Operation Smile held another star-studded fundraiser, raking in $2.5 million for November's World Journey of Smiles, which conducts 40 simultaneous medical missions in 25 countries to help 5,000 children. Wallis Annenberg and Sy Goldberg were lauded for their humanitarian efforts, alongside the pretty Molly Sims, Clippers player Corey Maggette, as well as Angeles Lladro, from the famed Spanish house of porcelain. Bakersfield's Paige Atkinson, 9, astonished attendees by raising $17,000 independently. Her feat was so impressive, singer Jessica Simpson rewarded her with a congratulatory hug.
The invitation to Los Angeles Jewish Home's seventh annual Reflections Gala was, in a word, adorable. Four panels featured brightly colored, full-page photographs of vivacious elderly people whose faces give them away -- one look at their wide grins and smiling eyes and you can tell the folks living there are enjoying their "golden years." To spice up a community awards dinner and fundraiser, host Jerry Springer took the stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and bestowed Earl Greinetz with the "Mr. Jewish Home" award for his longtime support of the home. If the invitation is any indication, I already know where I want to retire....
C'mon, Get Happy
"Happy Days" are here again, thanks to Henry Winkler -- a.k.a. "the Fonz" -- who was honored at Los Angeles BBYO's inaugural gala at the Skirball Cultural Center. Among the 150 attendees were BBYO big shots: past International President Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, Executive Director Matthew Grossman and board Chair Howard Wohl.
"Pretty Woman" director Garry Marshall presented Winkler with an award commemorating 30 years of successful work in the entertainment industry while strengthening and embracing his Jewish identity.
Winkler, the son of Holocaust survivors, studied acting at Yale School of Drama before achieving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Winkler and his wife, Stacey Weitzman, co-founded Children's Action Network, which feeds more than 8,000 Los Angeles children each year.
Also present were Pulitzer Prize-winning L.A. Times journalist Abigail Goldman, Jeremy Garelick, writer and co-producer of "The Break-Up," and state Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys).
Sukkot Down on the Farm
Sunday in the Sukkah brought a historical Jewish re-creation to the Pierce College Farm Center in Woodland Hills on Sept. 30. This time, the children of Israel were really families from all over the San Fernando Valley, and the autumn weather of Southern California was a pleasant substitute for the Sinai Desert.
The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance, along with the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force, invited a host of synagogues, including Congregation Or Ami, Shomrei Torah Synagogue, Temple Ahavat Shalom, Temple Aliyah, Temple Judea, Temple Kol Tikvah and Valley Beth Shalom, to build their own sukkahs to celebrate a communitywide harvest festival.
Pierce's own harvest festival, including a pumpkin patch and its famous corn maze, enhanced the Sukkot joy alongside arts and crafts activities.
Many felt the venue was ideal.
"We brought the sukkah out of the synagogue parking lot and onto the farm ... an important step toward taking festive Jewish holidays and bringing them out into the public, where everyone can enjoy them," said Rabbi Joshua Hoffman of Valley Beth Shalom.