Appetite for Art
A way to a man's heart is through his stomach, a wise woman once said. Well, the women were equally culpable of consuming all things edible during Art of the Palate 2002, a series of 50 upscale fundraising dinners held in private homes around town over two weeks. Proceeds from Art of the Palate, which is mounted every two years, benefits the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Most of the pricey hosts and pricey homes where these pricey LACMA fundraisers (happening over the course of a week) took place are Jewish. Special guests included architect Frank Gehry, actor/director Leonard Nimoy, and photographer Annie Leibovitz. And the home of director Michael Bay's was used for one event, even though Bay himself was off filming "Bad Boys 2."
The Circuit brought a hearty appetite to the Pacific Palisades home of Howard and Judi Sadowsky, where the evening's special guest was Peggy Loar, straight outta Napa, where she is the director of COPIA: Napa Valley's American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.
A unique factor at the Sadowskys' event was the fact that the New California cuisine was all created by the host himself. If the palate is an art, then just call Sadowsky "Picasso!" Decked out in his cooking apron, the amateur chef wowed guests with his Epicurean prowess. Sadowsky, who by day is the vice chairman of Studley, a commercial real estate brokerage, fell in love with cooking at age 15. He remembers growing up in Jersey City, N.J. and watching his maternal grandmother, who hailed from Russia, make Jewish entrees while the Yiddish station blared from the radio.
"She couldn't read or write, but she could cook," said Sadowsky of his culinary mentor.
On this occasion, the Sadowsky dining room was practically converted into a restaurant. Sadowsky, whose kitchen comes replete with a woodburning pizza oven, served up some gourmet pizza layered in fontina and parmesan cheeses and shitake, portobello and porcini mushroom ... and that was just for appetizers. The dinner included three varieties of sashimi, boat scallops in anise syrup, corn lemon grass soup with duck confit and garlic-marinated rack of lamb with roasted brandywine, tomato and shallots. Dessert was also homemade -- chocolate fondant with chocolate sauce and almond praline ice cream and apple galette with caramel ice cream (both ice creams were made from scratch!). All courtesy of Sadowsky, with the assistance of his son, Adam.
The Circuit had a fun conversation about California architecture with Bartholomew Voorsanger, whose great-grandfather was the first Orthodox rabbi of San Francisco, where Voorsanger was raised. Now based in New York, Voorsanger is involved in the redesign of Ground Zero, the ownership of which, Voorsanger explained to the dinner party, is mired in myriad legal complexities.
The Circuit also schmoozed with Totex Manufacturing's financial officer Redmond Tung and his wife Nicki over apple martinis, and sat alongside Dr. John and Shelly Busch, theater producer Susan Alschuler and artist Lita Albuquerque, who contributed work to the newly opened Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles.
Georgina Rothenberg and Judy Henning chaired this particular event. When all was said and done, all of these enchanting evenings stand to raise about $600,000 for LACMA.
Other hosts who opened up their homes for Art of the Palate 2002 include Dahlia and Art Bilger, Toni and Bruce Corwin, Lynne and Irwin Deutch, Audrey and Arthur Greenberg, Brindell and Milton Gottleib and Nancy and Jack Mishkin, Alice and Nahum Lainer, Jane and Marc Nathanson, Vicki Reynolds and Murray Pepper, Sandy and Barry Pressman, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, Rikki and Frederic Rosen and Judy and Donald Simon.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center supporters Saul and Joyce Brandman were onhand when The Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center, a project of the Women's Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, held its swanky fundraiser, titled "An Evening Under The Stars," at the ultra-hip Sunset Strip destination Skybar, located within the Mondrian Hotel. Part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the affair, which included a silent auction, was geared to benefit the New Educational Outreach & Treatment Program, in memory of Melissa Lipton, a woman who succumbed to metastatic breast cancer at the age of 31.
Asia de Cuba restaurant provided the palate-pleasing entrees. While the food and frolicking was fun, the subtext of the occasion was very serious. Breast cancer has become the most common form of cancer in America, outside of skin cancers. This year, 182,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer (one every 3 minutes) and 43,300 women will die (one every 12 minutes). The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 1 in 8 women in the United States (approximately 12.6 percent) will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
"I believe that together we can make the difference," said Lipton's brother, Matthew, exactly 10 months to the day of his sister's death. He also proclaimed his mother, Ellen Lipton, to be his "role model."
