Keeping the Faith in the Land of The Free


Hello, my name is Robin Hanasab. My relationship with the Wise Community began in the 7th grade, roughly three decades ago. At the time, for me, it was the natural next step in my Jewish education. Growing up in a traditional Persian Jewish household, who escaped from Iran to pursue religious freedom, there was no other option.

I felt fortunate to enter the community at that time and it didn’t take long to form lasting bonds.  It was a nurturing environment that taught strong Jewish values and thankfully, our lives were full. Full of love, support and resources to allow us to develop both academically and spiritually.

After graduating, I studied business at USC, and law at Loyola Law School. Within a few years, Jessica and I were married and shortly after that we welcomed Talia into our lives. When it came time to start thinking of schools, Wise was the only option for us. We knew we wanted our daughter (and eventually our two boys, Jacob and Joey) to grow up on this campus, on this hill, in this community, forming those same special bonds with the people who will eventually be their lifelong friends. I knew this because those kids that I met in 7th grade are still my closest friends today. Many are here today with their kids, growing up alongside ours.  At Wise, my childhood community has come full circle, L’dor v’dor, from BEING the kids to RAISING the kids. We are raising the next generation and have chosen this school and temple as our partner.

These last couple years have been difficult for everyone.  Like many other schools and communities in Los Angeles, we were separated from each other for much of the last three years. Some communities GREW apart, some FELL apart. But not this one. We have grown closer than we’ve ever been, and I’m not just referring to the kids. This community understands that it takes a village to raise these children and the Wise families have shown their commitment. I am proud to be part of this group that continually shows up for our school, for our temple, for our children, and for the continuity of Jewish life.  

I am constantly reminded by my father, that as Jews in America, we have it easy. He reminds me that we can never forget what our people have gone through for us to have this freedom and we better not take it for granted.

He once told me a story that really put this sentiment into perspective.

It took place here, shortly after we arrived in the US. He invited a non-Jewish acquaintance visiting from Iran to Shabbat dinner at our home. The guest clearly didn’t appreciate Shabbat dinner and said to my father “Hanasab, khaylee Jude Shodee,” which translates to – Hanasab, you’ve become TOO Jewish. Obviously, he did not mean this as a compliment. Now, what was more surprising than this antisemitic statement made in our own home, ON SHABBAT, was my father’s response. He said, “It’s thanks to you I’m like this. In Iran we had people like you constantly calling us Jew, never letting us forget who we are. It’s not like that here. I have to try harder here so my kids never forget they are Jews.”

From that, my father reminds me that we are blessed with the DUTY to pass on our Jewish values to the next generation, and blessed with THIS place to do it. Whether we are combating antisemitism or assimilation, we need Wise Temple, Wise School and the Wise community as a primary resource. The Temple Clergy and School Administration show up each day with this very mission by

  1. Educating our youth to be PROUD JEWS
  2. Continuing to educate our members with lectures, services, and other educational opportunities, and
  3. By actively working in the community to combat antisemitism.

Now more than any time in my life, there is a greater need to strengthen the Jewish community.

Wise Temple and Wise School are the place that make the Jewish life and the Jewish community a priority. It truly is a big tent, welcoming people from all walks of life and giving us a safe home to learn from each other and grow with each other.   

I’m standing here today in the same place where many of you have celebrated your highest highs and some of your lowest lows, where brilliant clergy, speakers, and world leaders have shared their knowledge and debated opinions. Generations of Jewish life have been interconnected through holidays, events, carnivals, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, simchas and sadness. It’s an honor to share this space with you all and try to do my part to participate in this community.

So, when someone asks why they should donate more than they already give for their tuition, or why they should even pay for temple dues when they can just buy tickets to the big events, the answer is simple. Because what we’re doing here at Wise is bigger than us, and the commitment to the continuity of Judaism is year-round. It takes more than just showing up for the main event.

This is the place that makes sure we don’t lose touch with our Jewish culture, lifestyle and religion. This is the place that instills these values in our children that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. This is the place where we meet our best friends, and grow our families as a community. Nothing is more important than that. So please open your hearts and answer the call to support this place that does so much for us in return.

Thank you

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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