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Critical Conversations
Critical Conversations UPDATEThe Beverly Hills Human Relations Commission in Partnership with Community Services presents:

Critical Conversations

The Jewish Contribution to the American Fabric of Life

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month

Critical Conversations | The Jewish Contribution to the American Fabric of Life from Beverly Hills Television on Vimeo.

When: Wednesday, May 31 - 6:30PM

Where: Beverly Hills City Hall Municipal Gallery

or by email:
or call: 310-285-1006


Join us for a night of critical conversations as we welcome five dynamic leaders to discuss and celebrate Jewish contributions in all aspects of American life, including arts and culture, politics, media and entertainment, philanthropy, the tech industry, science and medicine.

Our incredible panelists, Sam Yebri, Attorney and Non-profit Leader; Rob Eshman, Publisher of the Jewish Journal; Gina Raphael, Chair of Women's International Zionist Organization; Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and Sagi Refael, Board Members in Jewish Artists Initiative.

Severyn Ashkenazy

Holocaust Survivor

Severyn Ashkenazy is the founder of The L’Ermitage Hotel Group. He also founded and is past chairman of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Among his charitable works, Ashkenazy founded L’Ermitage Foundation, which supports children’s causes. He was named “Man of the Year” by ORT, the world’s largest Jewish education organization.

Severyn Ashkenazy was born in Poland in 1936. He survived the holocaust with his parents and brother. In 1957, Ashkenazy emigrated to the United States, where he completed his undergraduate studies at UCLA in 1958. There, he continued his graduate studies in literature, advancing to the PhD candidacy in 1962.

Severyn Ashkenazy founded Beit Warszawa—the first progressive Jewish community in Poland since the Second World War— and Beit Polska, the umbrella organization for progressive Jewish communities in Poland.


Rob Eshman

Publisher of the Jewish Journal and Senior Contributing Editor of the Forward


ROB ESHMAN | Publisher of the Jewish Journal & Senior Contributing Editor of the Forward Rob Eshman is Senior Contributing Editor of the Forward. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Eshman started his career as a staff writer at The Jewish Journal in 1993, when it was a small community paper. In 2009, Eshman founded TRIBE Media Corp, reimagining the community paper for the future. Tribe Media Corp. now produces The Jewish Journal, the largest independent American Jewish weekly; Tribe magazine, a monthly lifestyle magazine; and which has 1.5 million unique monthly users, making it the largest Jewish news website outside of Israel. In 2013 he launched In addition to his editing and publishing duties, Eshman writes the blog Foodaism, named one of the best food blogs in Los Angeles by Both The Jewish Journal and Eshman have won numerous local and national awards for writing, design, and community leadership.

Rob serves on the boards of the Media Policy Center, The Miracle Project and is a founding board member of the Daniel Pearl Journalism Institute in Herzliya, Israel


Gina Raphael
Chair of Women's International Zionist Organization

Gina Raphael owns & leads Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill, the leading independent pharmacy chain in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Prior to opening her own business, Gina spent more than a decade in packaged goods marketing and entertainment licensing at companies such as Quaker Oats, Campbell Soup, The Walt Disney Company, and Universal Studios.

Gina proudly Chairs the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) in California. WIZO is the largest social services provider in Israel outside of the Government, helping women & children with more than 800 social service projects. She is an inaugural student of Hadran the only organization dedicated exclusively to enabling Jewish women across the world to study Talmud and Daf Yomi. Gina has prioritized throughout her career the mentorship, empowerment, and advancement of women.




Attorney and Non-profit Leader 

Sam Yebri is an experienced lawyer and prominent Jewish non-profit leader. Yebri has served as a board member of the AntiDefamation League, Bet Tzedek, ETTA, the Builders of Jewish Education, Jewish Free Loan Association, both USC and UCLA Hillel, Friends of Westwood Library and 30 Years After. Yebri also has an extensive background as a civic leader, serving as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and on Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang’s Transition Team.





Sagi Refael

Board member in Jewish Artists Initiative

Sagi Refael is a Jewish Israeli-American with perspective as an art historian and a curator.

Sagi is an active board member in Jewish Artists Initiative (JAI) in Southern California, and lecturer at the American Jewish University. In 2019 he curated a video project for JAI that was shown at the Jerusalem Biennale.

Contributing Writer for Tablet Magazine

Jacob Savage is a contributing writer for the Tablet, an online Jewish Magazine launched in 2009

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