More than 100 community members joined the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on March 6th to honor Dr. Sharon Nazarian, the Iranian Jewish president of the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation at the ADL’s annual “Deborah Awards” at the upscale SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. The ADL’s awards recognize women in the community who have shown courage, wisdom and leadership in their activism. Dr. Nazarian was honored for spearheading her family’s founding of the Israel Studies Center at UCLA nearly three years ago. This move was significant as it the center became the first of its kind in the western U.S. to have a sole focus on the academic study of Israel. The Y & S Nazarian Family Foundation has made donations totaling $5 million to the university, which helped establish the Israel Studies Program in 2005 and created an endowment for the center. It offers courses on such varied topics as Israeli politics, law, economics, film, theater, environmental policy and the early history of Zionism. The center also presents speakers and organizes conferences that highlight Israel’s history, cultural diversity, and economic and technological achievements.
Dr. Nazarian said she was honored for the recognition from the ADL and hoped it would draw more local Iranian Jews to join the ADL’s efforts in fighting bigotry and anti-Semitism in the world. “It’s important to see our community of Iranian Jews that has a vested interest in this country to get more involved with the great work of the ADL,” she said. “I think the work that the ADL does is not only good for Jews but the entire world because they fight hatred and issues of genocide that face all of humanity”. Interestingly, the SLS Hotel owned by Dr. Nazarian’s brother, hospitality entrepreneur, Sam Nazarian proudly hosted the ADL event. The ADL gathering is the latest effort by the organization to outreach to L.A.’s Iranian Jewish community and seek their support. In January, 30 Years After, an L.A.-based Iranian Jewish non-profit co-hosted an event with the ADL which exposed to anti-Semitism developed and spread worldwide by Iran’s regime.