Community Briefs


Couple Airs Mideast Views at
Caltech

The Middle East conflict came to the Caltech campus in Pasadena
last week, when Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf presented a talk on “Eyewitness
to Occupied Palestine.”

Shapiro, a Brooklyn-born Jew, and his wife, a Palestinian
Arab, are founders of the International Solidarity Movement, which has garnered
some headlines by interposing “international activists” to protect Palestinians
against the alleged brutality and excesses of the Israeli army.

Shapiro gained a measure of fame last March, when he joined Yasser
Arafat at his besieged headquarters in Ramallah and was asked to share
breakfast with the Palestinian Authority leader.

The two-hour lecture-discussion proceeded in a civil and nonconfrontational
style, according to Robert Tindol of the Caltech public information office, who
attended as a neutral observer. The generally pro-Palestinian crowd listened to
a litany of alleged Israeli brutalities inflicted on a generally peaceful Palestinian
population.

Some counterbalance was provided by four members of the StandWithUs
pro-Israeli grass-roots organization, according to founder and president Roz
Rothstein, “We asked pointed, respectful questions … and the Jewish students
on campus were enormously grateful that we attended.” Rothstein acknowledged
that the two speakers gave a “very personal and effective,” if one-sided,
presentation.

The talk was sponsored by the Caltech Y as part of its
Social Action Speakers Series. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Foundation Awards $371,000 in
Grants

The Jewish Community Foundation, the largest Southern
California Jewish philanthropic organization, recently announced that it had
made 11 grants worth $371,000.

The grants will go toward construction and renovation
projects at several Jewish community facilities, ranging from preschools to
senior housing to boarding schools.

“We are committed to supporting a wide variety of building
projects which strengthen the core of our local Jewish community,” Foundation
Chief Executive Marvin I. Schotland said in a news release.

The awards were approved in June and announced in late
December. The gifts represent about one-third of the $1 million the nonprofit
group earmarked last year for local charitable organizations through Foundation
Legacy Grants.

Among the award recipients:

Menorah Housing Foundation, which owns and operates 13
residential buildings for low-income seniors, received $50,000 to open a
41-unit Echo Park apartment complex last October.

Aviva Family & Children’s Services received $50,000
for construction and renovation of high school buildings to accommodate
expanded special education services.

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles was awarded $36,000
to help underwrite a new shelter in Van Nuys that will serve up to 75 women and
150 children annually.

  B’nai David-Judea Congregation received $40,000 to
upgrade an existing building.

Mesivta of Greater Los Angeles, a nonprofit Jewish boys
boarding school, was awarded $25,000 toward the construction of a new building
at its Calabasas location.

Grants will be paid out until 2004. — Marc Ballon, Staff Writer

Hearing on Heschel Property Delayed

The new Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School West campus in Old
Agoura may take longer than expected to come to fruition. The first public
hearing, originally scheduled last month, will now be held on April 2,
according to the Los Angeles County Planning Department. The hearing will focus
on the 71-acre property’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). While the school
plans to build on only 15-18 acres, the Old Agoura Hills Homeowners Association
is concerned about the Chesboro Road location causing excess traffic, unwanted
noise, the effect on wildlife and changes to the community.

Currently located near the Liberty Canyon exit of the
Ventura Freeway, Heschel West serves 144 children in transitional kindergarten
through fifth grade. The day school purchased the new property four years ago
so it could  accommodate 750 students from preschool through ninth grade.

Although the delay will extend the approval period, Rick
Wentz, executive vice president of the Heschel West School Board, is not
discouraged. “It’s an inconvenience, but [the hearing process] can get held up
for a multitude of reasons,” he said. “This is just one of those times.”–
Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

Tu B’Shevat Time: Hundreds of people
turned out on Jan. 12 for the Tu B’Shevat Festival at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu.
The Festival included performances by the Klezmer band The Shirettes,
informative booths on conservation and alternative fuel vehicles, an art contest
and, of course, tree planting, above. The next community-wide Tu B’Shevat
Festival will take place Sunday, Jan. 18 at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in
Simi Valley from 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more information, call (805) 582-4450
or visit www.brandeis-bardin.org

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