Wish Upon a Star
March 13 found celebrities doing the work for a change, as television and sports stars chipped in for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles' 11th annual wine tasting and auction benefit, "Uncork a Wish."
For more than 20 years, the organization's mission has been to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The do-gooder mood at Santa Monica Aiport's Barker Hangar on March 13 was both fun and uplifting. More than 100 wineries and 30 L.A. restaurants participated in the event. Celebrity bartenders, such as L.A. Kings left wing Luc Robitaille poured at a carved-ice martini bar and helped with the lively action.
The most visible celebs were "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Bob Goen, who ran the live auction with Bonham's and Butterfield's auctioneer Malcolm Barber, and special guest Brad Garrett of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
With Goen and Barber standing by, Garrett kicked off the bidding with an energetic start, auctioning off four VIP tickets to a show taping and an on-set lunch with himself and "Raymond" star Ray Romano. Starting the bidding at $5,000, Garrett soon was upping the ante, first raising the prize to make those VIP tickets good for the final show taping and, after a few more bids, to "lunch with the entire cast." Garrett got a bid of $25,000 and worked the crowd again: "Only kosher meals!" A final bid of $26,000 had them settle on two winners, bringing the total donation for that item to $52,000.
Speaking afterward about his repeated participation with Make-A-Wish over the years, Garrett said, "What we love is you see the money work right away. It's immediate." -- Keren Engelberg, Contributing Writer
Temple Adat Elohim, the Reform synagogue of the Conejo Valley in Thousand Oaks, recently hired Richard Howard as their new executive director. Howard has spent the majority of his professional career in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the Adat Elohim he served six years as the associate director of Community Housing Management Service, an institution of the Episcopal Diocese, and as the assistant director of Housing for Single Room Occupancy Housing Corporation, where he managed its 18 residential hotels on Los Angeles' skid row. He also worked as a program director at the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles.
Also in the Conejo, Heschel West Day School named Yuri Hronsky as assistant principal and middle school director. The middle school, expected to open in September 2005, will focus on community involvement and secular and morals-based academics. Hronsky, who is an active participant in the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education and a current educator at Heschel, will be in charge curriculum development and faculty and student recruitment.
Back in the city, Glenn A. Sonnenberg, president of Legg Mason Real Estate Investors Inc., was sworn in as the president of the Bet Tzedek's board of directors on March 24. Sonnenberg has been an active member of the board since 1996, serving as chair of the Budget and Investment Committees for the 30-year-old public interest law firm.
In Culver City, the Kayne-Eras Center, an organization that helps serve at-risk children, families and young adults in urban areas, announced the appointment of Suzanne Kayne as chair. Kayne is deeply involved in the Los Angeles business and philanthropic community, serving on the boards of The Children's Burn Foundation and the Blue Ribbon of the Music Center. She is also a former boardmember of the Santa Monica YMCA.
Valley Girls on Stage
The Westside Jewish Community Center's auditorium was filled to capacity when the Valley Torah High School girls' division staged three performances on March 6 and 7 of "Dovid Meyer," an emotional musical drama about facing life's challenges. The show was produced by Joyce Samuels and directed by Brianna Samuels, with original music by Moshe Samuels. Esther Stulberger, Racheli Friedman and Rachel Victor assisted.
JESNA, the Jewish Federation system's educational coordinating, planning and development agency, honored Shelley and Bruce Whizin of Sherman Oaks and Ellie and Mark Lainer and Simha Lanier of Encino with the 2004 JESNA Vision Award at the first Jewish Education Leadership Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from Feb. 8-11, which attracted more than 300 participants
The Whizins are vice president and president of the Whizin Foundation. Both are dedicated to help perpetuate all aspects of Jewish life and serve on various boards of local, national and international Jewish organizations. They were honored for creating the Whizin Institute for Jewish Family Life at the University of Judaism, which is forging new approaches to Jewish continuity through Jewish family living.
The Lainers are actively involved in the Jewish community as philanthropists and active volunteers. They were honored for the Lainer Interns for Jewish Education, the longest-running program to recruit students and young adults to careers in Jewish education.
The awards ceremony was a highlight of the leadership summit, whose theme was Aseh Lekha Rav (acquire for yourself a master teacher): Recruiting and Retaining a New Generation of Jewish Educators. The summit focused on identifying practical strategies and solution for bringing additional talented people into the field of Jewish education and creating the culture of support in which these educators can grow and thrive.
Persian Town Hall
Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss and Adeena Bleich, his field deputy and Jewish-community liaison, organized a March 16 town hall meeting for Iranian American Jews. The meeting brought together about 30 Persians and 10 senior city officials for a question-and-answer session at the Museum of Tolerance's Hertz Theater.
City officials, including three Iranian Americans, fielded questions about cars vs. pedestrians in the Pico-Roberston area, where commuters use side streets to avoid rush hour congestion elsewhere, and they explained how city officials and policeman are kept abreast of Jewish holidays so that they know to park police cars in front of synagogues. Weiss also informed the attendants that city traffic officials have retimed local traffic lights to make them more pedestrian friendly on Friday and Saturday. -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer