Adina Jalali, a 15-year-old student at Yeshiva High Tech in Los Angeles, has many Ashkenazi friends, but when her parents recently offered her the chance to visit Israel for the first time, she opted for a trip that would resonate with her Sephardic upbringing.
For its 11th festival, the Los Angeles Sephardic Jewish Film Festival (LASJFF) needed an honoree for its gala, which takes place Nov. 11 at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. At the same time, the Portuguese-American actress Daniela Ruah needed a community. Or at least as much of a community as a busy young actress on a hit TV show can find time to fit in.
Maybe the post-apocalyptic parking situation was a tip-off. The overcapacity of automobiles surrounding Woodley Park seemed to confirm that this year's Israeli Independence Day Festival outdid itself in terms of spectacle and attendance. An estimated 50,000 attended, festival director Yoram Gutman confirmed, making this year's festival the biggest yet. As Gutman told The Journal, "There are so many Israelis who live in the Valley, so maybe that has something to do with it. I never saw so many Persian Jews and American Jews."