Jewish Federation Reaches Out To Young Hollywood

Rebecca Spence writes for the Forward:

‘SCRUBS’ BUDS: Actor Zach Braff (center) is flanked (from left to right) by Scott Orlin, Ilanna Bavli, Amanda Kogan, Beth Lemberger and Aaron Kogan — members of the Entertainment Industry Leadership Initiative.

Los Angeles – When Geoff Silverman, a Hollywood literary manager, made his first foray into Jewish charity work, the draw was not purely philanthropic. The program he joined, the Entertainment Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, offered an enticing component that few other Jewish philanthropic endeavors could match: the chance to network and meet other 20- and 30-something Jews also working in the entertainment business.

Silverman, 39, is among a growing group of young executives, writers, directors, actors and agents who have joined the L.A. federation’s Entertainment Council in recent months. Designed to bring rising Hollywood professionals into the Jewish federated system before they reach the level of a Steven Spielberg or a Sherry Lansing, the council — which launched at the end of January — is fast becoming fertile networking turf for its members.

In a town that’s all about who you know, networking opportunities for young professionals are not in short supply. But, as several council members noted, the interactions that often take place at meet-and-greets and panel discussions hosted by groups whose unabashed purpose is networking can feel awkward and superficial. What the Entertainment Council provides, members say, is the ability to form meaningful relationships born of a common desire to give back.

“Having done some of these other more purely networking organizations, there is an artificiality to it,” said Nick Weiss, a 29-year-old screenwriter and film director who grew up in Philadelphia. “There’s something about the context of the council that, yes, people do come to network and talk shop, but it creates a context for the relationships to go a little bit deeper.”

Silverman, who became involved at the suggestion of a film producer friend, said that he was impressed by the A-list caliber of guest speakers that the council has been able to attract — including John Turteltaub, who directed and produced the recent blockbuster hit “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” and George Freeman, a top agent at the William Morris Agency.

About Luke Ford

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