Issue April 10, 2014 - April 16, 2014

briefs Metro ruling
slams BHUSD Page 3
briefs Acura and O’Gara Coach as
potential 8767 Wilshire tenants Page 4
Former students and
friends share how
the legendary choral
teacher has influenced
them
Pages 6 - 7
cover story º pages 8-9
Triple Threat
briefs Planning Commission moves forward
plans for Condos on Burton Way Page 4
From Beverly High to
Broadway, the Weiss triplets
discuss their upcoming
Temple Emanuel show
April 10-April 16, 2014 Page 9
creators of the company. Then I left there
to run development for Craig Zadan and
Neil Meron, [who produced “Chicago” the
movie, “Smash” on NBC, and others].
While I was there [I thought,] “Am I
really meant to be doing [this]?” I quit and
left the entertainment industry and went on
an inward journey for about a year that led
me to creating my [life] coaching practice
that I’ve been doing for three years.
Two of my sisters who are in the Jewish
clergy as very clearly established spiri-
tual leaders, and our older brother [Scott
Hausman Weiss] is a Rabbi. I feel like I do
the same work, just without the [religious]
title.

Your mother Marilyn Weiss was a
former Design Review Commissioner
and your father Mark is a retired
podiatrist. Tell us what they’re up to
now.

Sara
Our parents moved about two and a half
years ago. My dad retired and they moved
up to Walnut Creek, California where they
have several friends and family [who] live
there.
My dad recently just got involved in a
kid’s shoe company called, “Plae,” and he
[does] consultant work to make sure that
the shoes are great quality. He’s the guy
they go to with any issues with feet.

Lizzie
And the issue is creating shoes for chil-
dren’s feet.

Sara
That are durable and comfortable.

Lizzie
And appropriate for a kid’s soft bone.

Sara
Our mom is the Vice Chair of the Walnut
Creek Design Review Commission, so
they’re both still continuing what they did
before in a much less capacity. They’re
traveling a lot and visiting all of us, because
we’re all over the country, but I think
they’re enjoying themselves.

Tell us about “A Triple Threat,” your
concert at Temple Emanuel on April 20.

