurants with his family. From then on, he had two dreams: to become a professional baseball player and a sushi chef. He realized the latter ambition, although he plays baseball as a regular hobby. The audience was enamored with Morimoto's adroit use of the custom-designed knives he carries with him wherever he travels. While in Los Angeles, he dined at fellow celebrity chefs' haunts: Mario Batali's Osteria Mozza and the Wolfgang Puck steakhouse Cut. When asked who his favorite chef is, Morimoto said, "my wife."
Fiddling Around for Magbit
City views abounded from the 54th floor of the Wells Fargo Building downtown, where Magbit transformed the City Club into a bona fide nightclub on Sept. 29. Draped in a silky orange gown, the Grammy-winning "hip hop violinist" Miri Ben-Ari mesmerized several hundred attendees, including Israeli Consul Ehud Danoch and Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad, pairing a classic string instrument with scratching records and, of course, those tousled blonde locks. The Israeli-born beauty strummed the violin with the force of lighting alongside D.J. Total Eclipse, whose high-volume beats moved the crowd to dance.
Ben-Ari got personal when praising Magbit's work providing interest-free loans and scholarships to students attending Israeli universities. She was forced to drop out of college after a few semesters when she couldn't afford tuition payments, "But don't pity me. I won a Grammy with Kanye West. Things worked out for me."
Apple and Family Get New Big Apple Digs
Super-starlet of half-Jewish lineage Gwyneth Paltrow recently purchased a $5.5 million penthouse in Manhattan's Tribeca from Israeli real-estate/diamond tycoon Lev Leviev, Jewsweek.com reported. Leviev, ranked No. 278 on Forbes' "World's Richest People" list, is reportedly worth $2.6 billion. As chair of the Africa Israel Investments Group, Leviev, an Uzbekistan-born Lubavitcher Jew, built the River Lofts project, which attracted actors Meryl Streep and Harvey Keitel. He also managed the recent acquisition of a $426 million historical building in Manhattan that will convert to luxury housing. Paltrow and husband, Coldplay singer Chris Martin, will live in the nearly 5,000-square-foot pad with their children, Apple and Moses. Now that's the suite life!
LAPD Supporters Honored
Could this kind of philanthropy guilt an officer out of issuing a speeding ticket? Uber-producer Brian Grazer was honored alongside Rochelle and Richard Maize of Beverly Hills for their ardent support of the Los Angeles Police Foundation. The True Blue Fundraiser at Paramount Studios saluted the contributions of the aforementioned and awarded select members of the LAPD for their community service.
Gordis and Scheindlin Join Shalem Center
Since he departed Los Angeles to make aliyah with his family in 1998, Rabbi Daniel Gordis continues to establish himself as a major leadership force in Israel. He recently joined The Shalem Center as senior vice president and as a senior fellow in its Institute for Zionist History and Thought. Shalem was established in Jerusalem in 1994 with the "goal of developing the ideas needed to guide and sustain the Jewish people in the decades to come," according to its Web site. The educational institution supports research, teaching and publication in the areas of Jewish morality and politics, Zionism, biblical archaeology, democratic theory, and economic and social policy. Ahavia Scheindlin, former vice president of European operations for the Shoah Foundation, is Shalem's new vice president for development.
L.A. Phil -- Under and With the Stars
The Los Angeles Philharmonic's Opening Night Gala was a starry night, indeed. Celebrities Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Eisner danced under an open sky while listening to the operatic sounds of soprano Renee Fleming. A special thanks was delivered to avid Philharmonic supporter Anita Hirsh for her contributions that allowed music educators and young musicians to attend the concert. The evening, themed "Music is Timeless," kicked off the orchestra's fifth season at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
'Jona's' Tale of Survival
Aish LA hosted Holocaust survivor Jona Goldrich (center, back row) for an evening called "Jona's Story," where the philanthropist shared his fascinating life history with students who traveled to Poland this past summer on Aish LA Leadership Missions.
A Bright Idea
Now there's a place for homeless children that's as colorful and fulfilling as a Dr. Seuss book, thanks to the support of Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, Paramount Pictures and Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles. Located at the JFS/Gramercy Place transitional shelter in mid-Wilshire, "Bright Spaces" is designed to provide an enriching environment in which children can play and learn. The goal of the shelter is to provide a space that helps young children develop motor, cognitive, social and language skills that will enhance success in later life. Photo by Alexis Hunt
Avni Films Abound
Handsome Israeli actor Aki Avni, who splits his time between the Pacific and Mediterranean coasts, is heading to the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema next week (Oct. 18-28) to bask in the limelight of his newest film, "Salt of the Earth" ("Melah Ha'aretz"), which screened in Los Angeles during the Israeli Film Festival in March 2007. Avni recently completed filming "My Mom's New Boyfriend," starring Antonio Banderas and Meg Ryan.
Following the Leaders
More than 260 community leaders and friends gathered on Sunday, Sept. 9 to salute Annette and Dr. Reuben Beezy and Adina and Ilan Bender with the 2007 Distinguished Community Leader Award. The San Fernando Valley Council of NA'AMAT USA sponsored the luncheon held at the Olympic Collection. Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom delivered the keynote address and Phil Blazer emceed. NA'AMAT USA National President Alice Howard congratulated the honorees.