Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis (z”l), Co-Founder
In 2004, after hearing of the slaughter and unrest in Darfur, Sudan, Rabbi Schulweis charged his congregation, Valley Beth Shalom, with forming a Jewish “world watch” to raise awareness of the atrocities. From that beginning grew Jewish World Watch, initially a synagogue- based organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds to protest the first genocide of the 21st century and bringing vital assistance to its survivors.
In addition to founding JWW, Rabbi Schulweis was also the founding chairman of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies and offers grants to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews threatened by the agents of Nazi savagery. He has been honored by both the religious and secular communities for his humanitarian efforts in these and other arenas.
Rabbi Schulweis was a much beloved spiritual leader and teacher at Valley Beth Shalom. He was a prolific and decorated author, editor and contributor to a number of magazines, and one of the best known pulpit rabbis in America.
His influence spread far and wide, as evidenced by this article relating how he inspired Bruce Springsteen.
He passed away December 18, 2014, leaving behind his wife Malkah, three children, many grandchildren, and a bereaved community. You can watch Janice’s eulogy for him here.
Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Co-Founder
At the urging of her teacher and soon-to-be Co-Founder Rabbi Schulweis, Janice retired from the active practice of law to establish Jewish World Watch to be the Jewish response to genocide and mass atrocities.
After completing her initial years of education (B.A. ’73, UCLA; M.S.W. ’75, USC; M.A. ’75, HUC), Janice led LA’s Soviet Jewry mobilizing effort and traveled to the former Soviet Union in her capacity as the Director of the Commission on Soviet Jewry for the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. After earning her J.D. from UCLA in 1982, Janice practiced environmental law for more than two decades.
Janice has served as a leader of many Jewish, feminist, and legal organizations in addition to serving as an LA County commissioner. She is married to Benjamin and has three children, Yoni, Devi and Sami, who is married to the lovely Rachel.
David Straus is a poet that writes at the intersection of the mundane and the spiritual. He is also an accomplished Investor and Entrepreneur. After selling his first company to Amazon in 2008 he and his team created and headed up the Los Angeles office of IMDb (a division of Amazon). In 2013, he formed his next company, Critical Mass Studios Inc., which acquired Rightsline Software the same year.
David spends the majority of his time managing Critical Mass Studios but also coaches C-Suit executives, supporting them in finding solutions to achieve the goals and success they desire. David also invests in Social Entrepreneurial ventures and advises entrepreneurs on best practices for raising capital and building customer and shareholder value.
When not spending time with his family, David loves to discuss the unknowns of the universe. David joined the board of JWW in 2008 and took on the job of Chair in January of 2016. In addition to his work with JWW David is also the Vice-chair of the Zimmer Children’s Museum.
Other Board Members
Prior to running the Foundation and for the past 25 years Diana was a social issue public relations consultant with a track record in obtaining media attention for non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, and foundations. Diana has worked on issues as diverse as the environment, women’s civil rights, children’s educational programs, disability, and adolescent sexuality to name a few and has been successful in promoting her clients and their issues in local and national media. Prior to her consulting career, Diana was Media Director for Children Now, one of California’s leading advocacy groups for children and the Public Relations/Marketing Manager for the California Family Health Council. She was also press secretary for Gil Garcetti’s successful District Attorney Campaign.
Diana Buckhantz was recently part of the producing team that brought the Tony-nominated musical Leap of Faith from the Ahmanson Theatre to Broadway. She was also a Producer of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York.
Diana began her professional career producing award-winning documentaries including “Dying with Dignity” and “Not A Question of Courage,” both for KTLA. Her documentaries have also received two National EMMY awards, two local EMMY Awards, the Scripps Howard Award for Broadcast Journalism, the State Bar of California Public Service Award, the NAPTE National Iris Award, the National Education Award, three Angel Awards, and the Kenny Rogers World Hunger Media Award. While a producer at ITC Productions, she received an Associate Producer credit for the feature film “Without A Clue,” starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.