Lizzie
Sara has a student pulpit in Temple Rodef
Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. It’s a
huge congregation and they do a concert
series every year. They knew that I was also
studying to be a Cantor and approached
Sara [in November] and said, “What do
you think about doing a cabaret here with
your sister?” Sara said, “Of course!” and all
of sudden Sara got a call that said, “Wait a
second, do you think your brother would
want to do it too?”
Ryan
The three of us, when we sing together
the result is so much more than the sum
of its parts. I have my talent, Lizzie has
hers, Sara has hers, but when the three of
us come together it’s like there’s a whole
other energy there that’s unjustifiable that
moves through us. I think our intention is
to remind people that all of us have access
to the same talent, that we’re not special in
our talent. A lot of the music that we share,
whether it’s a musical theatre song or a pop
song or something that’s from an ancient
wisdom tradition, is the concert. But the
content is fizzing in the entire presence of
what happens when we allow the creative
genius to move through us.
Lizzie
We have not performed together since
high school. The three of us performed
[“A New World,’ written by Jason Robert
Brown] with Joel Pressman at the last win-
ter concert of high school and also at my
sister’s senior recital for Miami, and we’re
also doing it at this concert.
This concert is more than [a] cliché
Broadway cabaret. Our goal is to take these
people on a musical and spiritual journey.
It’s really a culmination of the last 29
years of our lives. We’re not saying that
we’re successfully developed human beings
yet, but everything we’ve learned really is
poured into this concert and I think all of
us have developed our own ideas about
religion. For me [what I love is] the com-
munity Judaism has to offer and to see a
united voice that people can come together,
pray for good, [and] to be able to change the
way we look at things.
Beverly Hills is really a community. It
really shaped us as who we are, and the
people that we were exposed to who are
the most philanthropic but also just normal
people.
The Weiss triplets will be performing at
Temple Emanuel on April 20 at 5:00 p.m.
Go to www.tebh.org to purchase tickets
for $15.
school. I was very split on this issue at
first, and before molding any final opinion
I made sure to have all the facts, including
those presented by Dr. [Brian] Goldberg in
his “Goldberg Perspective” newsletters. At
first, Dr. Goldberg’s arguments are very
compelling. Our school will become more
competitive, more kids will go to four year
universities, and Beverly High will rise in
status. However, Dr. Goldberg also sug-
gests in the same post that students who
fail to meet these requirements, or students
who don’t have the same enthusiasm as
top students, can simply be transferred to
Moreno, a continuation school for students
who don’t succeed at Beverly High.
This approach to education poses many
challenges. First, our district will need to
invest more money in Moreno to accom-
modate these new students. Dr. Goldberg
acknowledged this in his post, without
elaborating on where the money will come
from. Second, this approach gives the
impression that Beverly High wants only
to help its top students while leaving
everyone else in the dust. Third, students
who feel pressured by these requirements
to take challenging courses they are not
prepared for serve only to slow down these
classes and force teachers to teach down
to their level, hurting those top students
that this policy was intended to promote.
Ironically, this lowers our standards rather
than raising them. I have seen this firsthand
in my more challenging courses and it’s
obvious that nobody wants to feel alien-
ated in a class they don’t belong in or that
they aren’t prepared for. The students who
would take A-G regardless of the require-
ment will continue to do so, while the rest
shouldn’t be forced to, nor should they be
punished for not wanting to. Every student
has different needs, and a district with
resources like ours should be able to cater
to all of its students. Therefore, while
making A-G mandatory would seem to
promote Beverly High and make it a more
competitive school, in actuality this policy
serves only to divide our students while
dragging down the top and keeping the
bottom where it is.
Another one of my concerns is the pay
of our teachers. I, like most residents in
Beverly Hills, assumed that our teachers
get paid the best, the same way that our
police and firemen do. However, the last
board meeting revealed to me that our
district is not very competitive in its pay
at all. After minimal research, I learned
that our district pays its employees salaries
that are comparable to districts with far
fewer resources, but with more disciplined
fiscal management. In fact, the scope of
the fiscal mismanagement within our dis-
trict is terrifying. Beverly High is blessed
with some of the best teachers in the
whole country, and the fact that they are
not properly compensated for their public
service serves to show that this board is
either unaware, or that it simply doesn’t
care. As a student, I could easily tell you
which teachers shouldn’t be teaching at our
school. However, our boards’ approach to
dealing with these teachers is wrong in that
all teachers are punished for problems had
with a few. This practice kills morale and
this is an embarrassment for us. At the start
of last year we had to negotiate with the
city for a multimillion dollar donation just
to maintain the status quo and now we’ve
just blown millions on new security, when
our old security was more than adequate.
At the same time, our district’s executives
receive bloated salaries that are grossly
out of proportion with the salaries of other
employees and with what is reasonable for
their work. Now with a ten million dollar
endowment, I hope that our district will
make the right choice. Some of our oldest
and finest teachers are retiring. The next
generation of exceptional teachers won’t
be coming here. They’ll be going where
they get paid for their work, and the qual-
ity of instruction in our school will slowly
decline. Our school will be less competi-
tive as a result, and our district, the gem of
Beverly Hills that makes our community
what it is, will not be the same. This, in
turn, devalues our whole community. The
reason Beverly Hills is so prestigious and
that property values are so high is that par-
ents want their kids to go to school here.
Please don’t let our schools go to waste.
I feel that our board has taken the quality
of instruction at Beverly High, which has
been consistently strong for decades, for
granted.
When reading that same blog by Dr.
Goldberg I referred to earlier, I noticed
that there seems to be conflict between our
Board and staff, including administration,
counselors, and teachers. Dr. Goldberg
says that any deviation from board poli-
cies is insubordination and then goes on to
imply that this insubordination could put
someone’s employment at risk. I agree that
it is the board’s responsibility to set policy,
but to micromanage and to blatantly dis-
regard the opinions of our educational
professionals is a perversion of the system
that will ultimately fail. Nobody should
be fired for having the audacity to think
differently than the board. This type of
arrogance serves only to disrupt the flow of
healthy debate, and without healthy debate
the exchange of ideas stops out of fear of
retribution and retaliation. Everyone loses
steam, especially our educators, when they
feel their opinions have no value and that
they are expendable. This ultimately hurts
students like me, who then feel it is their
responsibility to personally reach out and
voice their concerns.
I hope that in the future, the board dis-
continues its pursuit of aggressive politics
and weighs all perspectives when making
decisions. It is easy for me to understand
why the board oftentimes acts with over-
confidence and too much determination.
After all, it was chosen by the people and
their election serves only to show that the
community supports them. However, very
few people actually vote or know about the
happenings in our district. While a fraction
of our community actually comes out and
votes, the silent and dormant majority is
unaware of our board’s mismanagement
and feels no need to stay educated nor to
vote anybody out of office or into office.
I genuinely hope that the disconnect from
most of our community does not put any
board member under the mistaken impres-
sion that he or she has a free hand to do as
he or she pleases, and I urge our commu-
nity to stay informed and vote.
I do not want the board to think its
accomplishments have gone unnoticed.
I commend Dr. Goldberg on making the
PSAT a mandatory exam for juniors and
I congratulate the board on a successful
transfer to basic aid. Your students are
grateful for the courage you have shown
in resisting the subway under our school.
Furthermore, I appreciate everything that
the board does to maintain transparency
and to keep its community informed. Keep
writing, keep posting, and keep filming.
I hope that more people feel the need to
learn about our community. Only then can
the public stay involved, share its opinions,
and hold its leaders accountable. After all,
that’s the beauty in democracy.
Amir Kashfi
Beverly Hills
letters cont. from page 3
Page 8 Beverly Hills Weekly
coverstory
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TRIPLE THREAT
How did all of you get started with
singing?

