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Celebrity Philanthropy News 2  3
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Black Tie International:
Fourth Annual Salute to Hollywood Gala Fundraiser
Photos by: Vince Bucci
ASYV Chairman Leonard Wilf, honorees Gene Simmons, Rita Spiegel, Producer Gary Foster of Denial and ASYV Executive Director Ron Meier

 ASYV Chairman Leonard Wilf, honorees Gene Simmons, Rita Spiegel,
Producer Gary Foster of 
Denial and ASYV Executive Director Ron Meier









Daughter Sophie Simmons, Gene Simmons and wife Shannon Tweed
Daughter Sophie Simmons, Gene Simmons and wife Shannon Tweed
Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rita Spiegel
Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to
Rita Spiegel
Vanguard Awardee Gary Foster, presenter Jonathan King, EVP, Participant Media and ASYV West Coast Director of Institutional Advancement William Bernstein
Vanguard Awardee Gary Foster, presenter Jonathan King, EVP, Participant Media and ASYV West Coast Director of Institutional Advancement William Bernstein
 Nathan Sandler, Gala Chair Karen Sandler, Beth Wilf and ASYV Chairman Leonard Wilf

 Nathan Sandler, Gala Chair Karen Sandler, Beth Wilf and ASYV Chairman Leonard Wilf

Honorary Co-Chairs Edward and Elissa Czuker
 Honorary Co-Chairs Edward and Elissa Czuker
 JLTV President Phil Blazer and his wife Kathy
 JLTV President Phil Blazer and his wife Kathy
 The oldest living Los Angeles Holocaust Survivor Max Webb (100 years old)
 The oldest living Los Angeles Holocaust Survivor Max Webb (100 years old)
Holocaust Survivor and President of Samuel Goldwyn Films Meyer Gottlieb and his wife Pattikay
Holocaust Survivor and President of Samuel Goldwyn Films Meyer Gottlieb
and his wife Pattikay
Avraham Perlmutter, Keren Perlmutter
Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter and his daughter Keren Perlmutter

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 21, 2017) – American Society for Yad Vashem, the organization dedicated to advancing Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem and The Jewish Life Foundation, which funds the creation of Jewish-themed cultural and educational programs on Jewish Life Television (JLTV) hosted their fourth annual benefit gala, Salute to Hollywood, June 14, 2017 at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills.  The evening honored the late Edita and Abraham Spiegel Family represented by daughter, Rita Spiegel; the feature film Denial; and world-renowned musician, singer and famed KISS co-founder, Gene Simmons and his mother, Holocaust survivor Flora Klein. Karen Sandler Chaired, Elissa and Edward Czuker, Co-Chaired. 

Event Chair, Karen Sandler welcomed the more than 550  guests before Lenny Wilf, Chairman of The American Society for Yad Vashem, was welcomed to the stage.  Wilf enumerated the myriad programs in addition to the landmark Holocaust history museum, comprehensive archives and international school for Holocaust studies fostered by Yad Vashem, ensuring that the atrocities committed by the Nazis and their collaborators are never forgotten nor repeated.  He made particular note of the ongoing support of the Hollywood community,  which “has for many years been an essential partner, starting in 1945, the year that marked the end of World War II and the liberation of the concentration camps, films and documentaries dealing with the incomprehensible reality that was the Holocaust were being produced.”

Wilf went on to announce an eight-day international, multi-generational mission to Vienna and Israel in July, 2018 marking Israel’s 70th anniversary year.  The historic program will be presented by the American Society of Yad Vashem in partnership with Yad Vashem. 

Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, Sam Grundwerg also paid homage to the entertainment capital, noting “We salute Hollywood to show appreciation for those who use their God-given talents and voice to insure that the stories, lessons and truths of the the Holocaust will never be forgotten…will never be twisted, distorted or denied.  In this room tonight, we bridge a powerful nexus of Hollywood and legacy.”

Especially moving was the recognition of the 35 Holocaust survivors attending.  Bill Bernstein, Western Region Director of Institutional Advancement of The American Society for Yad Vashem, based in the organization’s newly opened West Coast flagship, introduced Max Webb, the oldest Holocaust survivor in Los Angeles. Bernstein noted, “For me, at this challenging time in world history, Yad Vashem takes on a very special meaning and responsibility.  It is through the lessons learned from the Holocaust that we must remain vigilant in reminding the world that it is incumbent on us…that without concerted effort from every corner of this earth, this terrible human tragedy will continue to rear its ugly head.”

Phil Blazer, Founder and President of JLTV, introduced his long-time friend and a Holocaust survivor, Jack Nagel, who recited the HaMotzi blessing.  Blazer, celebrating over five decades in media, reflected on the powerful platform that JLTV has demonstrated in telling the stories of Holocaust survivors and the deep commitment that these heroes have shown in becoming vital parts of their communities.

