Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky accepting the first ever Si Frumkin
award from Ella Frumkin (left) and Dr. Ludmila Bess (right).
Credit: Alexi Rosenfeld, AJR Photography

FIDF Western Region Chapter in Conjunction with the Los Angeles Russian Community Holds the First Annual Saving Lives Gala


On Thursday, February 23, 2012, over 700 people came together to honor Israel’s courageous soldiers at the Universal Hilton. The first annual Saving Lives Gala marked the beginning of a flourishing relationship between FIDF and the Russian Community of Los Angeles. The Gala illuminated the strength of this newfound partnership by setting an unprecedented standard. The remarkable event, which raised about $225,000, funded 4 IMPACT! scholarships, given to former IDF combat soldiers from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, enabled 12 Bar and Bat-Mitzvah aged children, who have suffered the devastating loss of a family member during military service, to come to camp in the United States, and financed the construction of 2 mobile gyms.

FIDF National Director, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon with
international award-winning recording artist, Alsou.
Credit: Alexi Rosenfeld, AJR Photography

The evening’s success was in large part due to the tireless efforts of the Executive Committee, Gala Committee, and Junior Committee. The Executive Committee included Ludmila Bess, Ella Frumkin, Alexander Gershman, Boris Gorbis, Marina Greenberg, Michael Landver, Eugene Levin, and Yelena Vaynerov. The Gala Committee was comprised of Angela Ayzin and Igor Boyarsky, Arthur Benjamin and Yulia Vernaya, Diana and Peter Berlin, Ludmila and Fred Bess, Irina and Oleg Bess, Galina Blank, Tatiana and Emil Borokhovich, Irina and Eddie Braun, Ella and Boris Brezinger, Marina and Sam Burstein, Yelena and Michael Finkel, Alexander Frid, Ella Frumkin, Ekaterina Galina and Eugene Glosman, Natalia and Alexander Gershman, Galina and Daniel Gibalevich, Natalie and Leonid Glosman, Marina Gold, Eda and Boris Gorbis, Marina and Igor Greenberg, Lana and Ben Guralnik, Irena and Michael Hauser, Silva Karchikian, Celia and Aron Kelman, Vera and Leonid Kleynberg, Khaim Koifman and Sinaida Kniter, Vera and Michael Landver, Helen and Eugene Levin, Victoria Lyubarsky, Galina and Eugene Matusovsky, Marina and George Mednik, Bella and Steven Moshkovich, Kira and Gennady Musher, Lilia and Vlad Nusinovich, Lora and Gene Osher, Margaret and Leon Peck, Zoya Preys and Gennady Orlovetsky, Diana and Gabriel Rubanenko, Rita and Gennady Rubinstein, Laura and Eduard Schmieder, Yana and Anatoly Sedler, Elena and Emil Shamis, Marina and Alexander Sheinin, Larisa Shor, Bella and Simon Shpitalnik, Nora Siderman, Albina and Alex Sirota, Izabella and Edward Sirota, Isabella and Alan Svilik, Alla and Valentin Svirsky, Zakhar and Yelena Vaynerov, Esther Voss and Phillip Voskoboynikov, Lilia Wexley, Bella and Boris Zak, Sonya and Ilya Zak, and Julie and Alexander Zaks. The Junior Committee members were Michelle Greenberg, Julia Mack, and Donna Urman.

The event, saluted by Congressman Brad Sherman, Congressman Howard Berman, Representative Henry Waxman and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was attended by scores of dignitaries including David Siegel, Consul General of Israel, as well as Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who was given the first ever Si Frumkin award in memory of the late Soviet Jewry activist.

The moving program included a multitude of other distinguished guests, such as Friends of the IDF National Director, Major General (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, who communicated the importance of supporting Israel’s soldiers now more than ever. Several of the speakers in attendance came from Israel to be at this extraordinary event, including the family of a fallen soldier of Russian descent, as well as a female former combat soldier who is now an FIDF IMPACT! scholarship recipient. She discussed her financial difficulties and sheer appreciation of FIDF and its donors, as she explained that the IMPACT! program “gave me the opportunity to learn and to create a better future for myself.” Finally, Ron Weinreich, a musician and former IDF soldier injured in the second Lebanon war and now paralyzed from the waist down, took the stage and communicated his heroic experience: “this story is not at all about me...this story is about the price, the price it costs to preserve freedom and to preserve democracy.”

The Gala’s guests having an incredible time dancing.
Credit: Alexi Rosenfeld, AJR Photography

The dynamic program concluded with stellar performances by Ron Weinreich, international award-winning recording artist, Alsou, who flew to Los Angeles from Russia for the event, as well as renowned singers and songwriters, Mira Stroika and Liyah. Both traditional and classic pieces had guests on their feet for the remainder of the evening. Though the guests were sad when the event concluded, the Gala highlighted the tremendous support that the Russian Community of Los Angeles has for FIDF and the men and women who risk their lives to defend the state of Israel.
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