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Jewish Journal

John Rauch, Founder of Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, 75

September 7, 2006 | 8:00 pm

"When you looked in those deep blue eyes you saw a man with a burning vision," reminisced Israeli composer Ofer Ben-Amots. He was referring to John Rauch, the founder of The Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, whose recent death at the age of 75 is a blow to the Los Angeles Jewish cultural scene.

John's name is not familiar to the general public. He shunned the spotlight, insisting it stay focused on the hundreds of artists he loved, nurtured and supported for more than 16 years.

"He was my rabbi, my biggest fan," said actor Stephen Macht. "I know he felt the same way about all his artists and friends. He sat or stood in the aisles clapping and laughing and crying during all of our performances." When Chaim Potok learned about the work of the Center he wrote a letter to Rauch: "Dear Mr. Rauch, the program of the Center seems to me to be wide and deep and eminently worthwhile with the potential for making a significant contribution to the culture of our world. How may I be of help to you?"

Rauch, a Viennese born banker and attorney founded the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity along with his wife Ruth because he believed that creating opportunities for promising, talented Jewish artists (composers, playwrights, filmmakers, painters, etc.) to work together with Jewish scholars would spark an explosion of Jewish cultural expression. Rauch was legendary for thousands of hand-written notes of encouragement to artists written between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. from his booth in Jan's Coffee Shop on Beverly Boulevard.

The Center began in 1991 with a pilot program called, The Creative Artists Institute. Jewish artists from Canada, Russia and the United States were given fellowships to fly to Jerusalem to participate in workshops covering everything from "Talmudic playwriting" to lectures on the erotic poetry of the 12th Century Sephardic Rabbis.

Another ambitious Center program is the Jewish Arts Festival (Philadelphia, Santa Fe and the San Diego Festival, now in its 13th year.) These Festivals provide precious performance opportunities for established and emerging Jewish artists whose work is often outside the mainstream of popular culture. For the 1992 Philadelphia Festival, the Rauches sought out and invited a fairly unknown composer to perform his work. Today, the music of Grammy-nominated Osvaldo Golijov is performed to sold-out houses at Disney Concert Hall and Lincoln Center. Golijov writes, "John's tireless and loving work is what gives Jewish artists of our time the possibility to reach their full potential. We are all blessed by him."

"His vision was to create tikkun olam" says Yale Strom, award-winning filmmaker ("The Last Klezmer") whom the Center helped secure funding for his projects through grants and commissions. "John had the vision and tenacity to take me from a street musician to where I am today. I can honestly say that John had a major hand in my success, because he encouraged me and never wavered in his belief of what I could achieve."

John Rauch is survived by his wife, Ruth; sons, Danny and Mark; and six grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, 6399 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 305, Los Angeles, CA. 90048

Barbara "Bobbi" Asimow, Federation Fundraiser and Mentor, 63

Bobbi was born in Brooklyn in 1943 and came to Los Angeles as a teenager, attending Fairfax High School. She received an master's in psychology from San Francisco State and an MBA from the University of Judaism. For the past 22 years, she worked for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles as a professional fundraiser. She directed the Metropolitan Region and, for the last 12 years, the Women's Campaign. She was a legend in the Women's Campaign, raising more than $12 million a year for Jewish causes; supervising a devoted staff; and mobilizing an army of dedicated volunteers. She was one of the most respected professionals at the Federation.

In her honor, an endowment will be established, within the Jewish Community Foundation, that will fund the Bobbi Asimow Award for the best Jewish communal worker of the year. This award will recognize the person who best exemplifies Bobbi's spirit; leadership, teamwork, dedication, love of Judaism, and a deep concern for those in need.

She is survived by her husband, Michael; sons, Ian Lennard, Daniel (LeAnn Bischoff), and Paul (Colette Caggiano); daughters, Hillary (Peter Blum) and Courtney (Craig Broscow) Lennard; sister-in-law, Myra Bennett; brother-in-law, Steven; former husband Colin Lennard; and seven grandchildren.

In her memory, donations can be sent to the Women's Campaign of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, 6505 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 750, Los Angeles, CA 90048

I fell in love with Bobbi Asimow the first time we met. I had just come to Los Angeles from the East Coast, was brand new to our professional field and a stranger here. Bobbi flashed her famous contagious smile and welcomed me with open arms.

It didn't matter to Bobbi that she was a senior pro and I was young and inexperienced, or that she was a top fundraiser and I was working with college students. That day, for the first time, I knew that I had made the right career choice, because Bobbi became my mentor. In our short exchange, she modeled the Jewish values that I spent years leaning with astounding beauty, grace and passion.

Over the years that followed I watched Bobbi develop hundreds of community leaders. In her quiet way, she helped shape much of the professional landscape of Jewish Los Angeles.

How many of us went to Bobbi when we needed advice, a shoulder to cry on, or to admit mistakes? How many times did she look deep into our eyes with both love and wisdom and guide us? How often did we then get back on our feet and aspire to be even half as talented a professional as Bobbi?

