Who is a Finalist for the Southern California Journalism Awards?


Lisa Niver is a finalist for the Southern California Journalism AwardsI am a finalist in two categories for the Southern California Journalism Awards! I am so honored and excited. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in my writing career.

What are the Southern California Journalism Awards?

The 59th Southern California Journalism Awards honor the best in broadcast, print and online media. There were 1200 entries for the 2017 awards.

From LA Press Club: “The Southern California Journalism Awards were born during the Cold War, when Los Angeles journalism was dominated by the city’s many newspapers. Television was in its infancy. Developments like all-news radio were still years away. Women journalists were rare in mainstream media. Minorities, even rarer.

Today we see greater diversity in the newsroom and in the ways we provide information. The Press Club has been striving to embrace Internet journalists and bloggers–clearly the wave of the future.

The Southern California Journalism Awards, now celebrating 59 years of recognizing high-caliber journalism, continues to call attention to the Los Angeles area’s fine journalists while promoting excellence in new and emerging media.”

Lisa Niver is a finalist for the Southern California Journalism AwardsWhen and Where are the Southern California Journalism Awards?

I will be going to the ceremony at the Biltmore on June 25, 2017 and sitting at The Jewish Journal table.

What articles are you nominated for? I am nominated in two categories

X13. TRAVEL REPORTING

*Brad A. Johnson, Bradajohnson.net, “Trout Fishing and the Yearning for Peace in Kashmir”

*Todd Krainin, Reason, “Gurgaon: India’s Private City”

*Lisa Niver, Mountain Travel Sobek, “Mongolia: Land of Dunes & Moonrises

*Gwynedd Stuart, L.A. Weekly, “How to Go to Disneyland as an Adult and Not Want to

Die”

*Susan Valot, KCRW, “For the Curious: A Visit to the Oldest Juniper Tree in America”

F7. COLUMN

*Patricia Bunin, Southern California News Group, “When Nothing Special Moments Are

Everything”

*Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News, “Vin Scully’s Final Call”

*Lisa Niver, The Jewish Journal, “A Journey to Freedom Over Three Passovers

*Jon Regardie, Los Angeles Downtown News, “David Without a Slingshot (Yet)”

*Sharon Smith, Downey Patriot, The Problem With Senior Housing”

Who are the 2017 Special Honorees?

* Andrea Mitchell, NBC News — Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement

* Jake Tapper, CNN — Presidents Award for Impact on Media

* Daniel Berehulak, Photojournalist — Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism

*Jaime Jarrin, Dodgers Broadcaster — Bill Rosendahl Public Service Award for Contribution to Civic Life

Thank you for all of your support! Lisa Niver

Are you wondering how to get started as a travel writer?

The 13th We Said Go Travel Writing Competition is open! Share a story about where you find freedom and get started today. Maybe you will be sitting next to me at a future writing award ceremony. You never know what will happen next in your journey. You do get to decide if you want to participate. I hope you will join in! We are looking forward to reading about your adventures.

Video: Lisa’s interview on The Jet Set

See this article on Sheknows

Lady Gaga accepts ADL award on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation


Pop star Lady Gaga accepted an award from the Anti-Defamation League on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation.

On Thursday, the ADL announced that Gaga had received its Making a Difference award for “work championing positive social change.”

“The Foundation shares ADL’s mission of combating bullying among young people,” an ADL press release said.

“This is such an incredible honor,” Gaga said in a videotaped acceptance speech. “The No Place For Hate Making A Difference Award is a huge deal for both of us, especially because of all of the hard work ADL has been doing to fight anti-Semitism, homophobia, bigotry and intolerance for the past 100 years.”

The award was presented at a ceremony in New York City attended by children from 85 different New York and New Jersey schools.

The Born This Way Foundation, founded by Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta in 2011, works to combat bullying and empower youth, according to its website.

“Lady Gaga is so much more than a pop artist, so much more than an incredible entertainer. She is a one-of-a-kind inspirational champion for social change and a positive role model for young people,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s national director.

Press photo group stands by winning shot of Gaza funeral


World Press Photo says it has confirmed the veracity of an award-winning photograph of a Gaza funeral.

Bloggers had raised doubts earlier this week about the veracity of Paul Hansen’s photograph, claiming the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year 2012 had significantly altered the original image.

But following an investigation by Dartmouth computer science professor Hany Farid and Kevin Connor, CEO of Fourandsix Technologies, WPP said the image had been confirmed as authentic.

“We have reviewed the RAW image, as supplied by World Press Photo, and the resulting published JPEG image,” Farid and Connor concluded, according to a statement posted on WPP’s website Tuesday. “It is clear that the published photo was retouched with respect to both global and local color and tone. Beyond this, however, we find no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing.”

Another photography expert, Eduard de Kam, also claimed to have examined the raw files and came to the same conclusion.

Doubts were  raised about Hansen’s photograph on Sunday when Neil Krawetz, author of The Hacker Factor Blog, published a detailed analysis of the image and concluded that Hansen’s photograph was probably a composite of several he had taken of the scene.

On Monday, Sebastian Anthony, writing on the website Extreme Tech, further explained how Hansen had manipulated the image.

Hansen was named winner of the World Press Photo competition in February for a picture of a funeral in Gaza taken in November. The picture, which shows a group of weeping men carrying two children’s bodies through an alley, has a luminescent, almost cinematic quality that raised questions about the acceptable limits of digital touch-ups of news photographs.

Jewish Journal Book award announced


The making of a memorable book requires the skills of an alchemist. Every author starts with the raw material of his or her own experience and expertise, but it can take a certain secret ingredient — passion, vision, inspiration — to transform the dross into gold. That is a fair description of what Baruch Sterman and Judy Taubes Sterman have accomplished in “The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered,” published last year by Lyons Press and reviewed in these pages on Dec. 21, 2012.

Because the Stermans possess precisely that alchemical genius, the Jewish Journal Book Prize for 2013 is awarded to “The Rarest Blue,” the second-annual prize given in recognition of a book of exceptional interest, achievement and significance.  This award is presented each January to an author or authors for a book published during the previous calendar year, and it includes a $1,000 honorarium.

“The Rarest Blue” starts with a 2,000-year-old mystery: How did the Israelites make thread a blue color known as tekhelet that they were required by the Torah to wear on their fringed garments? The formula for making the blue dye was lost in the early centuries of the Diaspora, and generation after generation of observant Jews have been unable to comply with the biblical commandment. “And now we have only white,” the compiler of the Midrash complained in the eighth century, “for tekhelet has been hidden.” Ironically, it was only during the era of the scientific and industrial revolution that the biblical secrets began to emerge. And now the Stermans have revealed how to make what they called “the sacred, rarest blue.”

books@jewishjournal.com.

Local Jewish philanthropists receive local heroes award


Delivering his acceptance speech to approximately 300 people from the stage of Club Nokia on the evening of Oct. 23, Abner Goldstine, joined by his wife Roslyn, said that the words of talmudic scholar Hillel inspired the couple to assist low-income Holocaust survivors in Los Angeles.

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” said Goldstine, accepting KCET and Union Bank’s annual Local Heroes Award, along with his wife.

Annette Shapiro, president of the board of Culver City-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Beit T’Shuvah, also received the annual Local Heroes Award.

Public television station KCET and Union Bank present the award annually because “diversity is one of our core issues, one of our core beliefs, and as a result of that, we wanted to figure out ways to reach back in our communities and highlight people doing phenomenal work,” said Frank Robinson, senior vice president and public affairs manager at Union Bank.

In 2007, the Goldstines established a fund at Jewish Family Service-Los Angeles (JFS-LA), the Abner D. and Roslyn Goldstine Fund for Holocaust Survivors, which provides essential emergency services to aging survivors.

The Goldstines are heavily involved in Los Angeles’ Jewish life: Abner has served as a past president of Sinai Temple and Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) and is a member of the board of directors at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Roslyn is a member of the board of directors at JFS-LA, JVS and Sinai Temple and of the advisory board at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of American Jewish University

Shapiro, too, is a leader in numerous Jewish organizations. In addition to serving as president of the board of directors at Beit T’Shuvah, she is a member of the board of advisers at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; she established the David Alan Shapiro Memorial Synagogue Center at American Jewish University in memory of her son David and has raised millions of dollars for diabetes research, among other endeavors. 

