Hey Jude Productions and StandWithUs (SWU) with the support of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles hosted 400 attendees for a special screening of the award-winning documentary "Aulcie" on May 2 at the Saban Theater. The inspiring true story of celebrated Israeli-American basketball champion Aulcie Perry is told in this touching film, chronicling his rise from the streets of Newark, NJ to find his glory in leading Israel's Maccabi basketball team to two European championships only to fall into drugs and jail time and finally, to redemption. Aulcie could not attend the Los Angeles screening due to a medical condition but shared his heartfelt message with the audience through a video. Temple of the Arts Beverly Hills' Rabbi David Baron welcomed the audience and His Excellency, Gilad Erdan, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations and Hillel Newman, Consul General to Israel in for the Pacific Southwest, spoke of the significance the World Maccabiah Games had on their lives and its astounding impact on the world stage. They acknowledged StandWithUs for its tireless work in supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism in countries around the world.
Aulcie Perry Addresses The Audience at the screening of Aulcie. Credit - Mher Hagopian, MTHphotographers
After the screening, Roz Rothstein, CEO of SWU, interviewed filmmaker Dani Menken and basketball legend Tal Brody. Brody led the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team to victory at the 1977 European World Cup and now serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for Israel. During the interview, they observed that this award-winning film is one of the best ways to inspire people about Israel as it showcases the country by telling a very different Israel story. Everyone agreed that the film needs wide distribution in schools, universities and communities. Also attending was Sarah Idan, former Miss Universe Iraq, a vocal supporter of Israel.
Israel Tzofim (Shevet Harel) and Ilysia Pierce. Credit - Mher Hagopian, MTHphotographers
The festivities continued at the Saban theater on May 4 at a community-wide event to commemorate Yom Hazikaron and celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's 74th birthday, with 800 people in attendance and thousands of people watching virtually. The event "From Darkness to Light," was co-hosted by Temple of the Arts Beverly Hills, Cheryl and Haim Saban, Friends of the IDF, the Israeli American Council, StandWithUs and with the support of the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Southwest. It was live-streamed on JLTV and StandWithUs. With Aulcie Perry watching remotely, CEO Roz Rothstein, StandWIthUs COO Jerry Rothstein and Esther Renzer, SWU President, presented Aulcie and Tal Brody with Lifetime Achievement awards.
(L ro R) Jerry Rothstein, Tal Brody, Esther Renzer, Roz Rothstein, Dani Menken. Credit - Mher Hagopian, MTHphotographers
The event began with a march by student members of Israel Tzofim (Shevet Harel) proudly carrying Israeli flags down the aisles. Rabbi David Baron welcomed everyone and invoked the song "Shomer Israel: Guardian of Israel" and emphasized that through our words and actions, we have a duty and responsibility to be the guardians of Israel who will not rest or slumber. He said that we must support pro-Israel candidates and we must work to expose every form of anti-Israel rhetoric as anti-Jewish racism, and every form of anti-Zionism for what it is: antisemitism.
David Suissa reminded us of our own history of miracles - how the Jewish people have prevailed through the history of persecution, and that for 74 years Israel has not only survived but has thrived, despite its enemies bent on destroying it. The Jewish people have created the greatest miracle - the start-up nation - and the miracle of the US-Israel relationship. Jonathan Bar-El, Consul for Public Diplomacy underscored Israel's incredible resilience. He noted that despite the fact that peace has not yet been achieved, Israel now has growing relationships with countries that used to call for its destruction. He lauded the friendship between Israel and the US.
Finale - (L to R) Prez Blackmon, Elizabeth Kerstein, Eden Kontesz, Ilysia Pierce, Netanel Baram, Lil Joe and Liyah Bey.
Credit - Mher Hagopian, MTHphotographers
Award-winning music director, Sharon Farber, arranged and directed all the incredible musical performances. Her daughter, Eden Kontesz, opened the evening with the American National anthem and Cantor Ilysia Pierce sang "Hatikvah." Three candles were lit for Yom Hazikaron- one candle represented the most recent tragedy in Israel of 17 victims of terrorism; one candle represented all of Israel’s fallen soldiers and the third memorial candle represented all Israeli victims of terror. They were lit by lone soldier veterans who now serve as Magen Am community security service. Candle lighting was followed by Eden singing "Eli Eli" and, after a video about the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Cantor Nathan Lam sang "El Maleh Rahamim." Comedian Elon Gold entertained the audience with his hilarious brand of Jewish humor. Liyah Bey sang "Ma Omrot Einaich" accompanied by an interpretive dance by Tara Aghaian and Sebastian Trujillo, choreographed by Hai Cohen.
There were rousing songs about hope and peace by Prez Blackmon and the Spirit of David Choir City of Refuge Church in LA; Cantors Netanel Baram, Elizabeth Kerstein and rapper Lil Joe. Eric Moss Teller from the Latter Day Saints community sang "You Raised Us Up." The grand finale was a medley that had everyone on their feet as they chanted, "Oseh Shalom Bimromav" and "Yerusalem Shel Zahav!"
View the article in the Jewish Journal HERE. The show can be viewed here: