Annette van de Kamp-Wright
Editor, Jewish Press
On Sept. 16, 2019, the Jewish Community of Omaha will come together for the Annual Jewish Federation of Omaha Campaign Event. Themed, ‘A Night with the Stars,’ it promises to be something very special and you are all invited.
This year’s main attraction is actor Joshua Malina, best known for his recurring roles of Will Bailey on The West Wing and David Rosen on Scandal. The title of his speech is “How to make it in Hollywood and remain a mensch.”
Josh graduated with a B.A. in Theater Studies from Yale University and made his professional debut in the Broadway production of Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men. His film credits include A View From the Top, The American President, In the Line of Fire and Bullworth. Plenty of star power, but that’s not all.
Josh has been active in Jewish affairs for quite some time. He appeared in the Jewish Federation’s 2008 “Live Generously” campaign, then went on to star in a video aimed at Jewish high school students, to prepare them for the possibility they’ll face an anti-Israel climate on college campuses. During an appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy, he won $50,000 for Bet Tzedek, a pro-bono law firm in Los Angeles. Josh has spoken to countless Jewish Federations and Hillels across the country. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their two children.
He’s come a long way from Westchester Day School.
“One of the beautiful things about my day school education,” he said, “was the fact that the curriculum focused on ethics and the obligation of Jews to participate in Tikkun Olam, but a byproduct of that was an emphasis on what’s wrong with the world. As a result, I may have carried a bit more stress than a ten-year-old should. Today, I would remind ten-year-old Josh he’s only ten. Jews are a strong community and Tikkun Olam is a group challenge.”
The quintessence of Judaism, he adds, “is stated succinctly in the first line of the Sh’ma: Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One. That said, whatever one’s personal conception of G-d might be, the idea of living a just life, treating others as we would have them treat us, is elemental to Judaism. I love the emphasis on action, on behavior, that Judaism stresses. There is a shameful flourishing of hate in our country. Xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism. As American Jews, we must be alert to this dangerous and cynical wave of malice and mobilize against it.”
That action, taught at Josh’s Day School and in many others, is evident in the additional ‘stars’ this year’s Campaign Event will be featuring, as we will highlight the Jewish Federation of Omaha’s different agencies.
“We have a lot to be proud of in our community,” Campaign Chair Bruce Friedlander said, “and there are many different components of our Federation we plan to celebrate that evening. We have a vibrant Jewish Community Center, the fabulous Rose Blumkin Jewish Home, the Jewish Family Service, the Anti-Defamation League/Community Relations Committee and the weekly Jewish Press. All with tireless staff that is dedicated to keeping our mission, to build and sustain a strong and vibrant Omaha Jewish community and to support Jews in Israel and around the world, front and center.”
Watch your mail for an invitation, and join us at Temple Israel, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. Event Co-chairs of the Community Event are Danny Cohn and Andrew Miller and Shane and Jess Cohn (more about them in next week’s Jewish Press!). The event is underwritten by Zoë and Carl Riekes and Margo and Steve Riekes, Kugler Vision and Republic National Distributing.
Josh Malina doesn’t know that much about Omaha yet, but he knows the most important parts:
“I’ve done enough research to know Omaha has a thriving Jewish community and that the Federation is at its center. I am impressed by the generosity and focus of the Jewish community here. Additionally, when I think of Omaha, I think of steaks. Are there kosher Omaha steaks to be had?”
Join us for a kosher dinner and a great night.
For more information, watch your mailbox or contact Senior Director of Community Impact and Special Projects Louri Sullivan at email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Kevin Abosch