Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

Posted on Jul. 22, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Business as Usual

Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) packed 600 people into the Beverly Hilton on May 20 for its seventh annual "Strictly Business" luncheon. At the event, L.A. biomedical entrepreneur and philanthropist Alfred E. Mann received JVS' Business Leader and Humanitarian of the Year award. Mann was instrumental in developing breakthrough medical devices, like pacemakers, insulin pumps, cochlear implants and even an artificial pancreas. Mann spoke about his latest upcoming breakthrough -- a spinal cord stimulator, which could help people with back pain, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and paralysis.

Mann, who has donated $100 million to both USC and the Technion, told the crowd that he doesn't understand people who wait until they die to give their money away.

"Money is only worth what you do with it," he said. "It's a tool that if not used properly, has no inherent value."

Also honored was Eleanor Hoskins, the director of the Los Angeles-based Career Planning Center (CPC), who was recognized for her lifetime of dedicated service including more than three decades at the helm of CPC.

Staples, Inc. received JVS' Corporate Citizen of the Year Award.

Feeding the Hungry

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger announced in May that it awarded $262,000 to 28 of California's hunger-relief organizations. The grants span the entire state and support a wide variety of programs, including providing nutritious meals to people with HIV/AIDS, providing anti-hunger education activities in Humboldt County, assisting with food stamp outreach and enrollment and advocacy efforts in rural Fresno County.

And in the same spirit of helping those less fortunate, 1,000 inner city, at-risk kids between the ages of 7-12 were outfitted for camp at the eighth annual Camp Max Straus Clothing Distribution Day at The Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center on May 30. During the event, children and their families enjoyed food and entertainment, and the children received clothing, toiletries, laundry bags and other camp necessities provided by companies from the Los Angeles fashion industry.

Brian Weitman chaired the event, and Fox 11 News investigative reporter Phil Shuman was on hand to help distribute the clothing.

To Your Mental Health

Mental health advocates honored their own on May 14 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel with an awards luncheon for about 450 supporters of Culver City's Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center. Honorees this year included actress Mariette Hartley, Bay Area suicide prevention worker Mary Chung-Hayashi and longtime Didi Hirsch board member Beatrice Stern.

"This is my life. It [mental health] is something everyone should know about," said Stern, who has been attending Sinai Temple in Westwood for decades. Stern received the Center's Legacy Award from Nancy Hirsch Rubin, the daughter of center founder Didi Hirsch.

Center president Kita Curry encouraged luncheon guests to phone legislators in support of a proposed state bill to offset proposed mental health budget cuts. Chung-Hayashi, who like Hartley was honored with a Hirsch leadership award, said that new generations of Asian immigrants must avail themselves to mental health services, just as Jewish immigrants embraced proper mental health in successive generations.

"We have left our countries and come to America," Chung-Hayashi said at the awards podium. "We erase stigma by telling our stories and asking for help. This award is a clear sign the wall of silence surrounding the Asian American community is starting to crack." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Jerusalem's Day

The Religious Zionists of Los Angeles (RZLA) held its annual Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) dinner at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel on May 19, to celebrate the 37th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. The event benefited the RZLA Scholarship Fund, which helps Los Angeles youth attend Religious Zionist camps and programs in the United States and Israel.

Before the dinner, Esther Kandel introduced special guest speaker Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum think-tank, who spoke about some of the issues Israel is facing today in the intifada. At the dinner, Esther and Walter Feinblum received the Boneh Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Builders) award, and the high school students who belong to B'nai Akivah, the religious Zionist youth movement, performed a flag dance. n

Deborah's Honors

Barbara Balser, national chair of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the first woman to lead ADL in its 91-year history, was the special guest speaker at the ADL's 10th annual Deborah Awards Gala on May 20 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The dinner honored Christina Sanchez Camino, director of public affairs KMEX34/Univision; LaVerne Davis, vice president external affairs, Verizon; Sarita Hasson Fields, president of Star Staffing Services, Inc; and Kim Ng, vice president and assistant general manager, Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Deborah Awards were named after the prophetess Deborah, who in the Book of Judges was known for her courage, wisdom and leadership, and they are presented to women whose leadership in their professions and philanthropic and civic contributions exemplify the qualities of Deborah and the ideals of the ADL.

Before the dinner, guests were invited to look at "Faces of L.A.," a beautiful collection of photographs of daily life in Los Angeles, which were taken by students of the ADL's Dream Dialogue youth program. Dream Dialogue brings together a diverse group of young people from different ethnic groups who develop teen leadership skills in monthly meetings. Two Dream Dialogue Ambassadors, Shirley Eshaghian and Sina Grace, spoke to the crowd about how much the program meant to them.

Summing up the sentiments of the evening and the organization was singer/songwriter Daniel Nahmod, who played guitar and sang his original composition, "No Place for Hate."

A Gala for Graboffs

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles(JFS) celebrated its 150th anniversary on May 23 with a gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. At the dinner, Marc Graboff, the executive vice president, NBC West Coast, and Debi Graboff, a family attorney at the Law Offices of Rosaline L. Zuckerman, received the Spirit of Humanity Award, and Wells Fargo received the first Anita and Stanley Hirsch Award. All the awardees have been significant supporters of JFS. Marc Graboff is working to marshal the resources of Hollywood in support of JFS' vital community services, and Debi has worked with JFS' Divorce Mediation Project, where she helped mediate divorce cases in conjunction with a JFS family therapist. Wells Fargo has underwritten JFS dinners since 2001, and they also underwrote JFS' "Still Listening: 150 years of Jewish Family Service" -- an exhibition of art and historical artifacts that was presented at the Skirball Center earlier this year.

"Access Hollywood's" Pat O'Brien was the emcee, while singer Barry Manilow serenaded the crowd. Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment, Nancy Tellem, president of CBS Entertainment and Lloyd Braun were honorary event co-chairs. The event chairs were Paul and Laurie Nussbaum.

Awards Awarded

Dr. Myron F. Goodman, the head of molecular and computational biology in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry at USC, and Dr. Michael Teitell, the head of the division of pediatric and developmental pathology at the UCLA School of Medicine received the Elliot Osserman Award for Distinguished Service in Support of Cancer Research from the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) in May. The ICRF underwrites promising cancer research.

Also in May, at Cal State Los Angeles, education professor Martin G. Brodwin and history professor Stanley M. Burstein received the $20,000 systemwide CSU Wang Family Excellence Award, which honors members of the CSU faculty who have distinguished themselves by exemplary contributions and achievements.

96 and Still Kicking

In May, Rebecca Matloff, 96, was inducted as a founding fellow of the One-Hundred-Twenty Society of the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT). The honor was conferred by professor Joseph S. Bodenheimer JCT president, in a ceremony chaired by Frances and Dr. Stephen Schloss, who are also co-chairs of the Western States Region of the Friends of JCT. The JCT is a world-class center for the training of Israeli engineers in high tech fields of computers, software, electronics, electro-optics and applied mathematics, as well as managerial accounting and management.

Fabulous Faces

If you log on to Ebay you might be lucky enough to acquire one of the 40 Fabulous Faces, self-portraits created by leading women in the entertainment industry such as Penny Marshall, Roseanne Barr, Kathy Najimy and Julie Kavner. The artworks are a celebration of women 40 and older and are an extension of "Menopause The Musical's 40x40" exhibit. The proceeds of their sales will go to the Women For Women Foundation, which provides mentoring and/or financial support through a grant program to organizations that serve women over 40.

If you are interested in purchasing a portrait, go to Ebay.com and search for "40 Fabulous Faces."

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