Justices on Justice
Justice Alex Kozinski, a Reagan-appointed conservative on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, joined Justice Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter-appointed liberal also on the 9th Circuit, for a lively discussion of recent Supreme Court precedents at the The Jewish Federation's 12th annual Supreme Court Panel at the Regent Beverly Wilshire on Jan. 22.
Kathleen M. Sullivan, dean, and Richard E. Lang Stanley Morrison professor of law at Stanford Law School, moderated the discussion, which covered six recent decisions and five upcoming ones. The two justices sparred on matters of race, affirmative action, school vouchers, capital punishment, the three-strikes law, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and gay marriage.
"I couldn't imagine that the foundation would become what it has," said founder Steven Spielberg in marking the 10th anniversary of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
Spielberg, who conceived the foundation's mission after directing "Schindler's List," has reason for quiet satisfaction. During the past decade, the foundation has videotaped the remembrances of more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses and is now cataloging a staggering 120,000 hours of testimony.
But as foundation President Doug Greenberg reminded the 500 dinner guests in an impressive tent on the Universal Studios back lot, "Every single voice in our archives speaks for 120 others who perished in the Holocaust."
Honoree at the event was Ambassador for Humanity Richard Lovett, president of the Creative Artists Agency and considered one of the most influential people in the entertainment industry.
Lovett kept the tone light and presented two 10th-graders from a goal-setting class he teaches at Venice High School.
Comic icon Mike Myers, in a subdued mood, served as the evening's host and dedicated his appearance to his father, who had served in the British army during World War II.
A special performance by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora was greeted with enthusiastic applause. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Book of Samuels
Bet Tzedek Legal Services started a week of solid achievement with a banquet of solid fundraising. Over 800 guests gathered Jan. 18 at the Century Plaza Hotel to honor Sandor E. Samuels, recipient of the Luis Lainer Founder's Award, and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, LLP, which received the Rose L. Schiff Commitment to Justice Award.
The event raised $2.2 million for the 30-year-old organization, whose staff of 54, along with more than 400 active volunteers, provides legal services to the needy and underserved of all races and religions. Bet Tzedek recently won a landmark decision on behalf of garment workers.
"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere," said Executive Director Mitch Kamin at the event, quoting the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Current board President Nancy Sher Cohen reminded the audience that one in four Angelenos lives in poverty. L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky praised the organization for pursuing justice, "not just for ourselves, but for everyone."
Firm partners James P. Clark and Scott Edelman, both former chairman of the Bet Tzedek board of directors, accepted the Schiff Award on behalf of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, whose financial and pro bono contributions to Bet Tzedek date back 15 years.
Honoree Samuels, a Fairfax High School and Princeton University graduate, who grew up blocks from Bet Tzedek's headquarters, is senior managing director of Countrywide Financial Corp. He also serves on the boards of University of Judaism, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Shalhevet School and Adat Ari El synagogue.
"Tzedaka [charity] is the chance to show we are not indifferent to the pleas of others," Samuels told the crowd of mostly lawyers. "For those of you who have not found the right outlet, take on a pro bono client through Bet Tzedek."
Samuels credited his wife, Dr. Claudia Wallack Samuels, for much of his success. "You know what they say," he said. "Behind every successful man is a surprised woman."
Businessman, philanthropist and former National Basketball Association all-star Oscar Robertson also addressed the audience. Others in attendance were Bet Tzedek co-founders Luis Lanier and Stan Levy, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Randall Kaplan, and Shalhevet Founder Jerry Friedman. -- Rob Eshman, Editor in Chief
Museum of Stars
The place to see A-list movie stars these days is the Los Angeles' Museum of Tolerance. On Jan. 6, the museum, with Amnesty International and Lantern Lane Entertainment, held a screening of the Nick Broomfield documentary, "Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer," which deals with the life of prostitute and serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
Oscar-nominated actress Charlize Theron, who portrays Wuornos in the feature film, "Monster," appeared at the screening and participated in a discussion with Broomfield and Bonnie Abaunza of Amnesty International.
Museum Director Liebe Geft remarked that by raising disturbing and difficult questions on crime and punishment in our society, Wuornos was "profoundly relevant" to the mandate of the museum.
The following night, the museum screened "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." Sean Astin, who played Sam in all three "Rings" movies, participated in a question-and-answer session with Richard Trank, media projects director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Moriah, its film division. n
Honors for Two
B'nai Tikvah Congregation held its second annual dinner-dance on Dec. 13, at which it honored Nursery School Director Marla Osband and teacher Marilyn Gold. Both have been affiliated with B'nai Tikvah's Nursery School for over 25 years.
The day of celebration started with Shabbat services led by Rabbi Michael Beals, with guest Rabbi Toba August and guest Cantor Mimi Haselkorn, who is Osband's niece. At the event, guests feasted on a kosher dinner catered by Bruno and danced to the strains of the David Kamenir Orchestra.
El Salvador Salvation
On Jan.12, Hebrew Union College rabbinical students Anne Brenner, Mark Miller, Ryan Bauer and Justus Baird, together with University of Judaism (UJ) rabbinical students Risa Weinstein, Andy Sugarman and Laurie Matzkin returned from a trip to El Salvador.
The seven were part of a rabbinical student delegation that traveled to Central America to examine how liberation theology could be incorporated in the mission of tikkun olam (heal the world).
The group spent one week in El Salvador working on agricultural projects with Catholic campesinos (rural farmers), who were former refugees of El Salvador's bloody revolution. They also participated in the sustainable agriculture programs of La Coordinadora, the American Jewish World Service's (AJWS) project partner in the southeast portion of the country.
The group studied Jewish texts with Dr. Leonard Fein. Participants also studied with members of their host community and Jose "Chencho" Alas, a former priest and founder-director of the Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America. Alas presented his Theology of Peace Workshop to the group.
The AJWS received funds from private donors to send the rabbinical students to El Salvador. It believes the trip is essential to train and educate future leaders of the Jewish community to be informed and engaged global citizens.
On Feb. 4, the UJ students hosted a lunch-and-learn event for the rabbinical students and faculty of both seminaries, at which they discussed the trip.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored two law-enforcement units and four individuals with the Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate at a ceremony Jan. 20 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The Sherwood prize is an annual award recognizing law-enforcement officers, units, agencies or programs for acts outside the normal scope of duties that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to combating bigotry and stereotyping.
The individual honorees were Scott Millington, deputy in charge, hate crimes unit, Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office; Sgt Donald Mueller, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, West Hollywood Station; Stacy Ratnery, senior deputy district attorney, Ventura County, and Guninder Singh, Sheriff's Department.
The unit honorees were: the Ontario Police Department's Nazi Low-Rider Task Force and the San Bernandino County Sheriff's Department community liaison unit.
Amanda Susskind the ADL's Pacific Southwest Region director, spoke about the importance of supporting her organization's fight against hate crimes. The guest speaker was John Miller, bureau chief and commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Critical Incident Management Bureau. He spoke about terrorism today".