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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

November 20, 2003 | 7:00 pm

Zimmer Goes Hollywood

On Nov. 6, the Zimmer Children's Museum took on Hollywood when the organization honored Barbara Fisher, executive vice president of entertainment at Lifetime Entertainment Services, and actress Cynthia Sikes Yorkin (best known for her roles in "St. Elsewhere" and "L.A. Law") at the Zimmer's third annual Discovery Award Dinner.

"We looked to find individuals to honor who have been involved in the betterment of the community in either in their professional lives, personal lives or both and have done so for children, education and the community at large," said Esther Netter, executive director of the Zimmer regarding the two honorees, both of whom are heavily involved in a variety of children's causes.

More than 400 industry folks including Sir Sidney Poitier, director-comedian Wil Shriner, comedienne Kathleen Madigan, jazz vocalist Curtis Stigers and many museum supporters gathered at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel to celebrate Fisher and Yorkin's success, as well as support the future of children and education. -- Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education WriterW

Awards Circle

The Southern California Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring honored actor Theodore Bikel Nov. 2 at its annual awards banquet and silent auction. Bikel made a passionate plea for his beloved Yiddish language, which faces continuing obscurity as Israel makes Hebrew more popular among Jews.

"It has become fashionable to say that only Hebrew matters," said Bikel after accepting the Workmen's Circle's Yiddishkayt Award before about 60 people at the Hyatt West Hollywood. "But where is it written that I have to abandon Yiddish to love Hebrew?"

Henrietta Cooper Mirell was honored with the Workmen's Member of the Year award and state Sen. Sheila James Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) received the group's Melvin S. and Erma B. Sands Memorial Award for Human Rights.

"It's always wonderful to be praised by the praiseworthy," Kuehl told The Journal.

Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) was there to present Bikel and Cooper Mirell with state Senate and Assembly proclamations noting their Workmen's Circle honors. When Koretz and Kuehl gave Bikel his proclamation, Kuehl said the plaque was being handed to him, "on behalf of the state senate and the whole darned state of California." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Shappells Show

Los Angeles philanthropists David and Fela Shappell have made it possible for the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem to build their new Visitors Center.

The center, which has an information desk, a cafeteria and a balcony with a pastoral view of the Jerusalem mountains, will be the first stop for many of the visitors to the campus because it provides them with information about the many memorial sites and research and educational facilities on the campus. The exit of the Visitors Center is inscribed with a passage from the Bible: "Has the like of this happened in your days or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children about it, and let your children tell theirs, and their children the next generation" (1 Joel, 2-3). This verse is meant to serve as a reminder to visitors of the need to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust and transmit the legacy to future generations.

The center was inaugurated on Oct. 20 in the presence of the Shappells and their children and grandchildren; Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz; and Avner Shalev, the chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate.

Interfaith Integration

While many members of the community are scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do about growing intermarriage rates, two Los Angeles synagogues have received awards for their interfaith integration programs that look to actively welcome and interfaith couples and those new to Judaism into their synagogues. Wilshire Boulevard Temple and Congregation Kol Ami of West Hollywood both received the Belin Outreach Award, a $1,000 grant presented every two years by the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) Commission on Outreach and Synagogue Community. This year, the URJ, formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, presented the awards at its 67th biennial convention in Minneapolis.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple won the award for its Learn to Cook like Bubbe Cooked! program, which combined five sessions of Jewish cooking and learning with a Shabbat dinner and celebration. Kol Ami won for its Open Hands, Open Door series, which uses the seasons and the holidays as a launching pad to discuss issues of concern to interfaith families in the synagogue's diverse communities. Other California synagogues honored were Congregation Shir Ha-Ma'alot in Irvine, for its Jewish Journeys program, where Jews-by-choice share their experience of choosing Judaism in the congregational bulletin, and Congregation Beth Israel of San Diego, for its Outreach Jewish Enrichment Series, a core curriculum of classes offered throughout the synagogue year to members and nonmembers alike. Congregation Beth Israel also received an honorable mention for its Outreach on the Web program.

The Belin Awards were established in 1995 through the generosity of the late David Belin, the commission's first chair.

Auxiliary Angel

The more dollars raised for cancer research, the closer we are to a cure. On Oct. 21, during Breast Cancer Awareness month Lynn Goldstein, Ilene Eisenberg and Lana Bergstein chaired the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) Auxiliary's Membership Luncheon, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, where the auxiliary presented a check for more than $873,000 to the institute.

The event honored philanthropist Carolyn Dirks, who was presented with the auxiliary's Angel Award. Dirks is a member of the JWCI Board of Trustees and has served as president of the Joseph B. Gould Foundation. The event also featured Rikki Kleiman, Court TV anchor and author of "Fairy Tales Can Come True: How a Driven Woman Changed Her Destiny." All guests at the event received a Swarovski pink crystal ribbon label pin and chocolate shaped like a breast cancer ribbon.

JWCI was established by the family of the late actor, who died of cancer in 1979. It is home to the country's largest melanoma center and it also houses the largest cancer immunotherapy program in the world.

Arthritis Foundation Honors

She may be most famous for being the matriarch on "Falcon Crest" and the first wife of former President Ronald Reagan, but for the past 37 years, actress Jane Wyman has dedicated her own leadership skills to finding a cure for arthritis and related diseases with the Arthritis Foundation, which named their Humanitarian Award after her.

On Oct. 15 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Dr. Bracha Shaham, a pediatric rheumatologist at Children's Hospital Los Angeles received the Jane Wyman Humanitarian Award at the foundation's gala dinner. Shaham, who has been active in medicine for 25 years, is currently a co-investigator on eight separate research projects studying juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Other recipients of the award this year were Dr. Deborah McCurdy, and Amgen Vice President Kevin Young. The gala raised more than $200,000 for the Arthritis Foundation.

2003 -- A Library Odyssey

Of course, one shouldn't eat in a library, but one should eat for a library, especially at library fundraising dinners. On Nov. 3 the Council of the Library Foundation coordinated the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) Literary Odyssey Dinners, 51 intimate dinners featuring well-known authors at private homes throughout Los Angeles. The evening raised $360,000 to benefit the reading enrichment programs for children and teens at the 67 branches of the LAPL.

Among the authors who participated were Michael Crichton, Kirk Douglas, Susan Fales-Hill, Larry Gelbart, David Lipsky and Garry Ross. Dinner hosts included Diane and John Cooke, Joan and John Hotchkis, Judith and Steve Krantz, Ginny Mancini, Mary and Norman Pattiz and Liane and Richard Weintraub. Betsy Applebaum chaired the dinners, and the co-chairs were Tom and Denise Decker and Maggie Russell.

The day before, the champagne and wine were flowing when the LAPL Literary Odyssey Dinners committee hosted a reception in honor of the authors, hosts and sponsors in the Central Library's Rotunda Room. Council president Donna Wolff greeted guests, which included honorary chair Veronique Peck, actress Angie Dickinson, and authors Jon Robin Baitz, A. Scott Berg, Laurence Bergreen, Leo Braudy and Maxine Hong Kingston. Sandy and Larry Post underwrote the dinner.

On Board With Wiesenthal

At its fall meeting, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's board of trustees unanimously elected Larry A. Mizel to be the new chairman of its board.

He succeeds Sam Belzberg, who served as chair since 1977. Mizel is the chairman and founder of M.D.C. Holdings Inc., founder of the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture in Denver and is a member of the national board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Mizel, who lives in Denver, said that he "considers it a special privilege to chair an organization that has made such a unique contribution to world Jewry over the past 25 years."

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