KCET and Union Bank recognized 13 individuals from various communities throughout Los Angeles, including the African-American, LGBT, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific and women’s communities. The Goldstines and Shapiro were selected from a group of more than 40 nominees in the Jewish community. Last week, the honorees convened with friends and family at a ceremony downtown. 

Abner Goldstine remains humble about his and Roslyn’s efforts. 

“What we do we don’t think of as heroic but just things we have a responsibility to do,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to help when we can.”

— Ryan Torok, Staff Writer

Award to recognize Jewish Journalist’s 50-year career


The year was 1960. Tom Tugend, living in Israel and working as the temporary head of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s public relations department, had to make a choice: keep his job or return to Los Angeles to a UCLA job he’d had before moving to Israel. He went back to UCLA — and, for the sake of the Jewish media internationally, it was a good decision. Working at UCLA led to writing positions for Jewish newspapers locally, nationally and in Israel.

On March 25, the Benefactors of the Jewish Club of 1933 will recognize Tugend’s work, including his contributions to JTA, the Jerusalem Post, the London Jewish Chronicle and The Jewish Journal. The organization is awarding to Tugend, who was born in Germany in 1925, its 2012 Heritage Award, which recognizes European immigrants’ accomplishments in arts, writing, business and other fields.

“I’m still not sure who initiated it, but anyhow it’s always flattering when somebody thinks well enough of you to put you in [for] an award,” Tugend said. “None of us as journalists are overwhelmed by compliments, so it’s always nice.”

In fact, the board members at the organization chose Tugend from among seven nominees.

“Tom has a very distinguished background, he’s done a lot of wonderful things in the Jewish world, and he was born in Berlin,” Peter Rothholz, a Benefactors’ board member, said. “That combination is exactly what we honor at the Benefactors of the Jewish Club of 1933.” During the 1930s, German-speaking Jews, setting out to assist in the Americanization of German-speaking Jewish immigrants, formed what was then called the Jewish Club of 1933. In the 1980s, the group evolved into a philanthropic organization.

In 1984, toward the end of Tugend’s 30-year career at UCLA, where he worked as a science writer, the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles. UCLA ran an international pressroom, and the Jerusalem Post and the London Jewish Chronicle asked Tugend to report on the Jewish athletes. This established his connections with those papers, which he continues to write for today.

Like many journalists, he wrote his first story as an undergraduate student — for UCLA’s campus newspaper. Unike many journalists, Tugend wrote for a U.S. Army newspaper, in his case, during the Korean War. Tugend had also served as a combat infantryman in France and Germany during World War II and as an American volunteer in an anti-tank unit during Israel’s War of independence. After his military stint, he worked as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. Later, he moonlighted as a copy editor at the Los Angeles Times. He has spent more than 50 years as a journalist, many of them while juggling a full-time job at UCLA to support his family. In 1993, he became a contributing editor at The Jewish Journal.

Tugend’s work for Jewish media often has dealt with Jewish figures in Hollywood. He called an interview he did with Stephen Spielberg for The Jewish Journal, prior to the release of “Schindler’s List,” “probably the best interview I ever had in my life.”

The award ceremony for the 2012 Heritage Award will take place during the Benefactors’ annual meeting and brunch on March 25 at the Los Angeles Jewish Home.

Congress approves review of medals for Jewish WWI vets


Congress approved a requirement for the U.S. military to review World War I records to determine whether Jews who received decorations should be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

The amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, which passed last week and will soon to be signed into law by President Obama, requires “the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Navy to review the service records of any Jewish American World War I veteran awarded the Distinguished Service Cross or the Navy Cross for heroism during World War I and whose name and supporting material for upgrade of the award to the Medal of Honor.”

The Defense Authorization Act shapes military policy and authorizes funding for the military.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) introduced the amendment at the urging of Elsie Shemin-Roth, whose father, William Shemin, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for service in France.

Shemin was a platoon sergeant who during a battle in Burgundy crossed through gunfire three times to rescue soldiers. The third time he sustained wounds but refused treatment because his commanding officers had been killed or injured. Shemin led the platoon out of danger.

Such valor, military experts say, would usually garner the highest honor, the Medal of Honor.

Shemin believed he was slighted, receiving the lesser honor, because he was Jewish. He died in 1973.

Shemin-Roth was moved to advocate for the review in 2001 after reading of similar laws requiring reviews of medals of minorities in other wars.

Beastie Boys to join Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame


The Beastie Boys are to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

The pioneering hip-hop group made up of Mike D (Michael Diamond), MCA (Adam Yauch) and Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz) will join a Hall of Fame class of 2012 that includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N Roses, according to the New York Daily News.

The Beastie Boys, creators of hits such as “Fight for Your Right (To Party),” “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” and “Sabotoage,” have released 12 albums that have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.

The ceremony will be held in April at the Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Five California teens win Diller tikkun olam awards


Five California teenagers won Diller Teen Tikkun Olam awards for their innovative social action projects.

Each will receive an honorarium of $36,000, meant to support the project or the recipient’s future education.

The winners are Gabriel Ferrick, 16, of Santa Rosa, for his campaign supporting young Darfur refugees; Lisa Gurtin,17, of La Jolla, who raises money to bring clean water to impoverished Third World families; Naftali Moed, 16, of Pacifica, for his high school community garden; Casey Robbins,17, of Carmichael, who sends textbooks to schools in Liberia; and Daniel Sobajian,17, of Los Angeles, for organizing donations of school and art supplies to local public schools. 

This year’s winners were selected from 125 nominated projects, each the work of a Jewish teenager in the state.

“There is no doubt that this year’s honorees see how much our world needs help,” said Bay Area philanthropist Helen Diller, president of the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which sponsors the awards. “With creative and committed solutions, they are tackling global issues of access to education, availability of natural resources and distribution of sorely needed humanitarian aid—with every step they truly do repair the world.”

Synagogue restorations garner awards in Poland


Restoration projects on two synagogues in Poland have garnered awards.

The mainly European Union-funded restoration of the twin-towered synagogue in Ostrow Wielkopolski in south-central Poland was awarded the top prize in the fourth edition of the Facade of the Year contest, the Polish news agency PAP reported Wednesday.

Earlier this month, The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland won the 2011 Conservation Laurel for the recently completed restoration of the Renaissance synagogue in the town of Zamosc. The annual award is granted by the regional authorities and monuments conservator in eastern Poland’s Lubelskie Region, where Zamosc is located.

The synagogue in Ostrow Wielkopolski, built in the late 1850s, was designed by the German-Jewish architect Moritz Lande. It will be used by the city as a cultural venue for concerts, exhibitions and theatrical performances.

The $2.1 million restoration project was financed primarily by the European Union, in cooperation with the municipality. The city obtained ownership of the building in 2006, when it paid about $75,000 to the Jewish community of Wroclaw in exchange for the community withdrawing its claim on the building and for the city to create memorials at the sites of the town’s two destroyed Jewish cemeteries.

Journalists’ group considers dropping Helen Thomas award


Helen Thomas’ decision to take her disparagement of Zionists from off the cuff (last May) to on the record (last month) has led a journalists’ group to consider dropping her name from a lifetime achievement award.

The Society of Professional Journalists is revisiting its decision last summer not to change the name of its Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award after Thomas, 90, told an Arab-American group in Dearborn, Mich., last month that Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street “are owned by the Zionists.”

Thomas, a 67-year-veteran of Washington reporting, resigned from her job as a columnist at Hearst last June after remarking to a video blogger that Jews “should get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Poland, Germany and the United States. She later apologized, but her remarks in Michigan on Dec. 2 have raised fresh concerns about the sincerity of the apology.

“Ms. Thomas’ most recent remarks led to calls for a reconsideration of the issue by the executive board,” said Hagit Limor, president of the Society of Professional Journalists and an investigative journalist for WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.

The decision will be considered Jan. 8 at a meeting of the society’s executive committee. Ahead of the meeting, the society posted on its online magazine Quill what it said were two typical letters—one for renaming the award and one against.

Limor said the society, which advocates for press freedoms and promotes high-quality journalism through scholarships and awards, had been in touch with Thomas.

A message left at Thomas’ home by JTA was not returned.

Her website, helenthomas.org, still leads with her statement of regret, saying her remarks at the time “do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance.”

After her June remarks to blogger Rabbi David Nesenoff, the society considered calls from members and some Jewish groups to rename its Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement but decided against it, noting her apology and the off-the-cuff nature of the remarks, an official with the organization told JTA.

