Children of Freedom

For those who are looking for something different this year for the High Holy Days, B’nai Horin-Children of Freedom, a Jewish Renewal Synagogue in West Los Angeles, is offering a unique opportunity. Rather than holding services in their synagogue, it will be holding them at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley. The inspiring, natural grounds of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute will hold 400 people for Rosh Hashana, some of whom are coming from as far way as the East Coast and Northern California to take part in the celebration. Many of them will be sleeping at the institute, while even more will be coming to eat all their meals together as a community.

Services will be led by B’nai Horin’s Rabbi Stan Levy, together with Debbie Friedman, who will also serve as cantorial soloist. Services will include an array of music and singers, including a performance by Rebbe Soul, a singer of ancient and modern Jewish music. — Merav Tassa, Contributing Writer

Solidarity Through Pluralism

Perhaps there is no time like the High Holy Days to remind us how central food is to our community’s traditions. This is not lost on the people at Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, a Los Angeles-based national nonprofit dedicated to helping those without food in America, Israel and around the world.

“At this time of year we urge many rabbis on Yom Kippur, when observing the fast day, to appeal to their congregants to remember the millions of people around the world fasting not by choice,” Mary Krasn, Mazon’s director of communications, told The Journal.

Since Boston-based Moment Magazine founder Leonard Fein started Mazon (Hebrew for “food”) in 1985, the national organization has given more than $24 million in grants. That’s $3 million annually given to 250 hunger-fighting organizations nationwide, helping Jews and non-Jews alike.

H. Eric Schockman, who came aboard as Mazon’s executive director in January, runs the West Los Angeles-based outreach agency, where a dedicated staff of 12 allocates $3 million a year to hunger relief organizations such as food banks and social services.

Mazon has come a long way since the $20,000 raised its inaugural year. These days, that amount is the higher end of individual grants donated to anti-hunger programs at places such as Chicago’s National Center on Poverty Law, Atlanta’s Jewish Family & Career Services and the Kansas City Metropolitan Lutheran Ministry.

Mazon itself has subsisted on a diet of diligent participation from a nationwide partnership with 800 synagogues. Through the donations of 50,000 individuals attending Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist congregations, Mazon has been able to help the hungry, which includes 31 million Americans, more than a third of them children. According to the organization’s administrators, Mazon’s recipe for quelling world hunger is an old Jewish one: a combination of good old fashioned tzedakah and tikkun olam.

“The Jewish tradition of helping more needy people,” Krasn said, “comprises a large support.”

For more information, call (310) 442-0020 and visit . — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer