April 2021 Newsletter

Dear Rotary Family,
Thanks to all of you, this has been a fantastic year filled with many exciting programs and events.
As more of us are getting vaccinated, we are slowly starting to make our way back to normal life; I am so proud of our club and the love we have shown to one another and our community.
This past month we had many exciting and distinguished speakers; we celebrated International Women’s Day, St. Patrick's Day and Nowruz. 
Thanks to your generosity for our Holiday Party, our Charitable Foundation committee has been busy distributing grants to numerous worthy organizations.  The Women’s Club received an anonymous gift of $20,000  from one of our generous members.  It was distributed to CASE and CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT to help combat child trafficking.  At last week’s meeting, the Real Estate roundtable had more than 50 participants. 
Can you believe we have welcomed 18 new members; they are unique and fabulous and I have asked them to send a picture and bio so we can get to know them. Soon, they will be featured in a New Members e-mail.
Coming up we have wonderful speakers who will enlighten, encourage, and inspire you.  April 12 at 5:30 pm we have our wonderful BINGO Disco party; make sure to sign up and tell a friend.  We will have prizes, surprise bags, and lots of fun; you won’t want to miss it!! 
Currently, we are taking reservations for our first in-person event of the year on June 2nd. This is truly a special and rare chance to visit Bruce Meyer’s private car collection that he has graciously agreed to share with us.  If you are interested in this amazing opportunity, please sign up now.  This is for members only and space is limited. 
This year has been my absolute honor and privilege to serve as your Rotary Club president.  None of it would have been possible without the total support from all of you and the club leadership; I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
Whether you celebrated Nowruz, Passover, or Easter, I hope that you and your loved ones had a meaningful, renewed, and joyful holiday season.
Warmly with gratitude,
April 12th - Varun Soni
Re-Humanizing: Finding Hope Amidst the Chaos
Varun Soni is the dean of religious life and spiritual life at the University of Southern California, where he also serves as vice provost of campus wellness and crisis intervention, and where he teaches courses in the School of Religion and the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. In his different roles, he oversees campus wellbeing, threat assessment, support and advocacy, ombuds services, and spiritual life for the university. Before arriving at the University of Southern of California, he spent four years teaching in the Law and Society Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

A prolific public speaker and scholar of religions, his work is featured in a number of media outlets, including CNN, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour, Washington Post, and Harvard Divinity Bulletin. He has served as a consultant for Showtime, Facebook Watch, ESPN, CW Television Network, Biography Channel, Live Nation, Oprah Winfrey Network, and the video game company Naughty Dog, and he is currently senior adviser for Religion of Sports, a media platform and production company founded by Gotham Chopra, Tom Brady, and Michael Strahan.
April 19 - Stephen D. Smith, PhD & Ita Gordon
 Patterns of History: How modern day genocides relate to the Holocaust
Dr. Stephen D. Smith, Finci-Viterbi Endowed Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation, is committed to making the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust and of other crimes against humanity a compelling voice for education and action.
An adjunct Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California, he is a theologian by training.

Smith founded the UK Holocaust Centre in England and cofounded the Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide. He was also the inaugural Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which runs the National Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom. Smith was the project director responsible for the creation of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda and trustee of the South Africa Holocaust and Genocide Foundation.

Smith, who holds the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education, lectures widely on issues relating to his expertise. His publications include Never Again! Yet Again!: A Personal Struggle with the Holocaust and Genocide. In recognition of his work, Smith has become a member of the Order of the British Empire and received the Interfaith Gold Medallion. He also holds two honorary doctorates, Honorary Doctor of Letters from Nottingham Trent University and Honorary Doctor of Laws from University of Leicester.

