A Record Year of Generosity and Educational Assistance for JVS Scholarship

Top row L - R:  Scholarship donors Josh Gelbart, Sarah Gelbart, Sheila Baran Spiwak, Alissa Spiwak and Aaron Spiwak; Seated L - R: Three of the Baran-Spiwak scholarship recipients Tova Scholl, Tali Bar-Or and Lauren Dubey.

Nearly 450 business leaders, donors and friends joined JVS Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on May 7th to support the agency’s efforts to put Angelenos back to work.

A record number of attendees filled Sinai Temple to celebrate the legacy of the JVS Scholarship Program - helping make educational dreams come true.

The gathering of more than 300 donors, students, JVS board members, family and friends for the annual JVS Scholarship Awards Reception marked yet another milestone for the program in its 43 year history. The guests in attendance celebrated a record year of JVS providing support to deserving Jewish students throughout Los Angeles. For the 2015-16 academic year, the JVS Scholarship Program will give $644,000 in scholarships to 199 students. Both the total grant amount and the number of students funded are records for the program.

“More funding means more qualified students are getting larger scholarships,” said Jonathan Karp, who co-chairs the JVS Scholarship Committee with Leland Felsenthal. “The cost of tuition at universities continues to skyrocket. Thanks to the support of our donors, we are able to help even more students this year.”

The majority of the recipients received scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. In addition, 10 students attending medical school will receive a $10,000 scholarship thanks to the William and Leah Molle Scholarship. The Molle Foundation has committed to providing additional support for medical students for the 2016-17 academic year. The students are attending an impressive range of universities throughout the United States and internationally including Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Georgetown, Stanford and UC Berkeley.

One of the most meaningful traditions of the annual event is a presentation of the Tzedakah Box Campaign, which enables current recipients and their families as well as alumni to begin giving back, no matter the size of the donation. Since its inception five years ago, the campaign has raised $115,000, primarily in small donations, enabling the program to award 55 additional scholarships. Once again, donations were matched dollar for dollar in loving memory of Ben and Sarah Baran.

Attendees heard first hand of the impact that a JVS scholarship can have in the life of a student pursuing higher education. Guest speakers Jacob Valk, who is studying medicine at Tel Aviv University and Lauren Dubey who is completing her training to be a family nurse practitioner at UC San Francisco, spoke of the importance of experiencing relief from crippling educational bills and the freedom it offered to take advantage of additional academic programs and opportunities. Both spoke of the value of a program and donors who provide this much needed assistance.

“The scholarship has been a gift of time, knowing I don’t have to work every Friday night or every day off to pay my bills,” said Dubey whose late father Larry was a JVS client himself and who received the JVS Inspiration Award at the 2013 JVS Strictly Business L.A. Awards ceremony. “Above all, the scholarship has involved me with a community that has been incredibly supportive of my family and me, and for that I am the most grateful.”

Dr. Kevin Hayavi, who co-chairs the JVS Scholarship Alumni Legacy Society, addressed the need for current scholarship recipients to become donors in the future. Hayavi and fellow Alumni Association Co-chair Dr. Brian Gantwerker were both JVS Scholarship recipients who now sponsor students themselves.

“I was the one who actually picked up the phone and called JVS. I wanted to give back to the people who had helped me,” Hayavi told the crowd. “So my message to all the recipients tonight is, ‘Do not forget the people who helped you. Do not forget the people who were behind you and who supported you.”

About JVS: Serving the widely diverse Southern California community, JVS Los Angeles helps people of all faiths and backgrounds overcome barriers to employment so they can become self-sufficient. Our clients include recently separated veterans, people living in poverty, at risk, foster and probation youth, the long term unemployed, people with disabilities and mature workers, as well as downsized career professionals. To learn more, visit www.jvsla.org.

July 29, 2015