Together We Thrive Gala 2024

Sunday, June 2 at 11am at the Familian Campus

It is with great excitement that we announce that American Jewish University (AJU) will host a Gala Celebration Garden Brunch and Concert celebrating the achievements of our renowned scholars, Dr. Michael Berenbaum and Rabbi Elliot Dorff, on Sunday, June 2, 2024 at 11:00am at the Familian Campus in Los Angeles. 

Celebrating the Achievements of:

  • Dr. Michael Berenbaum
    Headshot of Dr. Michael Berenbaum

    Dr. Michael Berenbaum
    Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute

    Michael Berenbaum is the Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust and Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University. The author and editor of 24 books, he was also the Executive Editor of the Second Edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica. He was Project Director overseeing the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the first Director of its Research Institute, and later served as President and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which took the testimony of 52,000 Holocaust survivors in 32 languages and 57 countries. His work in film has won Emmy Awards and Academy Awards. He has developed and curated Museums in the United States, Mexico, North Macedonia, and Poland, and his award-winning exhibition “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away” has been in Madrid, Malmo, New York, Kansas City, and most recently at the Ronald Reagan Library in California and will soon open in Boston.

  • Rabbi Elliot Dorff
    Headshot of Rabbi Elliot Dorff

    Rabbi Elliot Dorff
    Rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy

    Elliot Dorff, Rabbi, Ph.D., is the Rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy at the American Jewish University.  He brings over five decades of experience to his roles. He has taught at American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) since 1971, directing its rabbinic program between 1971-1994, serving as Chief Academic Officer between 1980 and 1985, and as Rector since 1994.  As a visiting professor at UCLA School of Law from 1974 to 2020, he imparted his knowledge of Jewish law to law students there. He has written 15 books and edited or co-edited 14 more on Jewish thought, law, and ethics as well as over 200 articles on those topics.  Recognized for his scholarly contributions, Rabbi Dorff has received the Journal of Law and Religion's Lifetime Achievement Award and holds four honorary doctoral degrees, complementing his rabbinic ordination by the Jewish Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University. Within the Conservative Movement, he has chaired the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, for which he has written 29 rabbinic rulings, and he made significant contributions to the new Torah commentary, Etz Hayim. He has also chaired four scholarly organizations.   Beyond work in the Jewish community, Rabbi Dorff's leadership is evident in his chairmanship of several interfaith organizations and his involvement in critical bioethical initiatives for the U.S. and California governments and several educational and scientific organizations. Locally, he actively engages with Jewish Family Service, where he served as President, as well as the Ethics Committee at UCLA Medical Center. 

Sponsorship Packages

As we prepare for a successful event, we ask that you consider purchasing a sponsorship package, placing an ad in the Tribute Journal, or buying tickets to attend this wonderful celebration.

Your contribution will support the outstanding work of AJU as we strive to advance and elevate the Jewish journey of individuals, organizations, and our community through excellence in scholarship, teaching, engaged conversation, and outreach. 

The deadline to purchase a sponsorship ad is May 21, 2024.

Feel free to contact AJU’s Advancement Office with any questions at (310) 440-1211 or gala [at]

Together We Thrive Gala 2024 Program

Elon Gold as Gala Emcee
Musical Performances by Niv Ashkenazi, Leah Kohn, and Matthew Graybil

  • Elon Gold
    Headshot of Elon Gold Holding a Microphone

    Elon Gold

    Elon Gold is a comedian, actor, and writer, who’s one hour Netflix stand-up special, "Elon Gold: Chosen & Taken” received wide acclaim from audiences and peers alike and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He has made ten appearances on the “Tonight Show” and recently performed on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” His routines have gone viral and are shared by millions around the globe. He has starred in FOX's “Stacked” and developed and starred in the NBC series, “In-Laws.” Prior guest star credits include “Crashing,” “Frasier,” “Chappelle's Show,” and “Chelsea Lately” among others. He was also a writer/performer on ABC's “The Dana Carvey Show.” Most recently, Elon can be seen in a recurring role on Season 11 of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm" and will be in the upcoming Kal Penn feature, “Trust Me, I’m A Doctor.” Elon has a new 30-minute stand-up special, “Sets in the City; Elon Gold’s Favorite People” available on YouTube and is on a theater tour readying his next comedy special. 

