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Jewish Journal

Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

October 28, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Tennis and Bunnies

Hugh Hefner opened his Playboy Mansion for the final day of the 32nd annual Merchant of Tennis/Monty Hall/Cedars-Sinai Diabetes Tennis Tournament. The three-day event was held Sept. 17-19 and raised $800,000 for diabetes patient care and research. Proceeds benefited the Max and Anna Webb Family Diabetes Outpatient Training and Education Center, the Comprehensive Diabetes Outpatient Program, and Cedar-Sinai clinical and laboratory-based diabetes research.

A Friday evening cocktail party honoring philanthropists Stanley and Loretta Black kicked off the weekend's activities. Held at MountainGate Country Club, the night featured a live auction hosted by Monty Hall. Auction items included Singapore Airlines tickets, a film screening for 50 catered by Factor's Famous Deli and a purebred Labrador puppy. Saturday's tournament featured mixed doubles, men's doubles and a celebrity chefs' round-robin doubles – matching chefs from more than 40 Southern California restaurants including Ago, Border Grill, La Cachette, Michael's, One Pico and The Palm.

Sunday's championship finals at the Playboy Mansion were fun for Playmates and families alike. Parents bid on silent auction items as their children giggled over monkeys and exotic birds in the famous Mansion Zoo. The silent auction featured a lifetime family tennis membership at Braemar Country Club, a Lakers jersey signed by Kobe Bryant, and a Pebble Beach estate party for 10. Casual gourmet cuisine served up by a variety of L.A. fooderies included Jeff's Gourmet kosher sausages, The Cappucino Club's ice-blended coffee and The Bigg Chill's frozen yogurt. Playmates participated in pro/celebrity matches, as über Playboy Hefner looked on. Also in attendance were tournament chair Marvin Markowitz, The Merchant of Tennis owners Jeff and Marie Green, Motown Records owner Barry Gordy and son Stephan Gordy, tennis pros Luke Jensen, Theo Teryazos, Derrick Rostagno and Jeff Tarango, and Lakers Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. – Carin Davis, Contributing Writer

President Sabban

The Southern California chapter of the American Technion Society (ATS) attracted more than 70 people to its board installation at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles on Sept. 28. Nina Madden Sabban, a partner in the law firm Hoffman, Sabban & Watenmaker, took a step up from vice president to president at the installation. She also serves on the ATS national board and is a member of the Technion's international board of governors. – Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Heschel's Special Torah

There is a new addition to Heschel West day school in Agoura – a specially commissioned Torah scroll. The school drew more than 400 people on Oct. 5 as it presented and dedicated its new Torah scroll at Shomrei Torah Synagogue. Heschel West is the first day school in North America to have specially commissioned a Torah scroll to be written for them, according to school officials.

"We realized that we needed our own Torah for our students and the most authentic way to do this was to bring in a scribe to write it with the children," said Rivka Ben Daniel, director of Hebrew and Judaic studies at Heschel West. "We decided that the children and the community would be part of the creation of this sacred text and they created a legacy for future generations of children. It turned out to be a meaningful and heartfelt project that the students and the community at large embraced."

Blindingly Helpful

The Jewish Heritage for the Blind (JHB) had some unlikely recipients for their large-print and Braille religious publications this past High Holiday season – California prison inmates.

Chaplains at the correctional facilities recently requested large-print publications, such as High Holiday prayer books and psalms, for visually impaired Jewish inmates, and JHB was glad to comply.

Rabbi Shimon Posner, chaplain at the California Institute for Men in Chino, said that when the books arrived from the JHB, they were eagerly grabbed up by the inmates.

"When people reach out to help those that are visually impaired and incarcerated, it reminds them that they are still God's children and that they are very important," Posner said.

Cultural Concert

The Los Angeles Chapter of the American-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) presented a special concert and dinner at the Wyndham Bel Age on Oct. 10 in memory of the chapter's original members, Seymour Owens and Dr. David and Helene Rottapel. AICF is an organization that is privately funded by donors who provide financial support for talented Israelis youngsters and cultural institutions in Israel.

Rotem Says Goodbye

Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss turned to departing Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem and jocularly complained, "For the last six weeks, all I've been doing is speaking at farewell parties for you, and you're still here."

The occasion was a farewell party, hosted by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and the City Council at the Tom Bradley Tower, perched atop the 27th floor of City Hall, with a stunning 360-degree view of the L.A. basin.

Weiss praised Rotem as one of the keenest political observers of Los Angeles he had ever met and predicted that "if you put only one-tenth of your political capabilities to work, we've not heard the last of you."

A month earlier, Sharyar and Sharon Baradaran hosted Rotem at their Beverly Hills home, with tables for 120 guests set out on the lawn.

A special present for Rotem, a die-hard Lakers fan, was a basketball signed by all the guests, and an artistic road map to the West's natural parks, which the Rotem family loved to visit.

Noticeable was the presence of many Latino community leaders, with whom Rotem had established warm relations.

Contrasting his two favorite cities, Rotem concluded, "L.A. gets in your brain, Jerusalem gets in your heart." – Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Milken Sensei Scores

Sensei Gregory Poretz from the New Jewish Community Center at Milken took first place in the black belt division at the American Jujitsu Freestyle Contest.

In the competition, contestants are judged on how well they respond to various armed and unarmed attacks, and they have no idea what type of attack to expect until it happens – it could be a gun, knife, punch, kick or grab. There are three 30-second rounds in the competition, and the defender is blindfolded in the first, and has to fend off two attackers at once in the last.

After scoring, Poretz, who is the instructor at the jujitsu and self-defense program at the JCC, was awarded Tournament Grand Champion for receiving the best overall score.

Gelfand's Excellent Evening

Beverly and Herbert Gelfand welcomed to their Beverly Hills home some 100 supporters of the Tel Aviv University American Council, which serves as a link between American and Israeli scholars and community leaders.

Besides the excellent dessert, the evening's piece de resistance was Princeton professor Bernard Lewis, arguably the world's foremost scholar on the Islamic world and author of two-dozen books, translated into a similar number of languages.

After a brief introduction to his subject, delivered with the dry wit of a British-born scholar, Lewis called for questions, which centered more on current Iraq and Israel issues than broader points of Islamic history and civilization.

In his responses, Lewis held out little hope for democratic reforms in the Arab world and urged a hard-line American policy – to the approval of numerous Bush supporters among the questioners.

However, guests were given the opportunity for more in-depth analysis after being presented with copies of Lewis' latest opus, "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press).

To anticipate any questions, a dragoman is an interpreter or guide. – TT

Tea with the Senator

Women's Alliance for Israel (WAI) held a special tea in honor of Sen. Barbara Mikulsi (D-Md.) in July at the Regency Club. Mikulski was the first speaker that WAI had when it started 15 years ago.

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