Lizzie
I don’t think there was ever a moment
where singing [or performing] wasn’t a part
of our lives in some way. A big factor was
that we were sung to sleep every night.
Ryan
We [have] two older siblings as well,
there are five of us. Our parents were worn
thin a little so it was like whoever could
grab the kid, get it done, and put them to
sleep. Our sister [Allison Bluestein] had
a beautiful voice, [and] our [Gramma]
Micki [Klein] would sing, “A Bushel and
a Peck,” [from “Guys and Dolls”] for us to
go to sleep, and she [had] a beautiful, sweet
voice. Our parents would [sing] as well.
[Our] careers as singers is quite the
conundrum. People ask us, “Where did that
come from? It must be genetic.” We always
joke that our parents think that we got our
talent from them, but if you really hear
them sing I beg to differ. They can maybe
carry a tune.
Lizze
[Our] mom’s an interior designer and our
dad’s a podiatrist. They’ve definitely had
very different lives than the three of us.

Sara
It’s interesting because we’re coming full
circle from where we got our real introduc-
tion to performing and singing by being
a part of our synagogue. All of us were
involved in an intergenerational produc-
tion with our parents, our grandparents,
[and] Lizzie, [Ryan,] and I sang in [Temple
Emanuel’s] choir. I think that was really
where it started.
Lizzie
We were very lucky that our parents
brought us up with no boundaries. We
[were] all encouraged to push ourselves to
not be average [and] to use the God given
skills. Whether it was singing or producing,
these skills were encouraged from a very
young age.
Cantor Yonah Kliger at Temple Emanuel
truly empowered us. Whatever opportunity
it was in our life, he gave us responsibility
and it made us have to grow in our ability to
sing at Temple [Emanuel] and our ability to
be spiritual leaders at a younger age.

Sara
[Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Jonathan
Aaron, and Cantor Yonah Kliger] were
really instrumental parts, especially for
Lizzie and I, [to decide] what we’re doing
to become clergy.

As 2003 graduates, you all were active
in Beverly High’s performing arts
program. What influences did the late
Joel Pressman have on each of you?

Ryan
Mr. Pressman was remarkable. I think
everyone has a different relationship with
him and, to honor his
spirit, he wasn’t an
easy man to get along
with. When you’re in
high school, that’s a
difficult thing to come
up against. The dif-
ficult people are the
people who create
within us the desire,
the strive, or the will
to be brilliant. Mr.
Pressman always had
high expectations of
us. We all had prob-
lems with that at the time, but that certainly
gave me an insight on what it takes to go
out into the world and create a profession
within an industry of entertainment which
is miraculously impossible in a way.
The training that I got from him, the way
he expected us to be perfect, whether it
was to have perfect pitch, to be perfect at
sight reading, to be a thriving member of
the community at Beverly within the choir
and [the] Madrigals, his expectations really
taught me a lot about what I was going to
experience when I went out into the world.
I did not like him for it at the time, but
looking back, I have really great apprecia-
tion for it.

Sara
He was really good at lighting a fire
under you and pushing you. At the time it
felt [like], “Uh, God, why is he being so
mean to me?” Looking back, he’s the one
person that established those expectations
from us. It strove us to be the best that we
could be and to do the best that we could.
We’ve all had very different paths in terms
of performing and where it’s taken us, but
I think that [it was this motivation that you
just had to keep going.]
When he passed away, I think we all felt
it. It was this light, and it didn’t matter if
you hadn’t talked to him in years. You knew
that he [wanted] to know what was going on
and the fact that Lizzie and I are becoming
Cantors, I think was really special to him
as well.

