Welcome to Ha’Am’s campus tour, where we explore the hidden locales influenced by Jews, or Jewish dollars. You may notice that Hillel, JAM, Chabad, AEPi, and the Jewish organizations around UCLA did not make it on the list; this tour focuses on the contributions that Jews have made to the entire UCLA community. So next time you are on campus, look around and take pride in the different ways that Jews have helped to shape the UCLA campus.
1. Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater
Located in North Campus, UCLA’s dance theater is named after Detroit-native philanthropist, Glorya (Pinkis) Kaufman. Born to Jewish parents who were strong members of the Jewish community, Glorya had a love for dance but her parents could not afford lessons. In 1999, she donated $19 million to UCLA to found the Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater and Hall.
2. David Geffen School of Medicine and Geffen Playhouse
Can a name be more obviously Jewish than this? David Geffen was born in Borough Park, New York to Jewish immigrant parents, Abraham Geffen and Batya Volovskaya. He completed high school in New York and then spent multiple years completing his education between Santa Monica College, Brooklyn College, and the University of Texas. He made a name for himself in film and is now founder of DreamWorks, Asylum Records, Geffen Records and DGC Records. In 1995, he donated $5 million to UCLA’s Westwood Playhouse, which was then renamed the Geffen Playhouse. In 2002, David Geffen endowed $200 million for UCLA’s School of Medicine, and in 2012, he donated another $100 million, making him the largest individual benefactor of the UC system.
3. The “1939” Club
Located in an archway between Bunche Hall and the Murphy Sculpture Garden, a bronze plaque reads: “A professorship dedicated to the study of the Holocaust and its significance within the broad historical and intellectual context, and in eternal memory to the six million Jews – men, women and children who perished…To the millions of other faiths who lost their lives…And to all those who stood up for human rights. So that it will never happen again!” The “1939” Club is a membership dedicated to documenting and teaching about the Holocaust. In 1977, the Club established an endowment chair at UCLA with of $250,000, which has consequently allowed thousands of students to take courses in Holocaust studies.
4. Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies
As you read that, you probably thought, “Hey I know someone with the last name Nazarian!” That is because they are a prominent Iranian Jewish family in Los Angeles and Israel. In 1979, Younes and Soraya Nazarian, along with their four children and a few suitcases, fled the Iranian revolution for LA. Over the years, they have founded various enterprises, such as the Y&S; Nazarian Family Foundation, and became board members of Qualcomm Inc, among other companies. In total, Younes and Soraya Nazarian have donated $5 million to UCLA and helped build the university’s Israel Studies program, thereby founding the center in their name.
5. Schoenberg Music Building
Born in Austria to a lower-middle class Jewish family, Arnold Schoenberg was a prominent composer and painter during the expressionist period in Germany. In response to the anti-Semitism around him, he converted to Christianity, but reaffirmed his faith in Judaism in 1933. In 1934, he moved to the United States and was fortunate to avoid the rise of the Nazi party. He taught music at UCLA and USC, both of which have renamed their music buildings to honor him and his beautiful music.
6. Jewish Music Chair at Herb Alpert School of Music
In 2008, philanthropists Ron and Madelyn Katz donated $1 million in honor of Mickey Katz, a Yiddish entertainer, to establish a chair in Jewish music at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.
7. Gonda (Goldschmied) Neuroscience and Genetics Research Center
Named in honor of husband-wife duo, Leslie and Susan Gonda, the Goldschmied Research Center at UCLA provides students and faculty with opportunities for education and advancement in science and medicine. Leslie Gonda is a Holocaust survivor who moved to South America after the end of war, where he went on to found and grow various businesses. Over the years, he has made large donations to Holocaust museums and medical centers around the country, including the Gonda Center at UCLA.
Additionally, the Research Center’s architect, Robert Venturi, is married to fellow architect, Denise Scott Brown, who is Jewish!
8. Broad Art Center
Eli Broad was born in Bronx, New York, to Lithuanian Jewish immigrants but moved to Detroit, Michigan, at age 6. He attended Michigan State University and earned a CPA. In addition to donating to multiple universities and learning centers around the country, Broad and his wife, Edythe, gave $23.2 million to build the Broad Art Center in 2002. The architect Richard Meier (also Jewish) designed the center. And did you know, Broad co-founded a home-building company, KB Home, with Glorya Kaufman’s husband, Donald Bruce Kaufman?
9. Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
Terry Semel, former CEO of Warner Brothers and Yahoo! Entertainment, and his wife, Jane, made the generous donation of $25 million to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, which led to the name change in 2004 to its current title. In the following year, Semel was awarded the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor.
10. Jules Stein Eye Institute
Jules C. Stein was born in Indiana to Lithuanian Jewish immigrant parents. He graduated from the University of Chicago and then received his medical degree from Rush Medical College to become an ophthalmologist. He eventually left his profession to pursue his passion for music and the entertainment industry. In 1966, Dr. Jules Stein and his wife, Doris, founded the Eye Institute at UCLA, a center for the vision sciences.
11. Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science
Aside from owning the Anaheim Ducks, Henry Samueli teaches at the UCLA School of Engineering, to which he donated $30 million. Samueli’s parents, Polish Jewish immigrants, survived Nazi Europe and came to the United States. They moved to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Bancroft Junior High School and then Fairfax High School. Samueli attended UCLA for his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D, all in the field of electrical engineering. The Samueli family directs most of their philanthropy to Jewish organizations, namely those focused on Holocaust history and commemoration. Samueli has also made large donations to the Hillel at UCLA building, and if you check the outside of the building, you will see Samueli Plaza, named in his honor.
12. UCLA Factor Health Science Building
As part of the UCLA Medical School, the Factor Building houses the School of Nursing and the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Max Factor, a Polish Jewish immigrant, moved to Los Angeles in 1904, where he built a reputation as the makeup artist for almost all Hollywood celebrities of the time. When he passed away, members of his immediate family, including his son Louis Factor, expanded the prestigious international cosmetics firm, Max Factor Co. In 1975, after Louis’ death, his wife, Doris Berman Factor, donated large sums to UCLA to complete the Louis and Doris Factor Health Science Building.
13. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block
Last but not least, UCLA’s very own chancellor is Jewish! His parents were Reform Jews but he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in a Conservative synagogue. He recalls that his family did not keep a kosher home but were traditional in the sense that they had two sets of dishes and any food that was blatantly non-kosher was never served. To this day, he still identifies with his Judaism and knows a few words of Yiddish, which he learned from hearing his father speak.