A Valentine to Dena
The University of Judaism (UJ) raised $60,000 in one night at its $500-a-plate tribute to Dena Schechter, outgoing UJ board chair. Schechter said the event, which was held May 20 in a UJ parking lot, fulfilled her main requirement that it not be yet another dinner fundraising indistinguishable from "those interminable and interchangeable ones we all endure."
While most fundraising event tribute books feature full-page congratulation ads emblazoned with a law-firm's picture or studio's logo, the UJ's unique tribute to Schechter had brief congratulations printed in uniform lettering on the bottom of pages dominated by Jewish art created by Schechter's mother, artist Shirley Levine.
"I wanted a book that nobody's giving going to throw away," said the evening's mastermind, Ahavia Scheindlin, the UJ's individual giving development director.
Other people who offered tributes to Schechter were her sons and brother, former Democratic Rep. Mel Levine. After thanking people in her pre-dinner speech, Schechter took the microphone onto the dinner tent's dance floor and, dedicating the song to the UJ, bravely belted out George and Ira Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here to Stay." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
The Antique Dealers Association of California transformed Barker Hanger into a gallery of fine antiques for their gala opening of the ninth annual L.A. Antiques Show. More than 1,000 people came out to feast their eyes on the pricey collections of 68 vetted dealers, sample the buffet dinner and support a good cause. At $250 minimum per ticket, the event raised money for the Women's Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The Women's Guild, whose many projects include The Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center and the Hospice Program, supports research, clinical care and education relating to a variety of women's health issues from breast cancer to osteoporosis.
The show's three-day run from April 30-May 2 included a lecture series featuring interesting topics such as "The World of Hermes" -- which featured the appropriate way to tie a Hermes scarf -- and "Jewels of the 50s - The Women who Wore Them," presented by Sothebys.
The gala preview event on April 29 was chaired by "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, his wife, Mavis, and prominent Los Angeles philanthropists Geri and Richard Brawerman. Guests included former Gov. Gray Davis and his wife, Sharon, who came out to lend their support and, of course, scout for antiques.
"My wife is a big antique fan," Davis said. "She's here to support the Guild and maybe buy something -- and I'm here to support The Guild."
Daniel Stein, an 18th- and 19th-century antique furniture vendor at the show, was instrumental in creating the relationship between ADAC and The Women's Guild nine years ago.
"I think they do wonderful work. I feel honored to have worked with them," Stein said.
Abby Levy, the executive adviser of The Women's Guild, said that the ADAC sought out The Women's Guild as their beneficiary because of their impeccable reputation as a charity.
"We have a great reputation for successful fundraising, and we know how to give a great party," she said. -- Leora Alhadeff, Contributing Writer
Pups for Peace
Celebrating the "Second Anniversary of Saving Lives," more than 200 Pups For Peace (PFP) supporters gathered on May 13 for a garden cocktail party at the St. Regis Hotel.
Recently recognized as one of the top security measures for public transportation in Israel, PFP trains explosive-detection dogs that help counterterrorism through military, police and bus security deployment. PFP has raised $2.5 million in two years from 1,300 donors --1,000 of whom are from California.
"We are a grass-roots California movement that helps the people of Israel," party chair and PFP board member Amy Zimmerman Ehrenkranz said. "Our goal is to be so effective at saving lives that we eliminate the need for post-terror aid organizations."
With a 97 percent success rate, PFP has saved over more than lives since its inception.
At the event, founder Glenn Yago and board member Scott Schwartz spoke to PFP's success, its recent loss of a dog in action and the need to purchase and train more dogs. PFP's goal is to train 300 dogs per year for the next three years, at a cost of $2.7 million annually.
The cocktail party was made possible through the support of volunteers and sponsors, such as The St. Regis, Ray Entertainment Rocks, The Grill, Casa Del Mar/Shutters on the Beach, Guru Denim, Equity Marketing, De Bibi & Associates and Zimmerman & Associates, who raised $25,000.
Honored for their notable contributions were Lynn Knoff fourth-grade class at Browerman Elementary School, which raised $5,000, and Milton Farbstein who previously donated $30,000 for three dogs, and pledged another $35,000 for an additional three dogs at the fundraiser.
