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Jewish Journal

Moving and shaking

by Ryan Torok

August 13, 2014 | 2:06 pm

<em>Sheri Kaufer, Photo by Robert Lurie</em>

Sheri Kaufer, Photo by Robert Lurie

American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU) has promoted Sheri Kaufer, 54, to the position of executive director of its Los Angeles region.

Kaufer, who formerly served as AFHU associate executive director of the L.A. region, succeeded Matthew Ross as of June 30. She said she is embracing the job change.

“I could not be more excited to begin serving as our region’s executive director,” she said in a statement. “The Hebrew University [of Jerusalem] is a crown jewel for the entire world, and it is a tremendous privilege to work to support its students, faculty and research.”

Kaufer will help AFHU toward its mission of raising money for one of Israel’s leading research and education institutions. Hebrew University is home to the Albert Einstein Archives.

Kaufer has worked for some 30 years in Jewish communal life. She graduated from UCLA, where an Introduction to Judaism course led by historian Deborah Lipstadt helped Kaufer carve out a career path. She went on to receive a master’s in business administration, with a specialization in nonprofit management, from the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University).

A past executive director at University Synagogue, Kaufer also has served in professional capacities at Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League.

The organization’s leadership — which includes AFHU Los Angeles President Joyce Brandman, Chairman Richard Ziman, Vice Chair Patricia Glaser and Vice Chair Mark Vidergauz — believes Kaufer has what it takes to succeed.

“Ms. Kaufer is a committed, seasoned fundraiser who has worked tirelessly to support The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a decade,” Brandman said in a statement.

AFHU holds its annual Bel Air Affaire scholarship fundraiser on September 13 at the home of Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker.

The event will honor Bari and Steven Good, a Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles lay leader and an AFHU national board of governors member, respectively, as well as Ronda Lippman, who has served on the event committee for past Bel Air Affaire fundraisers and her husband, Barry, a member of the AFHU national board. 


The USC Shoah Foundation-The Institute for Visual History and Education, which houses more than 50,000 eyewitness Holocaust testimonies, is one step closer to reaching its $150 million fundraising goal, thanks to University of Southern California Trustee Andrew Viterbi, co-founder of cellphone giant Qualcomm, and his wife, Erna, a prominent philanthropist.

Andrew and Erna Viterbi, Photo courtesy of the USC Shoah Foundation

The San Diego couple recently gifted $5 million to endow the Andrew J. and Erna Finci Viterbi Executive Director Chair at the USC Shoah Foundation, according to a USC Shoah Foundation press release.

USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith will serve as the inaugural holder of the chair, which will “amplify efforts to share testimonies of Holocaust and genocide survivors around the world,” the press release said.

The donation was described as “the largest gift the Institute has received since it became part of USC in 2006.” It is part of a larger effort at USC that is seeking to raise more than $6 billion in private philanthropy.  

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg created the foundation — formerly known as the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation — following the release of his 1993 movie, “Schindler’s List.” Over the years, it has grown to become one of the largest digital libraries in the world, representing testimonies from 56 countries in 32 languages and totaling 117,000 viewing hours. Recently, the foundation established a new genocide research center.

This donation will take the foundation even further, according to USC leaders, including President C.L. Max Nikias and Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Dean Steve A. Kay, who expressed their appreciation.

“Andrew and Erna Viterbi stand among USC’s most ardent champions,” Nikias said.


Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) held its fourth annual Tools for School Community Day event at Westfield Century City mall on July 27. The program provides free, brand-new backpacks and school supplies — including dictionaries, pens, notebooks and more — to 3,000 poverty-stricken students from kindergarten to eighth grade.

A student receives her backpack filled with school supplies at the JFS Tools for School Community Day event.  Photo courtesy of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles 

“At JFS, we are here to help families facing financial hardships,” JFS President and CEO Paul S. Castro said in a statement about the initiative. “With JFS Tools for School we know that we’re supporting both children and their parents, leading to greater academic success as well.”

About 300 students and their families enjoyed fun activities such as face painting, a bounce house and more at the event. Students also received free haircuts. 

None if it would have been possible without the dedication of volunteers, including the 50 who came with JFS Young Leaders, a group composed of young professionals who engage in need-based philanthropy, social events and volunteerism. They worked with a host of sponsors to pull the day off. JFS volunteers delivered backpacks and supplies to those families who did not attend the event. 

A number of JFS leaders, including Debby Barak, board chair; Shana Passman, vice chair for resource development; and board members Melanie Brunswick and Wendy Ordower, turned out.


Lines of people hoping to get a glimpse of the red carpet were winding around the hilly slopes of Sunset Boulevard on Aug. 6 when the House of Blues in West Hollywood hosted philanthropists determined to fight homelessness as part of the Imagine Ball.

The event was put on by Imagine LA, a nonprofit organization aiming to end the cycle of poverty and homelessness by matching volunteers with deserving locals in need of rehabilitation and support. At one of the information tables, a representative of the nonprofit explained that the organization has been able to help about 20 families this year and hopes that the proceeds from the ball — estimated at about $200,000 — will allow that number to grow. 

Actress Anne Heche — once homeless herself and one of the celebrity co-chairs of the event — discussed her passion for the cause of alleviating homelessness, alongside two of the families who were assisted this year. Heche is on the group’s board of directors as well.

James Tupper and Anne Heche,  Photo by Faye Sadou

Randall Kaplan and John Terzian, two of the main sponsors of the Imagine Ball, which was attended by 800 people, were also on hand to express their gratitude for the large turnout to support the organization. The night was made possible in part by key donor, Tri Nguyen, of Network Capital. 

Up and coming indie-pop band Brave Native started off with a set of high-energy tunes, followed by the mixes of local DJ beeFOWL, while many of the young, hip, mostly high-heeled and suited attendees danced on the main floor. Magic!, a pop-reggae group best known for the hit song “Rude,” was the headlining act, performing a selection from its most recent album. The group closed out the night out with attendees packing the dance floor, singing and swaying along to the hit song.

— Rebecca Weiner, Contributing Writer

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.

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