The Israeli Leadership Council turned the glitzy Beverly Hilton International Ballroom into a rockin’ Israeli dance club at their inaugural gala Wednesday, May 13. The fledgling ILC, barely two years old, has quickly sprouted into an Israeli community powerhouse, a sort of unofficial Israeli Federation that funds various programs and initiatives with the goal of empowering and uniting sabras living in L.A.
The elegant-turned-elegantly-raucous evening drew 700 attendees and was sold out weeks before the event, which didn’t stop some Israelis from showing up at the Hilton hoping to buy a last-minute ticket. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Leo David, a champion of the IDF, were honored at the gala – also celebrating Israel’s 61st Independence Day—and the ILC-sponsored Israeli Scouts, or Zofim, youth program was spotlighted as a particularly inspiring success story.
Once the requisite speeches and video presentations were over, the evening took on the feel of a large, lively Israeli wedding: Israeli rock superstar Rami Kleinstein and cover singer Einat Saruf hit the stage and everyone hit the dance floor. A who’s-who of Israeli high society let loose and joined the dancing, breaking out into a hora at one point. Entertainment tycoon Haim Saban, model-actress Noa Tishby and retired Israeli soccer star Haim Revivo all took the stage to show off their singing talents, but it was a stunning rendition of “Yerushalyim Shel Zahav” by Robert Stearns, executive director of the Christian group Eagles’ Wings, that drew explosive applause from the crowd.
It wasn’t long before tables and chairs were shoved aside, arms were flinging in the air, men were peeling off their soak-stained dress shirts, women were tossing off their shoes and those sensitive to noise were heading for the exits. The evening didn’t wind down until close to midnight, at which point ILC co-chair Eli Tene looked around the room with a satisfied smile that seemed to say, this is a good start.
Photos by Peter Halmagyi