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Black Tie International:
UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies
Photos by:  Vince Bucci
 
Chancellor Gene Block, Sharon Nazarian, Amos Oz, Younes Nazarian, Soraya Nazarian.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci
Chancellor Gene Block, Sharon Nazarian, Amos Oz, Younes Nazarian, Soraya Nazarian
 

UCLA YOUNES & SORAYA NAZARIAN CENTER FOR ISRAEL STUDIES

 HONORS AUTHOR AMOS OZ AND YOUNES AND SORAYA NAZARIAN

AT FIVE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY GALA

Oscar-winning Actress Natalie Portman Presented to Oz;

Special Guest Host Ari Shavit

Haim Saban. Photo by:  Vince Bucci
Haim Saban
Natalie Portman presenting award to Amos Oz.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci
Natalie Portman presenting award to Amos Oz
Israeli Consul General David Siegel.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci
Israeli Consul General David Siegel
Sharon Nazarian presenting Birthday Cake to Amos Oz.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci
Sharon Nazarian presenting Birthday Cake to Amos Oz
 

Los Angeles, CA (May 5, 2015) – Internationally renowned Israeli author Amos Oz  received  the “UCLA Israel Studies Award” and philanthropists Younes and Soraya Nazarian, the inaugural “Visionary Award,” at a gala evening, tonight, May 5th at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.  The evening celebrated the five-year anniversary of the UCLA Younes & Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.  The Y&S Nazarian Center promotes the study of Israel as a modern Jewish and democratic state.  The Honorary Committee was helmed by Janet Napolitano, President, University of California, and Gene Block, Chancellor, UCLA.

Sharon Nazarian, Chair of the Community Advisory Board of the Y&S Nazarian Center and daughter of the Center’s namesakes welcomed the more than 400 guests into the Goldsmith Theater and explained the significance of the evening.   She then introduced celebrated Israeli journalist, writer and television commentator Ari Shavit who emphasized the impact of the Y&S Center from a global perspective and went on to laud the Center, one of the top academic centers promoting education and scholarship on Israel  in the United States, praising its founders for their generosity and vision.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block presented the inaugural “Visionary Award” to Younes  and Soraya Nazarian,  “UCLA is deeply grateful to Younes and Soraya Nazarian for championing Israel studies through their generous gifts and leadership,” said Block.  “Their dedication to community and scholarship has helped make the Y&S Nazarian Center a unique academic hub that gives our students exposure to the latest research on Israel, offers scholarships to study and conduct research there and hosts leading Israeli scholars and public figures to speak at public events on campus.”

Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman presented the “UCLA Israel Studies Award” to Amos Oz, who was accompanied at the event by wife, Nily. Portman adapted the screenplay and makes her directorial debut with “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a feature film based on the best-selling memoir of Amos Oz.  Portman also stars in the role of Oz’s mother, Fania.  The film is slated to premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.  “As both an Israeli and an American, I understand well the importance that Israel is,” said Portman,“ Truthfully, for its amazing achievements as well as its many, many challenges. As well as supporting Israel, I am proud and privileged to be here tonight to present the UCLA Israel studies award to my dear friend Amos Oz. Oz’s literary works, more  than 40 books translated into some 42 languages including Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Turkish tell deeply human stories of Israel and Israelis. They have been read by millions around the globe. His beautiful and moving memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, which I am so proud to bring to the screen, weaves his own life with a history of a young state of Israel. The two are linked. Thank you Amos for packing your suitcases for this long Jewish travel, putting words to our longings and for never losing to cynicism and your insistence on peace, even when it is not as popular as it should be.”

The award presented to Oz is a sculpture created by Soraya Nazarian, an internationally renowned artist and sculptor, and is entitled Strong Roots, Grounded. The tree’s strong roots portray identity, origin and strength to weather difficulty and the unknown. 

The “UCLA Israel Studies Award,” which includes a $10,000 prize, was created to recognize individuals of extraordinary character and merit in their chosen fields – whether academia, public service, business or the arts – who have contributed to a greater understanding of Israel or have made outstanding contributions to Israeli society and/or culture.  The prize has only been awarded once previously, to former President (Chief Justice) of the Supreme Court of Israel, Aharon Barak, in 2007.

Following the awards presentation, Amos Oz joined Ari Shavit on stage for an informal “conversation” touching on the author’s reflections on the past, present and future
of Israel.

Following the program, guests retired to the outdoor terrace for a sit-down dinner catered by Lucques  with entertainment featuring UCLA student musicians and singers.  A highlight of the evening…the celebration of Amos Oz’s birthday with guests joining in a lively rendition of “Happy Birthday” as dessert was served.  Departing guests each received a copy of the guest-of-honor’s award-winning book, “A Tale of Love
and Darkness.”

About Amos Oz

 One of Israel’s best-known and most revered contemporary authors, Amos Oz is the author of over 41 books, including 14 novels and 4 collections of short fiction, together with children’s books and numerous works of nonfiction. Oz is also a regular commentator in the Israeli and world press.  His many novels have been translated into 43 languages and include:  My Michael, The Hill of Evil Counsel, A Perfect Peace, Panther in the Basement, Scenes from Village Life, Judas and his acclaimed memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, which has sold more than a million copies worldwide.  A recipient of the Israel Prize for Literature in 1998, the highest honor of the State of Israel, Oz has received countless awards for his work including The Kafka Prize, the Prix Méditerranée Étranger, the Primo Levi Prize, the Heinrich Heine Prize, the Goethe Prize of the City of Frankfurt and the U.S. Jewish Book of the Year Award.

About Younes and Soraya Nazarian

 Younes and Soraya Nazarian are universally recognized for their remarkable professional accomplishments and outstanding humanitarian endeavors.  A well-respected philanthropist, industrialist and businessman, Younes Nazarian is a prominent leader in the Persian Jewish community in both Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.  Soraya Nazarian is an internationally acclaimed artist and sculptor.  Together, their extensive philanthropic work, conducted through the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, has benefitted a host of worthy causes in the fields of education , public policy and community-based social and artistic programs.

The UCLA Younes & Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies promotes the study of Israel as a modern Jewish and democratic state.  Through teaching, scholarship and community programs, the Center fosters a deep and nuanced understanding of Israel’s rich history, multi-ethnic society, vibrant culture and role in the Middle East and the world.  The Center is quickly becoming an international leader in the burgeoning field of Israel Studies. www.international.ucla.edu/israel

 

 

joyce brooks, gerard mckeon.  photo by:  rose billings

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