Dinner With a Scholar




The annual Dinner With a Scholar event is a wonderful opportunity for us to come together for intellectual stimulation, enrichment, and, of course, delicious meals! It is also our chance to renew our collective commitment to Jewish education and transformational experiences for our entire Jewish community.

Two nights and eight speakers in eight private homes. All proceeds support Jewish education through the Merage JCC's Center for Jewish Life.



Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. 

Marty Sklar, Disney Executive, The Best Advice I Ever Heard -- sold out

Disney Legend and Walt Disney Imagineering “Ambassador” Marty Sklar is the only Disney cast member to participate in the opening of all 12 of the company’s parks around the world.

Sklar began his Disney career at Disneyland in June, 1955 – one month before Disneyland opened. At age 21, he was hired to create The Disneyland News, a tabloid newspaper sold on Main Street during Disneyland’s first summer. Two weeks after he started, Marty presented the newspaper to Walt Disney himself. Walt liked it – and that was the beginning of a career at Disney that lasted 54 years.

In 1974, Sklar became the creative leader of Walt Disney Imagineering, the design and engineering division responsible for creating the Disney Parks and Resorts.  Sklar served as Principal Creative Executive during the design and construction of nine of the twelve Disney Parks.

Following his retirement in July 2009, on Disneyland’s 54th birthday, Marty formed Marty Sklar Creative Inc. “to answer all the requests I receive for advice about leadership, speaking engagements, writing and concept development.” He is a frequent contributor to publications such as Funworld, and Disney Files (the magazine of Disney’s Vacation Club), and he writes a monthly blog for Ryman Arts.

Hosted by Nancy and Irv Chase

Howard Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., Detecting Alzheimer's Disease Earlier 

Dr. Howard Federoff became CEO of UCI Health System in January 2015, after serving as the Dean of UCI’s School of Medicine. His dual role of Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and the CEO of UCI Health System ensures alignment among the clinical, academic, and research missions of the university.

A nationally renowned clinical leader and groundbreaking investigator for neurological disorders, Dr. Federoff’s research led to a new gene therapeutic trial in Parkinson’s disease, and in predicting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles and he currently serves on the editorial boards of five journals. Dr. Federoff served as Chair of the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee from 2007-2010. He chairs the Gene Therapy Resource Program for National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, served as president of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair (2012-2013), and was president of the American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics (2014-2016). Dr. Federoff is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Inventors.

Prior to arriving at UCI, Dr. Federoff was the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at Georgetown University and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine.

Hosted by Michele and Pat Szekel

Justice Richard Fybel, Nazi Legal System and Nuremberg Trials

Richard D. Fybel is an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal.  Since 2004, he has been the Chair of the California Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics.  He has written and spoken extensively on topics of the German Legal System (1933-1945), and the Nuremberg Trials.

Justice Fybel co-teaches a seminar at Chapman University Law School entitled “The Holocaust, Genocide and the Law.”  He is also a member of the Board of Advisors of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education at Chapman University and a founder of an endowed fund at the University named for his parents, refugees from the Holocaust.

Justice Fybel will discuss how the Nazis used written laws to enforce their will and racial doctrine.  He will also discuss the roles of German judges, the judiciary and lawyers, as well as the main Nuremberg Trial and the later trial of Nazi judges (dramatized in the movie “Judgment at Nuremberg”).

Hosted by Cindy and Michael Furst

Annie Korzen, Tales from the Mouth: Comedies of Error -- sold out

Annie Korzen was the recurring charachter Doris Klompus on SEINFELD, and has performed her solo shows on three continents. Her new show, A Jew, An Athiest, and Seinfeld Walk into a Bar, will premiere at Jewish Women’s Theater of Los Angeles in 20l7. Annie is the author of Bargain Junkie: Living the Good Life on the Cheap.

Annie has done humorous essays for NPR’s Morning Edition, The NY Times, LA Times, and many more. Annie is married to Danish film producer Benni Korzen (Oscar-winning Babette’s Feast.) Annie has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and Tavis Smiley, and the late Roger Ebert loved her on

Annie Korzen thinks the world would be a better place if everyone would just do what she says. Much to her amazement, the world doesn't seem to agree. Annie has her audience in stitches as she frets over the challenges of being a Jewish woman, a Jewish mother, and a Jewish wife. As funny as her stories are, Annie will also touch your heart.

Hosted by Sue and Ralph Stern


Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. 

Uri Regev, Esq., Religious Freedom and Equality in Israel

Rabbi Uri Regev is an internationally renowned advocate of religious liberty in his native Israel and around the world.  He serves as the President and CEO of an educational and advocacy Israel-Diaspora partnership, Freedom of Religion for Israel, and of its Israeli counterpart, Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, which he founded in 2009.
From 2002 through 2008 he served as president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the global umbrella organization of the Progressive, Reform, Liberal and Reconstructionist movements, and worked to strengthen modern, pluralistic Jewish life and democracy in the Jewish state and throughout the world. Prior to that, Rabbi Regev served as executive director and legal counsel of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the public and advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel.

Rabbi Regev has also served on the boards of other Jewish organizations, including World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, Rabbis for Human Rights, Overseers of the Jerusalem School of Hebrew Union College, Institute for Progressive Halacha, Central Archives of the Jewish People, Center for the Research of Democracy at the University of Haifa, Re’ut School and Institute for Pluralistic Training, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and the Israel Amuta of the San Francisco Jewish Federation.

Brigitte and Craig Frankel

Matthias Lehmann, Buying a Country for the Jews

Professor Matthias Lehmann is Teller Family Chair in Jewish History and director of the program in Jewish Studies at UCI’s School of Humanities.  A Fullbright Fellow, he just returned from a semester at Tel Aviv University where he conducted research on nineteenth century Jewish philanthropy.  He is currently working on a biography of Baron Maurice de Hirsch, a railroad entrepreneur and celebrity philanthropist who is best remembered for his ambitious plan to resettle Russian Jews in agricultural colonies in Argentina.

An historian of early modern and modern Jewish history with a special interest in the history of the Spanish Jews, Professor Lehmann recently published Emissaries from the Holy Land (Stanford University Press, 2014) which tells the story of a philanthropic network of Jewish community leaders in the Ottoman capital Istanbul between the 1720s and the 1820s, that supported the impoverished Jews of Palestine. The book explores how the emissaries and their supporters understood the relationship between the Jewish Diaspora and the Land of Israel, and it shows how cross-cultural encounters and competing claims for financial support involving Sephardic, Ashkenazi, and North African emissaries and communities contributed to the transformation of Jewish identities in the eighteenth century.

Hosted by Sharon and Mark Berman

Joel Dimsdale, M.D., Anatomy of Malice (author)

Dr. Joel Dimsdale is Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of California, San Diego. He was previously on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He is an active investigator; a former career awardee of the American Heart Association; and past president of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, the American Psychosomatic Society, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine. He has been a consultant to the President’s Commission on Mental Health, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences, and is a long-time reviewer for the National Institutes of Health. He has edited multiple books and authored more than 500 scientific papers.

Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals is a gripping narrative that probes the psychological nature of four Nazi leaders who instigated brutal mass killings. Psychiatrists and psychologists methodically interviewed and tested the Nuremberg war criminals in 1945, but their findings were hidden away and mired in controversy for decades. There is an eerie parallel between what was revealed in 1945 and what we confront today. What is malice? How can we understand the psychology of evil in today’s mass killers?

Hosted by Dana and Yossie Hollander

Steve Rothfeld, Israel Eats (author)

Steven Rothfeld earned degrees in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley and Photography from Art Center College of Design before beginning his adventures as a travel photographer with an emphasis on the culinary world. He has traveled to over 40 countries and has worked in the kitchens of Thomas Keller, Frances + Edward Mayes, Wolfgang Puck, Joel Robuchon, Nancy Silverton, and Patricia Wells. Israel Eats is his first book as both author and photographer.

His books of photography include French Dreams, Italian Dreams, Irish Dreams, Entrez, The Signs Of France with André Aciman, and Shrines, Images of Italian Worship with Frances Mayes. Steven’s images can also be seen in The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, Hungry For France, Cuisine Niçoise, French Comfort Food, and Le French Oven.  During the United States tour of the acclaimed Tuscan Sun Music Festival, Steven’s photographs of Italy were presented onstage at Carnegie Hall.

Three of his books, Napa Stories, In The Shade Of the Vines, and the Dean & DeLuca Book Of Food and Wine celebrate the Napa Valley, where he lives. When he is home, Steven works with Meadowood Resort, The Napa Valley Reserve, and some of the most acclaimed wine estates in the region.

Hosted by Francine and Ron Morrison



Thank you to our sponsors:

Doug and Joyce Cassel · Sandy Fainbarg · Roberta Feuerstein · Sybil Flom and Mike Blank · Susan Glass · Bernie Horowitz · Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County · Robin and Larry Kaplan · Carolyn and Bill Klein · Gary and Leba Kramer · Rick and Adrienne Matros · Doris and Marty Melnick · Dana and Mark Susson · Debbie and Ira Victer · Roz and Elliot Vogelfanger · Sheila and Jay Witzling


Thank you to our committee:

Nancy Chase · Jada Robitaille · Elana Samson · Dana Susson · Jay Witzling


Thank you to our hosts:

Sharon and Mark Berman · Nancy and Irv Chase · Brigitte and Craig Frankel · Cindy and Michael Furst · Dana and Yossie Hollander · Francine and Ron Morrison · Sue and Ralph Stern · Michele and Pat Szekel  



Sponsorship opportunities available:  $500 / $1000 / $1500. 

For more information or to register, contact Debbie Meline, Merage JCC Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship (949) 435-3400 ext. 271.