(T) (l-r) Yoav Szutan Goshen & Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, UCLA;

(B) (l-r) Matan Berkowitz, Cal Institute of the Arts & Lilach Dekel-Avneri, USC

LOS ANGELES -- The Israel Institute recently announced the 11th cohort of its Visiting Artists Program, which will bring ten Israeli artists to teach at top universities across the United States during the 2019–2020 academic year. Among these artists are renowned theater artist Ruth Kanner at The Juilliard School; Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, internationally-acclaimed author of Waking Lions at UCLA; and award-winning choreographer, dancer, and musician Dafi Altabeb at Emory University.

“In fields spanning from dance and theater to literature, music, and technology, these artists provide university students windows into the creative heart of Israel and a deeper understanding of the cultural richness of modern Israeli society,”Associate Director of Arts Programs at the Israel Institute Flo Low said.

The Visiting Artists Program is an initiative of the Israel Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for university students to learn about modern Israel. The program brings outstanding Israeli filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, writers, theater practitioners, and visual artists to leading universities in North America for teaching residencies. Beyond engaging with students, visiting artists share contemporary Israeli culture with American communities.

The 2019-2020 Israel Institute Visiting Artists include:

Ruth Kanner is a theater artist based in Tel Aviv who directs and conducts workshops worldwide. Her company, the Ruth Kanner Theatre Group, specializes in adapting literary and documentary texts for the stage, interweaving storytelling, physical theater, and visual imagery. Kanner is a full professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at Tel Aviv University, where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Her focus is on exploring new theatrical poetics. The Juilliard School, Drama Division, Spring 2020.

Matan Berkowitz is an interdisciplinary artist and entrepreneur whose work lives at the nexus of art, technology, and positive impact. His award-winning inventions have been exhibited at museums, galleries, and events worldwide. These inventions translate physical signals such as brainwaves, heartbeats, and movements into music, and turn everyday objects into musical instruments. As founder of Shift, a company specializing in impact-driven innovation, Berkowitz codeveloped solutions to enable paralyzed, amputee, blind, and autistic musicians to express themselves in new ways. He regularly speaks and performs on stages such as TED, Google, Microsoft, and Forbes. California Institute of the Arts, Herb Alpert School of Music, Spring 2020.

Oryan Yohanan is an award-winning multi-disciplinary choreographer, dancer and improvisation performance artist who began her career as a principal dancer in the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Since 2013, she has created more than 11 multi-disciplinary performance projects, many of which explore gender roles and expectations, including her solo shows I Dare U and Shoot Me. She has been awarded three scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and, in 2014, was awarded the Ministry of Culture and Sport’s Best Performing Artist prize. California Institute of the Arts, School of Theater, Spring 2020.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen is an internationally-acclaimed novelist and screenwriter. Waking Lions, her first novel published in the United States, received the 2017 JQWingate Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018. It has been published in 17 countries. She received Israel’s prestigious Sapir Prize for best debut novel for One Night Markovitch, which has since been adapted into a stage play. Her third novel, The Liar, will be published in English in September 2019 by Little, Brown and Company. Gundar-Goshen worked as a clinical psychologist at Shalvata Hospital for Mental Health. She is a member of the Israeli civil rights movement and an occasional contributor to The Guardian and BBC Cultural Frontline. University of California, Los Angeles, English Department, Fall 2019.

Dory Manor is an esteemed Israeli poet, translator, and editor. He received Israel’s Yehuda Amichai Prize for poetry (2015); the Ministry of Culture Prize for Best Literary Editor (2011); the Tchernikovsky Prize for Best Translations of World Masterpieces (2008); and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Hebrew Writers (2007 and 2018). Founder and editor of the literary magazine Oh!, he also co-edited the first Hebrew LGBTQ poetry anthology (2015). Manor taught Hebrew literature and translation at the INALCO University of Paris and at the Institut National de Sciences Politiques from 1996–2006. In Israel, he teaches poetry, editing, and translation at Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He edited many works by Israeli prize-winning poets and writers. In 2017, he received his PhD in translation studies and comparative literature from INALCO University of Paris. Stanford University, Comparative Literature, Spring 2020.

Ayelet Golan is a theater director, puppeteer, and performer. Her work has been presented at festivals and venues across the globe, including Israel, Europe, and the United States. She also directs and teaches in one of Israel's most prestigious junior and high school theater departments. With extensive experience as an acting coach, creative process facilitator, and dramaturg, Golan leads workshops and master classes in theater, object theater, and live animation for puppeteers and actors. University of Central Florida, School of Performing Arts, Fall 2019.

Yoav Shutan-Goshen writes for film, television, and theater. He received a BA in law and humanities from Tel Aviv University and completed the screenwriting program at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. Formerly a journalist for Yedioth Ahronoth and The Marker, he wrote the Israeli drama series Kipat Barzel (2017) and the feature film Mekulalim (2018). An accomplished playwright, he has worked with the Gesher, Beit Lessin, and Beersheba Repertory Theaters. His first novel, One Woman, One Time (2017), was a best-seller. He teaches at Sapir College. University of California, Los Angeles, Theater and Film Studies, Fall 2019.

