These days, money is not merely for the material but the technical. The contributions of two local residents, Robert A. Davidow of Los Angeles and Janey Sweet of Malibu, to the American Technion Society (ATS) have resulted in groundbreaking achievements in water technology, cancer research and vascular biology studied at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Davidow was awarded an honorary doctorate June 11 in recognition of "his prominent role in enlisting major support for the Technion ... his active leadership in Jewish and Los Angeles civic life ... and in acknowledgment of his exceptional dedication to the welfare of the State of Israel and the future of the Jewish people."
In his tenure as benefactor, he created the Davidow Faculty Recruitment Fund and was a major donor to the Jean and Sol Davidow Experimental Testing Laboratory. He has served on the Technion International Board of Governors and acts as the ATS national co-treasurer.
Sweet was awarded an honorary fellowship on June 10 for financial support and leadership. She and her husband, Al, built the Janey and Albert Sweet Experimental Testing Laboratory in the Polak Center for Cancer Research and Vascular Biology. She was also recognized for her hospitality to Technion students, faculty and dignitaries who have visited the United States.
Recently, she co-chaired an ATS mission to Israel and Berlin, where a group of 140 participants, 21 of whom reside in Los Angeles, explored the Jewish heritage of Berlin and its rebirth as a center of post-Holocaust European Jewry. The trip concluded in Israel with a visit to the Technion campus and tours of historic, spiritual, cultural and architectural sites throughout Israel.
Attendees Blair Berk, Elaine and Hy Chase, Edie Fischer, Joan and Arnold Seidel, Bill Norris and Jane Jelenko, Joan and Ephraim Sales and Emily Blysma, among others, were so moved by the travel experience that they collectively pooled a $25 million gift to the Technion. As always, Israel inspires.
Technion is a leading science and technology university and home to many of Israel's Nobel Prize winners in science. The cutting-edge institution pioneers research in the fields of nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water resource management, aerospace and medicine.
The generous contributions of people like Sweet and Davidow have allowed for recent innovations, like that of architect Joseph Cory and his colleague, Eyal Malka, who devised a low-tech way to collect moisture from the air and convert it into fresh water. The award-winning "WatAir" system is capable of converting even polluted air into an unlimited supply of fresh drinking water -- a life-altering prospect for millions around the world.
One of the most prized experiences in a young woman's life is getting ready for her high school prom. Thanks to the kindness of mothers and daughters from Congregation Or Ami, 50 foster girls between the ages of 15 and 18, housed by the Department of Children and Family Services, were prepped, primped and poised to attend that historic night.
"Prom Prep 101" transformed ordinary classrooms into "glamour stations," where young women were equipped with a mother/daughter team of stylists to help them select the perfect dress, shoes, handbags and jewelry. Professional stylists, makeup artists and photographers created a culture of celebrity for the young women as they were adorned and photographed before a runway fashion show exhibiting the transformation from schoolgirl to starlet.
Congregation Or Ami President Susan Gould, along with Rabbi Paul Kipnes, helped organize Or Ami's collaboration with Children and Family Services.
The mitzvah experience benefited both the foster children and the young girls of Or Ami. Joanna Gould acknowledged in her bat mitzvah speech that the experience created lasting relationships in her life, and 7-year-old Carly Feinstein explained, "We were like fairy godmothers getting Cinderella ready for the ball."
Music For A Maestro
The music of Hollywood, Broadway and Mozart converged for a star-studded evening at the Walt Disney Concert Hall honoring Ernst Katz. To celebrate his 70th anniversary as founder and conductor of the Junior Philharmonic Orchestra on June 10, alumni from seven decades and different continents gathered to recognize the music maestro.
Current Junior Philharmonic concertmaster Gary S. Greene opened with Mozart and Schubert, before celebrities performed a 70-year retrospective highlighting the most memorable motion picture and Broadway musicals.
Jan and Mickey Rooney belted out their rendition of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," followed by Dick Van Dyke's urging the crowd to "Put On a Happy Face" from "Bye Bye Birdie." Academy Award-winner George Chakiris brought the gangs of "West Side Story" to downtown L.A. with a revue of that classic tale and Van Dyke reminded the crowd that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, as he sang selections from "Mary Poppins," while its composer, Richard Sherman, conducted his score.
Katz founded the Junior Philharmonic in 1937, supported by his philosophy of giving young musicians a chance to be heard. Over the years, more than 70,000 people have auditioned for the orchestra, and more than 10,000 talented musicians, ages 12-25, have received free orchestral training and membership.
Women In The Workforce
Everybody in this town wants to have an impact and influence. In an effort to achieve greater visibility in the community, the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles (NCJW) has hired Andrea Kune as its communications and outreach director. Kune has an extensive background in public service and held posts in former Gov. Gray Davis' administration as deputy director of management relations for the California Department of Industrial Relations and then in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration until the spring of 2004.
True to her femininity, she appears to have a vested interest in fashion, serving on the board of directors for the Fashion Industry Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and having lectured on economic and international trade at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, among other institutions. But this is not surprising about someone who has studied in both Milan and Paris.
Now, Kune looks forward to bringing the organization further into the civic sphere so the community can participate in the NCJW's mission to use Jewish values to improve the quality of life for women, children and families. You go, girl! Wishes and Wine
Hats off to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles, which convinced celebrity guests to don top hats and tiaras for its themed affair at Santa Monica Air Center's Barker Hangar -- the "Uncork a Wish" wine-tasting and auction in May.
Brad Garrett, three-time Emmy winner for his supporting role on "Everybody Loves Raymond" and grand prize champion of "Star Search," parlayed his comedy into charitable entertainment, helping raise $300,000 to realize the dreams of children battling life-threatening illnesses and proving there is still someone in L.A. who thinks a meet-and-greet with Kobe Bryant is worth a $15K price tag.
The Wine House contributed the finest bottled grapes from around the world, and celebrity bartenders Cheryl Tiegs (considered by many to be the first American supermodel) and Gregory Itzin (who portrays President Logan on the hit show, "24") poured wine and spirits for guests as they feasted on L.A.'s finest comestible fare. Here's an interesting item for the kashrut conscious: goat cheese black truffle pistachio baklava. Food for thought, indeed.