Arsenio Hall, UA Hillel benefit performer, believes in power of laughter

Arsenio Hall, a comedian, actor and television star, believes in the healing power of laughter, and he surrounds himself with like-minded people.

“The greatest thing in the world is laughter, from my son to my friends, laughter keeps you young and it keeps you alive,” says Hall.

Nothing impedes his comedy routines, says the self-proclaimed “Republicrat,” someone who holds both Democratic and Republican principles. Hall aims his humorous criticism at the best target, whether it’s President Barack Obama’s ears or Trump’s hair.

“If I don’t look at everyone, and everything, I miss good jokes,” says Hall. “And one of the things that I love about stand-up now is, when I’m performing, whoever you like, you will enjoy my act — because I’m going to rip everybody.”

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Originally published on Jan. 20, 2017.


UA Hillel director continues to grow Jewish community

Michelle Blumenberg, executive director at the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, has spent her career helping to secure and expand a vibrant Jewish community in Tucson and beyond.

“I feel that it’s important to give what I can to help ensure that we have a Jewish community in the future,” she says. “And not only that, but that we have leaders who are trained, and who care about the Jewish community, however they become involved.

“That’s really important about Hillel; we’re a pluralistic community.”

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Originally published on Jan. 20, 2017.

Cohon awards honor leaders in rescue, unity

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, says as his career began he realized creating a partnership between Jews and Evangelical Christian had huge potential. “I looked at it in terms of the Jewish people, and the need to have relationships between Israel and pro-Israel Christians.”

Eckstein founded the Fellowship in November 1983, when dialogue between Christians and Jews excluded the Evangelical movement, he says. He met with strong opposition from liberal-leaning Jewish leaders. But the growing strength of Evangelicals could not be ignored, says Eckstein.

“They’re too important a group for us not to have contact with, to reach out to and work with,” he says.

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Originally published on Jan. 20, 2017.

New adventure brings director back to local Jewish film fest

Yonatan Nir, an Israeli documentary filmmaker and producer, says making movies is an education unto itself.

“Every film that I make is a window to a new world,” says Nir. “For me, the camera is a way to communicate, to learn more about the world and to experience it in a more intense way.”

His latest production, “My Hero Brother,” follows a group of young adults living with Down syndrome who take on the daunting task of hiking the Himalaya Mountains in northern India with their siblings. Nir told the AJP spending time with people who are so openly affectionate, and live with such childlike wonder, is very affecting.

“I think there is something very special that happens to you when you spend time with people with Down syndrome,” says Nir. “Because these people are very open, they have no filters, they show so much love and compassion [for] others and they live in the moment.”

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Originally published Jan. 6, 2017.

Cohon foundation to present two awards

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Temple Emanu-El will host the 2016 Cohon Memorial Foundation Awards at Shabbat evening services on Friday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m. Rabbi Baruch J. Cohon and Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon will present the awards to this year’s winners, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and Professor Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of the Amcha Initiative.

Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in 1983, devoting his life to building bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews and broad support for the state of Israel. He’s recognized as the world’s leading Jewish authority on evangelical Christians. The Fellowship raises more than $140 million annually, making it the largest Christian-supported nonprofit working in Israel today.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Rossman-Benjamin is a University of California faculty member and the co-founder and director of Amcha Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to investigating, documenting and combating anti-Semitism at higher education institutions in America. She has written articles about academic anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and lectured widely on the growing threat to the safety of Jewish students on college campuses. Most recently, she led a coalition of almost 50 Jewish and education advocacy groups that successfully lobbied UC to condemn “anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.”

The Rabbi Samuel S. and A. Irma Cohon Foundation, established by their children and grandchildren, honors individuals who benefit Klal Yisroel, the entire Jewish people. The annual award recognizes those who excel in one of four areas: unity, education and information, rescue or the creative arts.

For more information, call 327-4501.


Alfred Irving Paley, 89, died Dec. 24, 2016.


Born in Monticello, N.Y., Mr. Paley was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II. He graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now New York University Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn) with a degree in electrical engineering. He spent his career in the defense industry working for companies including Gyrodyne Corporation, Frequency Engineering Laboratories Inc. and Loral Electronics Company. As a civilian employee contracted with the U.S. Army at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., Mr. Paley received a Value Engineer award from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Mr. Paley is survived by his wife of 67 years, Sylvia; children Howard (Bobbi) of Mesa, Ariz., Doreen (Steven) Maller of Half Moon Bay, Calif., and Maureen of London; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at the Evergreen Mortuary Chapel with Rabbi Thomas Louchheim officiating. Interment followed in the Or Chadash section of Evergreen Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Congregation Or Chadash, 3939 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85718, the Casa de la Luz Foundation, 7740 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ 85704 or the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.