That changed a few weeks ago with her speech in Dearborn, where Thomas grew up.

“We are owned by the propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that,” Thomas told the Arab Detroit group. “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is.”

Wayne State University, her alma mater, immediately withdrew its Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the Media Award. Under deluge again, the Society for Professional Journalists said it would reconsider.

“This episode was a sad final chapter to an otherwise illustrious career as a trailblazer for women and minorities in journalism,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, wrote in the online letter to Quill seeking to rename the award. “Unlike her first off-the-cuff remarks into a camera, Thomas’ comments were carefully thought out and reveal a person who is deeply infected with anti-Semitism.”

Thomas, born to Lebanese immigrants, for decades was the White House correspondent for the United Press International wire service. She was among the first female journalists in Washington to break out of the traditional first lady coverage, scoring newsmaking interviews with Presidents Johnson through Clinton. When she left UPI to become a columnist for Hearst, she emerged as one of the first and sharpest critics of the Iraq war.

Wayne State’s decision was the right one, Foxman said in his letter, and “it should no longer be considered an honor to receive an award bearing her name.”

Countering was Lloyd Weston, a retired publisher and editor.

“The same First Amendment that protects my right to be a Jew and a Zionist in America protects Helen Thomas’ right to express her opinion of Jews and Zionists, no matter what that opinion may be,” said Weston, a Wayne State alumni who said his professors were likely “turning in their graves” at the university’s decision to rescind the honor.

The Society for Professional Journalists, established in 1909, granted Thomas its first lifetime achievement honor in 2000, and pledged to name subsequent awards for her. It has been awarded nine times since its debut. The award has no cash value.

On Saturday, the society’s executive committee could decide to rename the lifetime achievement award or not, or it could refer the matter to the full board, an official said.

Kindergartners Publish Their Own Work in Award-winning Project


What does it take to become a published author? For 12 kindergartners from Tuvia School at Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach, all it took was a dedicated teacher who recognized the value of teaching writing skills and creativity to her students. Lauren Adler, a teaching veteran of 20 years, was awarded a grant from the California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC). She was one of only two early-childhood education professionals in California to win the $500 Beth A. Lake award for her young authorship proposal. Adler’s project gave her students the opportunity to write, illustrate and publish their own stories. 

Adler started by teaching the students basic story structure, writing techniques, and art and illustration. Once they had drafted their stories, they were ready for the highlight of the project — a field trip to Scribble Press in Santa Monica, where they watched and participated as their stories were printed and bound into hardcover books.

“It’s a huge deal for anyone to say they are a published author, let alone a 5-year-old,” Adler said. “Everyone took great pride in their finished products and in becoming successful, published writers.” As a result, according to Adler, all of her students improved their reading and writing skills and gained confidence in both subjects. When asked what she thought of her book, student Zaria Ackermann, 5, said, “When I read my book I feel happy because it’s mine and I wrote it myself!”

In addition to writing the individual stories, the students worked on two collaborative books, “Keshet’s ABC Book” and “Keshet’s Aleph-Bet Book.” These books will remain in the classroom as permanent additions to the kindergarten library. 

The authorship studies program continued with students writing special poems and stories about their grandparents. The project culminated on Grandparents Day with students reading their work aloud to a gathering of more than 150 grandparents, friends and relatives. 

“It was sheer joy,” Adler said, “to see the pride on the grandparents’ faces as they listened to their grandchildren read.”

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Briefs: Seeds of Peace extends past Summer; BBYO offers cash incentive for summer camps


Seeds of Peace Extends Past Summer

After a shaky start fighting over a girl they both liked, Joseph Katona, 19, a Jewish Angeleno, and Omar Dreidi, his 19-year-old Palestinian Arab bunkmate, formed a bond that would extend past the two summers they shared at a Seeds of Peace retreat in Otisville, Maine.

Seeds of Peace is an organization dedicated to bringing together and empowering teens from regions of conflict, and in its program high school seniors often discussed what the future would hold for them after graduation. Katona soon realized his friend would embark down a path very different from his own, heading back to a lower-class lifestyle in Ramallah. While Katona lived a comfortable life, growing up in Brentwood, attending high school at Harvard Westlake, not having to worry about how he would afford college, Dreidi had dreams of attending school in the United States, but didn’t know where or how it could happen.

Katona, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, thought it only fair that Dreidi have the same opportunities as him. After helping Dreidi put together his applications and soccer videos for colleges, Dreidi received an acceptance letter and merit scholarship from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. Although the scholarship was generous, Katona knew it would only cover half of Dreidi’s four-year tuition. Katona then put together the Omar Dreidi scholarship fund with the goal of raising $18,000 to $20,000 per year for Dreidi to continue his studies at Earlham.

The experience has been fulfilling for Katona, but it has also been a difficult.

“Not every person wants to donate money to support a Palestinian,” he said. Despite monetary setbacks, Katona has managed to raise $38,000 for Dreidi to stay in school, however, he is short more than half the amount needed for the next two years. He has received donations from $11 to $4,500, and every dollar counts, he said.

Staying in close contact with Dreidi, Katona is happy he is having a great time in Richmond, studying, making great friends and playing soccer on the school’s team.

“I have a moral obligation to do this,” he said. “It’s not a huge sacrifice for people to donate, but would make a world of difference for Omar. Without these contributions, he would not be able to have the full college experience.”

Donations go to Earlham College Omar Dreidi Scholarship Fund c/o Joseph Katona, 216 14th St. NW, Apt. 204., Charlottesville, Va. 22903. Checks should be made out to “Earlham College. For more information, e-mail josephkatona@gmail.com or call (310) 613-6268.

Student Advocacy in Sacramento

For the first time in 20 years, Panim, the Institute for Jewish leadership and values, ventured outside of Washington, D.C., and into the state’s capital bringing 40 11th-grade Milken Community High School students to a three-day seminar exploring hunger, poverty and the environment. Panim teaches thousands of students about social and civic responsibility through Jewish Civics Initiative seminars, called Panim el Panim (face-to-face), and worked with Milken to organize the Jan. 27-29 seminar. Students spent hours volunteering at local organizations, such as the Sacramento Food Bank, and met with advocates from the Sacramento Environmental Council and Western Center on Law and Poverty.

“The trip was a great success,” said Wendy Ordower, community service coordinator at Milken. Among the tasks the group undertook was handing out toiletries to the homeless with members of Building Bridges, an organization dedicated to preventing the spread of HIV.

“These students are fortunate on so many levels,” she said. “I want them to learn the needs of society and how to become the voice of the people.”

For more information visit, www.panim.org.

Teen Tikkun Olam Awards Promote Global Healing

Last year, five teens, including two from Los Angeles, received Diller Tikkun Olam Awards through the new National Diller Teen Initiative. Angeleno winners were Erich Sorger, 18, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, and Shira Shane, 20, a student at Stanford University.

In its second year, the organization named for San Francisco philanthropist Helen Diller, will select another five Jewish teens from California to each receive $36,000 for commendable participation in community service and social action. Teachers, rabbis and community leaders are encouraged to nominate teens between the ages of 13 and 19 who have completed exceptional community service projects. The awards are to be used for college or causes that will further their work in repairing the world.

Sorger, a student in the Jerome Fisher Management and Technology Dual Degree Program, donated a portion of his award to the DELCO Early Learning Center and organized a carnival for impoverished Philadelphia children with a team of University of Pennsylvania management students.

“The carnival was a great success with pretzels, cotton candy, moon-bounces and more,” he said.

Sorger is coordinating with the university’s Hillel to promote “Dollars for Dwaynes” in Philadelphia, and is continuing the mission of “Dollars for Dwaynes” during his winter break in Los Angeles, donating an additional $650 in resellable goods.

“I am keeping the balance to put forth toward other philanthropic ventures or my tuition for next year,” Sorger said.

Shane plans to donate a portion of her prize money to refugees in Darfur as well as to return to Africa, where she has previously exercised her musical talents in Tanzania. She is meeting with Janice Kamenir-Reznik, the president of Jewish World Watch, who will help her achieve these goals. Deadline for 2008 award nominations is March 11.

For more information go to www.sfjcf.org/diller/teenawards or call the Diller Teen Initiative (415) 512-6432 or e-mail dillerteens@sfjcf.org.