Another person elated to see this day was "the first lady of Cedars-Sinai," Barbara Factor Bentley, chair of Cedars-Sinai's board of directors.
"I'm a breast cancer survivor," said Bentley, who, through her own activities and her family's Max Factor Foundation, has given so much Cedars-Sinai. "Fourteen years ago, we didn't talk about it. We had no options."
A Nice Guy After All
Richard Selzer, better known as Mr. Blackwell, the renowned fashion curmudgeon best known for his annual Worst Dressed list; and his partner of 54 years, R.L. Spencer, were recognized by St. Mary Medical Center for their generosity to the hospital, along with fellow major donors Jim & Loraine Ackerman, at the official grand opening of the hospital's new Long Beach Boulevard entrance.
At the ceremony, Blackwell and Spencer's $1.5 million gift for cancer and hospice programs was recognized with the dedication of the Mr. Blackwell and R.L. Spencer Cancer Center on St. Mary's newly re-designed campus. The hospital began as a 70-bed facility in 1923.
American Jewish Congress Pacific Southwest Region (AJCongress), which is based in Los Angeles, held a fundraiser/information evening at the home of Shelley Ventura-Cohen and Michael Cohen in Century City. Attendees included Georgette Gelbard, Jack and Donna Salem and David Suissa. AJCongress Pacific Southwest Region President Dr. Steven Teitelbaum spoke about the threat to Jews living in Europe and the efforts that the AJCongress took in France and at the European Union to combat anti-Semitism. Gary Ratner, executive director of the AJCongress, spoke about the current threat to Jewish students on campus.
"The rights of Jews to study free from fear and to support Israel is being challenged at hundreds of Universities with growing venom," he said. "The recent speech of Harvard President Lawrence Summers is a wake-up call for Jewish organizations to counter anti-Israel propaganda on campus."
Ratner also described the alliances that the AJCongress is building with pro-Israel student groups on campuses in California.
For information on the American Jewish Congress, call (310) 309-5149. -- Gaby Wenig, Contributing Writer
Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation has announced that it has recently completed a strategic planning process that resulted in the adoption of a new mission for the organization and the expansion of its board of directors with five prominent Southern Californians. Building on the extraordinary accomplishment of collecting almost 52,000 videotaped testimonies, the foundation has now broadened its international efforts and is focusing on the educational use of the testimonies. The foundation has restructured its governance to match this new goal.
Since Steven Spielberg established Survivors of the Shoah in 1994, the foundation has videotaped the testimonies of more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses in 57 countries in 32 languages. Today, the Shoah Foundation's mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry -- and the suffering they cause -- through the educational use of the Foundation's visual history testimonies. Susan Crown, board chair, announced that prominent Southern California community and business leaders Gerald Breslauer, Skip Paul, Bruce Ramer, Mickey Rutman and Severin Wunderman have been named to the board of directors.
Breslauer and Rutman co-founded Breslauer and Rutman, LLC, an L.A.-based business management firm that specializes in the financial affairs of individuals in the entertainment industry. Bruce Ramer has been a partner for over 40 years at Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, a Beverly Hills-based law firm has served on the boards of the American Jewish Committee. Paul is chairman of the board of the IFILM Network and has served as president of MCA Enterprises. Wunderman is an art collector, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor from Belgium.
A Shoah Support
Prominent attorney Arthur Barens and his wife, Maxine, graciously hosted an educational evening on behalf of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation at their Beverly Hills home, where more than 80 guests gathered in the Barens' garden for a thought-provoking discussion with Shoah Foundation President and CEO Douglas Greenberg, and Renee Firestone, educator and Holocaust survivor.
Dr. Salee Amina Mohammed, ambassador of goodwill for Islamic culture, attended Yom Kipper Services at several Los Angeles synagogues in an effort to improve interfaith relations between Jews and Muslims. Mohammed, who served as a commentator for Fox News following the Sept. 11 attacks, has worked to increase cooperation and harmony between the two communities, attributing the greatest sources of their conflict to "ethnocentrism, stubbornness, misunderstanding and hypocrisy."
"Islam and Judaism are such close sister-religions that it seems beyond insane that there is so much animosity between the two cultures," said Mohammed at Temple Judea West in West Hills.
Mohammed ended her ambassadorial synagogue tour stating that "The Koran states that Muslims must not kill themselves; and gives strict disciplinary rules of engagement for war, which specifies that innocent noncombatants, women and children must not be harmed."