January 1, 2004
Prager at Podium
Talk show host Dennis Prager stepped away from his radio microphone to give a lecture for Chabad of Pasadena at the Pasadena Hilton Dec. 10. More than 300 people attended to hear Prager's views on whether Israel and the United States are standing alone. The evening raised funds for children's programs.
Pups for Peace
We take it as a given that graduates -- at any level -- walk on two legs, but perhaps that is something we should reconsider. On Dec. 10, Pups for Peace, the bomb-sniffing dog training program, graduated its final class before the program relocates its operations to Israel.
The graduation ceremony took place at the Milken Family Foundation Conference Center. Glen Yago, former economic initiatives co-chair of The Jewish Federation's Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership, founded The Federation-funded program as a way for people in the United States to help prevent suicide attacks in Israel.
"It's a privilege to be able to live 100 years," local real estate mogul and Jewish philanthropist Simha Lainer told the crowd at a dinner reception in honor of his 100th birthday on Dec. 14. "Thank God I've lived to see this beautiful moment."
More than 550 friends, family members and Jewish educators who attended the evening tribute at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel rose from their seats, giving Lainer a standing ovation.
Lainer, a key Jewish education donor, shared the spotlight with the inaugural celebration of New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) in West Hills, one of the many schools that reaped the benefits of his generosity.
"Thank you Simha Lainer and the entire Lainer mishpachah," said Pamela Teitelbaum, one of the dinner chairs and a member of the core group that helped NCJHS come to fruition. "You have each helped our children to love learning and cherish our Jewish heritage."
The evening included a video presentation on Lainer's remarkable life, as well as special musical performances by the NCJHS chorus, UCLA Hillel's Shir Bruin, Temple Emanuel Cantor Judy Greenfeld and violinist Mark Kashper from the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Also there to celebrate and support Lainer were Los Angeles Unified School District board member David Tokofsky, Jewish Federation President John Fishel, University of Judaism President Robert Wexler and Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Howard Berman (D-North Hollywood).
-- Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer
Changing of the Guard
In its biennial changing of the guard, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles tapped longtime community activist Harriet Hochman to become chair of the organization's board -- replacing Jake Farber.
Hochman, speaking at The Federation's annual meeting on Dec. 17 at the Skirball Cultural Center, said she hoped to make the Jewish charity more accessible and relevant. The former chair of The Federation's Women's Campaign told a crowd of 400 that she planned to pay heed to the concerns of dissenters and to coax unaffiliated Jews to get involved to broaden The Federation's programming.
"We must humanize ourselves so that our members feel they are more than just a computer printout," Hochman said to applause.
Farber, 79, said he hoped he made some positive contributions in his two years as board chairman. Among his accomplishments, he said he is proud at having helped create a blueprint for The Federation to operate more efficiently going forward. A philanthropist for more than 50 years, Farber heads a family metal recycling firm.
In related news, Laurie Konheim was named The Federation's campaign chair.
At the event, the Jewish philanthropic organization announced it has raised $39.5 million so far this year, about $500,000 more than last year.
-- Marc Ballon, Senior Writer