Cash Incentive for Summer Camp

The expense of summer camp should not be a deterring factor for Jewish youths, according to the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO). Partnered with the Foundation for Jewish Camping, BBYO is offering a $1,500 campership for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade middle school students who have never attended a three-week or longer Jewish overnight camp.

The Jim Joseph Foundation of San Francisco is pitching in to fund the JWest Campership Program in an effort to increase the number of preteens in the Western United States enrolling in overnight Jewish summer camps. With 150 camps nationwide, JWest is being introduced in 13 states including California.

Milken students win first high school X PRIZE


Milken Community High School students joined the space race this week when two seniors won the first-ever X PRIZE competition for high schoolers. On Sunday, Michael Hakimi and Talia Nour-Omid took home the first Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award for their concept of developing bio-monitoring sunglasses to keep space travelers healthy during civilian spaceflight. The Conrad Award, named for the third man to walk on the moon, is sponsored by the same foundation that awarded Burt Rutan and his SpaceShipOne $10 million in 2004 for becoming the first privately developed rocket to carry humans to space.

The X PRIZE foundation challenged students to “develop a new, innovative concept to benefit the personal spaceflight industry within the next 50 years.” Hakimi and Nour-Omid developed a business plan, graphic model and technical paper on goggles that would non-invasively monitor and project a space traveler’s vital signs during flight. While NASA astronauts generally are wired to numerous monitoring systems, such machinery is too weighty and expensive to be practical for commercial spaceflight.

Hakimi and Nour-Omid’s mock prototype and video display won the most votes from the tens of thousands of attendees at the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup and Holloman Air & Space Expo in New Mexico, where the team was among 10 finalists from across the country. The team takes home a $5,000 prize, and will have their design and trophy displayed at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. A traveling display and trophy will make stops at science centers across the world, and Hakimi and Nour-Omid will get a trophy to take home as well.

“It’s a big deal for the school, and we’re happy we can bring it back to the school and bring pride to the Jewish community in Los Angeles, to let everyone know that there are Jews out there who want to benefit society through space, or business or whatever means possible,” said Hakimi, a Bel Air resident who, like Nour-Omid, has been at Stephen S. Wise schools since the elementary grades.

The award was presented by Nancy Conrad, wife of the late Apollo astronaut Pete Conrad and creator of the prize, and Erik Lindbergh, great-grandson of Charles Lindbergh and designer and sculptor of the first prize trophy.

“For Talia and Michael to be recognized as the first winners of such a prestigious science and innovation award shows us that the work we are doing here may contribute to the changing landscape of our world,” Milken head of school Rennie Wrubel said.

Roger Kassebaum, director of Milken’s Mitchell Academy for Science and Technology, alerted his students to the opportunity in late August, and Hakimi and Nour-Omid, along with one other team, were able to submit their entry by the early September deadline.

The other team, sophomore Nathan Schloss and junior Jonathan Hekmat, developed a plan to allow people on earth to rent time on remote-controlled photographic equipment aboard the spacecraft. Schloss and Hekmat accompanied the team to New Mexico, and Hakimi says they were invaluable in setting up the technical display that attendees judged. Hekmat built the booth, while Schloss — who Kassebaum calls a computer genius — got the display working.

The goggles were hooked up to a temperature monitor and other monitors that simulated measurable vital signs, such as blood pressure, red blood cell count, blood sugar level and pulse. Those signs appeared on virtual-reality-type goggles, as well as on television monitors.

“I think these glasses might have a market, and if someone takes the time someone can make a profit off of these,” Hakimi said, noting they could be useful in space as well as on earth, such as when people leave hospitals.

Kassebaum and Hakimi are looking into legally protecting the idea, even though Hakimi says the necessary technology is in development now and probably won’t be marketable for about 15 years.

Kassebaum believes the students were ready to move so quickly because as members of the Mitchell Academy for Science and Technology, founded at Milken in 2003, they conduct a two-year research project with local universities and professors. Some students have had papers published and several have placed at other science competitions, such as the Intel Talent Search, a young epidemiologists competition and an Israeli physics competition.

Nour-Omid herself placed first in a regional civil engineering competition. Her winning design, a bridge constructed of one pound of unbroken Popsicle sticks and white glue, withstood pressure of 1,060 pounds.

“I try to remove any hurdles for anyone who has a special interest in science,” Kassebaum said.

Through the Mitchell Academy, Nour-Omid is working on cancer research with a lab at UC San Diego, and Hakimi has a paper about to be published on the economic impact of international terrorism on the Dow Jones.

The Conrad Award is the first X PRIZE for high schoolers.

Team Gad Astro from Northbrook, Ill., won the $2,500 second place award with their concept of a self-healing material that would rapidly fix any punctures, maintaining safety in space. Team Penguin Education from Friendswood, Tex., won the $1,500 third place award with their idea for a company that works with private and public schools to provide a high level of space education.

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the foundation awarded Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for the world’s first private vehicle to travel to space twice in two weeks. The foundation has since expanded its mission beyond space exploration to offer new prizes for breakthroughs in the areas of life improvement, equity of opportunity and sustainability. Last year the X PRIZE Foundation announced the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for genomics, which will reward the first private effort to map 100 human genomes in 10 days. It is also developing a prize for a super-efficient, mass-producible car.

For more information, visit milkenschool.org or xprize.org.

Lauding Leiweke; Charitable home run; Friedman reappointed


Lauding Leiweke

AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke recently received the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Humanitarian Award at the ADL Entertainment Industry Awards. Los Angeles Police Department Chief William J. Bratton presented the award at Staples Center.

More than 600 people — including many entertainment industry luminaries, — attended the sold-out event, which raised more than $1 million to help ADL fight bigotry, prejudice and anti-Semitism. American Idol judge Randy Jackson hosted while a laughter slam dunk was handily delivered by comedian Bill Engvall.

Leiweke referred to “our obligation to give our kids a better world,” saying “hopefully ADL will help us do this.”

AEG is a leading presenter of global sports and entertainment programming. As president, Leiweke has formed alliances with more than 40 divisions and companies to produce global live sports and music events in AEG-owned facilities and other venues. He is also president of Staples Center and of the Los Angeles Kings and serves on the Los Angeles Lakers board of directors.

Leiweke formed and directs the Kings Care Foundation, which was awarded the 1999 Pro Team Community Award. Specially designed T-shirts were given in goody bags to stress the importance of ADL’s commitment to battle hatred.

Also attending were Leah Mendelsohn, who with Nancy Parris Moskowitz will co-chair the upcoming ADL Deborah Awards dinner on June 5.

Charitable Home Run

More than 350 charity-minded women gathered recently at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the Sports Spectacular Women’s Luncheon. The luncheon is the annual kick-off event for the upcoming 22nd annual Sports Spectacular dinner gala, which raises funds for the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Genetics Institute.

Luncheon sponsor, De Beers, treated guests to a stunning fashion show, featuring the fashions of Monique Lhuillier. One lucky winner went home with a pair of ‘wildflower’ diamond earrings, valued at more than $10,000, courtesy of De Beers.

Friedman reappointed

Attorney Andrew Friedman has been reappointed as Judicial Procedures Commissioner for the County of Los Angeles. Friedman has been in private law practice for the past 35 years and is currently serving as Fire Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles and Hearing Officer for the Civil Service Commission. He is President of Congregation Bais Naftoli and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four children.

Justice advocate

Winners of the inagural Larry Schulner International Social Justice Award, created by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPS) in memory of Lawrence M. Schulner, were feted recently.

Schulner was a resident of the Los “Angeles area and a longtime advocate for Reform Judaism, Reform Zionism, social justice, religious pluralism, philanthropic vision and tikkun olam. The award honors his memory by recognizing individuals or congregations for activities or programs that raise awareness of and support social justice, religious pluralism, or tikkun olam outside of North America.

The 2007 winners are: Wilshire Boulevard Temple of Los Angeles and Rabbi Haim Asa, rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth Tikvah in Fullerton.

The awards were presented at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Regional Biennial in Costa Mesa by Mandy Eisner, regional director of the WUPS, and Rabbi Joel Oseran, WUPS vice president.

The WUPS is the umbrella organization of the worldwide Reform movement.