Diana received a Bachelors of Arts from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and a Masters in Fine Arts for Theatre Arts from California Institute of the Arts.
Mrs. Cohen served as Clinical Research Faculty at University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, and as a Lecturer /Preceptor at UCLA School of Public Health, Pepperdine University School of Communication and USC Annenberg School of Communication. She currently provides pro-bono consultation and leadership , as Co-chair of the National Alumni Board for her alma mater, the University of Rochester; Board member and Chair of Marketing for Jewish World Watch; Chair of the Music Committee for Sinai Temple; marketing advisor to Jewish Vocational Services WoMentoring Program and a member of the Zimriyah Chorale.
John Fishel served as president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles from 1992-2009. The Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnership was cited as one of the greatest achievements of his tenure, described as “a jewel and an unusually creative and innovative approach to relating to Israel in a new way.”
He took over the chief professional post of the Jewish social service umbrella organization after serving the Jewish community in a variety of other positions. Mr. Fishel joined Montreal’s Allied Jewish Community Services in 1982 as director of planning, eventually becoming their top professional executive. Previously, he served as executive director of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Council Migration Services in Philadelphia from 1976 to 1982; as planning associate at the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia from 1974 to 1976; and as a resource developer for the Ohio State Department of Health. Mr. Fishel earned his B.A. in anthropology and M.A. in social welfare administration and policy from the University of Michigan.
John’s lifelong interest in Africa brought him to Jewish World Watch’s board in 2010. He has traveled with JWW to Eastern Congo twice, in 2009 and 2011.
He and his wife, Karen, have one daughter, Jessica. They live in Cheviot Hills.
Oren Gabriel is currently pursuing his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Previously, he was a consultant at Bain & Company in Los Angeles, where he worked for a variety of companies on issues of business strategy and operations.
He graduated with high honors from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in 2008. While at Berkeley, he served as President of the Associated Students of the University of California. Oren was the primary representative of over 30,000 students, oversaw the Association’s $20 million budget, and supervised a staff of 85 students. He also used his office to help raise $15,000 to benefit refugees in Darfur and $23,000 to fight pediatric AIDS.
After graduating, Oren spent three months volunteering at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. The village aims to create a safe and structured residential community for children orphaned by the Rwandan genocide.
Oren joined the board of JWW in May 2010. Oren is also on the board of Camp Ramah in California. He was raised in Southern California and enjoys sports, Cal football, and spending time with family and friends.
Stuart A. Gabriel is Director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA and is Arden Realty Chair and Professor of Finance at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Previously, he was a visiting professor at the Recanati School of Management of Tel Aviv University, a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and a member of the economics staff of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Well respected and sought after for his expertise, he has testified before the U.S. Congress and the California State Legislature and has provided policy advice to elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels. Dr. Gabriel is widely published in economics and finance journals and serves on the editorial boards of seven academic journals. He is the winner of a number of awards for both teaching excellence and for the quality of his published work. Committed to serving both his professional and wider community, Dr. Gabriel served as President of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, and, in addition to his position on the JWW Board, is a member of the Boards of Directors of KBS REITs.
Diane graduated from UC Berkeley in 1971 with a double major in Art History and Anthropology. After a year of graduate school at CSUN with plans to be an elementary school teacher, Diane instead went into partnership with her father in a small advertising agency, working together for 25 years. In 2000, she was hired in the dual role as Director of Social Action/Community Relations and Assistant to Rabbi Leah Kroll at Stephen S. Wise Temple. During her tenure, she created and orchestrated Mitzvah Day at Stephen S. Wise for 14 years (4 years as lay leader of the Social Action Committee and Temple Board Member), and she served as Jewish Federation / Valley Alliance Mitzvah Day Chair for 4 years. Diane currently works with the temple’s Education Reform Committee, finding viable solutions on the local and state level to improve our education system. She also teaches gardening to elementary school students.
