OU West Coast Banquet set for June 18 at Sephardic Temple in Los Angeles

28 May 2014

The annual Orthodox Union West Coast Awards Banquet will take place on Wednesday, June 18 at the Sephardic Temple, 10500 Wilshire Boulevard, as two couples will be honored and the West Coast Region celebrates ten years of service from the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) Torah Educators at UCLA, Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan.

The banquet is chaired by Laurence and Sara Richards. Cocktails and a buffet dinner are at 5:45, followed by the program and festivities at 7:15. A Chinese Auction to benefit JLIC at UCLA will be included in the program.

Dr. Edwin and Cecile Gromis of the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills will be presented with the Keter Shem Tov Award, while Scott and Aviva Krieger of the Young Israel of Century City will receive the Community Leadership Award.

Dr. and Mrs. Gromis are long-time OU West Coast trustees and active board members at YINBH. Working together with the Kaplans, they have been host to three Shabbatonim at their home for JLIC students.  In addition, they have been an integral part of OU West Coast Conventions, hosting the keynote trustee events for the past several years.

According to Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, director of the West Coast Region, “Edwin and Cecile Gromis are known in the community as having a ‘Shem Tov,’ a stellar reputation for philanthropy and chesed. This is all while shying away from the spotlight and preferring to do their great work behind the scenes.”

Scott Krieger was OU Treasurer in the 1980’s and 90’s. The Kriegers have been involved at every level in their synagogue, yeshivot, and as board members and treasurer of OU West Coast. Rabbi Kalinsky declared, “Aviva and Scott’s commitment to the next generation is evident from Scott’s service on the OU Youth Commission and their children have continued their legacy of involvement as they have taken leadership roles in Yachad (the OU’s agency for individuals with disabilities).  Indeed, their son Doni produced a Yachad video that will be shown at the banquet.”

Regarding Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan, and their decade leading the JLIC program at UCLA, Rabbi Kalinsky said, “We have Hakarat Hatov for the Kaplans for ten years of dedicated service to Jewish students on the UCLA campus. From their hub at the UCLA Hillel, they have inspired generations of students who have kept up their connection to the Jewish community through their college years. The Kaplans have supported efforts to stem the tide of anti-Israel activism on campus and have created a true community for thousands of Jewish students.”

JLIC Director Rabbi Ilan Haber evaluated the couple’s performance.  “Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan have more than excelled in their work on campus, they have set the standard for what the program can truly accomplish.  I can’t think of better mentors and role-models for educators starting out in their work, and we benefit not only in their work at UCLA, but also the program as a whole by their being a part of the team.  They capture the quintessence of what the program is about, with their passion, sincerity, overwhelming warmth and care for the students, and substantive approach to Jewish ideas and values.  On a personal level, I learn so much and am inspired regularly through my interactions with them.”

The Chinese Auction, to benefit JLIC at UCLA, is chaired by Moe and Lori Goldsman, whose twins are active participants in JLIC activities on the Westwood campus.

For further information on attending the banquet, contact westcoast@ou.org, or 310-229-9000, ext. 200.