Solly Hess, West Coast regional director of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), was looking for ways to get Jewish teenagers motivated about charitable giving last summer. With the help of Brandon Lurie, a YULA Boys student and NCSY regional board member, he came up with a project that would eventually make an impact on youth as well as the local Jewish community: the Teen Philanthropy Movement.
It has taken roughly three decades for L.A.'s community of Russian-speaking Jews to steadily, if incrementally, gain a foothold in Jewish American and mainstream American life.
"In the Russian Jewish community, you didn't have, until the early '90s, any organization," said Miriam Prum Hess, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' vice president for Planning and Allocations. "Now that this community has made it as one of our wonderful success stories."
One sign that Los Angeles' immigrant-heavy Russian Jewish community has "made it" as a rising philanthropic force in the larger Jewish community is this month's Russian Dinner Gala, co-sponsored by The Federation and the American Russian Medical and Dental Association -- headed by Dr. Ludmila Bess and Alex Gershman. The Jewish entities will join forces to host the first large-scale community-wide effort ever staged by this city's Russian-speaking Jewish community.