The Persian community's first major fundraiser for Israel this year took place at the home of Dr. Ata and Sima Kashani in Encino on Jan. 14. The Persian Group Council of Hadassah Southern California organized the event, which raised $50,000 to go toward scholarships for Hadassah college students in Israel. Councilmember Gila Golbahar chaired the event, which featured professor Nava Ben Zvi, the president of Hadassah College in Jerusalem, as a guest speaker. In her speech, Ben Zvi highlighted the achievements of the 34-year-old college and explained the functions of its technological and academic departments. Ben Zvi noted that 75 percent of Hadassah college students are on scholarships. The event also paid tribute to Hamid Kohan, who died of cancer last year. The Persian Group Council presented his family with a certificate, acknowledging the $5,000 donation they made to Hadassah.
Several members of the Jewish Iranian community were present at the event, including Rabbi David Shofet and Houman Kashani who told The Journal, "I am mad at those people who claim that Persian Jews do not help Israel. When it comes to Israel, our people always eagerly step forward to help."
"Israel is the heartbeat of every Jewish individual," said Ata Kashani, who was the last speaker of the evening. "The freedom of Israel is very important for us Iranian Jews living outside Israel. Therefore, it is important for us to protect and assist our homeland in any possible way." -- Mojdeh Sionit, Contributing Writer
I Have a Dream
B'nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester marked the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend on Jan. 16 with a reading of writings by both the slain civil rights leader and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the famed Jewish Theological Seminary theologian who was one of King's closest Jewish allies, and was with him on the historic 1965 Selma to Montgomery march.
"Unlike other Christian ministers, Dr. King stressed not Jesus but Moses in expressing his views of liberating African Americans," B'nai Tikvah's Rabbi Michael Beals told his congregation.
About 55 people listened to Beals recite Heschel's words. The Rev. John David Webber, an African American pastor at Westchester Christian Church, read King's speeches.
"It was easier for the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea than for a Negro to cross certain university campuses," Beals said, reciting a 1963 Heschel speech.
Beals also read Heschel's description of marching with King in 1965: "I felt my legs were praying."
The 25-minute presentation was well received and the Shabbat service then returned to bar mitzvah of Eric Raby, who continued the night's themes by having a classmate read from "The Diary of Anne Frank." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
The Raznick Chair
A Calabasas couple, Aaron and Cherie Raznick, managed to create a milestone in Israel's higher education by endowing the first-ever chair for an academic college to Tel Hai Academic College in the upper Galilee.
The chair will be held by professor Moshe Gophen of Tel Hai's School of Sciences and Technology. Gophen will pursue "The Study of a Sustainable Man -- Environmental Relationships in the Upper Galilee Area of Israel," and will develop and research the means for a harmonious and sustainable relationship between the region's unique population and environmental needs.
"An endowed chair is one of the most important gifts we can make to higher education, for an endowed chair ensures faculty excellence," Aaron Raznick said.
Tel Hai College will host a dinner reception to honor the Raznicks in February at Encino's Valley Beth Shalom.
Ismar Schorsch, the chairman of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, honored Lowell Milken, Milken Family Foundation chair, during "Only in America: Jewish Music in a Land of Freedom" for his important contribution to Jewish culture. The event was international conference/ festival heralding the 350th anniversary of American Jewry held in early November at the Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Milken, a Los Angeles philanthropist, created the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music. Schorsch presented Milken with framed originals of the first two pages of "The Challenge of the Muse," a new symphonic and choral work that Samuel Adler composed and dedicated to Milken.
A Reading Rainbow
If you think that your community library or your child's school library is looking a little paltry, then the Literacy Empowerment Foundation (LEF) can help. They will send 100 free books a year to any school in the United States that signs up on their Web site, www.literacyempowerment.org.
On Jan. 16, the LEF distributed 1,000 Larkin's Little Reader Books -- its largest shipment of free books ever -- to the National Council of Jewish Women's (NCJW) "Light Up a Library Campaign" at Laurel Elementary School in West Hollywood. Statistics show that California school libraries are ranked well at the bottom in terms of numbers of books per child. The NCJW developed the campaign to increase literacy in and out of many elementary schools, a goal identical to that of the LEF.
The Israel Humanitarian Foundation is the premier link between directed American Jewish philanthropy and the unmet needs of medical, educational, humanitarian, geriatric and social service projects in Israel, the United States and other countries. On Dec. 15, the Los Angeles Board of Directors of the Israeli Humanitarian Foundation conferred the first Guardians of the Jewish People Awards on Ted and Laura Cohen and Marvin and Linda Komorsky at a Beverly Hilton dinner.
Ted Cohen is senior vice president of digital distribution at EMI in Hollywood, and his wife, Laura, has her own consulting business.
Marvin Komorsky is the executive director of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Beverly Hills, and his wife, Linda, is the senior vice president of operations at Acquisitions Fabric Music Group.
Comedian Elayne Boosler was the emcee and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) was the guest speaker. Proceeds from the dinner went toward two departments at the Sourasky Hospital in Tel Aviv: the neonatology intensive care unit, which treats newborns with life threatening problems, and the Rabin Trauma Center, which treats most of Tel Aviv's terror bombing victims.
For more information about Israel Humanitarian Foundation call (888) 732-5391 or go to www.ihf.net .
Changes at the fed
Carol Koransky, formerly the senior vice president of policy, planning and community development will become the associate executive vice president of The Federation and executive director of The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance.
Carol Levy, formerly vice president of community divisions, will becomes senior vice president of leadership enhancement and Development (LEAD), a new senior leadership development initiative.
Tzivia Schwartz Getzug, formerly vice president of public relations, will become senior vice president of public affairs, a newly reconfigured public and community relations initiative of The Federation.
Morlie Levin, former director of the Council on Jewish Life, will become vice president of strategic planning, a newly created position designed to enhance the strategic implementation of The Federation's policies and programs.