Following video messages from celebrated attorney and legal scholar, Alan Dershowitz and Deborah Lipstadt, author of the book “History on Trial:  My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier” on which the feature film Denial was based, Jonathan King,  Executive Vice-President of Participant Media,  presented The Vanguard Award to Denial producer Gary Foster.  “We have been overwhelmed by the response to the film,” said Foster, “Deborah’s story has moved people to tears and emboldened them to speak out.  We live in a world where facts mean nothing and false narratives are everywhere.  So how do we differentiate between truth and lies?” he continued, “That is why we need places like Yad Vashem.  It gives us our best chance to make an impact on future generations.”

Ron Meier, American Society of Yad Vashem Executive Director, paid special tribute to the Spiegel Family, heralding their building of the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem as Edita and Abraham’s “crowning achievement. What they built changed the face of Yad Vashem, memorialized their first son Uziel, murdered in Auschwitz, and all of the children who perished in the Shoah and proved to be an inestimable gift to the Jewish people and all humanity.”

Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, long-time friends of the late Edita and Abraham Spiegel, presented The Lifetime Achievement Award to Rita Spiegel on behalf of the entire Spiegel family.  Noted Sheldon Adelson, “Miri and I visited Yad Vashem and the Children’s Memorial in the late 1980’s and were incredibly moved.  Abe and Edita’s unique contribution was a catalyst for us.  When we returned home, I contacted Abe and we began to deepen our relationship along with our commitment to Yad Vashem.  Rita has continued her family’s support of the work of Yad Vashem and the maintenance of the Children’s Memorial,” he continued, “She demonstrated her commitment to Israel and the Jewish people through her leadership in philanthropy, education and community activities, while living in Southern California and during the fourteen years she spent in Israel.”

In accepting the award, Rita echoed the words that her father had spoken at the dedication of the Childen’s Memorial, “Inside this building is a chamber illuminated by one and a half million separate points of light.  Each little light symbolizes the soul of a Jewish child prematurely snuffed out.  The mirrors reflect and multiply the lights to infinity, to remind us that not only did these children perish, but with them, their offspring, whom they would have parented.  These eternal lights will not bring back all those children – those ruined lives.  All it can serve is as a concrete reminder that this great evil could happen – did happen – and must never happen again.”

Leonard Wilf returned to the stage to present The Legacy Award to Gene Simmons, accepting the honor for himself and his mother, Holocaust survivor Flora Klein. “While achieving exceptional success in America,” said Wilf, “Gene still considers Israel his home.  He returned there in 2011 for the first time since leaving as a child and has been a lifelong ardent supporter of Israel.  He has been a vocal advocate for Israel in public and within the entertainment community.  In 2006, Gene made headlines by sending a televised message to a wounded Israeli soldier, calling him a ‘hero’.”


Abraham Spiegel’s story is a testament to one man’s ability to triumph in the face of despair…a chronicle of Jewish pride and the will to excel.  Born in Munkacs, a city in Eastern Czechoslovakia, the fifth of nine children, Spiegel developed his love for Jewish studies and his business acumen from his father, an astute businessman and scholar.  His mother instilled in all her children the need to care for the less fortunate in their community.  Every Friday afternoon, she set a large communal table, inviting all who needed a hot meal to attend.  Her open table became legendary.  Early on, Abraham demonstrated his leadership qualities, becoming the president of a Hebrew library and the study group in the first Hebrew college in Czechoslovakia and in his 20s becoming a partner in his family’s successful sawmill.  In 1940, Abraham married Edita Rozenwasser.  Because of the Nuremberg laws, preventing them from marrying in occupied Czechoslovakia, the wedding took place in a town just over the Hungarian border.  After years of hiding, the family was caught and forced into the Munkacs ghetto.  In 1944, Abraham, Edita and their two-and-a half year-old son Uziel, along with Abraham’s parents, grandmother and brothers were sent to Auschwitz.  Half of the family perished, including Abraham and Edita’s son.  A daring escape orchestrated by Abraham and a handful of prisoners miraculously landed them in the hands of sympathetic partisans, allowing them to survive the war.  In April of 1945, the Russian army liberated Auschwitz, with the Americans arriving shortly thereafter.  Edita was freed and made her way back to Czechoslovakia where she was reunited with Abraham.  A second son, Thomas, was born in 1946.  A week before the Iron Curtain came down, the Spiegels left for the United States, eventually settling in Southern California where their daughter Rita was born. Together with Edita’s brother, Milan Roven, Abraham formed Roven-Spiegel Construction Company, eventually building over 10,000 homes for returning veterans in Orange County and the San Fernando Valley.  In 1958 he turned his sights on the banking world.  

