Humanitarian Awards Brunch Brings Surprise Guests and Entertainment

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Some 300 BCC members, friends, and guests gathered at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel on Sunday, June 2, for our annual Humanitarian Awards Brunch. The event was successful financially, raising nearly 20 percent of our annual budget and helping to sustain our variety of programs and services while also making it possible for people of all financial abilities to become members of BCC. It was also successful in its purpose of honoring four outstanding individuals who have contributed so much to our community and to the larger communities (Los Angeles, Jewish, LGBT) of which we are a part. And it was a lot of fun!

Scroll down to see more photos from the event!

As always, we began with our fabulous silent auction, filled with high quality items ranging from travel packages and restaurant coupons to sports and entertainment tickets, a variety of professional services, home décor items, and beautiful works of art. The silent auction also provided an opportunity to mingle with friends before sitting down for the formal program. Once we sat down to brunch, BCC President Bruce Maxwell introduced several dignitaries who were in attendance. Los Angeles Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti made his first public appearance in the Jewish community since his election victory on May 21, to introduce his friend David Codell as the recipient of the Rabbi Erwin and Agnes Herman Humanitarian Award. Inaugurated in 1985, this award is named for two leaders of the Reform Jewish community who played a major role in BCC’s founding in 1972 and its acceptance into the Reform movement in 1974. The award honors individuals and organizations for their contributions to our Jewish and LGBT communities. Mr. Codell was honored for his leading role in the legal fight for marriage equality, which has been very much on our minds since the U.S. Supreme Court arguments in late March. Click here for more information on his achievements and portions of his acceptance speech, along with the Supreme Court’s decisions.

Also in attendance was former State Senator Sheila Kuehl, who received the Herman Humanitarian Award in 1998 when she was in the Assembly. Senator Kuehl
introduced her former legislative assistant Laurie Newman and Laurie’s wife Robin Berkovitz, the first recipients of the Harriet Perl Tzedek Award. This new award honors members of our community for their efforts toward a more just society, and is named for a BCC member of nearly 40 years who passed away earlier this year and whose passion for justice was an inspiration to us all. As a public defender in our criminal justice system and an environmental activist and former legislative assistant, Robin and Laurie are highly deserving of this honor. Read their acceptance speech

Los Angeles City Controller-Elect Ron Galperin and Los Angeles Police Commissioner Robert M. Saltzman were also present for the festivities, along with BCC member the Honorable Chris Marshall, Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court of San Bernardino County since May 6, 2013. Rabbi Lisa Edwards and her wife Tracy Moore introduced BCC member Ray Eelsing, who received this year’s Presidents’ Award for outstanding service to BCC and the larger communities of which it is a part. (Click here for a portion of Ray’s acceptance speech)

In addition to political dignitaries and our outstanding honorees, the Brunch featured some surprise entertainment as well. Following the presentation of the Presidents’ Award to Ray Eelsing, BCC Cantorial Emerita Fran Chalin and friends presented a tribute in song, with lyrics by Fran to music by Lerner & Loewe. For the Harriet Perl Tzedek Award, Cantorial Soloist Marsha Attie (who has often led BCC services in the past) adapted her song “Each of Us” inspired by the Israeli poet Zelda. And to honor David Codell, singer Gelsa Palao offered an adaptation of the song “Marriage” from the musical Cabaret, with new lyrics to the music by John Kander and Fred Ebb.

We were also treated to an original “Marriage Equality Dance” with choreography by Ray Eelsing and Kenna Love, to the song “All You Need is Love” by Dana Fuchs and Jim Sturgess. Many thanks to Brunch co-chairs Kenna Love and Felicia Park-Rogers, silent auction chair Arlene Weinstock, and all the many volunteers and BCC staff members whose countless hours of work helped make this event the resounding success that it was.

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