And finally, how did she make the time to help us all, while living her personal life with immense passion as wife, mother, grandmother, relative and friend. I sat last Thursday in awe of what you accomplished Bobbi in your 63 years. Your funeral was not an ending, but truly a map for living, loving, leading,and not giving up.

It's fitting that you left this difficult world at the start of Elul, the opportunity for a new spiritual beginning. Bobbi, your life lessons are guides to better ourselves, one another, and the Jewish community you deeply embraced for so long.

You are with us in our hearts. Shalom dear mentor.

-- Rhoda Weisman Uziel, executive director of the Professional Leaders Project at the Jewish Federation.

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Rose Abrams died Aug. 9 at 90. She is survived by her son, Steven; daughter, Elinor Blum; four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Groman

Zafira Arakanchi died Aug. 17 at 94. She is survived by her nieces, Lina Dyen, Jeanette Resnick and Sara Helfing; and nephews, Jim and Dr. Daniel Lahana. Malinow and Silverman

Barbara "Bobbi" Asimow died Aug. 22, a 63. She is survived by her husband, Michael; sons, Ian Lennard, Daniel (LeAnn Bischoff) and Paul (Colette Caggiano); daughters, Hillary (Peter Blum) and Courtney (Craig Broscow) Lennard; seven grandchildren; and former spouse, Colin Lennard.

Harold Bergman died Aug. 21 at 85. He is survived by his wife, Bernice; and son, Sandy. Mount Sinai

Pearl Sisson Bloomgarden died Aug. 17 at 93. She is survived by her daughter, Karyl Sisson; and one grandson. Malinow and Silverman

Hershey Binder died Aug. 15 at 66. He is survived by his wife, Farla; sons, David and Michael (Ismone); daughter, Ruth Ann (Matt); and sisters, Anna (Mike) Brasch and Etta Zivian. Mount Sinai

Harry Brenner died Aug. 27 at 80. He is survived by his sons, Dr Mayer (Sandra), Sunny (Susan) and Matthew (Sarah); five grandchildren; and brother, Bernard (Jane). Mount Sinai

Robert Caine died Aug. 15 at 70. He is survived by his wife, Sunny; daughter, Edye; son, Andy (Laurie); five grandchildren; and sister, Harriett (Mitchel) Cohen. Mount Sinai

Dr. Sidney Collender died Aug. 10 at 91. He is survived by his wife, Roslyn; sons, Robert (Susan), Michael (Phyllis) and Jack (Ellen); daughter-in-law, Stacey Collender; and seven grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Celia Farmilant died Aug. 23 at 98. She is survived by her daughter, Meredith (Sherman Pearl) Gordon; sons, Edward (Barbara) and Eugene (Kim); six grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and sister, Rochelle Rappaport. Mount Sinai

Abraham Grossman died Aug. 13 at 92. He is survived by his wife, Thelma; sons, Jack (Deborah) Wallace and Robert (SueEllen); daughters, Sandra (Rob) Ludlow and Tina (David) Borenstein; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Mara Grossman died Aug. 16, at 83. She is survived by her nephews, Daniel (Linda Gerard) and David (Cezanne Garcia); and nieces, Pamela (David Kahn) and Deborah (Jonathan Garber). Mount Sinai

Massood Haroonian died Aug. 17 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Pari; sons, George, Alex and Moussa; and nine grandchildren. Eden Memorial

Sonia Harris died Aug. 14 at 73. She is survived by husband, David; son, Scott; daughters, Susan (Marcus Russell) and Victoria (Barry Gleiberman); and five grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Murray Hoffman died Aug. 23 at 88. He is survived by his wife, Vivien; daughters, Randi (Kit) and Shelley (Jeff); and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Margot Honig died Aug. 9 at 98. She is survived by her niece, Monica Minden. Malinow and Silverman

Daniel Jaffee died Aug. 26, at 83. He is survived by his life partner, Barbara Fagan; daughter, Heidi Trotta; stepchildren, Robyn (Harry) Allen and Randy Fagan; and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Marilyn Bauer Kandel died Aug. 22 at 78. She is survived by her half-brother, William (Marjorie) Bauer; and friends, Blossom and Mark Roysner. Mount Sinai

Bennie Simmon Kaplan died Aug. 10 at 83. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; son, Larry (Robin); daughter, Roslyn (Douglas) Suman; and four grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Artur Kayne died Aug. 25 at 48. He is survived by his wife, Lauren; children, Michelle and David; father, Norman; sister, Lisa (Steve) Joyce; brother, Bob (Sherri); mother-in-law, Dr. Bebe Jacobson; and sister-in-law, Gail (Fred) Jacobson-Pell. Mount Sinai

Charles Kramer died Aug. 25 at 90. He is survived by his wife, Betty; daughter, Alene (Ted Bowen); son, Scott (Judy); and grandchildren, Nathan and Jolene. Mount Sinai

Robert Kramer died Aug. 18 at 57. He is survived by his sons, Daniel Laub and Aaron; sisters, Shira, Lisa and Kim; and ex-wife, Judith Laub.

Tibor Kramer died Aug. 14 at 55. He is survived by his wife, Suzan; daughter, Diana; and brother, Ladislav. Mount Sinai

Henry Laub died Aug. 18 at 77. He is survived by his brother, Morton (Marsha). Mount Sinai

Leah Mary Levine died Aug. 11 at 81. She is survived by her son, Arnold; daughter, Sharon Feeder; and two grandchildren. Groman

Dorothy Levinson died Aug. 23 at 95. She is survived by her daughters, Judith (Mel) Sisson, Joyce Rosenbloom and Susan Smith; eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and brother, David Sher. Mount Sinai

Sylvia Liner died Aug. 16 at 70. She is survived by her son, Joel Greenberg; sisters, Carole Miller and Karen (Allen) Lehrich. Malinow and Silverman

Irvin Motty died Aug. 26 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Sylvia; daughter, Teri Elaine (Alfred) Curtis; and four grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Ruth Perl died Aug. 13 at 94. She is survived by her daughter, Barbara (Harry) Wurmbrand; son, Martin (Lila) Speciner; and four grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Clifford William Price died Aug. 11 at 84. He is survived by his sons, Mark (Barbara) and Bradley; one grandson; and brother, Maurice. Malinow and Silverman

Harry Sanders died Aug. 20 at 84. He is survived by his wife, Anne; son, Mark (Fran); grandchildren, Genelle (Scott) and Melanie (Jonathan); sister-in-law, Claire; and brother-in-law, Norm Weinberg. Groman-Eden

Howard Stephen Secof died Aug. 12 at 52. He is survived by his sister, Sandy (Bill) Cummings. Malinow and Silverman

Rebecca Shamash died Aug. 23 at 92. She is survived by her children, Ellis, Florence, Leah and Albert; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild Hillside

Benjamin Shankman died Aug. 22 at 81. He is survived by his sister, Eileen Harrison; nieces; and nephews. Mount Sinai

Barbara Jean Silverman died Aug. 9 at 89. She is survived by her son, Dr Robert; daughters, Jean Dodson and Marilyn Rehberger; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Esther Simon died Aug. 10 at 93. She is survived by her sons, Ronald (Barbara) and David (June); five grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Lawrence Simon died Aug. 23, at 41. He is survived by his wife, Lydia; sons, Jacob and Tyler; brother, Michael (Kathryn); mother, Dee Ann. Mount Sinai

Ruth Statland died Aug. 12 at 89. She is survived by her husband, Joseph; daughters, Irene (John) Robbins and Carol Hagberg; two grandchildren; one great-grandson; and sister, Pearl Jacobs. Malinow and Silverman

Earl Stuart Taxy died Aug. 19 at 48. He is survived by his mother, Sylvia; and brothers, Mark and Neil (Marlee). Malinow and Silverman

Charlotte Tiger died Aug. 21 at 74. She is survived by her husband, David; sons, Steve and Mark (Angella); five grandchildren; and brother, Marvin (Esther) Lichtig. Mount Sinai

Marlene Tobin died Aug. 25 at 77. She is survived by her husband, Jerome; daughters, Janet (David) Suber and Linda (Steven) Katz; three grandchildren; and brothers, Joe (Molly) and Mack (Geri) Novak. Mount Sinai

Alfred Vener died Aug. 25 at 87. He is survived by his wife, Rochell; son, David; daughter, Yardena (Allan Mac Donald); and stepgranddaughter, Devyn Noonan. Mount Sinai

Berel Weinstein died Aug. 14, at 84. He is survived by his daughters, Marsi (Jeff) Rubin and Randi (Brian) Devine; four grandchildren; brother, David (Ethel); and sister, Ethel Greene. Mount Sinai.

Edith Wendel died Aug. 14 at 83. She is survived by her daughter, Lillian (Mark Geisert); and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Elsie Wilderman died Aug. 19 at 91. She is survived by her husband, Reuben; daughter, Sharon (Bernard) Adamson; and grandson, Jeremy Adamson. Mount Sinai

Maurice Winnick died Aug. 15 at 89. He is survived by his daughters, Judy and Joie; and sons, Sherman and Dr Jerold (Dr Andrea). Mount Sinai

Ted Winkler died July 5 at 85. He is survived by his friends. Malinow and Silverman

Jonathan David Wolfe died Aug, 23 at 35. He is survived by his parents, Eliane and Kenneth; and brother, Greg.

Ruth Young died Aug. 10, at 75. She is survived by her son, Robert Kolbert; brother, Sam (Sandra) Kresner; and sister, Sylvia (Jerome) Gordon. Mount Sinai

Carol Zand died Aug. 23 at 60. She is survived by her husband, Nelson; daughters, Stacy (Scott) Strauss and Heather; grandson, Jackson Strauss; mother, Phyllis Tobin; brother, Robert (Marjorie) Tobin; and sister, Laurie (Morton Katz) Leiner. Mount Sinai



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