Over the years, the Spiegels developed a long and lasting devotion to humanitarian endeavors worldwide.  As founding father of the West Coast Friends of Bar-Ilan University in Beverly Hills, Abraham Spiegel was instrumental in the success of one of Israel’s premiere institutions of higher learning, founding their Math and Computer Science building and their Chair in Holocaust studies.  Serving as Honorary Co-Chair of Bar-Ilan’s International Board of Trustees, he received an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy and was named Bar-Ilan’s Distinguished Man of the Year in 1978.  He brought Yeshiva University, American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot and American Friends of Tel Aviv University to the West Coast and established the Chair of Modern European Jewish History at Tel Aviv University. In addition to building the Spiegel wing of Beit Hatfutsot, the museum of the Jewish people, which is on the campus of Tel Aviv University, he was a founder of the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Edita Spiegel was a passionate supporter of the Jewish Home for the Aging in addition to countless Jewish and non-Jewish charities, all of which benefited from the generosity of the Spiegels. Their commitment to preserving the past and educating future generations of children through Holocaust remembrance, as well as their devotion to humanitarian endeavors and traditional values has been passed on to their children, Tom and Rita. One of their most powerful and lasting contributions to world Jewry and humanity is the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem.  They considered this the most important monument they ever built.  The astounding project bears witness to the 1.5 million children killed by the Nazis, including their son, Uziel z”l.  Conceived by noted Israeli architect, Moshe Safdie, the underground memorial features five candles, multiplied by 500 strategically placed mirrors, reflecting a million and a half points of light, representing each child lost.  With the recorded sounds of all documented names and birthplaces of children who perished in the war permeating the solitude, visitors are brought to a captivating and ethereal place.


Legacy Award honoree Gene Simmons’ career spans more than 40 years, having made his mark on virtually all areas of the entertainment industry…as a multi- award-winning musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, writer, actor, television personality, entrepreneur and philanthropist.   Best known to generations of rock fans for his stage persona: The Demon, in the iconic band KISS, America’s #1 Gold Record Award Winning group of all time, in all categories (RIAA), Simmons has parlayed his creative vision, entrepreneurial acumen and over-the-top personality into a cultural touchpoint. Most recently, he has shared his personal life with his wife, actress Shannon Tweed, son Nick and daughter Sophie in the highly-rated reality TV show Gene Simmons Family Jewels. 

Born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, he emigrated with his mother, fellow Legacy Award honoree Flora Klein to New York City at the age of eight.  Simmons became aware of his family’s connection to the Holocaust, only after doing his own research.  His mother never spoke of it.  At 14, Flora Klein and her family were interned in a Nazi concentration camp.  She watched as her mother and grandmother walked into the gas chamber.  She and her brother, Larry Klein, were the only members of the family who lived.  Flora survived the death camps because she had gone to beauty school and had some hairstyling and make-up skills.  The commandant’s wife took a liking to her, appreciating her talents.  Flora’s saga of survival continued, later supporting her young son and herself as a single parent in a strange new country.  She continues to remain a major force in her son’s life.

In 2011, Gene Simmons visited his home country, Israel, describing the trip as “a life changing experience.”  Simmons has proclaimed his intense connection with his birthplace, and while visiting  Yad Vashem, he was able to learn more about his family’s experience during the Holocaust. Mr. Simmons is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and to the important work of Yad Vashem, understanding that their efforts will help to ensure that such events will never occur again.

“DENIAL” Based on the acclaimed book History on Trial:  My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier, the feature film Denial recounts the true story of  Deborah E. Lipstadt’s legal battle for historical truth against David Irving, who accused her of libel after she declared him a Holocaust denier.  Produced by Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff and directed by Mick Jackson from a screenplay by David Hare, Denial was released in 2016, starring Rachel Weisz as Deborah E. Lipstadt and Timothy Spall as David Irving.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR YAD VASHEM was established 36 years ago by a group of Holocaust survivors to advance the crucial efforts of Yad Vashem through Holocaust education, traveling exhibitions, programming for the next generation and philanthropy.  Since its establishment, ASYV has grown from a handful of dedicated members to over 65,000 passionate supporters throughout the United States. Its second permanent office outside of New York opened in Los Angeles in January, 2016.

JEWISH LIFE FOUNDATON funds the creation of Jewish-themed cultural and educational programs that are broadcast on Jewish Life Television (JLTV).  Its mission is to promote education and understanding among cultures worldwide by utilizing all facets of the media to provide community outreach programs, educational programs, and cultural events that embrace, celebrate and share Jewish values and traditions.  This gala will help fund the new documentary Holocaust Survivors: They Helped Build America.


Since its founding sixty-four years ago, Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem,  has become synonymous with Holocaust remembrance throughout the world. Courageously confronting the annals of Nazi evil, it serves as the conscience of humanity and the voice of the Jewish people in the vital endeavor to transmit the history and the significance of the Holocaust to future generations. With the help and support of its generous donors, Yad Vashem stands as the international community’s preeminent institution at the forefront of Holocaust education, commemoration, documentation, and research. As the responsibility for preserving the memory of the Holocaust passes from the remaining survivors to younger generations, Yad Vashem’s landmark Museum, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the International School for Holocaust Studies, the Archives, and Research Institute provide the world with essential knowledge and insight regarding the cataclysmic events of the period. The Holocaust History Museum is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Israel, drawing dignitaries from around the world and close to a million visitors annually. With unsurpassed skill and experience, Yad Vashem succeeds in instilling the memory of the Holocaust with depth and meaning, thus helping to ensure that the memory of the victims and the voices of the survivors will resonate and inspire for generations to



Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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