Rothsteins honored

Chabad of Bel Air used the occasion of its 22nd Anniversary “spreading Judaism with a smile” in the Bel Air area to honor Roz and Jerry Rothstein for their impressive legacy of dedication and service to the Jewish community. During their Black Tie/Masquerade Party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Chabad of Bel Air honored the Rothsteins for their tremendous work for Israel through StandWithUs. Rabbi Chaim Mentz applauded their dedication and commitment to the Jewish Community and its needs.

Chabad of Bel Air is well known for their energetic Friday Night Services and Torah Entertainment for Shabbat Morning.

For more information, go to StandWithUs.com or ChabadofBelAir.org.

Hirsh hailed

A stellar cast of luminaries delivered an evening of humor at the expense of the legal profession when the Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) Entertainment Law Section honored Barry L. Hirsch, of Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman, as their Entertainment Lawyer of the Year at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Comedian Rob Schneider led a hilarious — albeit brutal — attack on such icons as Steven Bochco, Bernie Mac and Richard Gere, but there was no humor in the praise heaped on Hirsh as an attorney, friend and advocate for his impressive client list.

Hirsh, feted for ardently serving his clients as both friend and legal adviser, has been a mainstay in entertainment law for many years. He said his love of cinema led him to his calling, and recounted how proud he was as a young lawyer to represent Bette Davis, after growing up in awe of her talent.

Surrounded by family members, Hirsh greeted friends with his grandson, (who he obviously dotes upon) by his side. Uber-tax attorney Robert Jason said he has always been impressed by Hirsh’s consideration and effective advocacy for his clients. Proceeds from the event benefit the BHBA’s education and community outreach programs.

Mellon awardee explores Shoah’s place in English lit


America’s richest prize in the humanities, worth $1.5 million, has been awarded to the scholarly son of a Swedish American carpenter for a three-year project on the impact of the Holocaust on American literature.

In a study that is far more than ivory-tower research, Eric J. Sundquist argues that English-language books — original, in translation or adapted as film scripts — are largely responsible for “Americanizing” and universalizing the Holocaust in the world’s consciousness.

Sundquist is an English and literature professor at UCLA and was recently named one of four recipients of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s distinguished achievement award.

Although not as well known as the “genius grant” MacArthur fellowships, worth $500,000 over five years, the Mellon Foundation award allots $1.5 million over a three-year period, although it is not as unrestricted as the MacArthur fellowships.

Born in the small rural Kansas town of McPherson, Sundquist, 54, is described by colleagues at Columbia and Harvard universities as “the most productive American literature scholar of his generation,” whose “combination of broad erudition, subtlety of reflection and deep conviction makes his work exceptional, if not unique.”

He first joined the UCLA faculty in 1989, served as dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University from 1997 to 2002, and then returned to UCLA, where his formal title is UCLA Foundation Professor of Literature.

First widely recognized for explaining the role of black writers and culture in American literature, Sundquist expanded his purview in his most recent work, “Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America.”

Last month, “Strangers” received the Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute Award from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

During a nearly two-hour interview at his UCLA office, Sundquist traced the three “generations” of Holocaust literature.

In the first generation, immediately following World War II, eyewitnesses, survivors and contemporaries laid the historical groundwork. In the 1960s and ’70s, the second generation explored the philosophical and theological aspects of the Shoah.

Since the end of the last century, a third generation of “postmodern and experimental” writers have added comedy, satire and even irreverence to the body of Holocaust literature.
One goal of Sundquist’s three-year project is to draw a complete “map” of these generational changes, from the 1940s to the present.

Another aim is to probe what impact the works of American writers, far removed from the crematoria of the Final Solution, as well as translations into English, have had in shaping the literature of the Shoah.

Sundquist believes that the very act of translation has helped to transform the Holocaust from a specific Jewish tragedy into a more “Christianized,” and therefore universal, experience.

“Take Elie Wiesel’s book ‘Night,’ which was first written in Yiddish, then translated into French, and from French into English. It has probably been read by more Americans than any other Holocaust memoir and thus has become part of American literature,” Sundquist said.

“But in the process of making the book more accessible to a wider audience, the original ‘Sabbath’ became ‘Sunday’ and ‘Shavuot’ became ‘Pentecost.'”

Similarly the film, “The Pawnbroker,” about an embittered Holocaust survivor in New York, is “loaded with Christian iconography and symbolism,” Sundquist said.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Sundquist’s analysis is how the literary vocabulary of the Holocaust has been adapted and taken over by other victimized people.

Japanese American writers have used the imagery of Nazis against Jews to describe their internment in U.S. “concentration camps,” as well as the “holocaust” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Native American authors have drawn similar literary analogies in recording the slaughter of their people by white settlers, but the most striking impact has been on African American writings.

In black literature, Sundquist said, “the organizing example was the biblical Exodus, but since World War II, this has been overshadowed by the Holocaust as the main paradigm.”
One striking example is Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” which implicitly likens the African slave trade to the Shoah in her epigraph, “To the 60 million.”

Turning to a current cultural phenomenon, the well publicized visit of Oprah Winfrey and Wiesel to Auschwitz, Sundquist observed that “it was not only well done, but Oprah knew it would resonate with her audience, attuned to the language of suffering and survival.”

One unedifying aspect of the literary cross-fertilization has been a kind of “My Holocaust was worse than your Holocaust” competition, or, as one writer put it, a “Victimization Olympics.”

Given Sundquist’s expertise in black and Holocaust literature, readers who meet him for the first time are frequently astonished that he is not African American or Jewish.

Actually, his ancestors arrived in the Midwest from Sweden in the 1870s as farmers and craftsmen, and he was the first in his family to attend college — first the University of Kansas and then Johns Hopkins University for his graduate work.

He was raised as a Methodist and recalled that in his high school graduating class of 200, there were only two Jews and one African American.

Perhaps as an augur of his future interests, the two books that affected him most as a teenager were “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “Exodus” by Leon Uris.

His interest in “multiculturalism,” before it became a catch phrase, developed in graduate school. His courses in American literature focused almost entirely on the white, Anglo-Saxon perspective, and he felt that the contributions of blacks, Jews and other minorities were missing.

This gap led him eventually to his landmark book, “To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature,” followed by studies on the Civil Rights Movement.

“The deeper I got into this, the more intrigued I became how much African Americans had borrowed from the American Jewish experience,” Sundquist said.

Sacha Baron Cohen saluted at Israel Film Festival


When Sacha Baron Cohen received an outstanding achievement award at the Israel Film Festival opening night gala on Tuesday (March 6) at the Beverly Hilton, Cohen explained that his famous alter ego, Borat, couldn’t attend because, “he is receiving an award from the Hezbollah film festival.”

The Hezbollah liked Borat’s portrayal of Jews, he said, especially “Jews as shape-shifting wood lice.”

In his satiric film, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (out this week on DVD), Borat is terrified when he sees cockroaches at a bed and breakfast and thinks they are Jews.

The star-studded 22nd annual Israeli Film Festival honored Cohen, Amy Pascal and Israeli stage legend Gila Almagor, but it was Cohen’s rare public appearance as himself that drew kudos from the crowd of 500 people, as well as from presenters such as, via telecast, Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert (who said Borat was the most popular Purim costume in Israel) and the man who introduced him, Dustin Hoffman.

“If I get to do a movie with Sacha I’d get to know him a lot better,” joked Hoffman, adding. “I don’t do nude scenes, Sacha.”

The two met a couple of years ago when Cohen crashed a Passover seder at Hoffman’s house. Hoffman also told a Holocaust joke about two Jews about to be killed at a concentration camp, when one asks the firing squad if he could have a cigarette. “Shh,” another Jew whispers, “Don’t make trouble.”

“Something tells me,” Hoffman said, “Sacha will make trouble. And I, for one, don’t want him to stop.”

“This is really a fantastic honor,” Cohen said. “It will go in the center of my mantelpiece — behind my Golden Globe,” he joked.

In all seriousness, Cohen said he had worried about how the Jews – particularly the Israelis — would receive the film, which could be perceived as anti-Semitic. He called it a “testament to Israeli and Jewish humor.”

“It’s a great comment on our ability to laugh at ourselves,” he said.Even though Borat couldn’t attend, Cohen said Borat had a message for the audience, written in Khazakistan (which, as most of the audience already knew, was simply Hebrew):

“Lama atem notnim li et zeh? Mah Atem, meshugaim? Ani Ezrok et zeh l’pach. Cama P’amim Ani Tzarich lehagid et zeh? Ani lo ohev ethcem!”

Which in English means:

“Why are you giving this to me? What are you, crazy? I will throw this into the garbage! How many times do I have to tell you all that I don’t like you?”

— Amy Klein, Religion Editor

Alan Arkin — not just another kid From Brooklyn


“I can say what I want. I still got Nazi bullets in my ass!”

Such acerbic rants by Grandpa Hoover pretty much sum up the foul-mouthed, drug-sniffing, sex-crazed curmudgeon Alan Arkin plays in the Oscar-nominated film, “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Briefs: Israel reviews Jerusalem dig; U.S. offers reward for Islamic Jihad leader


Israel Reviews Jerusalem Dig

Israel is pressing ahead with a controversial dig near the Temple Mount but will review plans to build at the site. The Jerusalem Municipality announced Monday that a plan to renovate a pedestrian walkway leading from the Temple Mount’s Mughrabi Gate to the Western Wall Plaza would be put on hold to allow for consultations with police and Muslim authorities.

“This is due to the sensitivity of the plan,” the municipality said in a statement, referring to recent Palestinian rioting sparked by Arab allegations that Israel is trying to undermine the foundations of two major Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount.

But the municipality said excavations in the Western Wall Plaza would continue in order to salvage any archeological artifacts that might be damaged by the planned renovation. Israel has said the dig does not threaten the Muslim shrines and is designed to prevent the pedestrian walkway from collapsing due to weather erosion. Muslim leaders have incited their followers in the past with accusations of Jewish plots to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount.

Holocaust Denier Says He Accosted Wiesel

A Holocaust denier claims he is the one who accosted Elie Wiesel, with the aim of kidnapping him. “Eric Hunt” posted an acknowledgment on ZioPedia, an anti-Semitic Web site, saying he followed Wiesel onto an elevator at San Francisco’s Argent hotel after the author, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor participated in a panel on peace. Wiesel reported such an assault on Feb. 1 and San Francisco police are seeking the assailant.

“After ensuring no women would be traumatized by what I had to do (I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks), I stopped the elevator at the sixth floor,” Hunt wrote. “I pulled Wiesel out of the elevator. I said I wanted to interview him. He protested, grabbed at his chest as if he was having a heart attack. He then screamed HELP! HELP! at the top of his lungs.” Hunt said he let Wiesel go because “he was no use to our worldwide struggle for freedom if he had a heart attack.”

He said he “had planned on either getting Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape, getting arrested or fleeing.”

U.S. Offers Reward for Islamic Jihad Leader

The United States put a bounty on the head of a Palestinian terrorist leader. The State Department this week offered up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Shallah, who is based in Damascus.

Shallah is wanted for complicity in suicide bombings, murder, extortions and money laundering. Responding to the State Department’s announcement, Islamic Jihad said it would attack American targets if Shallah is taken into custody.

The State Department offered a separate bounty for Mohammed Ali Hamadei, a Lebanese Hezbollah member suspected of involvement in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 that resulted in the murder of a U.S. sailor.

Katsav Complainant Tells All

A woman who accused Israel’s president of raping her gave a full account to a British newspaper. Moshe Katsav’s former secretary, whose name is withheld from publication by law, told Britain’s Sunday Times the president first subjected her to unwanted sexual scrutiny until finally forcing himself on her when she reached up to get a book in his office.

“Maybe I didn’t struggle enough,” she said. “I was shocked. I was thinking, what if people know, what if I don’t have a job.” The complainant — who was described by the newspaper as “Michelle Pfeiffer in Chanel tortoiseshell glasses” — came forward last year, prompting Israel’s attorney general to draft rape charges against Katsav. The Israeli president has denied wrongdoing.

Jewish Groups to Stage Eco-Friendly Conferences

Two Jewish organizations have pledged to offset the carbon produced by their upcoming conferences. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life announced they’ll calculate the amount of carbon produced by their three-day conferences in Washington in late February, and will offset it through reforestation projects. The conferences, which will include nearly 1,000 participants, will limit the amount of carbon they produce through greater energy efficiency and the use of renewables.

“The Jewish Council for Public Affairs is dedicated to doing its part to combat climate change,” said Steve Gutow, the group’s executive director. “Offsetting the carbon emissions from our conference is an easy and effective way to help make a positive difference in our environment.”

The effort, billed as the first of its kind for Jewish groups, will be facilitated by Carbonfund.org, the country’s leading carbon-offset organization.

Klezmatics Win Grammy Award

The Klezmatics received the Grammy award for Contemporary World Music Album for “Wonder Wheel,” with lyrics by Woody Guthrie, on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Briefs: Sacha Borat Cohen scores at Golden Globes; Former Carter Center official at Temple Sinai


‘Borat’s’ Cohen Takes Golden Globe

Sacha Baron Cohen convulsed the Golden Globe audience on Monday evening as he picked up the top award for best actor in a comedy or musical movie, but Cambridge University’s favorite alumnus also showed his serious side.

Addressing all those who still didn’t get the point of “Borat: Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (such as the president of Iran), Baron Cohen told Variety and other backstage reporters:

“The movie is mocking Borat’s beliefs. All his beliefs seem laughable — whether he’s homophobic or misogynistic or anti-Semitic, they’re all seen as forms of delusion.

“He doesn’t just think Jews are good with money, he thinks they can change their shape into little insects,” he said. “And the point of that is to show that all prejudice is ridiculous.”

On stage, Baron Cohen verbally reprised the film’s famous nude wrestling match with co-star Kern Davitian.

“I saw some dark parts of America, an ugly side of America,” Baron Cohen deadpanned. “I refer of course to the anus and testicles of my co-star,” pointing to Davitian.

“When I was in that scene and I stared down and saw your two wrinkled golden globes on my chin, I thought to myself, ‘I better win a bloody award for this.'”

“Borat” will gain some momentum from the Golden Globe honors but whether it’s enough to propel him to an Oscar nomination or award is questionable.

Unlike the Golden Globes, which split the movie categories between “comedy or musical” and “drama,” the Academy Awards combine them into a single category.

Baron Cohen would have to beat the entire field of top American and British actors to take the prize.

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Former Carter Fellow Addresses Sinai Temple

Dr. Kenneth W. Stein, who broke with Jimmy Carter over “inaccuracies and distortions” in the former president’s book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” addressed about 600 people at Sinai Temple on Jan. 11. Co-sponsored by Sinai Temple and StandWithUs, the talk was Stein’s first appearance outside of Atlanta since the Emory University scholar resigned his position as Middle East fellow with the university’s Carter Center in December.

Stein’s Sinai Temple address focused on factual misrepresentations in the book dealing with the wording of U.N. Resolution 242, Carter’s Damascus meeting with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and the Camp David accords. In each instance, Stein said Carter skewed the facts in favor of Israel’s foes.

According to Stein, Carter is “deft, clever and intelligent” but lacking in understanding of the political and social culture of the Middle East. He believes that the “essence of Carter’s anger” with Israel stems from his strained relationship with Prime Minister Menachem Begin whom, Stein said, “never gave Carter a fall-back position” during the Camp David negotiations.

Stein cited Carter’s intelligence and remarkable memory, and said that while not anti-Semitic, the former president believes in the rectitude of his position.

During the question-and-answer session Rabbi David Wolpe asked whether Carter’s dislike of Israel “skewed the acuity of his memory.”

Stein said that Carter “hones in on what he wants to hear and write about. He wants you to conclude that the conflict is Israel’s fault and he believes the end justifies the means.”

On the destructiveness of Carter’s book, Stein said he felt that in the last few years “Israel’s history has been hijacked” and he fears that “American Jews are asleep.” He added that the most important duty American Jews have today is to “teach our history to our children.”

— Peter L. Rothholz, Contributing Writer

L.A. Maccabi, Milken JCC Honor Longtime Organizer

If the Maccabi Games are the Jewish Olympics, then Dr. Jerry Bobrow is the Los Angeles team captain. For the past 18 years, Bobrow has served as chairman of the Los Angeles JCC Maccabi Organizing Committee, leading thousands of young L.A. Jews in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Maccabi Team Los Angeles and the New JCC at Milken will honor Bobrow at The Night of Maccabi Champions on Jan. 20 at the Universal Hilton, where more than 400 people will gather to celebrate his commitment and contribution to the games.

“He has involved and engaged thousands of Jewish families and their teenagers and helped them to develop strong Jewish identities,” said Michael Jeser, assistant executive director at the JCC at Milken.

