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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

May 6, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Commending the Caring

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) has, for the past 150 years, been helping more families than you can count. On March 19, 5th District City Councilman Jack Weiss presented a JFS delegation that included Paul S. Castro, executive director of JFS, and Marcia Volpert, president of the JFS board, with a city commendation honoring the anniversary during a meeting of the City Council.

The commendation reads "Congratulations on the celebration of your 150th Anniversary! As the largest and oldest social service agency in the city of Los Angeles, it is an honor to commend you for your extraordinary commitment and unwavering service to the Jewish community and to the people of our great city." In return, Volpert presented Weiss with a desk-sized replica of a bus bench featuring one of JFS' anniversary advertisements that reads "Healing families in L.A. since before the Civil War."

"Our organization has grown alongside the city since 1854, helping its citizens to meet the small and large challenges of life," Volpert said. "We are proud of our great partnership, which provides vital services to all the people of Los Angeles, and look forward to another 150 years of successful service."

Iranian Schindler

At the Yom HaShoah commemoration at Nessah Synagogue on April 18 and again at the Wiesenthal Center on April 19, the man who was known as the "Iranian Schindler" received commendation for his work -- six decades after World War II.

During the war, Abdol Hossein Sardari was the Iranian Charge d'Affairs in Paris, under the Nazi occupation. Sardari took it upon himself to issue Iranian passports to non-Iranian Jews who were facing deportation, and saved the lives of thousand of Jews. Sardari died in London in 1981.

At the Nessah ceremony, Sardari's nephew and the former Iranian regime's ambassador to the United Nations, Fereydoun Hovedya, received a Plaque of Appreciation from the leaders of the Jewish community.

Let the Music Play

Pamela and Dennis Beck and Carolynne and Ze'ev Drori of Beverly Hills; Joan and Allan Burns and Leslie Vermut and Tom Weinberger of Brentwood; and Denise and Tom Decker of Bel Air were the co-chairs of the Music Center of Los Angeles County's 16th annual Spotlight Awards gala performance and dinner on April 17 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. They watched 12 performing arts finalists compete for a $6,000 prize in categories of classical voice, nonclassical voice, classical instrumental, jazz instrumental, ballet and nonclassical dance in front of celebrity judges like Kevin Eubanks, Suzanna Guzman and Paul Salamunovich.

Read Up

It was a big night for the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) on April 7, when 270 people came to the Central Library downtown to watch writer Susan Sontag, philanthropist Caroline W. Singelton and The Boeing Company represented by Vice President William R. Collopy Jr. be honored at the library's ninth annual awards dinner.

Sontag, an award-winning essayist, playwright and director, and the author of "Illness as Metaphor" and "Against Interpretation," among others, accepted the LAPL's Literary Award for her impressive contribution to literature. Singelton was presented with the Light of Learning Award for her significant contribution to the LAPL's adult literacy services. Singleton's gifts established a state-of-the-art literacy center in the central library and expanded the program into 12 branch libraries throughout Los Angeles. The Boeing Company received the LAPL's Corporate Philanthropy Award for supporting a variety of programs for children and youth.

Great Big Gift

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles announced in March that it received the largest permanent gift in the organization's history -- a $12 million bequest from the estate of Werner and Ellen Lange. The gift serves as the cornerstone of the newly created Werner and Ellen Lange Endowment Fund, which is anticipated to generate $500,000 annually to support initiatives and new projects that will have a lasting impact on Israel and the local Jewish community.

Werner Lange came to America from Germany in the 1930s to escape Nazi persecution. He married Ellen in 1941 and the couple moved to Los Angeles after World War II where Werner established a substantial optical instruments business. The Langes never had children, and were described as "modest" by those who knew them, giving anonymously to a range of causes that supported the Jewish community here and in Israel. Ellen Lange died in 2000; Werner died in 2003.

"The Langes are true exemplars: for the humility they demonstrated during their lifetimes and for their commitment in leaving a legacy that stands to make a difference -- a profound difference -- in the lives of others who come after them," said Marvin Schotland, president and CEO of the Foundation.

To Your Health

The Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) sponsored an evening of cancer awareness on April 15 at Loews Beverly Hills Hotel. Dr. David Herber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, professor of medicine and public health and the founding chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition in the Department of Medicine at UCLA, spoke about "Obesity and Cancer." The evening was moderated by UCLA professor Benjamin Bonavida, president of ICRF.

In other cancer news, Dr. James Berenson, the former director of the Multiple Myeloma and Bone Metastasis Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and professor of medicine at UCLA, announced the founding of the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR) in March. The IMBCR is an independent research institute aimed at learning the causes and developing new treatments for common forms of cancer.

And on April 14, the The Wellness Community-West L.A, which offers support, education and hope to cancer patients and their families free of charge, honored Billy Baldwin on behalf of the Baldwin family, community leaders Stacy and Alberto Valner, culinary expert/cookbook author and philanthropist Judy Zeidler and Grammy Award-winning recording artist/producer Steve Tyrell with their Human Spirit Award. More than 400 people attended the gala dinner, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where Hollywood heavyweights Diane Keaton, Steve Guttenberg, Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette were honorary co-chairs.

Smart Teacher

The better teachers are educated, the better they will teach. In April, Lisa Ansell the world languages chair at the New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) was awarded a Fullbright Fellowship for a six-week study program in Russian language and literature at Moscow State University. Ansell, who is fluent in nine languages, and currently teaches Spanish, French, Arabic and Hebrew at NCJHS, hopes to use her fellowship to enhance all of the language courses at the school.

Heart of the Matter

UCLA heart surgeon Dr. Hillel Laks of Beverly Hills, professor and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of UCLA Medical Center's Heart, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Programs, was presented with the 2004 Medical Honoree Award at the Camp del Corazon's Gala del Sol event April 3 at Universal Studio's Globe Theater.

The award, presented this year by Larry King, recognizes an individual who focuses their work on pediatric cardiology and/or congenital heart disease. This year's inaugural award was given to Laks for his ongoing support of the camp as well as his role in the medical care provided to many patients who have attended the camp.

Camp del Corazon is a medically supervised residential summer camp on Catalina Island for children age 7-17 who have congenital heart disease. In was founded 10 years ago by UCLA's Dr. Kevin Shannon, a pediatric cardiologist, and Lisa Knight, a UCLA cardiology nurse.

The camp presented its 2004 Corazon Media Award to actor Noah Wyle, who accepted the award on behalf of the NBC drama "ER."

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