Fun Way to Fund
Dancing, networking, pool playing, raffle bidding and martini drinking were the main themes of the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) highly successful Young Leaders Summer Soiree fundraising party. Proceeds from the Aug. 11 event at Gotham Hall went toward the ADL's fight against hate and bigotry.
ADL summer intern Andrew Gradman won the "name that martini contest" for "Anti-Defamango-tini." Of the 125 people who joined the fun, half were graduates of ADL's Salvin Leadership Institute, which is designed to educate a select group of young adults in their late 20 to early 40s about the ADL's mission through interactive seminars.
For more information about the Salvin Leadership Institute or the Young Leaders of the ADL, contact Tessa Hicks at (310) 446-8000, ext. 230.
Kirk Comes West
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) recently hosted Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) for a series of talks throughout the Southland. Kirk, the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom, offered insight on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship and the looming threat from Iran. RJC Director Larry Greenfield called Kirk a "powerful force for intelligent leadership in supporting Israel against 21st-century military threats."
For more information, visit www.rjchq.org or call (310) 478 0752.
In the Beginning
Nikki Wallen, a 12th-grader at Oak Park High School, was one of 69 participants in the Genesis program at Brandeis University this past summer. Over the past nine years, 634 students from 37 states and 11 countries have participated in Genesis. Participants live on the Brandeis campus for four weeks and take part in programs that integrate Jewish studies, the arts, humanities and community building. The students also plan different Shabbat programs each week, which includes prayer, study and recreational options and engage in a variety of community exploration and community building activities.
The key goal is to help the students take what they have learned at Genesis, which was established in 1996 with support from Steven Spielberg's Righteous Person's Foundation, back to their home communities.
For additional information, visit www.brandeis.edu/genesis.
The ACLU of Southern California, "Six Feet Under" producer Alan Poul, former West Hollywood mayor and current councilman John Duran and special guests recently gathered at an exclusive viewing of the final episode of "Six Feet Under." Guests then proceeded to an invitation-only graveside cocktail reception to celebrate the work of the ACLU Foundation's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.
"Like the way 'Six Feet Under' characters Keith and David show that any loving person or couple can be an excellent parent, the ACLU Foundation's work is making great strides toward equality for gay people," said Duran, who is also an ACLU Foundation of Southern California board member. "It's sad this great show has to end, but the positive work of the ACLU will continue."
Student Art Aliyah
Winning designs of a national logo contest for aliyah-assistance organization Nefesh B'Nefesh will be painted on a special El Al flight, bringing with it some 250 North Americans moving to Israel. This flight marks the fifth out of six specially designated flights that have brought nearly 2,000 North Americans to Israel this summer through Nefesh B' Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Chaviva Sands' design "Aliyah" captured the unanimous decision by an international panel of judges who called it an "outstanding logo design by a young person." The 12-year-old budding artist's design -- based on the theme of "Homeward Bound" -- has been painted onto a chartered plane. The first prize included round trip flights for the winning artist, her parent and school principal.
The winning logo and the finalists can be viewed at www.nbn.org.il/logocontest.
A Woman's World
Women's American ORT, which empowers people to achieve economic self-sufficiency through technological and vocational education, held its annual meeting at the Beverly Hilton on Aug. 7.
For more information on the Women's American ORT, visit www.waort.org.
Tackling the Taboo
Unafraid of confronting controversial topics or community gossip, the leadership of the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center hosted an interactive lecture event on Aug. 7 at its Tarzana location, focused on discussing drug and alcohol abuse, frequently a taboo topic among Iranian Jewish families. The audience of nearly 200 Iranian Jewish parents and their children listened to the event's panel of experts including Iraj Shamsian, the founder of the Iranian Recovery Center in Westwood; Dara Abaee an Iranian Jewish community volunteer helping drug addicts; criminal defense attorney Alaleh Kamran; and Dariush Sameyah, an Iranian Jewish L.A.P.D. sergeant.
"We have been the only Iranian Jewish organization trying to help drug addicts in our community for years to get them to rehab," said Dariush Fakheri, co-founder of Eretz-SIAMAK. "This is the first time we have gone public with this issue because this epidemic is really getting out of hand with our young people."
Recovering Iranian Jewish drug addicts also openly spoke to the crowd about the horrors of drug abuse, which in recent years has become more prevalent in the Iranian Jewish community. -- Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer