"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 the 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
MARY AUERBACH died July 15 at 91. She is survived by her daughter, Susan Painter; grandchildren, Jamie (Brian) Young and Kevin (Gabi) Painter; and great-grandchildren, Isabela and Trevin. Hillside
H. HARRY BACHENHEIMER died July 18 at 81. He is survived by his wife, Thelma Alper; children, David (Dr. Susan Stein), Linda (Kevin Cooney) and Dr. Kenneth Alper, Bonnie (Gil Halperin) and Toby; and six grandchildren. Mount Sinai
MARIE BECKMAN died July 18 at 88. She is survived by her son, William (Barbara); grandsons, Marc and Jeffrey; great-grandson Maxwell; niece, Davida Cardenez; and nephew, Randy Stotland. Hillside
MARVIN BEDERMAN died July 18 at 69. He is survived by his wife, Dya; daughters, Jodi (Steven ) Leanse, Keri (Michael) Miller and Melissa; eight grandchildren; sister, Rhoda (Saul) Nussbaum; and brothers, Earl (Ann) and Victor. Mount Sinai
HERBERT BERES died July 11 at 76. He is survived by his son, Richard; and daughter, Deborah Supple. Malinow and Silverman
SALLY RUTH BERES died July 11 at 76. She is survived by her son, Richard; and daughter, Deborah Supple. Malinow and Silverman
ANTHONY PETER MERRILL DENT died July 16 at 61. He is survived by his many friends.
MARILYN SHARON ERLICH died July 15 at 69. She is survived by her sister, Penelope (Bradley) Broffman; niece, Kelly Broffman; and nephew, Noah Broffman. Mount Sinai
IRVING FELDMAN died July 15 at 77. He is survived by his sons, Jerry and Gary; and two grandchildren. Hillside
JULIUS FRIEDOWITZ died July 11 at 81. He is survived by his sons, Richard (Rhonda), Mark (Pamela) and Robert (Sharry); and three grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman
GILBERT KIVENSON died July 14 at 85. Malinow and Silverman
LUBOV KOBILEVSKY died July 15 at 81. He is survived by his daughter-in-law, Mela Tsyrlin; three grandchildren; one great-grandson; and sister, Faina Igolkin. Mount Sinai
ETHEL LAZERSON died July 10 at 93. She is survived by her son, Bruce Laserson. Malinow and Silverman.
NANCY JANE LEMKIN died July 17 at 62. She is survived by her son, Jason (Mallun); daughter, Beth (Danny) Klein; one grandson; and sister, Linda (Herb) Rosenblum. Malinow and Silverman
RACHEL BONOMO LEVY died July 17 at 77. She is survived by her husband, William; daughter, Leah; sons, Steven (Cherie) and Lawrence (Susan); and two grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman
ESTHER LEVY died July 16 at 96. She is survived by her children, Leah (Joel) Segal-Halle, Pinchas Levy and Fayga Greina; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai
NORMA LIPPE died July 16 at 84. She is survived by her son, Dan; daughter Barbara; grandchild, Megan Stokesberry; and sister, Sylvia Kaplan. Mount Sinai
ANNE PARKER died July 13 at 86. She is survived by her son, Marshall; daughter, Phyllis; sister, Edith Choden; and nephew, David Choden. Malinow and Silverman
SYLVIA SHAPIRO died July 16 at 87. She is survived by her daughters, Betty (Michael) Dimond and Janis Thayer; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai
REUBEN SHAVIT died July 11 at 77. He is survived by his son, Danny (Shirli); daughter, Elana (Rabbi Brad) Shavit Artson; and five grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman
JOSEF SHUSTERMAN died July 15 at 79. He is survived by his son, Boris (Rima); daughter, Mila; three grandchildren, Mark, Ilana and Rita; one great-grandchild; and brothers, Simon and Arkadi. Mount Sinai
DAVID SNIDER died July 16 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Harriet; sons, Steve (Jane) and Ron; and sister, Edith Sloan. Mount Sinai
ELISABETH TAMARI died July 15 at 85. She is survived by her sister, Trude Weiss. Malinow and Silverman
Professor Joseph Dorfman, Acclaimed Pianist and Composer, Dies During Concert at 65
Professor Joseph Dorfman, concert pianist, composer and Shostakovich scholar at Buchman-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University, died during a June 7 concert celebrating the centennial of Dimitri Shostakovich. Dorfman was 65.
Internationally acclaimed for his compositional work and a sought-after lecturer on 20th century music, Dorfman was on sabbatical in Southern California under the aegis of The Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity (CJCC). He was featured in several southland concerts and was a guest lecturer at the University of Judaism.
The first half of the June 7 Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles (JMCLA) community concert, "Shostakovich at 100," concluded with Dorfman's performance of his own "Trio, in Memoriam Dimitri Shostakovich (1976)."
"Professor Dorfman was radiant during the intermission ... discussing music performance, and relishing a wonderful evening of musical celebration dedicated to Shostakovich," said Dr. Richard A. Braun, founder of JMCLA. "It was as he was chatting with friends and family that he collapsed."
Dorfman was born in 1940 in Odessa, Ukraine and studied at the P. Stolyarsky School of Music, at the Odessa Conservatory and the Gnessin Institute of Musical Education in Moscow, where he received his doctorate in 1971. During the 1960s, Dorfman was among the first musicians in the Soviet Union to perform and lecture on Western contemporary music.
Dorfman has been living in Israel since 1973. He has been the music director of the "20th Century Music" concert series, secretary of the Israeli Composers League and initiator of an independent composers group called "Acoustic 7-11," which pioneered the music of foreign avant-garde in Israel.
He is survived by his wife, Lily; daughter Sonia (Jacob) Lustig; and two grandchildren. Funeral services will take place in Tel Aviv and a memorial concert will be held at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino on July 5.
The Professor Joseph Dorfman Memorial Fund is being established at the CJCC to support young composers and their compositions. Contributions can be sent to: Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles, 16161 Ventura Blvd., '621 Encino, CA 91436.