While working at Stephen S. Wise Temple, Diane was asked by Rabbi Herscher to represent the temple on the newly formed Jewish World Watch Board of Directors in 2005. She is now even more involved, serving on JWW’s Board of Directors, Grantmaking Committee and Synagogue Advisory Committee.
Diane and her husband Jules graciously host many JWW events.
Rabbi Lachtman has led Temple Beth David of the San Gabriel Valley since 1976. After his ordination and earning a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Rabbi Lachtman launched himself into public service. He served as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Army Reserves for 29 years. He teaches periodically at American Jewish University, Mayfield Senior High and Pasadena City College. He volunteers with the Veterans’ Hospital, LA County Sheriff’s Department’s clergy program, American Jewish Committee and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
His past leadership positions include directing The Eisendrath Mitzvah Corps, the Union of Reform Judaism’s teen social action program in Los Angeles, serving on the medical ethics board of Methodist Hospital Arcadia for two decades, and bearing trusteeship responsibilities for the Camelia Trust Fund in Temple City. He has been recognized by his community for his contributions, as the Hebrew Union College honored him with a Doctorate of Divinity in 1999 and the readership of the Pasadena Weekly voted him Best Rabbi.
He currently serves on the boards of Los Animal Alliance and Jewish World Watch.
Sheryl Layne has been active in a number of civic and charitable organizations during the last 30 years. She served on the Emory College Alumni Board, the Parents’ Board of The John Thomas Dye School, and the Board of Directors of Kehillat Israel where she chaired a successful capital campaign to retire the mortgage secured by the Temple’s main facility. She has also been active in The Jewish Federation in numerous roles.
Sheryl received a B.A in Political Science from Emory University and a J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law, where she served as an editor of the St. Louis University Law Journal.
She is married to Jonathan, who is a corporate partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. They have two children: Scott, a securities trader in New York City, and Shelby, a former member of the Board of Directors of JWW.
Brie Loskota is the managing director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. In this capacity, she oversees the strategic planning and daily operations of an interdisciplinary research center and contributes to raising and managing CRCC’s annual budget of $5 million. Additionally, she serves as program officer of the USC Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative.
Ms. Loskota consults with federal, state, and local government agencies on a variety of issues including disaster preparedness and response, developing faith-based/public partnerships, mental health, and bridging diversity. She speaks and writes frequently on topics such as interfaith engagement, faith-based human services, and religious identity among post-Boomers. She is a regular contributor to Trans/missions, the USC Knight Chair blog on media and religion, and has written for The Huffington Post, The Brookings Institute and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She has spoken at conferences and meetings sponsored by the Asia Foundation, the US-China Education Trust, Yale University, Union of Reform Judaism, and the University of Dayton, among others.
Leadership development and capacity building for faith communities remains one of Ms. Loskota’s central interests. She is co-founder and special advisor to CRCC’s American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, a program that equips individuals between the ages of 25-40 with skills to enhance civic participation in their communities. Ms. Loskota also served on the executive committee of the Passing the Mantle Clergy and Lay Leadership Institute, a USC program to develop civic leadership among African American clergy and lay leaders and serves on the executive committee of the Faith Leaders Institute, an alliance of Latino and African American clergy run by the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement.
Ms. Loskota serves on a dozen boards and advisory committees focusing on understanding and enhancing the role of religion and religious communities in the public square. She is a member of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. She joined the Jewish World Watch board in 2012.
Prior to joining the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, Ms. Loskota served as the summer program director of the Face to Face/Faith to Faith Summer Institute, as an evaluator and strategic planner for faith-based organizations, a high school teacher, and as a consultant on market research and business management.
She received her M.A. degree from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, studied Hebrew at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and completed her B.A. in history and religion from the University of Southern California.
