2019 Award for Social Justice in Action

The Foundation presented the second Award for Social Justice in Action to Norman Lear on Sunday, June 2, 2019, at Leo Baeck Temple. The Award for Social Justice in Action is presented to a person whose words and actions reflect Leonard’s courage and commitment to social justice. We were pleased to honor Norman for his remarkable political and social activism, reflected in his groundbreaking achievements in television, film and philanthropy. The inaugural award was presented to John R. Lewis in 2017.

This year also marked the inaugural Fellowships for Peace and Justice, presented to Jacob Plitman, Publisher, Jewish Currents; Rachel Sumekh, Swipe Out Hunger; and Mayor Michael D. Tubbs, City of Stockton, California. The event featured a conversation between Michael Tubbs and Norman Lear, moderated by Jane Olson and introduced by Amy Poehler. A video of the complete program and a gallery of images from the event are below:

Watch the Award for Social Justice in Action Program


“The earth is too small and life is too short for anything to be more important than the quest for peace.”

Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman



The Leonard I. Beerman Foundation for Peace and Justice honors the memory of Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman (1921–2014), a courageous and compassionate religious leader, social activist, and champion of peace and human rights. The Foundation recognizes and supports organizations, programs and activities similarly dedicated to improving the human condition.


“To be most deeply human is to be among the resisters, to resist whatever demeans life.”

Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman


The Work of the Foundation

Launched in 2015, the Leonard I. Beerman Foundation for Peace and Justice honors the legacy of Rabbi Beerman by recognizing and supporting organizations and individuals similarly dedicated to improving the human condition and furthering the cause of peace and justice. In the summer of 2017, a nominating committee of the Foundation chose John R. Lewis, the distinguished civil rights leader and member of the United States Congress, as the inaugural recipient of the Leonard I. Beerman Award for Social Justice in Action. The awards, having a monetary value and including travel and lodging expenses, is presented to a person each year whose words and actions reflect Leonard’s courage and commitment to social justice. The recipient delivers an address in Los Angeles at an event presented by the Foundation, co-sponsored by organizations close to Leonard’s heart. The inaugural event honoring Congressman Lewis took place on October 29, 2017.  The second Award for Social Justice in Action will be presented to Norman Lear in June 2019. 

UCLA has agreed to archive Rabbi Beerman's papers, and with financial assistance from the Foundation, will digitize them to create the first part of the “Spiritual Leaders of Los Angeles” collection at the UCLA Library. In addition, the papers of Reverend George Regas, Rector Emeritus of All Saints Church, and Dr. Maher Hathout, co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the leader of the Los Angeles Muslim community prior to his death in 2015, will be placed in this section of the Library. Presentations of their joint work will anchor this new section as it takes shape.

A book of Leonard's sermons, edited by Professor David Myers, and  was recently published and is available for purchase here on our website. A book launch event on June 7, 2018 brought together book editor Professor Myers and friends and colleagues of Rabbi Beerman to reflect on his remarkable career and its relevance to today. Guest speakers included Reverend Ed Bacon, Aziza Hasan, Mike Farrell, Salam al-Marayati, Professor Nomi Stolzenberg, and Rabbi Rachel Timoner.

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“An awakened conscience is what makes a human being, what makes a woman or a man more nearly a companion of God.”

Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman


Board Members


Joan Beerman

Joan Beerman received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California.  She has been in private practice for over fifty years.  In addition, she has served as the managing trustee of the Robert Ellis Simon Foundation since 1969 and has been a trustee of the Frederick Weisman Discretionary Trust for the past fifteen years.  She has served on the Insurance Trust of the American Psychological Association, is a founding member of the National Academies of Practice, and has received the Distinguished Practitioner Award from the California Psychological Association. She was married to Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman from 1988 until his death in 2014.


Judith Beerman O’Hanlon

Judith Beerman O’Hanlon, the eldest daughter of Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman and Martha Fechheimer Beerman, grew up in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. from Barnard College and her M.A. in French Literature from Columbia University. Since 1976, she has taught a variety of English and French courses at Brentwood School, where she initiated the AP English program as well as the first community service program and the school’s magazine of literature and the arts. As a charter member of the high school honor society, Cum Laude, she was elected its first president at Brentwood, serving in that position for ten years, and became the first director of the Senior Seminar program. She has received recognition for her influence as a teacher: twice from Stanford University and once from Cornell University. She is married to Neil R. O’Hanlon and has two children.


Eve Beerman

Eve Beerman received her bachelor's degree from the University of the Pacific and her master's degree from Boston University. For over thirty years, she has worked as a clinical social worker in pediatrics, much of that time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the University of California, Los Angeles. She works with hospitalized children and their families regarding illnesses and coping with long-term hospital stays. She has trained nurses, medical students, doctors and social work students on these issues, and has spoken to numerous groups about being hospitalized. In addition, Eve is a member of the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect team at the UCLA Medical Center.


Salam Al-Marayati

Nationally recognized for his commitment to improving the public understanding of Islam and policies impacting American Muslims, Salam Al-Marayati is president and co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. He oversees MPAC’s groundbreaking civic engagement, public policy, and advocacy work. He is an expert on Islam in the West, Muslim reform movements, human rights, democracy, national security, and Middle East politics. He has spoken at the White House, Capitol Hill and represented the U.S. at international human rights and religious freedom conferences. His writings have appeared in every major national news publication (including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times).


James Lawson

James Morris Lawson, Jr. is an American activist and university professor. He was a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence within the Civil Rights Movement, training many of the movement's future leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Diane Nash, James Bevel, Bernard Lafayette, Marion Barry, and John Lewis, in tactics of nonviolent direct action. During the 1960s, he served as a mentor to the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was expelled from Vanderbilt University for his Civil Rights activism in 1960, and later served as a pastor in Los Angeles, California, for 25 years.


David Myers

David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Professor of Jewish History at University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of five books and editor or co-editor of ten volumes. An alumnus of Yale College (1982), David undertook graduate studies at Tel-Aviv and Harvard Universities before receiving his Ph.D with distinction in 1991 in Jewish history from Columbia University. He has written widely in the fields of Jewish intellectual and cultural history. David served from 2010-15 as Robert N. Burr Chair of the History Department at UCLA. He also served as Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies (1996-2000, 2004-09, 2010-11). He has received numerous fellowships, and has taught at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow). David is a member of the board of the New Israel Fund, writes frequently on matters of contemporary Jewish concern, and since 2002, has served as co-editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, as well as a Fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Currently, David is editing a book of Rabbi Beerman’s sermons and letters.


Jane Olson

Jane Olson chaired the International Board of Human Rights Watch from 2004 to 2010, having founded the California Committee South in 1989 and served on the HRW Board for 16 years. She was founding board chair of Landmine Survivors Network and served as chair for 13 years, through its transition to Survivor Corps. Jane currently serves on the board of the Pacific Council on International Policy and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a former board member of The Salzburg Seminar on International Studies. Jane has received numerous awards, including the inaugural 2005 Eleanor Roosevelt Award from Feminist Majority; the Silver Achievement Award from the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles; the Community Achievement Award from Public Counsel, and The Alison Des Forges Award in 2010 from Human Rights Watch. She and her husband, attorney Ronald L. Olson, reside in Pasadena, CA. They have three grown children and eight grandsons.


Life and Work of Leonard I. Beerman