And this is the way ... we rock the house!
House of Blues Concerts presented Jam Night III, the annual Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles-sponsored music industry fundraiser.
More than 800 people filled the House of Blues on Sunset to get down while giving it up for two great causes -- KOREH L.A., The Federation's volunteer literacy program, and P.S. Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring arts education in public schools.
Under the executive production of Jason Karlov and the musical direction of Randy Stern, the seasoned musicians glittered in all-star jams featuring the likes of Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, former Arsenio Hall saxman Dave Koz, former Doors axman Robby Krieger, Phil Lesh of Grateful Dead fame, Modern Orthodox twin pop sensations Evan and Jaron and on and on. Bob Saget provided guest announcer J.J. Jackson with a no-holds-barred, joke-packing master of ceremonies assist.
Another evening highlight: when the solo spotlight smiled down on Susanna Hoffs, the luminous ex-Bangle who unleashed some mean guitar as she crooned her signature hits like "Eternal Flame."
Keri Russell cheered on her "Felicity" costars Amanda Foreman, Greg Grunberg and Robert Patrick, who took the stage. Also at the rock show: "Single Guy" Jonathan Silverman, sidekick Joey Slotnick and superstar sabra Mili Avital.
Federation staff and friends -- including Michael Hirschberg and Elaine Albert of The Federation's Jewish Community Relations Committee, which developed KOREH L.A. -- were seen sampling the grilled salmon, baked ziti, apple cobbler and other delicious offerings heating up the buffet tables.
Also making the evening a memorable one: The Federation's Music Committee Chair, David Rezner, worldwide president of Universal Music Publishing, and Entertainment Division Chair David Lonner, a partner at Endeavor Agency.
Some Good Signs
More than 100 Jews fulfilled the 613th commandment to "write for yourselves" a Torah at the Torah and Megillah Signing and Celebration held at The Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda. Sponsored by Sephardic Tradition And Recreation (S.T.A.R.) it was truly a groundbreaking communitywide event. S.T.A.R.'s officials say that what made the day so special was that it brought entire families together to enjoy a meaningful religious experience. Young men and their fathers had the opportunity to write a letter in the holy Torah while young ladies and their mothers filled in a letter in a newly commissioned Megillat Esther (Book of Esther).
Every person who signed either the Torah or the Megillah had his or her portrait taken. Entertainer Pini Cohen sang some numbers.
The S.T.A.R. Torah and Megillah Signing will be a yearly event during the Shavuot holiday season, open to all young adults who become bar and bat mitzvahed at Sephardic congregations throughout Los Angeles. Through programs such as this one, S.T.A.R. expresses its commitment to provide high quality, heritage-fortifying events for the Jewish youth in the community.
To view more photos from this event, visit www.lastar.org.
The Chai Life
The Chai Center, led by Rabbi Shlomo "Schwartzie" Schwartz and wife, Olivia, held its annual banquet at the Living Judaism Center in Marina del Rey. Over 180 people attended.
Schwartzie was roasted by Suissa-Miller Advertising chief David Suissa, who dubbed him "The king of the hood, the rebbe of Roxbury and the honcho of Pico."
Comedian Steve Gooding entertained the crowd with his version of "The Little Drummer Boy." Over $30,000 was raised for The Chai Center's outreach programs, which are geared toward "any Jew that moves" and fuel Los Angeles' largest Purim party, free High Holiday services and Shabbat dinners. -- Staff Report
For more info, visit www.chaicenter.org.
Rabbis on a Mission
Five L.A.-area rabbis visited Israel during the current crisis in the Middle East to be with students studying at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Jerusalem. Rabbis Steven Carr Reuben, Lawrence Goldmark, Denise Eger, Stephen Einstein and Rebecca Yael Schorr hosted a breakfast for the students and shared words of encouragement and support. The rabbis also participated in the historic first ordination of HUC-JIR's Los Angeles School of Rabbinical Studies on May 5 at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Founded in 1875, HUC-JIR is the nation's oldest Reform educational facility.
A New Beginning
Batsheva and Benny Shoham, whose 5-month-old firstborn son, Yehuda, was killed last June in a terrorist attack near their home in Shilo, have been blessed with a new son, born on Yom Yerushalayim. The baby's bris took place on Shavuot, at which time he was named Shmuel, since he was born on the yahrtzeit of Shilo resident, Samuel, the famous prophet who anointed Solomon and David, the first two kings of Israel.
Batsheva is the daughter of Elaine and Jerry Saltsman and the granddaughter of Dr. Morris and Sylvia Harow, former Beverly Hills residents who now live in Israel.
Flying Torah Scrolls
A Loftus Affair
John Loftus, author of "The Secret War Against the Jews & the Unholy Trinity," spoke at a Western Region Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs reception held at Sinai Temple's Ziegler Hall. Actor Jon Voight introduced the evening.
Beals Spiels on Bias
Rabbi Michael Beals of B'nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester was a guest on Hugh Hewitt's KRLA radio show. Topic of conversation: The Jewish community's response to perceived anti-Israel bias in the Los Angeles Times.
The fifth grade girls of Yavneh Hebrew Academy raised nearly $1,000 to send to children who have been victims of terror in Israel, care of the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund.
A statement from Yavneh's administrators noted, "We are proud and encouraged by their acts of unselfishness and solidarity."
Membership Has Its Privileges
Congregation Beth Shalom in Santa Clarita held its 28th annual Membership Appreciation Picnic. Soccer games and bubble magic, courtesy of Fun and Discovery Entertainment, were among the activities at the park.
A Call From City Hall
Rabbi Allen Freehling, who recently retired from University Synagogue's bimah after 30 years, has been tapped by Mayor James Hahn to become executive director of the Human Relations Commission for Los Angeles.
A Cell-ebration in Westwood
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology's Dr. Aaron Ciechanover, the 2000 recipient of the Albert Lasker Award with Drs. Avram Hershko and Alexander Varshavsky, came to town for Israel Cancer Research Fund's Partners in Research Event at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Westwood. Ciechanover discovered the ubiquitin system and, in collaboration with Varshavsky, characterized the cellular functions of the system.