  • Niv Ashkenazi

    Niv Ashkenazi

    Virtuoso violinist Niv Ashkenazi has captivated audiences with his heartfelt musicianship and emotional performances. Praised for his “extremely colorful interpretations, characterized by maturity and authority” (Pizzicato Magazine), he has made several Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center appearances, and has performed in Europe, the Middle East, and across North America. Recent highlights include being Artist in Residence at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, his internationally critically acclaimed album, Niv Ashkenazi: Violins of Hope, named one of the 10 best classical recordings of 2020 by the Chicago Tribune, recognition by the City of Los Angeles in 2021 for his humanitarian work, being a featured soloist, alongside Yo-Yo Ma, for the soundtrack of the PBS documentary Harbor from the Holocaust, and being featured on ABC7, Good Day LA, Spectrum 1 News, Telemundo, in the Los Angeles Times, and other major news outlets. Niv has performed chamber music with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Juilliard String Quartet, Cavani Quartet, and Ariel Quartet. Other performance highlights include solo recitals at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, Terrace Theater, and Millennium Stage, The Soraya, the Granada Theatre, and the Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital Series. Niv holds both a B.M. and M.M. from The Juilliard School, where his teachers included Itzhak Perlman and Glenn Dicterow.

  • Leah Kohn

    Dr. Leah Kohn 

    Bassoonist Leah Kohn is a versatile musician with a passion for unusual repertoire. She is also an active performer on the baroque bassoon and contrabassoon, and the co-founder and director of Oak Hill Music Festival, a chamber music festival serving the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont. Dyad, her duo with violinist Niv Ashkenazi, has performed on concert series throughout California and at many venues on the East Coast, including a recent performance at the Kennedy Center. 

    As well as freelance and studio work in Los Angeles, Leah has performed at the Lake George Music Festival, as a fellow at the Norfolk Music Festival, at several programs at the Banff Centre, and at Fresh Inc. Festival with Fifth House Ensemble. 

    As an educator, she is on faculty at California State University, Northridge, and maintains a private teaching studio in Los Angeles, as well as coaching for several local youth orchestras. 

     She received her D.M.A. from the University of Southern California as a student of Judith Farmer, with an academic field in musicology and elective fields in Arts Leadership and early music. She holds an M.M. from The Juilliard School and a B.M. from the Manhattan School of Music, both as a student of Frank Morelli. 

  • Matthew Graybil

    Matthew Graybi

    Matthew Graybil, an acclaimed American pianist hailed by The New Yorker as an "exceptional young artist" and by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune as a "major talent," has captivated audiences worldwide with his virtuosic performances. With a career spanning recitals, concerto appearances, and chamber music collaborations, Graybil has graced prestigious venues across the globe, including Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, Lincoln Center, and Paris's renowned concert halls. As an ardent advocate for contemporary music, he has premiered works by notable composers like Walter Piston and showcased his talents on various radio and television programs, including PBS documentaries.

    A laureate of numerous national and international competitions, including the New York Piano Competition and the Juilliard Gina Bachauer Competition, Graybil has solidified his reputation as a pianist of extraordinary sensitivity and skill. His discography, spanning from solo albums to collaborative recordings with esteemed musicians like Itzhak Perlman, reflects his versatility and profound musicality. Trained at the Juilliard School under the guidance of Jerome Lowenthal and Matti Raekallio, Graybil continues to inspire audiences worldwide through his performances, masterclasses, and faculty engagements at esteemed institutions such as the Lancaster International Piano Festival.

With gratitude to:

  • Honorary Co-Chairs

    Ellie and Mark Lainer 
    Virginia and Frank Maas
    Amy and Harold Masor                                             
    Stacy and Bryan Palbaum