Born in Rome to Holocaust survivors, Bobrow moved to California at a young age. He became a track and field star at Fontana High School, a baseball star at Whittier College and pitched semipro baseball for nine seasons. He went on to coach youth and high school baseball for more than 40 years and is now a member of the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

“I’ve always been a passionate sports fan and athlete, and the Maccabi Games are the perfect connection between sports and the community. I love to get Jewish athletes more involved and help bring them into the Jewish community and the Jewish community centers,” said Bobrow, who has been a board member of the Jewish Centers Association since the early 1980s.

The North American Maccabi games began in 1982. Today more than 6,000 Jewish athletes, ages 13-16, participate in the annual summer games. Under Bobrow’s leadership, the Los Angeles delegation has grown to more than 200, the maximum number allowed.

For Bobrow, the games are not just an athletic event, but a place for Jewish youth to make friends for life. “They get to know other kids, and they just make this special connection, which I think is tremendously important,” said Bobrow, who calls the delegation “Team Los Angeles.” “We’re bound as a delegation, to get to know each other, to raise social awareness, and to get kids more involved.”

— Carin Davis, Contributing Writer

Films: The ‘Little Miss’ that could maybe hopefully


When Peter Saraf signed on to co-produce the film, “Little Miss Sunshine,” he says he did so without hesitation. The script, about a dysfunctional family’s road trip, spoke to him immediately, and he was proud to bring his great-aunt and great-uncle to see it.

As the film began rolling, however, Saraf began to have some reservations. The family comedy features Alan Arkin as a grandfather who snorts heroin and yells obscenities. How would Saraf’s great-uncle, an 80-year-old concentration camp survivor, react?

“I kept looking over at him when Alan would go into one of his expletive tirades,” Saraf said. “He was just laughing!”

Audiences of diverse ages and cultural backgrounds warmed to “Sunshine,” much like Saraf’s relatives, after its July 26 opening.

The film first gained momentum with a standing ovation at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, which led to a bidding war for distribution rights. Box office success followed, with a domestic gross of more than $59 million as of Jan. 4, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

The numbers are expected to keep growing, with “Sunshine” still being screened in some theaters, even as it was released on DVD Dec. 19. Not bad for a film with an $8 million budget.

The Fox Searchlight release has also been a critical favorite, garnering film festival awards, Top Ten of 2006 honors from the National Board of Review and American Film Institute, as well as multiple nominations for Gotham, Satellite, Independent Spirit, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards. In light of this, “Sunshine” is poised to be an Oscar contender, as well.

The movie begins with the shabby Arizona home of the misfit, middle-class Hoover family. Richard, played by Greg Kinnear, is the motivational speaker dad who can’t get his book published; his wife, Sheryl (Toni Collette), is depleted from years of running and supporting the family; Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), is a gay Proust scholar, who recently attempted suicide after being jilted by his lover; hedonist Grandpa has been kicked out of the nursing home for his heroin vice; son, Dwayne (Paul Dano), is an angry teen who’s taken a vow of silence; and then there’s Olive (Abigail Breslin), the heart of the film, a pudgy, bespectacled 7-year-old innocent whose dream is to win the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant.

When Olive learns she’s won a last-minute spot to compete in the pageant, she has two days to make it to the competition in Redondo Beach. The family piles into their broken-down yellow Volkswagen minibus and heads west.

The minibus that chugs along despite falling apart through the film is a metaphor for the troubled Hoovers. And “Little Miss Sunshine’s” promoters have enjoyed drawing a parallel between the family’s hard-won personal triumph and the success of this “little indie flick that could.” While an Oscar win might seem like a long shot, dismissing “Sunshine” would be a mistake.

The Golden Globes singled out directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris for a best musical or comedy nod, as well as Collette for best actress in a comedy or musical. And tradition has it that the Globes, to be held this year on Jan. 15, are fairly good predictors of Academy Award nominations.

Another Oscar bellwether is the Producers Guild of America, which included “Sunshine” as one of five feature films nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck producer of the year award. The Producers Guild Awards will be held Jan. 20.

The film’s universal appeal seems to tap the same spirit that propelled audiences of every background to see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” another indie feature that toyed with universal themes of family dysfunction. Saraf credits “Sunshine” screenwriter Michael Arndt for writing family relationships that ring true for all audiences.

“There is an honesty in the dynamic in that family,” Saraf said. “The script has a wonderful sense of humor as well as a real emotional underpinning, and I think that’s what people are really responding to.”

Co-producer David Friendly also sees the appeal of “Sunshine” in this light. The son of legendary CBS News president Fred Friendly, David personally identified with the script’s complicated father-son relationships.

“I did have a powerful father figure,” he said, describing his dad as a “larger-than-life character.”

One scene that felt particularly reminiscent for Friendly occurs toward the end of the film, as the family is nearing the freeway offramp for the pageant. Richard, who is driving, can’t figure out the exit, and thus keeps circling, while a cacophony of direction-yelling ensues around him.

Friendly fondly recalled being lost in Portland, Ore., with his father behind the wheel.

“Dad was sort of commander in chief insisting he knew his way around…. Doing loops around the airport,” he said.

The ability to channel such real human moments is what audiences of all demographics have embraced in “Sunshine,” and both Friendly and Saraf say that is enough, regardless of any awards buzz.

Friendly says that’s part of the moral of “Little Miss Sunshine” — to enjoy the experience, rather than being focused on winning — and it’s also something he absorbed from his Jewish upbringing.

“You learn from all the seders around the table. You get a good sense of what’s right and wrong, and the ethics of a good life,” he said.

“I think that also fundamental to the theme of the movie, we all want to succeed, but at what price? If you get too focused on the wrong things, it begins to corrupt other things.”

Milken School head gets the surprise of her life


Rennie Wrubel had no reason to suspect.

The board members, the 800 students on bleachers, the officials from the Bureau of Jewish Education and private foundations — they had come to Milken Community High School to hear Gen. Shaul Mofaz, minster of transportation and deputy prime minister of the state of Israel.

Right?

Mofaz, as it turns out, was a decoy. The surprise honoree was Wrubel herself, who received the Milken Family Foundation’s Jewish Educator Award for her work as Milken’s head of school for the last 10 years.

“I just have one question,” a stunned but composed Wrubel asked when she was finally able to lift herself off her seat. “Is that really Mofaz?” (It was.)

The annual Jewish Educator Awards, with a $10,000 prize, is awarded in conjunction with the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) to five Los Angeles day school teachers or administrators annually.

“I want to recognize and celebrate a person whose intelligence, whose leadership, whose commitment and compassion have made a profound difference in our community, a person who has positively impacted thousands of young people’s lives,” said Lowell Milken, chairman of the Milken Family Foundation, which gave the naming gift and maintains close ties to the high school.

As Milken stood at the dais to announce the award, Wrubel wondered why he was talking about appreciating excellence in education, when the assembly was about Israel. Colleagues whispered that perhaps the digression was to recognize the school as a whole, since Wrubel surmised that he couldn’t be presenting a Jewish Educator Award, because she would have been informed of that.

Then Milken asked for “the envelope.” The school orchestra went into a drum roll and an audible wave of anticipation passed among the students. When he announced that Dr. Rennie Wrubel was the recipient of a Jewish Educator Award, Wrubel slumped in her seat, open mouthed — and the gym exploded.

That kind of reaction, and its ripple effect through the wider community, is what Milken Foundation officials are going for with the dramatic presentation of the awards.

“The surprise element evolved as the best way to get everyone’s attention and to make it most memorable to the students and to other people in the room,” said Richard Sandler, executive vice president of the Milken Family Foundation. “We’re trying to get the community behind teaching, behind educators, and trying to get kids to understand that educators are recognized and appreciated and that kids should consider this as a profession.”

Sandler and a caravan of BJE and Milken Foundation officials presented the four other awards in one packed day in late October. Videos of those emotional assemblies will form the centerpiece of an awards luncheon in Bel Air on Dec. 14.

At Beth Hillel Day School in Valley Village, second- and third-grade teacher Beverly Yachzel received her award in an intimate gathering of the student body and teachers at the small school.

Tami Rosenfeld, a fourth-grade Hebrew and Judaic studies teacher at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles, didn’t know her family was hiding out in the back of the sanctuary for the occasion.

