Shelter in Paradise: How Jewish Refugees Shaped Los Angeles
From Hollywood to science to business to academia to real estate, Los Angeles has been shaped by waves of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution from across the globe. Please join HIAS, the LA Museum of the Holocaust, UCLA Leve Center for Jewish Studies, and 30 Years After to delve into this modern history and discuss how we can take action to protect refugees and asylum seekers today.
Joe Goldman, Community Engagement Director, Western Region at HIAS: As the first-ever Los Angeles-based Community Engagement Director for HIAS,. Joe works with activists, congregations, and lawmakers across the region to sustain and protect refugees and asylum seekers. Prior to HIAS, Joe served as the Senior Policy Associate at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, focusing on strengthening the safety net for at-risk seniors, veterans, and college students. Before returning to his native Los Angeles, Joe spent several years working in heart of the Bay Area's tumultuous local political environment, most recently as the Public Affairs & Civic Engagement Manager for San Francisco at the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). Joe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Communication and a Masters of Political Management from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and has served on numerous nonprofit and political boards.
Jordanna Gessler, Vice President of Education and Exhibits, LA Museum of the Holocaust: Jordanna Gessler is the Vice President of Education and Exhibits at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. She has curated traveling museum exhibitions, developed several core education programs, and presented at conferences internationally. As an advocate for animal rights, gender equality, and civil rights, she is part of the prestigious Rautenberg New Leaders Project 2020. Jordanna holds an M.A. with honors in Holocaust Studies from the University of Haifa. She completed a yearlong internship at Yad Vashem in the Righteous Among the Nations Department and received the 2014 Yad Vashem Award for Research for M.A. and Ph.D. students.
Dr. Caroline Luce, UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies: Caroline Luce is the Associate Director of the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA and the Chief Digital Curator of the Mapping Jewish Los Angeles Project. She received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA in 2013 for her work on Jewish immigration, labor, and working-class culture in the American west, and is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Yiddish in the Land of Sunshine: Jewish Radicalism, Labor and Culture in Los Angeles, 1900-1950.
Sam Yebri, Co-Founder, 30 Years After: Sam Yebri is a partner at Merino Yebri LLP, a general practice business law firm in Los Angeles. In 2007, Sam co-founded 30 Years After, a grassroots civic organization that has engaged thousands of Iranian-American Jews in American civic and Jewish life. He has also held leadership positions with numerous Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Bet Tzedek, AIPAC, Bend the Arc (formerly the Progressive Jewish Alliance), the Anti-Defamation League, ETTA, both USC and UCLA Hillel, and the LA County Bar Association’s Barristers. At the age of one, Sam and his family fled Iran as refugees to the United States with assistance from HIAS.