Tu B'Shevat, Israeli Style
At the Jewish National Fund's (JNF) third annual Tu B'Shevat seder on Feb. 5, the evening's theme – development of the Negev Desert – was apropos for the Jewish equivalent of Earth Day.
Emcee Doron Nesher held court at the Scottish Rite Temple Auditorium almost entirely in Hebrew for the predominantly Israeli audience of 500. Israeli actor, singer, musician and mime Israel Gurion provided the grand finale.
JNF Los Angeles' Rami Ganor introduced a film detailing development of the Negev, and the challenge of bringing water to the desert. The film highlighted the Hatzeva Reservoir campaign, which frees up drinking water, provides water for irrigation and cultivation and boosts the Israeli economy through agriculture.
Also participating in the seder, which included a light dinner with Israeli staples, including hummus, baba ghanouj and tabouli, were Moshe Salem, president of the Council of the Israeli Community; Ehud Danoch, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles; and journalist Batya Dagan. Musicians Jimi Gamlial, Roni Gotlib and Gilat Rapaport kept the audience engaged with spirited clapping and a singing.
While JNF President David Frank encouraged the audience to visit Israel, one lucky person, who was sitting at the Bank Leumi table, won the evening's grand prize – a free trip to the Jewish state, complete with tour guides. – Emily Pakur, Contributing Writer
ADL Praises Police
On Feb. 3, The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored law enforcement officers, units, agencies and programs with its 2004 Helene and Joseph Sherwood Family Prize.
Honors went to Senior Lead Officer Melody Hainline of the LAPD Harbor Division for her proactive commitment and innovative approach to combating bias-motivated gang crimes; Special Agent Linda Dozer of the FBI in Ventura County for significant community involvement for investigation of hate crimes and civil rights violations; Capt. Frank Mankin of the San Bernardino Police Department for leading community training about hate crimes; and Lt. Brad Wahl, homeland security liaison for the Bakersfield Police Department, for his commitment to undermining extremist activity in Kern County.
A joint award went to Dennise Willett, assistant U.S attorney in Riverside, and Sgt. John Ginter of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department for their collaborative effort to investigate and prosecute white supremacist groups. The FBI Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee was also honored for its outreach to improve communication between the FBI and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and Sikh communities.
The awards ceremonies, held at the Skirball Cultural Center, honors those demonstrating outstanding commitment to combating bigotry and stereotyping by performing acts outside the normal scope of duties. They are also given to those who work toward supporting those victimized by hate crimes and providing opportunities for education designed to reduce and eliminate hate crimes and biased motivated activity.
Thousands responded to The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' 2005 Annual Campaign, which kicked off on Feb 15. More than 2,000 volunteers staffed phones in Midcity, the San Fernando Valley and South Bay. With more than 50,000 donors called, some $4.6 million was raised.
Celebrities who lent their support to the campaign included Joshua Malina, Marlee Matlin, Larry Miller and Jonathan Silverman, some of whom took the time to make calls on Super Sunday. Even Mayor James Hahn stopped by and made a few calls.
With cuts in government funding for social services expected to continue this year, The Federation has adopted as its 2005 campaign theme "Live Generously." "This year we are asking our community to really think about what it means to live a generous life," said Richard E. Lewis, Super Sunday chair.
It was all champagne and black ties with no strings attached at a Jan. 22 celebration in honor of the 160 patrons who raised $1.7 million for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO).
Hosted by Karen and Gary Winnick at their Bel Air home, the donors rose to the West Coast Challenge Campaign back in October 2004, when local philanthropist Ruth B. Ziegler threw down a $500,000 challenge grant.
With the patrons more than doubling Ziegler's original goal, they managed to set a new record for American Friends of the IPO (AFIPO) on the West Coast. In return for their efforts, the guests were treated to a private recital by world-renowned violinist Pinchas Zuckerman and pianist Mark Neikrug.
Other guests included Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai; authors Faye and Jonathan Kellerman; Lisa and Ernest Auerbach; Barbara and William Belzberg; Deborah and Gabriel Brenner; Carole and Lod Cook; Diane Glazer; Nathalie and Maurice Marciano; Lois Rosen and Don Bogish; Felice and Richard Cuter; Helgard Field-Lion and Irwin Field, Jewish Journal board chair; Ruth and Charles Gold; Ilene and Stanley Gold, Shamrock Holdings president and CEO; Danica and Charles Perez; Drew Schaefer; Donna and Lalo Schifrin; Leah Superstein; Margo and Irwin Winkler, and Lynn Syms, AFIPO president, and her husband, Sy Syms.
Zubin Mehta, lifetime director of the IPO, thanked everyone, including longtime benefactors Annette and Peter O'Malley, saying, "In Israel, our concerts are sold out and people come to performances no matter what is happening around them. The music feeds them when bombs are exploding ... still people need to hear the music because music is a refuge and a release. The orchestra is a beacon of hope and peace in the midst of tragedy and chaos."
Governor of Hope
"After you are gone, we will go back to Auschwitz and Treblinka and remember. Never again will you be alone in a boxcar," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised Holocaust survivors during a Feb. 10 dinner in support of the March for the Living at the Beverly Hilton.
At the event, two Israeli cabinet ministers, Ehud Olmert and Avraham Hirschenson, conferred the first Global Ambassador of Hope Award on the governor, on behalf of the March of the Living.
Schwarzenegger also saluted the children and grandchildren of the survivors as "the new growth after a forest fire." He recalled that as a school boy in his native Austria, he had never learned about the Holocaust, and that his father, who served in the Wehrmacht during World War II, never mentioned a word about the persecution and extermination of Austrian Jews.
Close to 750 of the city's most affluent Jews attended the dinner and contributed $1 million to help underwrite the upcoming March of the Living, which annually brings together some 18,000 Jews and non-Jews from 50 countries for solemn remembrances at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other Holocaust sites. The visit is followed by a flight to Israel for Independence Day celebrations.
Talk show host and master of ceremonies Larry King opened the evening by welcoming his "fellow Jews" and later read letters of support from President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Host and chief organizer of the dinner was Israeli-born Beny Alagem, owner of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The evening's closing speaker was 24-year-old Juliet Karugahe, who lost most of her family in the Rwandan genocide, and who participated in the March of the Living last year. – Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor