Jewish Journal

L.A. Women’s Circuit

by Michael Aushenker

October 4, 2001 | 8:00 pm

Messing Around

Two days after the terrorist attack on America, Women of Sheba held their Women of Achievement event at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, as scheduled, to benefit Friends of Sheba Medical Center's pet charity, Sheba Medical Center. The center, located in Tel Hashomer, Israel, is the Middle East's largest hospital complex.

"We meet on this afternoon torn between tears and rage," Rabbi Jacob Pressman said in his introduction.

"It's been very difficult," said Beverly Cohen, Women of Sheba president, "but we decided to proceed, because it's important to the hospital and the children."

The luncheon honored Lili Bosse, community activist; Debra Messing, star of the NBC sitcom "Will and Grace," and Cathy Guisewite, cartoonist of the syndicated comic strip "Cathy."

Bosse, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, has chaired the Lion of Judah Division of United Jewish Fund and currently chairs the Donor Circle of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Accepting her award, she explained why she got involved with organizational fundraising: "I needed to connect with people. I think that's what we're all doing here today."

As the event's emcee, raconteur Rhea Kohan nobly mediated the equilibrium between the sadness of the time and the good spirits that marked the occasion: "'Will & Grace' was created by my son, David, and his partner, Max," Kohan said, then joked, "But let Max's mother talk about him."

Messing kept her acceptance short, sweet and mindful of recent events: "New York is my home," Messing said. "I was born in Brooklyn. But it was important for me to be present for the extremely important humanitarian work that this organization performs."

Accepting her award, Guisewite also kept the occasion light. Said the cartoonist, "I still balance my checkbook by switching banks and starting all over again."

Particularly moving was a special presentation, introduced by Women of Sheba's Marjorie Pressman, in honor of the late Deanie Levine, a longtime member and Temple Beth Am employee who founded the Golda Meir Club of Israel Bonds. Surviving relatives, including husband and childhood sweetheart J. Paul Levine, paid tribute to his late wife. A room at Sheba Medical Center's Pediatric Department will be named for her.

"This is a group that understands that it's the small triumphs that make up the big ones," Guisewite said. "If there's one thing I've learned over 25 years of doing 'Cathy,' it's that women never give up."

The Brains Behind 'Art of the Brain'

Judi Kaufman, founder and board chair of Art of the Brain, was honored at a Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel gala Sept. 10 by the Los Angeles Business Journal, in partnership with National Association of Women Business Owners and the Women of Los Angeles. Kaufman was among the winners of the 10th Annual Women Who Make a Difference Awards, honoring successful businesswomen.

Kaufman, a brain cancer survivor, founded Art of the Brain in 2000. Her volunteer-based organization raises money for brain cancer research -- more than $250,000 last year. Art of the Brain encourages brain cancer patients and their caregivers to use creativity in a variety of ways to regain their self-worth and personal power. Kaufman notes that brain tumors are the second-leading cause of death among children and young adults up to the age of 34. Annually, 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor.

For more than 20 years, Kaufman has been an active member of American Jewish Committee, chairing the L.A. chapter's Women's Outreach Program, and has served as an adviser to event planning at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Art of the Brain will hold its annual fundraiser, "Music from the Heart," at UCLA's Royce Hall on Oct. 7. "Music from the Heart" will re-create moments from the classic Broadway show, "West Side Story." Singer Maureen McGovern, Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop will be among the performers. All proceeds from the event will go toward UCLA brain cancer research.

For more information on "Music from the Heart," call (310) 825-2101. Learn about Art of the Brain at www.artofthebrain.org.

Eight Amazing Women

John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary will honor its eight past presidents on Oct. 10 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. The luncheon, co-chaired by Lorraine Morton and Norma Bilchik, will honor Auxiliary co-founder Sandy Cohen, who served as first president, and past presidents Diane Feldman, Donna Rosen, Jackie Banchik, Sue Hochberg, Ila Waldman, Ruth Weil and Roberta Novick. Ina Lewis serves as the Auxiliary's current president.

The Auxiliary, which raises funds for the John Wayne Cancer Institute, is dedicated to research and treatment for melanoma, breast cancer, colon cancer and liver cancer. Located at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, John Wayne Cancer Institute is also home to the Joyce Eisenberg Keefer Breast Cancer Center.

For information on the event and John Wayne Cancer Institute, call (310) 315-6111.

Go, Gitta!

Gitta Nagel was the recipient of Bar-Ilan University's honorary doctorate degree Sept. 9 at the annual West Coast Friends of Bar-Ilan gala at the Beverly Hilton. Nagel and her husband, Jack, recently endowed the Nagel Family Jewish Heritage Center at Bar-Ilan.

The Second Time Around

Beverly Hills resident Laurie Konheim has been named Women's Campaign chair of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. This will be her second consecutive term.

A Pair of Docs

Dr. Daphne Palmer will be honored, along with her husband, Dr. Laurence J. Heifetz, by Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF). The couple will receive ICRF's Excellence in Medicine Award at its Nov. 10 "Rhapsody in Blues" gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Twenty-five percent of the net proceeds raised will go to the September 11th Fund, American Red Cross and International Association of Fire Fighters.

Bronner Abroad

Professor Leila Bronner, former president of AMIT Los Angeles Council, was a presenter at the International Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

Leaving on a Sad Note

Laura Kaplansky, executive director of Hadassah Southern California, shared an anecdote with L.A. Women's Circuit :

"The final day of the National Hadassah Convention in Israel (Aug. 5-9) coincided with the Sbarro pizzeria bombing. This tragedy occurred during our free time, so many participants were enjoying lunch in central Jerusalem or doing last-minute shopping before packing to leave that evening. Our national president, Bonnie Lipton, immediately went to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem to lend her support.

"Once there, one of our hospital personnel said to Bonnie, 'None of your people have come into the Emergency Room.' Bonnie replied, 'They are all my people.'"

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