December 20, 2001
On the fifth night of Chanukah, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles gave to us the third annual Vodka Latka. Some 600-plus Federation agency staff, guests, donors and a gaggle of celebrities packed the El Rey Theater for the multipurpose evening of celebration and fundraising for The Federation's agencies that deal with addiction. The Federation estimates pledges at more than $130,000 for the evening. Hosted by The Federation's Entertainment, Fashion and ACCESS (Young Adult) divisions, the party brought out the best in many looking for a chance to dance.
Jaron Lowenstein, one half of the twin rock group Evan and Jaron, knew just what time he arrived: "It's time to celebrate the miracle. Having a big party, making a big splash, that's what Chanukah's all about."
After much noshing on platters of sufganiot and tiny gourmet latkes (with caviar!), busy celebs and hard-working Federation staff took care of some Chanukah shopping at the silent auction, where actor Joey Slotnick bid on a $500 Jimmy Choo gift certificate. Actress Mili Avital already had her shopping done -- she donated to the Federation's Victims of Terror Fund in honor of friends and family, because "we don't need tchatchkes anymore."
Time came to light the candles, and Slotnick, Avital, Jonathan Silverman, Dana Daurey, Lori Heuring and David Schwimmer stepped up to each light a candle. After Lowenstein said the blessing over his candle and claimed, "My brother bailed" -- though Evan did show up later -- each star got to light one in honor of some of the programs and people of The Federation: one for KOREH L.A., one for those who fight addiction, for the hungry, for those who live in poverty and the victims of terror at home and abroad.
As the actors stepped off the stage, models strutted in, (barely) wearing clothes from Sharon Segal at Fred Segal, prompting Schwimmer to declare it his favorite part of Chanukah. But the entertainment had only just begun, and once the fashion show ended the band took the stage, with Sheila E behind the drums. Pooped from dancing, shopping, schmoozing, raising funds and giving thanks, most Vodka Latka-ers headed to bed before Eric Schwartz (aka Smooth-E, aka Dr. Dreidel) came out to rap up the evening. The comic-turned-rapper offered his rendition of "Tradition," then hip-hopped home with the rest of the partygoers to prepare for another night of Chanukah. -- Mike Levy, Staff Writer