After earning a B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley, Vaughan worked in magazine advertising and marketing in San Francisco and New York. She helped launch Time Out New York magazine as Publisher. In addition to magazine work, Vaughan ran a couple of start-up companies before leaving the workforce to raise her three children. Her husband’s career in film brought their family to Los Angeles, where they currently live. She is a self-described mother, wife, activist, avid reader, cook and tennis player. Vaughan feels moved to do her part to stop genocide and to help the women in conflict areas. She has been a member of the Board of JWW since 2012, and Chaired the Hear Her Voice Delegation to Washington DC in February of that year. Vaughan is also the Chair of the LA Walk to End Genocide.
Joy Picus served as a member of the Los Angeles City Council for 16 years, from 1977 to 1993. Her major public policy achievements were in garbage and hazardous waste, dependent care and the creation of a family-friendly city. She is nationally recognized for her promotion of opportunities for women, becoming Ms. Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1985. Though her professional career as a public servant has ended, Joy continues her engagement with her city, serving on many civic committees and boards in Los Angeles. She enjoys a close relationship with her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin- Madision where she was granted her BA in political science. She currently serves on the Board of Visitors of the College of Letters and Science and sponsors summer internship opportunities for current students.Joy and her husband Gerald, founding members of Temple Aliyah, now live in Reseda. They are also long-time members of Valley Beth Shalom.
Marcy Rainey graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with her B.A. in Political Science from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. She has been employed in the securities business since 1978. Before her career in finance, she worked in publicity, subsidiary rights and sales at book publisher Little Brown & Co. in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, where she was the company’s first female sales representative.
Besides serving on the JWW board and volunteering since its inception, she has served on the Board of Trustees of Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles and was active as an after school tutor for the Los Angeles school system. Currently she is a student of modern Hebrew, a member of the Valley Beth Shalom Congregational Choir and an avid armchair archaeologist.
Malkah Schulweis was born in the Bronx, New York in 1928. She graduated Cum Laude from Queens College, CUNY in Queens, NY. Shortly after, she attended Columbia University for 2 years studying Sociology. Malkah was accepted to U.C. Berkeley Graduate School where she studied English Literature. After relocating to the San Fernando Valley, Malkah taught English Literature and nonfiction writing at California State University Northridge, as well as, English Literature at the U.C.L.A Extension Program. In 1982, she received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. For 10 years, Malkah volunteered at U.C.L.A Medical School, Doctoral Program.
She is happily retired and spends her time volunteering on the Board of the Schulweis Institute, which is designed to continue the legacy of Rabbi Schulweis in the training of rabbinical students, as well as serving on the Jewish World Watch Board of Directors.
Rabbi Richard Spiegel earned his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Maryland, followed by a M.A. in education from Temple University. After his ordination at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Rabbi Spiegel served synagogues in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas. He has been the spiritual leader of Temple Etz Chain in Thousand Oaks since 2000. Rabbi Spiegel has been an active participant and leader in the Rabbinical Assembly, recently serving as President of the Pacific Southwest Region.
Rabbi Spiegel and his wife Linda have four children and three grandchildren.
Zev Yaroslavsky’s prime concern has always been to speak up for people who do not have the resources, power or influence to speak up for themselves. Growing up in the post-Holocaust generation, Zev was haunted by the fact that genocide on the scale of the Holocaust could have occurred during WWII and that people who could have acted stood idly by. The son of social activists with relatives in the Soviet Union, Zev took the lessons of the 1960s and became an advocate in the fight to free the Soviet Jews. Zev’s actions on the issue, which ranged from organizing high-profile protests in Los Angeles to serving as the Executive Director of the Southern California Council on Soviet Jewry, helped build the national and international Soviet Jewry movement that changed the trajectory of the issue. By the late 1980s, Jews could emigrate from the Soviet Union.Human rights continued to be Zev’s passion in his career, first as Los Angeles City Councilmember and then as a Los Angeles County Supervisor. One of his first actions as a young Councilmember was to stop the Los Angeles Police Department from engaging in practices that violated people’s constitutional rights.In recent years, Zev has devoted a great deal of his time and political capital to alleviating the plight of the homeless. With Los Angeles known as the nation’s homelessness capital, Zev created a county pilot program aimed at identifying and providing permanent supportive housing to the 50 people most likely to die on the streets of L.A. And always concerned about furthering democracy, Zev helped to monitor the 2011 elections in Nigeria under the auspices of the National Democratic Institute, an NGO working in burgeoning democracies around the world. He has also monitored elections in Mexico, Romania and the Ukraine. When asked why the work of Jewish World Watch resonates with him, Zev replied:
I believe that people who are blessed with the freedom to speak out and be active on behalf of a cause that is bigger than themselves and on behalf of people who can’t speak for themselves have an obligation to engage in that issue. There is a lot that goes on in this country that needs our attention. But we have an opportunity as Americans who are free to speak out to put persecution and genocide in Africa on the radar screen and to change the trajectory of those events. There is no exclusivity to the human rights fights we have. We should never put ourselves in the position of doing one over the other. We have to do them all.
