Move over Vin Diesel -- you've got nothing on these Women of Action. Women of all ages and professions were honored when the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) held their annual Women of Action luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
As Jacqueline Bell, ICRF board chair, noted, "100 percent of money raised through ICRF goes directly to scientists' research" so that they can "work passionately and under extremely difficult circumstances to fight cancer."
ICRF has raised $27 million -- which has been distributed to Israel's major hospitals, universities and institutions -- since its inception in 1975.
Award recipients included Julie Miller, of the Kaufman, Bernstein, Oberman, Tivoli & Miller LLC entertainment management firm; Nancy Haffner, founder and president of the legal search firm The Haffner Group Inc., and sisters Dr. Jennifer Berman, urologist, and Dr. Laura Berman, sex therapist.
Among those in attendance: singer-songwriter Carol Connors, and past Women of Action honorees Joyce Harris, Hella Fletcher, Loreen Arbus, Helen Stulberg and the Honorable Marsha Revel.
Lifetime achievement award-recipient Diahann Caroll could not attend in person.
But this was ICRF, one organization where people in attendance were present not merely for the star value onstage, but because they believe in the cause.
After Rabbi Jacob Pressman recited "HaMotzi," Bell opened ICRF's seventh annual Women of Action gala remembering Dr. Irwin Weinstein, founder of ICRF's L.A. chapter, and Marie Bonavida, mother of Dr. Benjamin Bonavida, both of whom passed away over the last year.
Doing their utmost to keep the event humming were co-chairs Norma Fink and Joyce Harris; Marjorie Cohen, ICRF L.A. chapter director; Ruth Getzoff, assistant director; Lynn Addotta, controller; Suzanne Fischel, special projects director, and Dorothy Chilkov, public relations.
A highlight of the luncheon was the reading of an inspiring letter by a 13-year-old East Coast girl, Talia Gilboa, who had given $500 of her bat mitzvah money to ICRF. Her grandfather had died of lung cancer just before she was born. Talia's mother, Susan Gilboa, was in the audience.
"He never smoked a cigarette in his life," she wrote, adding that she wanted to donate to ICRF "so that one day there won't be another child who will not get to meet his/her grandfather."
Rabbi Harvey Fields introduced his friend Julie Miller, whose mother has been diagnosed with lung cancer. In her "thank you," Miller outlined her typical hectic day as a career woman-mother and jokingly redubbed the gala "women of frenetic motion luncheon."
Haffner, who lost her mother to cancer and her 16-year-old niece to leukemia, has been active with ICRF for years and helped convene the very first Women of Action luncheon.
"This is almost as good as attending my own funeral," she joked in typical blunt fashion. Preceding the Berman sisters, Haffner added that her acceptance was "foreplay for the sex doctors."
Haffner was proud to be honored by ICRF for her achievements.
"I did not go to law school to become Perry Mason," Haffner said. "I went to law school so I would not become Della Street."
The Berman sisters were happy to be branded Women of Action by such a distinguished organization, they told The Circuit.
"It's very meaningful, very symbolic," Laura Berman said of her honor.
"It's something that's dear to our heart because our mother has breast cancer," Jennifer Berman said. "So we're happy to help out."
She added that they tend to get honored together since the sisters work as a team. When asked if her sister is a Woman of Action, Jennifer Berman said, "She is a woman of action. She just got married," then added with a laugh, "And I'm pregnant! So I'm a woman of action, too."
To learn more about ICRF, visit www.icrfonline.org.
Grand Old BBQ Party
About 200 ravenous Republicans hiked the serpentine streets of Studio City to attend the second annual members-only Republican Jewish Coalition of Los Angeles (RJCLA) Summer Barbecue at the home of Bruce Bialosky, RJCLA president, and his wife, Teri, on Aug. 11. Waiting for them at the end of the cul-de-sac was a fleishig feast being served up by Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausage.
RJCLA members rubbed elbows with the featured guest speakers, assemblymembers Tony Strickland (Thousand Oaks) and Keith Richman (Northridge) -- a Valley city mayoral candidate and the Assembly's only Jewish Republican -- both of whom addressed ways to combat the state's growing deficit.
Other Jewish Republican candidates in attendance included Connie Friedman (Assembly District 40), Michael Wissot (Assembly District 41) and Robert Levy (Congressional District 27).
"I found out [gubernatorial candidate] Bill Simon is a surfer. He's one of my guys, so naturally I gravitated toward this event," said Rabbi Nachum Shifren, author of "Surfing Rabbi: A Kabbalistic Quest for Soul" who donated proceeds from the sale of his book that evening to RJCLA.
Journal contributor Si Frumkin, fresh from his victory over Stalinskaya sausage, was spotted enjoying a kosher dog, and member Kevin Bemel came dressed for the occasion -- as a cowboy. "Next year I'm going to bring a horse," he said. -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor
On Sept. 1, Bikur Cholim (Jewish Healthcare Foundation-Avraham Moshe Bikur Cholim) will hold its annual Dessert Reception at the Century Plaza Hotel. The reception will also include a presentation of the Excellence in Care Award. This year's Award recipient is surgery nurse Rossana Reyes, a 10-year veteran of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Rabbi Hershy Ten, Bikur Cholim president, explained that his organization's goal is to ensure access to quality healthcare for the community.
"It is of vital importance for us to recognize those health care professionals and professions that comprise the continuum of care," Ten said.
This year's reception, hosted by Nachi and Hedy Silverman of Hancock Park, will honor Steve and Lorraine Spira with the Ahavas Chesed Award. A dedication will take place in memory of Yehudis Ten, daughter of the rabbi and his wife, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 2.
For additional information, call (323) 852-1900.
Gateways Hospital & Mental Health Facility has appointed Myles Weiss as chairman of its board of directors. As president, Weiss will personally oversee Gateways' outreach to public officials; obtain funds for the nonprofit facility; and oversee its operations. Weiss, a Brentwood resident and member of Sinai Temple, has served as a board member for the past seven years and plans to continue the mission of outgoing president, Robert Klein.
During the commencement exercises at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Reform Judaism institution, in its 127th year, awarded honorary doctorate degrees to Norman Fishman, vice president of development for the University of Judaism; Toby Inlender, executive director of the Los Angeles Hillel Council; Dr. Stanley Chyet, recently retired from HUC-JIR's faculty; Rabbi Robert Jacobs, who leads High Holiday outreach services in Hollywood; Rabbi Alan Greenbaum of Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks; clinical social worker Judith Glickman Zevin; and Rabbi Shelton Donnell of Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Ana.
Ostfield of Dreams
Hillel at Santa Monica College is pleased to welcome Tafat Ostfield as the new program director. Ostfield is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received her bachelor's degree in psychology. She spent her first year working as the Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow at the University of Minnesota.