Up Front

Illustration by Shelley Adler


Yes, Israel has bigger problems than its cats anddogs. But, as the cliché goes — we think it was original whenGeorge Bernard Shaw said it — the truest measure of a society’sadvancement is how it treats its animals.

According to the people behind the Cat WelfareSociety, Israel’s got a ways to go. “Most Israelis generally dislikecats,” says Donna Pallas, a Los Angeles-based friend of thesociety.

Pallas was visiting Israel last December when shefound an abandoned kitten on the grounds of her hotel. Looking forhelp, she came across the society, based at Moshav Gan Haim.

She also discovered along the way that 90 percentof all pets in Israel are eventually abandoned, according to theJerusalem Post. The problem takes a tragic toll: Three Israelis diedlast year after contacting rabies, which spreads quickly throughstray populations.

The nonprofit society has a hospital, clinic andcat runs. Since its founding in 1990, it has neutered 3,500 cats andcared for more than 10,000, housing 300 at a time. The society reliesalmost completely on donations to continue its work. For moreinformation, call them in Israel at 011-972-9-902491 or write the CatWelfare Society, at Moshav Gan Haim 44910, Israel. — Staff Report

Cupful of Spirituality

Next month,Starbucks’ customers will be able to order up spirituality with theirdouble latte.

Copies of the paperback edition of “InvisibleLines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary,” by RabbiLawrence Kushner (Jewish Lights), will be on sale in more than 400Starbucks shops around the country, including Los Angeleslocations.

A spokesperson for Starbucks in Seattle confirmedthat this is the first Jewish-oriented title the chain has offered.The book — a collection of stories written in a style described byNew York Jewish Week as “somewhere between vignette, personal essayand prayer” — is part of Starbucks’ newest book promotion, whichties in with the spring holiday season. “Pat the Bunny,” a populargift book, is also part of the promotion.

“It just struck me as a book full of verymeaningful little epiphanies about life, about people’s lives today,”said the spokesperson, who selected “Invisible Lines of Connection.”He praised Kushner’s “down-to-earth style and openheartedapproach.”

Stuart Matlins, president of Jewish Lights, pointsout that the book “appeals to people of all faiths.” He believes thatKushner’s brief inspirational stories are “the perfect thing to readover a cup of coffee.”

For Matlins, whose innovative, small publishingcompany is based in Woodstock, Vt. (where there are no Starbucksshops), the Starbucks connection is a dream come true. “Our wholefantasy since the beginning of Jewish Lights [in 1990] has been toreach out to Jews where they go, which all too often is not thesynagogue, and show them the relevance of Jewish life.”– Sandee Brawarsky

The Painting Party

Racial segregation is anathema to American life,but age segregation is still an accepted fact of it. The people atthe Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda have set out to change that,operating on the belief that youth and age have much to offer eachother. We agree. That’s why, on Sunday, March 1, you’ll find Up Frontat JHA’s Multi-Generational Tile Painting Party, to be held from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at JHA’s Grancell Village, 7150 Tampa Blvd.

At the party, children can paint tiles howeverthey wish. The finished glazed tiles will be mounted on the walls ofthe JHA’s garden to create a colorful backdrop. It is “a bridgebetween generations,” said Cynthia Seider, the event chair.

Adults can help paint too, of course, and there’llbe clowns, music, food, face painting and other activities for thechildren.

The event is sponsored by the Los AngelesSephardic Home for the Aging, which raises funds for the Jewish Homeand provides elderly outreach.

Organizers say they need 10,000 tiles for thewall. Donations to purchase the tiles begin at $20. For moreinformation, call (818) 774-3330. — StaffReport

Olympic Memories

His performance wasn’t golden in Nagano, but histallitwas.

Figure skater Misha Shmerkin, Israel’s first-everathlete to enter the Winter Olympics — he was 16th at Lillehammer,Norway, in 1992 — finished 18th out of 29 in the men’s competitionthis week in Japan. Israel’s other Winter Olympians, ice dancersGalit Chait and Sergei Saknovsky, finished 14th out of 24 in theirfirst Olympic appearance.

Two known Jewish members of the U.S. Olympic teamearned medals. Goaltender Sara De Costa took gold with the women’shockey team. Luger Gordy Sheer won silver with partner ChrisThorpe.

The performance of the Israeli skaters was a “giftto our state,” said delegation head Yossi Goldberg. “They representedthe best of Israel and the Jewish nation.”

Shmerkin, a 27-year-old Odessa native, skated hisprograms to a medley of Middle Eastern and Ashkenazic music,including “Hava Nagila.” His costume in the short program featured agold shirt with a menorah embroidered on the back, and a gold tallit.For the free program, he donned an outfit of black, green and redthat was patterned after the typical clothing of immigrants fromEastern Europe.

“It was my idea. [Everything] is a symbol ofJews,” Shmerkin said. “I want to say thank you to Israel.”

Chait and Saknovsky, whose musical accompanimentof traditional Jewish music included “Bei Mir Bist Du Shein,” worequasi-Chassidic costumes: Hers was a long dress, his a vest and darkslacks.

Chait, 22, of Paramus, N.J., said that a highlightfor her and Saknovsky, also 22, from Moscow, was the raising of theIsraeli flag in the Olympic Village. Japanese children sang”Hatikvah” and other Israeli songs. “It was an unbelievableexperience,” she said.

The pair plans to enter the 2002 Olympics in SaltLake City, Utah. — SteveLipman, JTA