Noa Shavit is a Tel Aviv-based performer, choreographer, and dance instructor who trained at the Ga’aton Professional Dance Workshop. She has performed with Sharon Fridman, Anat Grigorio, Emmanuel Gat, Dede Dance Company, Nimrod Freed/Tami Dance Company, Tamar Borer, Anat Katz, and Erez Maayan and Noa Dar Dance Group. In 2018, Shavit premiered the solo Ingiven as part of Tmuna Theater’s Intimidance Festival. She is the artistic director of the Contemporary Dance Program in Haifa. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, Fall 2019.

Dafi Altabeb is an award-winning choreographer, dancer, and musician who founded and directs The Dafi Dance Group. She is a recipient of the 2012, 2013, and 2016 Excellence Award for Young Choreographers from the Israeli Ministry of Culture; the 2014 Rosenblum Award for Excellence from the Municipality of Tel Aviv; and the Israeli Ministry of Culture Excellence Award for ensemble performance for her piece It’s Now. It’s Never. Altabeb received her BEd and teaching certificate from the Kibbutz College of Education. Emory University, Dance and Movement Studies Program, Fall 2019.

Lilach Dekel-Avneri is a director, curator, translator, and dramaturg. The recipient of the prestigious Rosenblum Prize for Performance Art in 2016, she holds an MFA (cum laude) in writing, dramaturgy, and directing from the Department of Theatre at Tel Aviv University. Since 2017, she has served as the artistic director of MiDarom Festival in Ofakim and, since 2016, as coordinator of the EURODRAM Hebrew committee. As founder and artistic director of the Pathos-Mathos Company, her works have received Golden Hedgehog Awards and are described as “theatrical events with poetic and surreal qualities that offer an alternative to conventional theatre.” University of Southern California, School of Dramatic Arts, Fall 2019.

With 3.5 million customers served by 14,000 employees, the Department of Public Social Services is the largest local social services agency in the nation. The department currently provides benefits and services to families and individuals, including CalFresh food and nutrition assistance; Medi-Cal health, dental and vision insurance; financial and homeless assistance for qualifying individuals through the General Relief program and for families through the CalWORKs program; In-Home Supportive Services for disabled and elderly residents, and employment and supportive services to help residents prepare for the labor market. For more information, visit



Five innovative programs implemented by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and honored by the National Association of Counties with Achievement Awards were recognized by the Board of Supervisors.

Chair of the Board, Supervisor Janice Hahn, praised the innovative approach to providing a safety net for at-risk and hard-to-serve LA residents. DPSS Director Antonia Jiménez joined her program managers at the Board meeting to celebrate these achievements:

CalFresh Participation Rate

The CalFresh Program (nationally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP), serves as the first line of defense against food insecurity. DPSS provides this nutritional safeguard to approximately 551,900 households. DPSS implemented a three-pronged approach to increase enrollment. The initiative included comprehensive marketing, community outreach, and the development of highly creative media and social media strategies to not only increase CalFresh enrollment but also retain active/open cases.

Automated Adopt-A-Family Application

For over 30 years, DPSS has brought joy and smiles to many individuals and families during the holiday season through its Adopt-A-Family Program, hosted annually by DPSS Toy Loan and Volunteer Services (TLVS). The goal is to match sponsors with DPSS customers who are undergoing a hardship during the holiday season. Sponsors are provided with the adoptee’s contact information, along with their personalized wish list, which may include groceries, clothing, gift certificates or toys. The purchased gifts are delivered by the sponsors or picked up by the family at a designated DPSS site. In 2018, over 1,000 sponsors provided gifts to 1,500 families. The automation of the Adopt-A-Family application has significantly improved the program by simplifying the sponsor-family matching process. Sponsors are now able to apply online to sponsor one or more families. The system also allows DPSS to monitor the number of sponsors and families matched and the number of families who have yet to be matched.  

"Help the Homeless" Volunteer Project

DPSS initiated its annual “Help the Homeless” volunteer project in June 2016. The project solicits employees, friends, and family members as volunteers for a day of service to help the homeless population at the Weingart Center in downtown Los Angeles in collaboration with community partners. Volunteers assemble hygiene kits, sort clothing donations, prepare and serve food, work as teams on community beautification projects and conduct community outreach. To prepare for the event, DPSS employees conduct donation drives of clothing and personal hygiene items. Each year the number of department staff, family and friends continues to grow, increasing from 108 in 2016 to 261 in 2018. The objective of this volunteer program is to bring employees together, mostly eligibility workers, to volunteer as a team outside of their regular work locations within DPSS offices to provide a service for the greater well-being of the community.

The Family Stabilization Health Coordination Program

This program offers short-term assistance to DPSS customers and their family members who are experiencing a barrier that is destabilizing the family unit and hindering their ability to participate in Welfare to Work activities. It includes intake assessment, case management, assistance with obtaining public benefits, and limited temporary financial assistance.

Career Development Resource Center

This center provides a dedicated space for professional development workshops, presentations on relevant workforce development topics, and exclusive specialized trainings and meetings.  The center also helps DPSS employees plan their career path. Employees who visit the center receive assistance with resume building, interview preparation, online skill-building programs, career exploration through college/university information sessions, County exam preparation materials and other skill-building materials.

