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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Michael Aushenker

June 6, 2002 | 8:00 pm

A Division That Unites All Women

When the Women's Business and Professional Division of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles held its annual gala at the Four Seasons in West Hollywood, it honored Midge Costanza, special adviser to Gov. Gray Davis, and Will Recant, director of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee of Special Projects. However, the real tribute should go to the amazing young professionals of Women's B and P themselves.

Participating on the dinner committee was Neisha Cohen, a New Jersey native who used to be a producer of "The David Letterman Show," "Roseanne" and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." The single 40-something now heads Prime Time Media and found Women's B and P to be the perfect outlet for her in the Jewish community.

"For me, it's a camaraderie of meeting other women in business and having friendships that I think are important," she said. "I enjoy networking with other women. It's really been beneficial."

At Women's B and P, an affordable annual donation gives young women access to various outreach events and intimate high-society functions throughout the year that raise money and awareness for a variety of Jewish causes.

"I like the women, and I like the events that I have attended in the past," Cohen said. "Here, in Los Angeles, with so many different agencies needing help, The Jewish Federation does a great job reaching out to people and they need to do that with funds."

"I enjoy a lot of the more intimate events where there's a greater opportunity to meet people on a one-to-one level," said Jennifer Turkat, a prosecutor who is on the event committee. For Turkat, participating in the division means taking part in something larger.

"It's an incredible honor and a privilege to be a part of United Jewish Fund on the national level and Jewish Federation on the local level," said the single 30-something, "because I know when I make my contribution, I'm helping Jews in my community. I'm making the world a better place."

She added, "I have made a whole new network of friends that I wouldn't have met in my daily professional or social life. It's given me the opportunity to meet some really phenomenal people."

Sara Essner, who co-chaired the Four Seasons' event with Diana Fiedotin, is a married homemaker with a 3-year-old daughter.

"Women's B and P is not just women in the working field, but also women working in the home and at home," Essner said. She added that the event is "a nice way to raise money. With what's happening in Israel, we need to band together as Jews. Plus I've met a lot of quality people."

Among those quality people at the gala: Laurie Konheim, Women's Campaign chair; Michele Sackheim, Women's B and P chair; Renee Katz-Mann, Michal Amir and Kim Sattinger, division members; and Cece Feiler and Heidi Haddad, creators of the "Shabbat Box of Questions."

Amir pointed out that, unlike other Federation divisions, which are organized by professional categories, Women's B and P "cuts across the various lines of our professions."

"These are an eloquent and extremely passionate group of women," Konheim said.

Cohen believes that Women's B and P has a lot to offer young women, married or single. "What they'll get out of it," she said, "is the ability to network with other women, to grow their own business and to enjoy different kinds of events. They're always informative, they're always entertaining. You have a great time."

For information on Women's Business and Professional Division, call (323) 761-8275.

From the Russian Community With Love

More than 200 leaders of the Russian community attended a gala luncheon hosted by Natasha and Leonard Glosman on the tennis courts of their Beverly Hills home. The occasion was a fundraiser for Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans (FIDV). This was the first such benefit hosted by the Russian community for the victims of terror.

Four Israeli disabled veterans, all amputees in Los Angeles for special treatment of their prostheses, attended the event, including speaker Shalom Kalvinsky. Guest speakers also included Deputy Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles Zvi Vapni, Shimon Erem, Dora Kadisha, David Suissa and FIDV National Executive Director Regina Gottfried.

Monies raised will go toward the Beit Halochem Rehabilitation Centers in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. These are the only facilities in Israel providing life-long mental and physical rehabilitation for 48,000 disabled veterans.

For the first time, the centers are opening their doors to civilians seriously injured in acts of terror. Special treatments and programs are provided for the blind, paralyzed, amputee and brain damaged. Many of the new members are young people in their late teens and early 20s who have lost limbs from bomb explosions.

Special Visit America's Israeli Outpost

Raanan Achiasaf's timing couldn't have been better. Within a week of opening the first American outpost of Steimatzky -- the Barnes & Noble of the Israeli book trade -- his sole Los Angeles competitor, Hataklit on Fairfax Avenue, closed its doors.

Recently arrived from Israel, Achiasaf sited his initial Steimatzky book, video and Judaica store in Tarzana, figuring that the growing concentration of Israeli families in the western San Fernando Valley would provide a sound customer base.

Achiasaf won't divulge sales and profit figures, but business has been good enough to warrant a second Steimatzky franchise, this one in Beverly Hills.

The display shelves in the new store are still dominated by Hebrew-language items.

But several shelves are reserved for English translations of leading Israeli authors -- Amos Oz, Ram Oren, Naomi Ragen, S.Y. Agnon.

In Israel, the 39-year-old Achiasaf helped run Prolog, a publisher of Hebrew dictionaries, and his brother is continuing the business in Rosh Ha'Ayin. He is currently scouting new Steimatzky sites in New York and the Bay Area.

The Beverly Hills store is at 8802 Charleville Blvd., (310) 659-2554, and the Tarzana store is at 19566 Ventura Blvd. (818) 708-2347. For more information on Steimatzky, visit www.stmus.com or write to stmla@earthlink.net. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Star Awards

Original "Star Wars" princess Carrie Fisher, along with Maurice Benard and Rod Steiger, were recognized by the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center for their efforts in educating the public about mental illness at the Sixth Annual Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. George Segal was master of ceremonies, with special guest presenters Tracey Ullman and Annette Bening.

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