Oil of Ole
With hair flying and arms interlocked, 25 school-age children clapped their hands and performed the "Mexican Hat Dance" -- one of the many musical acts shown at Temple Israel of Hollywood on Feb. 24. The concert was part of an education program titled, A Patchwork of Cultures, which sought to explain the Sephardic-Latino connection through language and music.
The Nimoy Concert Series and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS) collaborated on the educational workshops leading up to the concert. At the workshops, members of the orchestra visited third- through fifth-graders from various elementary schools. Using musical principles, like texture, the teachers helped the kids create artwork that represented their heritage. The musicians incorporated music in the cultural lesson, with public school children learning classic Sephardic melodies like "Avraham Avinu" in Ladino, and the Jewish day school students learning the "The Mexican Hat Dance."
Noreen Green, artistic director for the LAJS and the creator of the program, wanted the kids to understand their cultural connection and celebrate their similarities through music.
"This all came out of wanting to have more of a connection with our Hispanic community," Green said. "Through music we can show the similarities of the two cultures."
The concert was the first opportunity for the kids from the various schools to meet and share their experiences. Hundreds of kids chitchatted in line, patiently waiting their turn for the "instrument petting zoo." In the background you could hear the blare of the trumpet, the sound of the horn and clinking of the xylophone, as children toyed with various musical instruments.
At the concert, Cantor Aviva Rosenblum, wearing a green cloak with a rose in her hair, sang beautiful Sephardic and Latino melodies in operatic style.
Daniel Fishman, a Russian Jewish fifth-grader from Laurel Elementary School said the program was a true learning experience since he had no prior knowledge of Sephardic Jews.
"I am enjoying it," he said with a smile. -- Leora Alhadeff, Contributing Writer
Utah Shul Gets Rabbi
Tracee Rosen, a 2000 graduate of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism, was installed as senior rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, Utah's largest synagogue, on March 7. Rosen left a 10-year career in banking in 1996 to become a rabbi. Her first stint was as a rabbinic intern at the Shivyon Minyan, a monthly Pico-Robertson prayer group. She then became a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, and for Hadassah of Southern California's adult bat mitzvah program. Rosen also served on the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
Rosen moved to Salt Lake City in August 2003 to take over the 450-family congregation. She is the state's first female rabbi to lead a synagogue. -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor
Think, Think, Think
In early March, more than 50 attorneys, accountants and insurance and financial planners gathered at a Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel to hear Steve Johnson, the vice president of The Philanthropic Initiative of Boston, talk about "What Are Professional Advisers Thinking About Philanthropy?" The event was sponsored by the Family Foundation Center, a consulting service of the JCF that helps funders maximize the impact of their philanthropic giving.
The Los Angeles Press Club hosted scorched-earth journalists Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner at a Feb. 19 party for their book, "Hollywood Interrupted," at West Hollywood's Quixote Studios. Along with L.A Press Club President Ted Johnson, guests on hand for the autographed book giveaway included Arianna Huffington, Variety's Patricia Saperstein, author David Rensin, West Coast online journalists David Poland, Cathy Seipp and Amy Alkon (the latter two also the party's hostesses) and New Yorker cartoonist Donna Barstow -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
It was big-money time at the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases 50th anniversary celebration on Feb. 28 at the Park Hyatt Hotel. More than 350 people gathered to honor Dr. Gary Gitnick, the division chief for the past 10 years, and Dr. Sherman Mellinkoff the founder of the division. The banquet was the culmination of several days of celebratory events that raised $6.7 million for research, education and patient care. The UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases is the largest in the world and ranked first in the Western United States in U.S. News and World Report's America's Best Hospital Survey.
At the event, Gitnick announced key gifts, including $3 million from The Michael Foundation in memory of Michael Parr, $2 million from The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation and $1 million from other sources.
Memories and Legacies
In early February, HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) Young Leaders of Los Angeles held its kickoff event at Sinai Temple. The HIAS is America's oldest international migration and refugee immigration agency. The event, Memories and Legacies, HIAS' First Los Angeles Family Gathering, was designed to teach the 250 people in attendance more about HIAS' work and how they could help Iranian refugees stranded in Vienna.
HIAS board members Nazy Yadkarim and Reuben Zadeh emceed the event while Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple delivered the opening remarks. Other speakers included Jerome Teller, chair of the HIAS Board of Directors; Leonard Glickman, president and CEO, and HIAS scholarship recipients Elham Makabi, Yalda Azarmehr and Mojdeh Makabi.
In its more than 122 years of operation, HIAS has helped more than 4.5 million immigrants and refugees in need, many who now reside in the L.A. area.
For more information on HIAS Young Leaders of Los Angeles, e-mail HIASLAYL@Yahoo.com.
Conejo School Honors
The Conejo Jewish Day School held tight to the evening's theme, Dor L'Dor (generation to generation), when it celebrated the contributions of two generations during its second annual scholarship banquet on Feb. 29 at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel.
Mark and Risa Moskowitz received the school's Leadership Award; Mark is one of the school's founding board members. Joe and Zena Simon, Risa's parents and founders/owners of Ventura Kosher Meats, were honored with the school's Lifetime Achievement Award.
"Mark has devoted so much of his time to making sure Conejo Jewish Day School becomes a reality," said Rabbi Moshe Bryski, who serves as the school's dean. "And Joe and Zena are community leaders; they have always been there for people and they've been instrumental in bringing kosher food to the Conejo Valley."
The banquet also featured a performance by the Conejo Jewish Day School Choir and the evening's silent auction raised $12,000 for the school; pledges to the school brought the evening's total up to more than $90,000.
Founded in 2000, the Conejo Jewish Day School recently received a preliminary nod from the Agoura Hills City Council to continue operating at the Gateway Foursquare Church site indefinitely. The site was the original location of Heschel Day School West, which moved in 1997. -- AW
It was party time at Bergamot Station on March 6 when more than 700 young professionals turned out for ATID's second annual sold-out Purim party. The theme was Vegas, baby, and it featured DJ Backdraft, a Dr. Seuss-style megillah reading, drinks, food and that scrumptious chocolate fountain. Ophira Levant and Oren Zarin, who became engaged at the ATID party last year, dressed up as picnic tables and won first prize in the costume contest, which featured prizes such as a stay at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and L.A. Fitness memberships.