Kabbalist scholar Gershom Scholem was born there. Czech writerFranz Kafka sought his Jewish roots there. Hebrew poet Nachman Bialiksettled there the 1920s. Arnold Schoenberg, Marc Chagall and S.Y.Agnon all spent time there. The place? Berlin. The time? The 1920s, aperiod of cultural and religious renaissance for Berlin’s Jewry.
During a lecture at UCLA late last month, Michael Brenner, aprofessor of Jewish history and culture at the University of Munich,described this relatively golden period of Jewish-German life, whenone-third of Germany’s Jews — about 173,000 at the time — lived inBerlin. Many, such as Scholem’s family, were completely assimilated.His father, Arthur, in fact, so downplayed his Jewishness that heforbade his children to use Jewish expressions, recited a mock prayerover his cigar on Shabbat and kicked Gershom out for his Zionistbeliefs.
But those years also saw the creation of a Zionist-led coalitionin Berlin’s Jewish community, several Yiddish-language newspapers, a10-branch Jewish library, Jewish schools, a Jewish museum and awealth of Yiddish and Hebrew cultural events.
The lecture was part of a series on “Great European Jewish Citiesin the Modern Age,” sponsored by the UCLA Center for Jewish Studiesand the 1939 Club Endowment in Holocaust Studies. About 300 peopleattended the talk, which included a panel discussion.
The series, which began last year, has featured lectures on JewishVienna, Vilna, Budapest and Warsaw. Other cities — possibly Paris,Prague or Salonika — will be the focus of future lectures, said Dr.Samuel Goetz, past president of the 1939 Club, a group of about 700Holocaust survivors, their children and grandchildren. In the past,discussion of Jewish experience in Europe or Russia during that erahas dealt primarily with the cruelty and tragedy of the Holocaust,Goetz said. “Here, we focus on the richness, the wealth of what wehad and what we lost.”
For information on future programs, call the UCLA Center forJewish Studies at (310) 794-8522. — Ruth Stroud, StaffWriter
Their 30 Seconds of Fame
Jacqueline Shelton and Craig Miller are working their way upthe publicity ladder. First, an article appeared last spring in TheJewish Journal about how they met through the Jewish FederationCouncil of Greater Los Angeles’ Access program. Then, in August, theLos Angeles Times profiled them and other couples who also found eachother via Jewish communal life. Oprah’s scouts spied the Timesarticle and decided to fly the pair, married for only six weeks, toChicago to appear on her afternoon talk show. The theme of theprogram, which aired last week, was “finding true love by doing gooddeeds.” The young couple appeared briefly toward the end of the show,and Shelton repeated the story of how they met in a rapid-fire 30seconds or so. Still, Shelton, who is chair of Access, a program fortwenty- to- fortysomethings, said that the trip was fun, even if thefour charismatic NFL football players who preceded them kind of stolethe show. “We were definitely the only Jewish contingent,” shesaid.
They enjoyed the limo ride from the airport, the nice suite at theOmni Hotel, and the wait in the proverbial green room (which wasreally mauve). They handed the producer a tzedakah box thatthey had decorated with Jewish symbols and sayings and filled withchange for Oprah’s favorite charity, Angel Network.
So what’s next? Disneyland? (That would make sense, since Sheltonalready works for Disney.) “We’ve gotten so much publicity, it’s ajoke,” she said. “But Craig and I love to do what we can to promotethe work that we do…. But you’re not going to make this a bigarticle, are you?” All right, Jackie, we won’t. — RuthStroud, Staff Writer
I Was a Jewish Girl Scout
Growing up in the West Valley, I not only commuted after schoolto Hebrew and religious school, junior choir and confirmation classat Temple Beth Hillel, but I spent my nonconflicting weekdayafternoons in Girl Scout meetings. Being a Jewish Girl Scout isn’t asrare as it might appear. While there is no way of knowing how many ofthe Valley’s Girl Scouts are Jewish (since religious affiliation isnot tallied), Jason Katz, the San Fernando Valley Girl ScoutCouncil’s marketing manager, notes that there are currently about 30troops of Jewish girls connected with synagogues and day schools inthe San Fernando Valley, and many more individual girls in othertroops.
While my peers at Beth Hillel went to Camp Swig, I spent manysummers at Camp Lakota, the sleep-away camp of the San FernandoValley Girl Scout Council. Nestled in the Los Padres National Forestnear Mount Pinos, the camp is a rugged one, where children sleepunder the stars. Camp Lakota will be 50 years old a year and a halffrom now, in 1999. Approximately 40,000 girls have attended CampLakota since 1949, many of them just like me, from the largely JewishValley.
If you are one of those who attended Camp Lakota (and are probablyhumming the camp song right now) or you have a daughter who attendedor one who may someday attend, you should know that the SFVGSC islooking to raise $500,000 for massive renovations at the camp overthe next four years. An upcoming auction and champagne luncheon atthe Sportsmen’s Lodge on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m., will be one ofthe major fund-raisers to benefit the camp. Among the items to beauctioned will be a race-car driving lesson, a Napa Valley wine tour,vintage wines, and gift certificates to local businesses andrestaurants. The Weingart Foundation has made a $150,000 matchinggrant.
Merchants or individuals interested in donating items to theauction, or anyone wishing to attend can call Jason Katz at (818)886-1801, ext. 12. — Sara Eve Roseman, Online Editor