Traditional temple

Wilshire Blvd Temple Concert, AJC Project Interchange, LA Federation Luncheon

Last month, Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) held a fundraising concert for Ukraine.

Held March 20 in the sanctuary of WBT’s college campus in West Los Angeles, “Standing Up to a Modern Day Haman: A Classical Concert for Ukraine” raised more than $23,000 for HIAS, which responded to the current crisis in Ukraine with emergency humanitarian assistance to people displaced by the conflict.

Replacing the congregation’s traditional Purim events, the WBT concert featured music by Ukrainian composers, a brief explanation of the centuries-old Jewish heritage in Ukraine, and readings of portions of the Megillah.

“If you want to understand the current war in Ukraine, you can actually find illuminating parallels in the Book of Esther,” WBT Rabbi Susan Nanus said, drawing comparisons between Haman and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Music is an expression of hope, truth and faith in our highest ideals…Tonight we are honored to have four esteemed musicians with us to help us transcend our differences and to connect with the power of music,” added Nanus.

Performers in the concert, also streamed online, were pianist Vanessa Fadial, flautist Keren Schweitzer and cellists Jason Lippman and Dennis Karmacyn.

“Musicians donated their time and talent, we hosted a free event to inspire donations, and we facilitated direct donations to HIAS,” a spokesperson for the synagogue said.

At the end of the hour-long program, WBT Cantor Don Gurney shared his appreciation for the performers.

“This great generosity of spirit, compassion and artistry made this evening possible,” he said. “And we hope it’s not the last time.”


The 2022 AJC Project Interchange delegation of US mayors to Israel. Courtesy of the American Jewish Committee

The advocacy group American Jewish Committee (AJC) hosted a delegation of American mayors to Israel from March 27 to April 2 as part of the AJC Interchange project.

Participating mayors included Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf; Tampa, Florida Mayor Jane Castor; and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, who chaired the mayor’s bipartisan delegation.

“AJC has worked closely with mayors and municipal leaders for decades on issues of common interest. As in previous visits by mayors to Israel with the AJC, this group learned about Israel and engaged in fruitful exchanges with their Israeli counterparts on approaches to common challenges,” said Melanie Maron Pell, Head of Operations on the pitch of the AJC, which accompanied the delegation.

This year, the delegation visited locations across Israel and discussed best practices for dealing with COVID-19, urban revitalization and electric transportation, according to AJC.

Project Interchange is a non-profit educational institute of AJC. For more than 40 years, the initiative has brought more than 6,000 influential people to Israel. The mayor’s mission is to strengthen US-Israeli relations at the municipal level. This year’s delegation represented the second AJC Project Interchange group under the auspices of the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States Conference of Mayors and Israel, signed in 2019.


From left to right: Albert Praw, Chairman of the LA Federation Board of Directors, Israeli activist Noa Tishby, Lynn Bider, LA Federation General Campaign Chair, and Rabbi Noah Farkas, Federation CEO. Photo of Lexus Gallegos

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles hosted its 2022 Chai/Emerald/Zahav, Ruby and Lion of Judah Luncheon, recognizing the collective power of its female philanthropy Sylvia Weisz during the Lion of Judah’s 50th anniversary year.

The March 22 rally at the Maybourne Hotel in Beverly Hills drew 225 attendees and featured LA Federation CEO and President Rabbi Noah Farkas in conversation with Israeli activist, author and actress Noa Tishby. The two discussed Tishby’s recent book, “Israel: A Simple Guide to Earth’s Most Misunderstood Country,” as well as the myths and misconceptions surrounding the Jewish homeland.

Additionally, Lynn Bider, General Campaign Chair at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, shared her thoughts on her and Farkas’ recent humanitarian mission to the Ukraine-Polish border.

The show ended with a question-and-answer session, with those in attendance asking how they can better educate their children and grandchildren about fighting anti-Semitism and supporting Israel.