INSIDE THE MAGBIT FOUNDATION
The Weekly’s interview with President Dr. Behrooz Broukhim
By Kimberly Cheng
The Magbit Foundation of Greater Los Angeles will be celebrating its 21st
Annual Gala Wednesday May 26 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The black-tie event will be held in the hotel’s International Ballroom, and will be featuring worldwide prformers Ishtar Alabina & The Gypsy Kings.
The gala will recognize Paul & Rose Feher (Feher Foundation) and Julian Geller (Nathan, Anne, Kim and Julian Geller Foundation) for merging their foundations with Magbit to expand on the loan-support program.
In 2009] the Feher and Magbit foundations united to establish a $1 million joint sponsorship fund designed to provide interest-free loans to college students. Since 2005, the Geller family foundation, through Magbit, has provided interest-free loans to more than 1,500 students, and has extended contribution in establishing scholarships to gifted children in grammar schools.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who has been practicing in North Hollywood and Beverly Hills for the past 30 years. I am Iranian Jewish, and I immigrated to the U.S. in 1973. I received all my medical school education in Tehran, Iran. I received all my surgical education from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. I moved to California in 1977, and have resided in California since.
How did you get involved with the Magbit Foundation?
My father, Dr. Baroukh Beroukhim, was one of the founders of the Magbit Foundation. My father had been an educator all of this life, and he knew the value of education. As a result, he got together with other people who were interested in promoting education. He got together with [Chairman of the Board] Mr. Parviz Nazarian, the late Mr. Nejat Gabbay, Mr. Nourallah Gabay and the late Mr.Samad Kashfi.
[Other founding members include Mr. Elias Abrishami, Dr. Shokrollah Baravarian, Mr. Eliyahoo Ghodsian, Mr. Mike Ghodsian, Mr. David Javaheri, Dr. Avner Manzour, Dr. Ruben Melamed, the late Mr. Khalil Nahai, Mr. Nasser Nazarian and Mr. Ebrahim Victory.]
The Magbit Foundation was founded 21 years ago, and since the organization was founded, I have been a staunch supporter of the foundation. Because of my busy life, I could not become “actively involved, but recently, I have been able to have extra time to give support to this foundation. That’s why when the board members offered me the presidency two months ago; I was delighted to take over.
Tell us about the foundation.
For the past 21 years, we’ve been able to help more than 10,000 students obtain educational loans. The main event that we’re fundraising through is the gala dinner at the end of this month, we help about 600-700 college students every school year by providing interest-free loans for multiple universities. Of course [we want to expand the number of universities we assist]. Depending on how many loans [the students] have received, usually a year after graduating, they should start repaying. We are flexible, though. We raise about $500,000 to $600,000 every year.
Why is it important to help students in Israel?
Life has taught me the value of education. People who are underprivileged and cannot afford an education – they need all the help we can give them. Society is improved with education. These are people who are trying to make a difference with their lives, and we should help provide college loans to people who otherwise can’t afford college.
Tell us about this year’s gala celebration.
Tickets are selling very rapidly. Last year, we honored Dr. Abner Levy [with the Humanitarian Award]. [The year before, we honored David Merage.] We are not honoring anyone this year because we have decided to change our program to make it mostly entertainment [in order to] attract more people.
Tell us about some of the members of the Board of Directors that you work with.
There are 21 members of the Board of Directors. They’re all very active and have dedicated to give their time and resources to help our cause. We have an executive board that is selected among the board members and other members of society who become involved in the day-to-day operations of the foundation. We’re planning to introduce a Magbit newsletter to our community of supporters to let them know what we do, the progress of students and their accomplishments. We have a Magbit Young Leadership [division], and we have a women division of Magbit who are also very involved in fundraising. [Beverly Hills Mayor] Jimmy Delshad has been involved with Mabgit for many years, and has served as Magbit President and Chairman for three years each. He is currently an executive board member.
What is your goal as president as of the foundation?
Providing interest-free loans to deserving students to help them complete their studies and become good members of society.