The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Operations-Valley Bureau hosted the first-ever Jewish Community Forum on June 18 as part of an ongoing series of dialogues between the department and minority communities.
More than 100 city officials and members of the Jewish community attended the forum at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana. Many questions centered around traffic safety, but officials also fielded more community-specific queries about security and holidays. Capt. Steve Carmona of the North Hollywood Area Station said the department steps up security around temples on the Sabbath and makes an effort to educate patrol officers about Jewish holidays.
“We really like to give that to the officers so that they know and respect and understand the issues during those days,” he said. “We like to build that relationship.”
Ivan Wolkind, Federation chief operations and financial officer, said the Jewish community needs to be mindful of the potential for hate crimes and acts of terrorism. One way of doing so, he said, is through Federation’s Community Security Initiative, which provides community members with a real-time alert system and offers free safety and security training to Jewish organizations.
“We as a community are, more and more, investing our own energy, our own time, and realizing that it’s our responsibility to look after our security as a community and as individuals,” he said. “We cannot do that without the partnership of LAPD.”
L.A. Councilmember Bob Blumenfield noted that the public security issue was dramatically shaped by the 1999 shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, in which a white supremacist opened fire at the complex.
“You can’t have lived through that experience here in the Valley and not have it always on your mind that the security issue is not just an academic issue,” Blumenfield said. “It’s very real.”
A 2012 report by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations found that 89 percent of religious hate crimes were committed against Jews, representing a 12 percent increase from the previous year.
Paul Cohen, commander of Jewish War Veterans Post 603 (San Fernando Valley), said he was pleased with the department’s promise to send officers to the post for safety talks. At the forum, Cmdr. Jon Peters promised to attend the meetings if no other officers were available.
LAPD chief of police Charlie Beck, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer and Israel’s Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel all spoke at the forum.
Jackie Burg, who lives in Valley Village, said she was appreciative of LAPD’s efforts to build a relationship with Jewish residents. “What I really like is that they’re reaching out to the Jewish community so that there can be cultural sensitivity,” Burg said. “They let us know that our voices can be heard and that we can make them be heard.”
— Nuria Mathog, Contributing Writer
Eric Kingsley has been elected regional board chair of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“There will always be ignorance and evil in the world, but the ADL allows us to know that when those people emerge, the ADL will be there to condemn the conduct, comfort the victims and use the event to educate the rest of society,” Kingsley said in a statement.
Kingsley, 42, is a graduate of the ADL young professionals community leadership program (Glass Leadership Institute) and a member of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino.
Kingsley is a founding partner at Encino law firm Kingsley & Kingsley, where he focuses on employment issues, and a graduate of Loyola Law School and UC Santa Barbara. The election was announced during the ADL Pacific Southwest Region’s annual meeting on June 10. He is succeeding Seth Gerber.
From left: Casey Federman, Tim Prather, Jason Alexander and David Schwartz at the Tower Cancer Research Center’s Cancer Free Generation poker night. Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Tower Cancer Research Foundation
The Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s (TCRF) inaugural Cancer Free Generation poker tournament and casino night took place June 7 at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, and the evening drew hundreds of Jewish leaders, celebrities and others.
Actor Jason Alexander was among those who participated in the fundraiser, which raised more than $150,000 in support of cancer research. The “Seinfeld” star joined television, sports and film stars at the poker tables.
Jewish community supporters who turned out included Casey Federman, a Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles donor and president of Cancer Free Generation, the young leadership division of TCRF that organized the event.
Also present was Beit T’Shuvah Board of Directors’ chairperson emeritus Nancy Mishkin, who is the chairman of the board at TCRF, a Beverly Hills-based nonprofit. The foundation, according to its website, “provides grants for clinical trials, innovative research, caring patient support and community education to promote more effective treatments for cancer and blood disorders.”
From left: Journalist Richard Stellar, Emmy-nominated composer Sharon Farber and Holocaust survivor/actor Curt Lowens at “An International Evening of Music and Remembrance,” honoring Lowens. Photo by Anjani Lynn White
Seated onstage at Beverly Hills Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theatre, Curt Lowens appeared before an audience of more than 1,000. As he spoke about his experience as a Holocaust survivor, his voice cut through the room with unexpected power.
“I look up to the heavens, and I wonder why,” he said. As he raised his gaze upward, the orchestra transformed his sorrow into the smooth, crisp notes of bows drawn gracefully across strings.
Lowens is known for his achievements as an actor; he has appeared in more than 100 television shows and movies, including “General Hospital.” But the June 13 commemorative program celebrated his off-screen accomplishments: In addition to living through one of the worst tragedies in human history, he was involved in a Dutch group that rescued some 150 Jewish children, and he saved two American Army Corps fliers whose plane had been shot down.
The highlight of the evening was the Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of “Bestemming: Concerto for Cello, Orchestra and Narration.” The concerto was written by Emmy-nominated composer Sharon Farber. For Farber, the piece, whose title means “destination” in Dutch, had extra significance — her great-grandfather, a cantor from a Greek community, was among the victims of the Holocaust. “This is for the ghosts of my extended family,” she said.
The concerto’s four movements — “Shattered,” “Escape,” “Resistance” and “Triumph” — traced Lowens’ path from a child watching the Nazi regime destroy his community to a man reflecting upon a great human tragedy. Lowens narrated each section with words written by Farber, Richard Stellar and Beth Wernick.
Lowens received two additional honors on this night. Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz declared June 13, 2014, “Curt Lowens Day,” while Ken Howard, president of SAG-AFTRA, issued a special proclamation honoring Lowens for his courage and humanity.
Actor Bill Smitrovich, the event’s master of ceremonies, at one point asked the Holocaust survivors in attendance to stand and be recognized; about a dozen rose to their feet, to tremendous applause.
Dignitaries from Israel, Germany and the Netherlands shared their thoughts on moving forward in the wake of the Holocaust at the ceremony, which was co-sponsored by numerous local organizations, including Temple of the Arts and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Carolyn Ben Natan of Israel’s Consulate participated, and Bernd Fischer, German consul general in Los Angeles, said he felt great sadness and shame at the role his country played in the Shoah.
“I represent Germany, and in the name of my country, the generation of my father and my grandfather committed unspeakable crimes or were bystanders and let this happen,” he said. “However, I also have feelings of gratitude and hope.”
— Nuria Mathog, Contributing Writer
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