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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

June 19, 2003 | 8:00 pm

Museum Muse

Art and Israel came together at the Beverly Hills Hotel when West Coast American Friends of the Israel Museum (AFIM) held its 13th annual Membership Dinner.

The Jerusalem-based Israel Museum, founded in 1965, houses encyclopedic collections ranging from prehistory to contemporary art. These include the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world -- among them the Dead Sea Scrolls. For over 35 years, the museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects through a global network of support.

AFIM invited prominent British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, who traveled from London, to give a presentation on his life and work as the evening's guest speaker.

Honorary co-chairs for the evening were Herta and Paul Amir and Alice and Nahum Lainer. Attendees included AFIM President Ronnie Heyman and Executive Director Carolyn Cohen, both from New York, and Israel Museum Director James Snyder and chief curator Suzanne Landau, both visiting from Jerusalem for the occasion.

Festive cocktail parties were held during the two evenings prior to the event at the homes of Susan and David Gersh in Beverly Hills and Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy in Bel Air.

"We are always struck by the spirit and warmth of the AFIM family here on the West Coast," said Francine Shapiro, events council chair. "Even though the museum is so far from Los Angeles, it brings us together in such a meaningful way."

The dinner raised about $160,000, which benefits the Israel Museum's educational programs.



Bush League

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council Chair Fred Zeidman was the featured speaker at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Los Angeles chapter's May 13 meeting at the Skirball Cultural Center, held two weeks after Yom HaShoah.

A Houston businessman whose friendship with President Bush "goes way back," Zeidman was asked in 1993 to aid Bush in his 1994 Texas gubernatorial bid. He signed on, but didn't think Bush had "a hope of beating [then-Gov.] Ann Richards," he told the audience.

In May 2002, Bush returned the favor by selecting Zeidman to replace Rabbi Irving Greenberg as chair of the council, which oversees the Washington, D.C.-based Holocaust Museum.

As the first council chair who is not a Holocaust survivor, Zeidman sees his appointment as a crucial passing of the torch from the survivor generation. He credits Houston Federation's Young Leadership program and the Wexner Institute for giving him the tools necessary to take on such an important role.

"I'm a product of a generation before me that [said] this would never happen again," Zeidman said.

Zeidman also serves as RJC's national vice chair and was one of 10 people to help Bush draft his faith-based legislation.

The Holocaust Museum, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, draws 2 million visitors annually. But Zeidman told The Journal that he wants to reach the 280 million people who haven't visited the museum by taking more of the federal institution's special exhibits out on tour.

"The rest of the country needs to see this," Zeidman said. "We have to take the museum to them." -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Bruce Almighty

Bruce Friedman, a partner at Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan LLP, was elected president of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, which is among the largest and oldest synagogues in California.

Friedman, a member of Wilshire Boulevard Temple for the past 19 years, has served on the board of trustees for 10 years in various capacities, including treasurer and vice president. He has also served as counsel to the board and been a representative for and president of Hope-Net, an interfaith effort to eliminate hunger and homelessness in Los Angeles by providing food, shelter and self-help assistance to families and individuals.

The Wheel Deal

In January, The Journal reported that Henry Laufer of Los Angeles (pictured above with some of the skateboards he collected) celebrated his bar mitzvah by turning his pastime into a fundraiser to obtain donations of skateboards and bikes for disadvantaged students in Los Angeles schools. The 13-year-old skateboarder-musician recently told The Circuit that he collected 37 skateboards and 10 bikes -- a $4,000 value -- through donations from area stores, such as Extreme Boardshop in West Los Angeles. Laufer also donated $500 of his bar mitzvah money to spruce up the boards. Laufer said that Cheryl Kane at Kol Tikvah of Woodland Hills read about his effort in The Journal and is planning a similar drive.

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