Earlier this week, City Council held a celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles recognizing members of L.A.'s Jewish community for the many different contributions made to our City. The theme for this year's celebration was "Being Deborah" named after the sole female judge named in the Hebrew Bible.
As such, this ceremony highlighted Jewish women and female-led organizations that have made an impact on our communities. As a co-sponsor of the event, I had the pleasure of honoring both an organization and an individual from our community for their respective contributions.
The National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles, which I had the privilege to recognize at the ceremony, is the premier woman-led Jewish organization in Los Angeles. It was formed in the early 1900's by Hannah Solomon. She got the idea of founding this organization after being dissatisfied with her assigned role of serving coffee to the men at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893.
It was at Solomon’s request that Rachel Kauffman formed the Los Angeles chapter of NCJW in 1909 a full 10 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment granted women the constitutional right to vote.
In its 100-plus years as an organization, NCJW has not limited itself to encouraging participation of women in public life. It has pushed for real change to improve lives of women, children, and their families.
Today, NCJW-LA’s programming focuses on educating and seeking to end human trafficking and gender-based violence while promoting economic opportunity for all. It was a pleasure and an honor to recognize this organization for everything they do to advance the cause of women and justice in Los Angeles.
I also had the opportunity to honor a local leader who has helped our communities. For this, I chose to recognize a close personal friend and force of nature in our community, Phyllis Winger.
If there is one individual who has guided the evolution of the Northwest Valley's communities in a responsible way that allowed for necessary development while respecting the heritage of neighborhoods, it is Phyllis.
While she may not be a household name, Phyllis’ influence in CD12 is incomparable. Even before my first two terms in office, she served as Planning Director for my predecessor, Hal Bernson.
She began with Councilmember Bernson in 1988 and served three consecutive councilmembers including myself and my successor/predecessor Mitchell Englander.
In that time, she led this office through many projects such as the Expansion of Porter Ranch community, Las Lomas, Van Nuys Airport, numerous houses of worship, commercial centers, and residential projects over 25 years so that thousands could enjoy a safe-livable community.
You can even say her influence continues today as my current Chief of Staff Hannah Lee first joined the office as Phyllis’s deputy and mentee.
And in retirement, she continues to take an active role in our community as a sponsor of such events as the Valley Public Safety Awards which we hosted this week.
Congratulations to Phyllis, NCJW-LA, and all of the organizations that were honored at this weeks event. LA is blessed to have your leadership and dedication to our communities.