About the National Association of Counties (NACo):  The mission of NACo, founded in 1935, is to strengthen America’s counties, including the nearly 40,000 elected county officials and 3.6 million county employees. NACo works to unite officials to advocate for county government priorities in federal policymaking, promote exemplary county policies and practices, nurture leadership skills, expand knowledge networks, optimize county and taxpayer resources and enrich the public’s understanding of county government.


LOS ANGELES -- Top venture capitalists, business leaders and investors gathered in Los Angeles to work with budding student entrepreneurs from Tel Aviv University (TAU) during IDEAS Immersion 2019 – a two-week intensive start up acceleration program. The series is a project of American Friends of Tel Aviv University, a nonprofit organization that supports TAU, Israel’s largest and most influential institute of higher learning, and serves as a dynamic bridge between American and Israeli leaders dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship and strengthening the state of Israel.

IDEAS (Israel, Digital, Entrepreneurs, Arts and Science) Immersion partners with Los Angeles- and San Francisco-based tech/entertainment/science business leaders, investors and venture capitalists to serve as mentors to participants, providing them with the tools and networks to succeed, as well as serving as a launch pad for their startups. The series began on July 15 at Cross Campus in Santa Monica and culminated on July 25 with a special Demo Day event. A similar program was simultaneously held in Chicago.

“As Tel Aviv University continues to grow as an ecosystem for entrepreneurs, IDEAS Immersion serves as an exciting opportunity for students to work collaboratively, experience different business cultures and learn from some of the most respected leaders in the industry,” said Clement Erbmann, National Chairman of American Friends of Tel Aviv University’s Board of Directors. “IDEAS Immersion is designed to engage and expose investors to the best and brightest from TAU. We are proud to host a program that prepares these remarkable entrepreneurs to accelerate their ideas and build future leaders in the ‘Startup Nation.’”

Eight participants had the unique opportunity to present their early-stage ventures to top LA-based venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and investors: Ken Friedman, Friedman Enterprises; Yair Vardi, Fusion L.A.; Bezhad Kianmahd, TAU Ventures; and Bahram Nour-Omid, Scopus Ventures. The entrepreneurs also met with successful TAU alums, including Ynon Kreiz, chairman & CEO of Mattel, and Hemi Zucker, managing partner at OCV Partners.

The 2019 IDEAS Immersion participants hailed from TAU’s prestigious MBA program, which partners Israeli students with international students from around the world for an intensive program focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and venture. Five companies were selected to participate in Demo Day:

  --  Dreame: A platform for creativity and co-creation. Creating commissioned works of art produced on a range of products with talented artists from around the world and commissioners from over 15 countries. Represented by Sharonna Karni Cohen, Yoav Pieck and Omri Meshorer
   -- UtilEyes: A platform created for prepaid, low-cost medical appointments with a goal to maximize utilization rates and improve healthcare access for all. Represented by Adi Deutsch and Alvaro Rivera
    --  Cardo: A platform designed to give hosts the power to offer an all-inclusive trip experience. Represented by Amir Madeson and Boaz Stavitsky
    --  Mircured: A minimally invasive device for cardiac tumors and vegetations removal. Represented by Gilad Mark

“IDEAS Immersion brings Israeli student entrepreneurs together in LA to engage in a variety of workshops that directly address many of the critical issues that startups face, including marketing, design, financial operations and legal matters. The program is an opportunity to give back to these students, strengthen our alumni network, and help these young entrepreneurs to avoid some of the pitfalls that many startups encounter,” said Shay Bar, director of development, western region, at American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

“The success of IDEAS Immersion has been another major milestone achieved by American Friends of Tel Aviv University,” said Behzad Kianmahd, co-founder of TAU Ventures and member of American Friend of Tel Aviv University’s Board of Directors. “The impact on young student entrepreneurs has been, and continues to be, very positive and practical.”

IDEAS Immersion is part of a larger ecosystem established by TAU to help incubate startups, as the university continues to play a key role in Israel’s rise as a world leader in research and as a tech epicenter. TAU currently boasts the best alumni entrepreneurial record among universities outside the United States. Approximately 25% of all Israeli entrepreneurs are alumni of TAU.

TAU created TAU Ventures, a new early-stage venture fund in 2018, to invest initial pre-seed funding into startups founded by students and alumni within the university’s network and to further boost entrepreneurship on campus.

Developed in partnership with do tank, The Gold Family Foundation, The Coller School of Management at TAU, Shamrock Holdings Inc., Pearl Cohen, The Discovery Partners Institute, Google, Luma Launch and Scopus Ventures, the IDEAS Immersion program included a series of in-depth workshops, educational panels, community events and on-site visits to major California corporations including Google, Koss Financial Corp., Scopus Ventures and more.

Past speakers/mentors include: Steve Tisch, Marc Graboff, David Waxman and more.

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                            26 Tammuz-3 Av, 5779                                     July 29-Aug. 4, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  627th Web Ed.


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