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Women Who Roar: The Lion of Judah 2015 Luncheon

On February 4th, the luminous ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel was graced by nearly 400 of L.A.’s most philanthropic women. The occasion? The Jewish Federation’s Sylvia Weisz Women’s Philanthropy annual Chai/Emerald/Zahav, Ruby & Lion of Judah luncheon, a celebration of the women’s unwavering commitment to our Jewish community.


This Lion of Judah luncheon was particularly special, as Heidi Monkarsh, Sylvia Weisz Women’s Philanthropy Chair, alongside Ellen Silverman and Kathy Guccione, our Valley Alliance Women’s Chair and Philanthropy Chair, revealed the new Sylvia Weisz Women’s Philanthropy logo and website. Heidi also touched upon the meaning of philanthropy, a “’love of humanity” that everyone in the room shared. She then made a heartfelt case for giving following our Federation’s spectacular new video, which features four stories of the diverse people whose lives we’ve touched around the world. Relating the work we accomplish to current events, from last summer’s conflict in Israel to the recent Paris terror attack and rise in global anti-Semitism, Heidi emphasized the importance of investing in the Jewish community as a way to “stand up for all of us.” She further encouraged fellow Lions to take action with their generosity because of their love for humanity and their refusal to live in fear, enticing them with the famous Hillel quote, “If not now, when?”  Energized, the women immediately rose to the occasion, and raised $3.2 million to support and sustain our Jewish community and ensure the future we share.

This year’s event honored dedicated community leaders Lynette Brown and Lynne Brookman, and featured a keynote by bestselling author, screenwriter, journalist and playwright Delia Ephron. The ballroom was filled with devoted, passionate, philanthropic women, including 20 new Lions representing diverse backgrounds and spanning the generations—all roaring loudly.

Accepting the 2015 Lea Rabin Award for her extraordinary leadership, Lynette Brown spoke of her childhood in Zimbabwe, when she would go door to door collecting money for Israel. Following a move to Los Angeles in 1980, her husband Derek convinced her to attend Federation events, and she eventually went on to co-chair the Caring for Jews in Need Committee. Lynette shared her deep concern and love for Israel, as well as her pride in her children’s commitment to community service.

Lynne Brookman, recipient of the 2015 Ruby Award, was honored for her leadership, both within our Federation and in the greater community, as well as her phenomenal philanthropic commitment and enthusiasm, which has inspired many others to give. After attending one of her first Federation events, Lynne said, “I had found my people. I had found my Federation family.” She spoke of the great privilege and admiration she had for everyone in the room, and concluded her speech with a fitting quote from the 9/11 memorial:  “The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart.”  Congratulations again to both Lynette and Lynne!

After lunch, the very witty Delia Ephron took the stage and shared what it was like to grow up with four sisters in Beverly Hills. Tackling her story with humor and grace, Delia touched on her parents’ alcoholism, her sister Nora’s death, and her unusual rise to fame as a writer, which began with a crocheting manual and led to her most recent book, Sister Mother Husband Dog, which was available for signing and purchase following the event. Delia wrapped up her speech with pertinent advice for all of the women:  “Be brave. Sometimes you have to get in a cage with a lion…and sometimes you have to roar.”

For more information about our Federation’s Sylvia Weisz Women’s Philanthropy, please contact Amy Popkin at (323) 761-8275 or APopkin@JewishLA.org (City), or Jenna Fields at (818) 668-2340 or JFields@JewishLA.org (Valley).

Women who are at the Lion of Judah giving level individually make an annual gift of $5,000 or more to our Federation’s Annual Campaign; those at the Ruby level give a minimum of $10,000; Chai, $18,000; Emerald, $25,000; and Zahav members make a minimum annual gift of $50,000 or more.



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