Rabbi Schulweis is one of the great rabbis and theologians alive today. It took a great deal of courage to do what he did. Why dirty yourself with this stuff – you are shoveling sand against the tide. But as he would say, it’s not just about saving the people in Darfur and Congo; it’s about saving our souls. It is really as much for us as for anyone else. This is what our responsibility to our fellow man needs to be. This is what it looks like.
Harriet has been a Board Member since 2008, and supports JWW’s mission not only by her actions, but also in the partnership that has helped build two Health Clinics and Youth Centers in areas of Africa affected by genocide. She has co-chaired the Strategic Planning Committee and has served as a co-chair on the Global Soul Committee. Harriet runs The Dillon Henry Foundation, which honors the memory and passions of her son, Dillon Henry, who died tragically in 2007. In addition to JWW, she has partnered with Surfrider Foundation to educate people on ocean preservation and with CASA, an organization dedicated to foster youth.
Harriet is originally from New York, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1974. In Boston, she earned her BS and MA in Speech and Language Therapy, and became a lawyer in 1988. Since her arrival in the area, she has consistently advocated for children, and is a dedicated activist in her community. Her experiences as an Aphasia teacher for LAUSD helped her develop her position that children are our future and deserve the best childhoods we can give them. Never has she wavered in pursuit of that passion. She is a devoted mother to her daughter Taylor, and has shared that joy with her husband, Stephen.
Helen Zukin is an accomplished civil litigator who practices law with a focus on mass toxic torts, pharmaceutical and defective device actions, product liability, environmental property damage and health care actions. She also has published numerous articles and speaks frequently on all aspects of consumer litigation.Ms. Zukin also has a distinguished record in public and community service. She has served as a temporary judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court system. Additionally, she served on the State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, where she served as Chair as well as Chair of its Review Committee. She also has been active on the Board of Governors for the Consumer Attorney’s Association of Los Angeles. In the community, Ms. Zukin has served as the President of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. In 2008, Ms. Zukin was appointed to the executive committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Also in 2008, Ms. Zukin was elected to the board of trustees of the California Historical Society.
Mr. Zukin is the Co-Founder of Houlihan Lokey. He focuses on the firm’s Sovereign Advisory and China strategies.Mr. Zukin often presents on Chinese M&A and restructuring issues to various Chinese officials, including the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC). He frequently speaks at business conferences in the United States and Asia on M&A, financial restructuring and shareholder liquidity, among other topics. He has delivered keynote addresses at the UCLA Anderson School of Management/Wilbur K. Woo Greater China Business Conference and at Indianapolis University for their “U.S.-China Business Cooperation Conference” in Bloomington, Ind.Mr. Zukin has served on the faculty of various World Bank, IFC, and IMF conferences. He serves as a delegate to the Paris Club meetings involving the private sector. He has also delivered keynote speeches at the NAST and TIE conferences.
In 2004, he formed Houlihan Lokey’s Sovereign Advisory Services practice, whose clients include Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Liberia, the Republic of Iraq and the Russian Federation. Mr. Zukin earned a B.A. with honors in economics and English (poetry) from the University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.