Ita is a cataloguer and indexer of Holocaust survivors testimonies. She also worked as a translator. She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, as well as conversant in Yiddish. Ita Gordon trained interviewers in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil; she trains and mentors prospective cataloguers and indexers. Representing the Institute, Ita reached out to community leaders in South America, especially in Brazil, during the early phase of collecting survivor testimony.
April 26 - Vera Zdravkova
U.S-China Relations
Vera Zdravkova joined the Foreign Service in January 2014 and has served four diplomatic tours abroad in Tijuana, Guangzhou, Taipei, and Beijing. Most recently, Vera spent two years as an Economic Officer at U.S. Embassy Beijing where she designed programs aimed at promoting U.S. economic competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific region and led a “thought leaders” engagement series for the Ambassador, giving him a glimpse into the Chinese elite’s view of the bilateral relationship. Vera currently works as a desk officer in the State Department’s Office of Chinese & Mongolian Affairs where she coordinates messaging and reporting on China with overseas Posts and leads efforts to track malign Chinese influence globally. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Vera worked for the Idaho Department of Commerce, holding positions at the Idaho Trade Offices in Guadalajara and Taipei. Vera also worked in academia as a Program Development Advisor for Boise State University.
March 22nd – Mayor Lester Friedman
Mayor Lester Friedman spoke to the Beverly Hills Rotary Club on Monday, March 22. The topic was the State of the City.  The major focus of the Beverly Hills City Council for the past year has been the pandemic. The Council dealt with medical, economic, and social issues as well as the presidential election and regular agenda items. 2019 – 2020 required north of $260 million from the general fund with a budget shortfall of $4 million which came from reserves. Mayor Friedman felt that the City would have a positive slow recovery over the next 2 – 3 years.
We thank Mayor Lester Friedman for his service to our community as past Mayor and congratulate our new Mayor Bob Wunderlickt and Vice Mayor Lili Bosse.
March 15th – Jonathan Anschell
We were delighted to welcome Jonathan Anschell, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Secretary of Mattel Inc. His talk to us was fascinating -- he spoke about the 1st Amendment and legal censorship of large corporations such as Twitter & Facebook.
March 8th - Fiona Ma
March 8th was International Women’s Day. Fiona Ma was a powerful example of the growing prominence women hold in the world. She discussed her path to her current position. She also discussed some of the measures taken on the state level for pandemic relief. She was elected to office in 2018 with more votes (7,825,587) than any other candidate for treasurer in the state’s history. She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.
March 1st - Rebecca Seigal
Internationally established and well-known art world figure, Rebecca Ann Siegel, is the Director of the Americas and Content at Frieze. Rebecca spoke to the Beverly Hills Rotary Club about Frieze at 30: Three decades of art and change. Frieze Los Angeles will take on a new and interesting format when it arrives here in July, 2021.
Women’s Roundtable
The speaker on March 11th was clinical psychologist Dr. Erica Felsenthal who presented Whole Brain Workout to the WRT. She discussed different parts of the brain and how we can exercise each area to make them stronger and healthier. 

The next meeting will be in May.
Real Estate Roundtable
At the meeting on March 24th Peter Ostroff gave an update from the Planning
Commission. A panel consisting of Carlos Lopes, Eric Prevette, Hermann Elger,
Bruce Baltin, David Sonnenblick and Shane O’Flaherty discussed the future of the
luxury hotel industry and the impact on Beverly Hills. Carlos Lopes stated that
Beverly Hills with the most 5-star luxury hotels in the US will recover more quickly
than the broader market and should be back to pre-pandemic level by 2022.
Others agreed. Hermann Elger said that health security would be most important
to the consumer and Shane O’Flaherty concurred, observing that consumers will
be looking for more transparency from the industry.
The next meeting will be April 21 at 3pm.
Disco Bingo Night
This fun night will be via zoom on April 12th at 5:30 pm. The cost will be $30 and
cards and gift bags will be available for pick up at the Fire Station. Wear Disco
Party clothes and vie for great gifts.
Walk & Talk
Join us Tuesdays at 8am at the Will Rogers Park in Beverly Hills. Please wear
masks. Please RSVP to JR or Sharona.
Rotary Club Social At Bruce Meyer's Car Garage
It is with much excitement that I invite you for an evening of fun and relaxation as we finally meet in person! Bruce Meyer's Private Car Garage - Our 1st Official Social Since the Pandemic (Address will be sent upon RSVP)

Wednesday, June 2nd - 6pm -8pm
Heavy Appetizers, Wine, and refreshments will be served

$40/ Person (*Members ONLY). 
RSVP and PAY HERE as space is limited and reservations will fill up quickly.
Are you a new member? Please send us a picture and paragraph about yourself to
Congratulations to members Lisa Detanna and Roger Wacker who were named as
Barron’s top financial advisors.

Jeff Runyan gave details on a new policy by President Sharona to elevate all
members to the Paul Harris Fellowship +1. All members will get new PHF pins.
Persian New Year

We celebrated Persian New Year, Nowruz, with photos, descriptions of traditions,
and games.


Charitable Foundation

This quarter we've supported the following organizations:

Pico Union Project
Ability First
Face Forward
Invertigo Dance Company
Wallis Annenberg Center 
The Charitable Foundation is accepting applications. Please contact Alan Kaye at
St Patrick's Day Celebration Highlights
March Birthdays
We celebrated all of our members birthday's last month
April Birthdays
Is your birthday in April? We want to celebrate YOU! Please send your pictures to George at mail@george-nicholas.com
COVID Vaccines
Stay safe. For Vaccine Appointments and Tiers please visit:
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