On July 12, 2008 26-year-old Iranian Jewish student Daniel Levian died in a tragic car accident while riding in a car that was driven by an Iranian Jewish young man who was under the influence of alcohol. This painful incident sent shockwaves through L.A.‘s tight-knit Iranian Jewish community which has never experienced such a significant loss through a drunk driving episode. Family members, friends and clergy were all pained by Levian’s loss and sought ways for healing—their answer came in the formation of the “Lev Foundation” in honor of Daniel Levian.
Late last month members and supporters of the Lev Foundation gathered at the Levian family home in Beverly Hills for the foundation’s first annual gala event. Those in attendance celebrated the young man’s life and honored his memory by announcing plans for their various youth educational programs, community services as well as promoting alternative transportation solutions for those who may be drinking alcohol at parties. At the event, I spoke with Joubin Hanaie, one of the Lev Foundation board members who gave some insights into the organization’s objectives. “What we are trying to do is empower young Jewish adults in our community with the attitude and mind set that they can have an impact on their friends and the larger society,” said Hanaie.
As a journalist who has covered Southern California’s Iranian Jewish community for a number of years, I’ve come across the highs and the lows that the community has encountered. Ever since this Levian tragedy occurred I’ve refrained from commenting on it as it has been indeed painful for everyone. However I now find some comfort in the fact that those involved with this young man’s life are taking this negative event and transforming into someone productive for others. My only hope is that members of the Iranian Jewish community never forget this tragedy and also educate their children in drug abuse awareness and the dangers of drunk driving.
The following are just some of the sights I captured from the Lev Foundation gala event…
More photos of the Lev Foundation’s 2009 gala can be found: here