“We walked into Kohn Chapel during tefilla prayers as part of the tour for our son, and it was like time stopped and in the same moment you were standing in the past and in the future,” she says. “The soul of the School hasn’t changed.”
Lora is a living bridge between the School’s past and future. More than 40 years since her graduation, she remains an involved board member, alumni parent and advocate for Sinai Akiba.
Lora and her classmates knew that she would become an advocate when she decided, in third grade, to pursue a career as a public defender. Idealistic and determined, she wanted to be a champion of those who could not stand up for themselves. In eighth grade, the student council elected her chief justice. At such an early age, she exemplified the SAA core value of tzedek, tzedek tirdof — the pursuit of justice.
Today, Lora practices law in the private sector, specializing in labor and employment law, having earned a bachelor’s degree from MIT and a law degree, with Order of the Coif honors, from Loyola Law School. A founding partner in a boutique law firm in Century City, she credits her foundation in a textual analysis at the School as fundamental to her daily life and work.
“I was very well-prepared for high school, college and my work as a lawyer having spent my formative years in school analyzing biblical text, Rashi and Maimonides. We were challenged to articulate how their opinions coalesce into one code for living,” she says. “Now I’m tasked with developing solutions that need to be based in law and effective from a business and humane perspective. Text study taught me to be analytical and thoughtful, to ‘read between the lines,’ all of which has served me well in navigating situations where the presenting issue is often a symptom of a more hidden problem.”
Her educational experience at Akiba Academy inspired her to become a champion of Jewish education as well. “Jewish day school grooms Jewish leaders because it engenders a sense of responsibility in children for their community and its future; it teaches them to care about something larger than themselves,” Lora says.
Lora served three years as the Sinai Akiba Academy School Board Chair, and during her tenure, the School launched its first endowment campaign and selected Dr. Sarah Shulkind as its new head of school. Lora says participating in these positive changes and growth of the School has been the highlight of her board service.
Watching her three children learn, grow and mature through the School reinforced her belief in the value of an SAA education. She says her children have integrated Jewish values into their endeavors as students and citizens. “They love to read and argue, and they work hard in school. But it’s been gratifying to see them engage in service on their own initiative, without fanfare and not for resume value.”
One of her daughters taught English to Somali refugees in Maine, helping integrate them into American culture. Her other daughter volunteered with Peer Health Exchange to teach mental health and suicide prevention in public high schools in areas where low-income communities lack comprehensive health education. Her son — who is passionate about marine life and sharks in particular — tagged bull sharks with a conservation team at the Bimini Biological Field Station.
“We used to discuss that the word mitzvah means ‘commandment,’” Lora says. “In other words, caring for the stranger and respecting the natural world are our obligations as Jews. These are not optional ‘good deeds’ and we do not do them to get a gold star. We all have to participate.”
Lora is married to Keith Stolzenbach, a Professor Emeritus at UCLA in environmental science and engineering who last year began a second career teaching science in public school in South Los Angeles. Keith likes to joke that he is the only one in the family who did not attend Lainer School and that he’s “jealous of Lora and the kids.”
This proud Jewish mom is grateful for the gift of Jewish education her parents gave her and thankful that she and her husband were able to do the same for their children. Lora and her family will continue to put their Jewish values in action, in their work and community — leading to further inspirational “Sinai Akiba moments.”