Among the evening's attendees were Marvin Schotland, Robin Franco, Israel Weinberg, author Mart Cohen, Ronnie Lotan, PFP board member Yoram Doctori, Moshe Sassover, Deborah Taubman, Larry Post and Shoka -- a PFP chocolate Labrador. -- Carin Davis, Contributing Writer
The Westside Jewish Community Center Nursery School will host a reception to honor Risa Igelfeld on June 6 at the Westside JCC. The Austrian-born Igelfeld's was a teacher there for close to 40 years before her retirement last June. In addition to her teaching, she's also a well-known folk singer and accordionist -- not bad for a woman in her 80s.
"Risa is an inspiration," said Ellen Greene, Westside JCC nursery school director. "We are delighted that, despite her retirement, she still works here as a substitute and at special events."
The reception honoring Igelfeld will take place from 2-4 p.m. at 5870 W. Olympic Blvd. For more information, call (323) 938-2531, ext. 2250.
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), the nation's only grass-roots organization of Jewish Republicans, recently announced the hiring of Larry Greenfield to serve as RJC's Southern Californian director.
Greenfield has worked as an attorney, business executive and financial manager, as well as vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation.
"The RJC's opportunities in Southern California are superb," Greenfield said. "The Jewish community is recognizing that the support of President Bush and the Republican Party for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship is outstanding and without precedent."
AMIT Remembers Ramon
Several hundred women attended the AMIT Los Angeles Council's Annual Spring Luncheon fundraiser for at-risk Israeli youth on May 23 at the Luxe Hotel in Brentwood, which honored, among other people, Rona Ramon, the widow of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.
Rona Ramon did not attend the event, and fellow honoree and actress Deborah Raffin canceled suddenly because her mother died that same morning. Along with a moment of silence for Raffin, AMIT presented a video about the Ramon family before Israel's first astronaut was killed in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster.
AMIT's other two "Women of Valor" honorees were Israeli-born Beverly Hills entrepreneur Ilana Jivago, and Estelle Samson, who with her husband of 54 years have donated extensively to AMIT projects. Samson announced she was giving AMIT another $15,000, "on behalf of Israel and on behalf of the world," she said.
Money raised at the luncheon and its fashion boutique was earmarked for a science center in Raanana, one of many cities where AMIT runs elementary and high schools, ulpans, junior colleges, children's homes and youth villages serving forgotten kids from broken homes.
"The feeling of having a home is sometimes more important than having a home," Jivago said..
In addition to Dina Goldstein, AMIT L.A. council president and Daphna Ziman, mistress of ceremonies, others attending included Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks); Roz Rothstein executive director of StandWithUs; military auteur Louise Green; Michelle Kleinert Gov. Schwarzenegger's deputy director of community affairs; and Diana Stein deputy director of the American Israel Public Affair Committee's Southern Pacific Region. --DF
Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City (YICC) stepped down from the pulpit and into the kitchen last week to bake two cakes for a bake sale organized by his daughter, Dina, which raised more than $6,600 for Re'ut Hospital in Tel Aviv, a long-term rehabilitation facility.
"My dad had never touched a Kitchen-Aid before," said Dina, an eighth-grader at Yavneh Hebrew Academy. "He doesn't even know how to boil water."
Undaunted by his lack of kitchen experience, Rabbi Muskin baked two pareve cheesecakes, which were auctioned off at the bake sale. One cake fetched $1,000 for Re'ut the other $1,200.
In addition to her father's cakes, Dina Muskin and friend Eva Tashman collected more than 150 cakes baked by different community women for the May 23 sale, which was held in Tashman's Beverly Hills house.
Muskin and Tashman organized the sale by sending out a mailing to everyone at YICC, and then fielding phone calls and emails from willing bakers and buyers. It was the second bake sale that the 14-year-old Muskin organized -- one last year also raised money for an Israeli hospital.
To celebrate the start of the National Book Month in May, the Literacy Empowerment Foundation awarded a record donation of the children's book series "Brain Busters" to the L.A. Free Clinic (LEF).
The LEF is a nonprofit organization founded by Bruce Larkin aimed at helping to reduce illiteracy among children by providing free or low-cost books to under privileged households and classrooms of America.
For more information on LEF, visit www.lefbooks.org .