She may not be Jewish, but that didn't stop actress Brooke Shields from agreeing to narrate a new short documentary produced by Moriah, the film division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The film, "Beautiful Music," was co-written and co-produced by Rick Trank, who also directed the picture, and Rabbi Marvin Hier.
The story takes place at the height of the second intifada in Israel, and depicts the relationship between American-born pianist and composer Devorah Schramm, an Orthodox Jew who moved to Israel in 1975, and her student, 9-year-old Rasha Hamid, a blind, autistic Palestinian girl.
"This heartwarming true story of the dedication of a teacher and her student is a snapshot of what is possible when peace finally comes to the Middle East," Hier said. "It is also a testimony to the human spirit and to the incredible talents and resources that Israel has to offer and is eager to share with the entire region."
A New Hillel Home
On Feb. 27, a new Hillel home was officially inaugurated at Stanford University.
Yale President Richard Levin, who graduated from Stanford in 1968, and current Stanford President John Hennessy were both on hand for the formal inauguration of the Harold and Libby Ziff Center for Jewish Life.
The $4.8 million, 3,700-square-foot center is a welcome upgrade from the former Hillel basement premises of 700 square feet, which had been in operation since the 1970s.
The Ziff Foundation gift that enabled the new Hillel home at Stanford to be built was made in memory of Harold Ziff, a central figure in the development of the Los Angeles Hillel Council, who died in 1995 at the age of 89.
The donation also honors Harold's wife, Libby, who is still active in the foundation.
"The opening of the Ziff Center embodies a commitment to the future of the Jewish community, providing Stanford's Jewish community with not only a physical center to hold activities and build community, but also a sense of pride in these students' Jewish identity," said Lela Ziff Sarnat, the Ziffs' daughter and president of the foundation.
The foundation also has plans for an additional 10,000 square feet, which will house a kosher kitchen, dining room, cafe, lounge and additional prayer and meeting space.
Partying for Kids
Local Jewish philanthropist Daphna Ziman's Oscar-viewing party and post-award dinner at The Factory in West Hollywood was one of the hot tickets in town on Feb. 27.
While some celebrities cruised to the Vanity Fair party and the Governor's Ball, others, including Jamie Foxx, Wyclef Jean, Paris Hilton and Chaka Khan attended Ziman's Children Uniting Nations (CUN) party. Even Missy Elliot decided at the 11th hour to forgo Elton John's In Style party in favor of Ziman's event.
"American Idol" judge Paula Abdul served as master of ceremonies for the event, hosted by Pierce and Keely Brosnan, Stephen Dorf and Pamela Anderson. Eleven celebrity chefs, including Rocco Dispirito and Todd English, were flown in from around the world to cook up a storm for the dinner held prior to the Academy Awards.
CUN is a nonprofit organization established by Ziman that provides mentoring relationships to at-risk children worldwide.
A GROWING CONCERN
As part of her ongoing work around the world, Hanita Zimrin , founder and president of ELI – The Israel Association for Child Protection, paid a visit to Los Angeles on Feb. 27.
Zimrin routinely travels on Israeli government missions providing training and advocacy on child abuse, most recently to China and Ethiopia.
While in Los Angeles, Zimrin met up with U.S. ELI representative Michael Hersch to spread the word about the growing incidence of child abuse in Israel.
While ELI works in towns throughout Israel, and deals with every aspect of the treatment and prevention of child abuse, it also operates the only mobile therapy unit in the world, made possible through donations by American Jewry.
Here's to Pluralism
Some 500 people attended the Masorti Foundation's ninth annual dinner at Sinai Temple on Dec. 5, where recipients were honored for their efforts in support of Conservative Judaism and religious pluralism.
Honorees of the evening were Cantors Herschel and Judy Fox of Valley Beth Shalom, Mark Haloossim of Sinai Temple, Adria and Philip Metson of Adat Ari El, Rabbi Perry Netter of Temple Beth Am and Laura-Beth and Jack Sholkoff of Temple Aliyah. Dr. Ed Kamenir received the Parnas Award for Community Service.
Also in attendance were keynote speaker Rabbi Ehud Bandel, president of the Masorti Movement in Israel; Ernest B. Goodman, Masorti National board member and L.A. campaign chair; Golda Mendelsohn, dinner chair, and emcee Rabbi Richard Camras. n