Lizzie
I think it was in the video celebrating
him, they talked about one of the highlights
of his career was [about] 17 years ago at
Lincoln Center when the judges said to him,
“high school students aren’t supposed to be
so musical, they’re not supposed to be so
vulnerable in their singing.” We were a part
of that group that was singing. That trip was
very unique because all three of us got into
Madrigals when we were in tenth grade;
the majority of [the Madrigal Singers] were
in eleventh and twelfth grade. So in tenth
grade the three of us went to New York
City and saw our first Broadway show.
None of us had ever been and Mr. Pressman
[pushed] for this trip that gave us all that
itch to want to be on Broadway. I think that
he also trusted his students and gave us a
different type of freedom [that] most teach-
ers wouldn’t allow 15 and 16 year olds at
that time. He really encouraged his students
to grow not just as singers, but as good
people. He knew the value that those expe-
riences would have on
us maturing.

Ryan
I was a dancer,
[and] Janet Roston
used to run Dance
Company [where] we
got to put on dance
programs that brought
in world-renowned
choreographers to
work with us and we
got to choreograph on
our own. From that
experience, she taught me so much.
If we were facing a challenge while we
were creating a piece she would always say,
“Remember Ryan, dance is malleable, you
can change anything.” My life now is com-
mitted to helping people remember that.
She is someone who gave us full range to be
as creative as possible. There weren’t a lot
of, “no’s.” There were a lot of, “Yah, that’s
your idea?” and then help you to create that.
People who talked about their high school
experiences go, “Ugh, I hated school, I
don’t understand how we went through high
school.” I think back to high school, and
about how much I loved my experience at
Beverly [High] and that was truly because
of the performing arts department. It let us
seasonally work, explore what we want to
do to get creative, get our hands dirty, mess
up, and thrive. Jane was a big part of that
for me.

Lizzie
[Drama teacher Herb] Hall, who is retir-
ing this year, used to say to me, “Lizzie!
Are you going to perform or are you just
going to sing?” [He kept] challenging me
that you can’t just rely on God’s given voice
in this world. In addition, [Former drama
teacher] Katie Grant Shalin who means
so much to us, directed the three of us in,
“Once on This Island,” in eleventh grade
where we played three out of the four Gods.
She challenged us in our acting abilities to
a great degree.
Tell us more about what you do now.

Lizzie
I went to [the University of California]
Irvine, graduated in two years and a quarter
[and then] moved to New York. Within a
few months I was cast [as Martha Cox] in
the world premiere of [Disney’s ] “High
School Musical.” I was on the Broadway’s
national tour of “High School Musical” for
about three years [and] then I did “High
School Musical II.” Then I moved back to
L.A. to have a breather and I had been doing
High Holiday services at Temple Emanuel
for many years. One thing led to another
and I decided that I would start Cantorial
School. Sara and I are both being ordained
as Cantors in May 2015 although we’re
both at two different schools; I’m at [the]
Academy for Jewish Religion of California.

Sara
While I was in college I started with musi-
cal theatre and then I transferred into the
music business and entertainment industries
major, and got a Bachelor’s in music. It was
all about the inner workings of the music
industry in every different place [such as]
form, vocal[s], instrumental[s], down to
accounting, and I loved it. I also thankfully
established myself as a performer at Miami
and was able to continue to perform in all
the main stage productions.
I moved to New York. I was audition-
ing [and] started working at Ellen Stardust
Diner, which is a big diner that has singing
wait staff. I always say that I did end up on
Broadway, but the street, not in a show. The
restaurant was on Broadway.
After that my then boyfriend now hus-
band, [and I] moved back to Los Angeles
and [I] decided that I wanted to become a
Cantor and took a couple years to prepare
for school. Now [I] will be going into my
fifth and last year at Hebrew Union College
– Jewish Institute of Religion in New York
City.

Ryan
I went to [the College-Conservatory of
Music] at the University of Cincinnati [with
a musical theatre major]. I left my sopho-
more year to do the musical, “Wicked,” and
I performed in that for [four] years, one year
in Chicago and three years in New York.
I loved choreographing [and] I loved
being behind the stage so I moved to L.A.
because I thought I [was] going to produce.
I worked at a company that was at the time
called Endeavor, which is a talent and
literary agency that now is WME [which]
merged with William Morris while I was
there.
After a couple months of working there,
I worked for [Adam Venit], one of the
“The difficult people
are the people who
create within us the
desire, the strive,
or the will to be
brilliant.”
- Ryan Weiss

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