  • Honorary Committee

    Elana Artson and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
    Annie and Scott Austin
    Vanessa and Rabbi Ari Averbach
    Sharon and Michael Bacharach
    Josh Berenbaum
    Lev Berenbaum
    Melissa Patack Berenbaum
    Mira Berenbaum
    Ronald Blanc
    Bonnie and Mitchell Bloom
    Suzy and Stephen Bookbinder
    Susan and Michael Bordy
    Susan and Jonathan Brandler
    Joyce Brandman
    Ellen and David Braun
    Dr. Andrea Jedwab and Mr. Adrian Breitfeld 
    Irma and Ben Breslauer
    Carolyn and Rabbi Richard Camras
    Carol and Jerry Coben
    Faith and Jonathan Cookler
    Deborah Davis and Zane Averbach
    Susie Forer-Dehrey and Yehuda Dehrey
    Mara, Jonathan, Amiel and Shira Dorff
    Marlynn Dorff
    Tammy Dorff and Zachary Dorff
    Tanya, Michael, Zoe and Miles Dorff
    Janet Farber
    The Honorable Jesse Gabriel 
    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation
    Elaine and David Gill
    Rachel Gindi
    Sharon and Herb Glaser
    Aaron Goldberg
    Debra Kaner Goldich and Robert Goldich
    Roz and Abner Goldstine
    Sandy and Bill Goodglick
    Ernest Goodman
    Edna and Tom Gordon
    Rabbi Ilana, Tal, Jeremy, and Hannah Grinblat
    Fran and Joel Grossman
    Lois G. Gunther
    Dr. Sharon Polansky and Dr. Jeffrey Herbst
    Miriam Prum Hess and Mark L. Hess
    Charlotte Hill-Skura
    Lisa and Josh Hofheimer
    Lela and Norman Jacoby
    Pam and Evan Kaizer
    Charlotte Kamenir
    Charlotte and Stanley Kandel
    Havi, Rabbi Adam, Noa, Ayden, and Lev Kligfeld
    Rabbi Gail Labovitz and Bill Seligman
    Lee z"l and Luis Lainer
    Allyn and Jeff Levine
    Barbara Mack and Norman Levine 
    Justine Schreyer Lewin and Howard Lewin
    Janine Winkler Lowy
    Theresa and Michael Maas
    Dr. Deborah Musher and Rabbi Joe Menashe
    Heidi and Jon Monkarsh
    Monise and Anthony Neumann
    Cyd Fremmer and Mark Oppenheimer
    Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
    Karen and Larry Platt
    Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh 
    Hon. Vicki Reynolds and Murray Pepper
    Janice Kamenir-Reznik and Ben Reznik
    Judy and Rick Richman
    Tobie Rosenberg
    Jessica and Mark Samuel
    Dr. Claudia and Sandor Samuels
    Dena and Irv Schechter
    Carole and Michael Scheinberg 
    Ilana and Rabbi Joshua Skoff
    Bonnie Slavitt
    Sondra Smalley
    Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith 
    Anne and Elon Spar
    Dr. Lise F. Spiegel and Bennett L. Spiegel
    Michelle and Gabriel Starkman 
    Robbin Steif
    Penny Nguyen and Robbie Totten 
    Jeff Trenton
    Mindy and David Weiner
    Allen Weinstock
    Susie and Ron Wolfson
    Diane and Michael Ziering
    Marilyn Ziering

  • Board of Directors

    Harold Masor 

    Dr. Jeffrey Herbst

    Virginia Maas
    Past Chairperson

    Lawrence Platt
    Vice Chairperson

    Dena Schechter

    David Weiner

    Adrian Breitfeld
    Assistant Secretary and Treasurer

  • Elected Members

    Annie Austin
    Benjamin Breslauer
    Jerome Coben
    Abner Goldstine
    Dr. Jeffrey Herbst
    Lisa Hofheimer
    Mark Lainer
    Jeffrey L. Levine
    Norman Levine
    Justine Schreyer Lewin
    Francis S. Maas
    Virginia Maas
    Harold Masor          
    Stacy Palbaum
    Murray Pepper
    Lawrence Platt
    Rick Richman
    Dena Schechter
    Michael Scheinberg
    Elon Spar
    Robbin Steif
    Jeffrey Trenton
    Yair Vardi
    David Weiner
    Michael Ziering

  • Leadership

    Jeffrey Herbst, President

    Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Vice President, Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair, Ziegler School

    Suzy Bookbinder, Vice President for Advancement, Chief Development Officer

    Adrian Breitfeld, Vice President of Finance and Administration, Chief Financial Officer

    Aaron Goldberg, Vice President, Director of Camp Alonim

    Mark Oppenheimer, Vice President, Director of Open Learning

    Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh, Vice President for Jewish Engagement, Director of the Maas Center

    Michelle Starkman, Vice President of Communications

    Robbie Totten, Chief Academic Officer, Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies

  • The Advancement Team

    Matthew Davidson

    Brenda Hernandez

    Morgan Magid

    Reggie Nudell

    Robert Weinberger

    Lynn Witherspoon

About American Jewish University

Who We Are

American Jewish University (AJU) is a thriving center of Jewish resources and talent that serves the Jewish community of the twenty-first century. A portal for Jewish belonging, AJU equips students, faculty, campers, and learners of all ages with the tools to create the ideas, build the structures, and develop the programs to advance Jewish wisdom and elevate Jewish living.

Our Mission

American Jewish University advances and elevates the Jewish journey of individuals, organizations and our community through excellence in scholarship, teaching, engaged conversation, and outreach.