Rabbi Simcha Frankel, a teacher at Cheder Menachem Elementary School in Los Angeles, at first demurred from coming to the stage, but the cheering boys coaxed him up.
Bluma Drebin, Bible department chair and teacher of mathematics at the YULA girls’ high school, elicited whoops and hollers from the girls.

But even by the Milken Foundation’s standards, the ruse around Wrubel’s ceremony was unusual.

The elaborate scheming behind the assembly was the work of Metuka Benjamin, director of education at Stephen S. Wise Temple, the parent organization for Milken Community High School.

Benjamin arranged for Consul General Ehud Danoch to come to the school, under the pretense of recognizing the school’s ambitious new Tiferet Israel Program, where 40 tenth graders will go to Israel for four months this winter and spring.

Then, three days before the assembly, Benjamin got a call from Mofaz saying he would be in town.

She jumped at the chance, and pulled off the last-minute schedule change for Mofaz to speak to the students.

Mofaz and Danoch both addressed the students, congratulating them on their continued commitment to fostering the bond between Israeli and American teens.

For several years, Milken Community High School has participated in an exchange program with its sister school in Tel Aviv, sending delegations each year to live with families.
This year a larger delegation will live in dorms, continue their Milken education and learn Jewish history and heritage both in the classroom and on field trips to the places they learn about.

In 11th and 12th grade, the same group of students will continue to have special classes aimed at teaching them to be advocates for Israel, and they will become part of the Israeli Consulate’s speaker’s bureau.

The fact that the assembly honoring Wrubel ended up being so focused on Israel was appropriate, Rabbi Eli Herscher of Stephen S. Wise, said, since one of Wrubel’s strongest passions is for connecting the kids to Israel.

For information on the awards visit www.mff.org.

Order in the McCourt; Professionally Speaking; Youth and Priviliege


Order in the McCourt

Jamie McCourt, Los Angeles Dodgers’ president and vice chair, was honored with the prestigious Woman of the Year award at Friendly House’s annual luncheon and celebrity stylist, Carrie White, was honored with the Excellent Service Award. They join a distinguished list of philanthropic women honorees include Wallis Annenberg, Barbara Sinatra, Betty Ford and Carol Burnett among others. Approximately $250,000 was raised during the event.

Friendly House Executive Director Peggy Albrecht called McCourt “a long-time supporter of organizations dedicated to empowering women. She is a giving and passionate advocate for the greater Los Angeles community and an example of what women can aspire to given self-determination and focus.”

Friendly House is the oldest women’s recovery program in the United States and was founded in 1951 to assist women recovering from the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction.

Daphna’s Dinner
Couples Who Help

Linell and Robert Shapiro and son Grant accepted the Award for Enlightenment at the annual Maple Counseling Center Crystal Ball for their tireless efforts bringing aid to families struggling with substance abuse. The couple created the Brent Shapiro Foundation for Drug Awareness as a tribute to their late son to help families by raising awareness of drug and alcohol dependence though education and support.

On hand at the event were Myra Lurie and husband David Goldman, son of Maple Center founders Sooky and Sam Goldman; Helene Harris and Lillian and Stuart Raffels.

Along with the Shapiros the center honored philanthropists Wendy and Dr. Asher Kelman with the Award for Community Spirit for their dedication to a host of causes in Los Angeles. As a former radiation oncologist, Asher Kelman is known for treating his patients with compassion and understanding when facing a cancer. A former psychiatric social worker, Wendy Kelman single-handedly aided hundreds of men and women suffering from HIV/AIDS as an emotional support group facilitator in Los Angeles. Sharing their time, resources and talent with organizations such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LACMA, MOCA, The Colburn School of Performing Arts, Beverly Hills Education Foundation, Friends of the Beverly Hills Library and LA Shanti, the Kelmans have proven themselves an invaluable asset to the Los Angeles philanthropic community.

The Maple Counseling Center has helped people in need for more than three decades offering a range of low cost services from family therapy to crisis debriefing to individuals, couples, families and groups from infants to seniors.

For more information, visit

Readers finally get their say at JBook.com’s Peoples’ Choice Awards


The people have spoken, and they spake Foer.

 
“Everything Is Illuminated,” Jonathan Safran Foer’s tragi-comic tale of a young American Jew’s journey through Ukraine in search of his grandfather’s roots, is the first winner of JBooks.com‘s People’s Choice Award for the decade’s best work of Jewish fiction.
 
The award, and a $5,000 check, will be presented Nov. 15 at the Koret International Jewish Book Awards ceremony in San Francisco.
That doesn’t mean Foer’s novel really is the decade’s best book, not by the usual standards. It just means that the more than 1,500 readers who cast their votes in the six-week online contest liked it better than the other five contenders, a list judges whittled down from 115 readers’ suggestions.
 
The credence one gives to such an award depends on whether one prefers a laurel wreath bestowed by the crowd or the critics.
Online voting tends to draw a younger crowd, and is subject to ballot box-stuffing, organizers admit, although they say they weeded out suspicious patterns.
 
Certainly the contest, which ran Sept. 6 to Oct. 16, got lots of folks involved in choosing their favorite Jewish book, and that’s what the organizers wanted.
 
“The idea is to give readers access to the awards,” to reward “what people are reading and enjoying and talking about,” project manager Jane Hadley said.
 
The People’s Choice Award is part of current efforts to make Jewish books more accessible — or, rather, to reward those books that are more accessible, a conscious goal of the newly restyled Koret Awards. The Koret Awards are being run this year for the first time by Jewish Family and Life in cooperation with the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.
 
The Koret awards, sponsored by the Koret Family Foundation since 1998, have been “criticized as too heavy and highbrow,” newly appointed Jewish Family and Life CEO Amir Cohen said. “We’ve brought it down a notch. It’s still prestigious, but it speaks to a larger piece of the Jewish book-reading public.”
 
Jewish Family and Life founder Yossi Abramowitz, chair of the awards steering committee, said the new Koret Awards are actively trying to influence Jewish book-buying.
 
“Our goal is not only to honor excellence, but to help book clubs in their buying decisions and influence Jewish culture,” said Abramowitz, speaking from his new home in Israel.
 
Noting that most Jewish book clubs are “still overwhelmingly women, highly educated, meeting informally,” he said the changes were “very much made with these book clubs and these women in mind.”
 
The changes were also made with younger readers in mind. Along with the five Koret Awards, three other groups are honoring emerging Jewish writers during the same ceremony.
 
The Koret ceremony has been moved from April to November, to coincide with the year’s biggest book-buying season. Categories have been tweaked to attract entries that readers and book groups are more likely to purchase.
 
“Fiction,” the mainstay of most book clubs, remains untouched, but gone are the categories of “history” and “biography, autobiography and literary studies,” which, say Koret organizers, tended to reward books too scholarly or esoteric to appeal to lay readers. They were replaced by “Jewish life and living,” a more wide-ranging category that drew 127 entries this year, more than any other.
 
The winners, and many of the finalists, were not always the obvious choices.
 
In the “Jewish life and living” category, Rochel Berman’s “Dignity Beyond Death,” a gentle, somewhat obscure book about Jewish burial societies, beat out Deborah Lipstadt’s better-known “History on Trial,” the chronicle of her well-publicized legal battle against Holocaust denier David Irving.
 
And while Israeli author David Grossman is well known to American Jewish readers, both for his prize-winning books and his leftist politics, “Her Body Knows,” which took this year’s fiction award, is “sexy, very racy,” said Abramowitz, “an interesting choice.”
 
Is this wrong? That depends on how one understands the role of book awards. Are they meant to reward the most rarefied tastes, or those of most people? Should they honor literary or academic excellence, or books that readers will want to devour?
 
The market for Jewish books is hot, and book clubs are fast proliferating. If awards want to be relevant, organizers say, they need to be part of the popular dialogue, even as they encourage excellence.
 
The National Jewish Book Awards, administered by the Jewish Book Council, have been edging in that direction for years. Council director Carolyn Hessel, the prime mover behind the fast-multiplying Jewish book fairs that take place every fall during Jewish Book Month, is an unabashed fan of promoting books that people will want to read.
 
There are 82 Jewish book fairs scheduled this year from late October through February, she said, and the council is sending 150 authors on speaking tours. The combination, she asserts, sells “a hell of a lot of books.”
 
Neither Hessel nor the folks involved with the Koret Awards will say their awards compete with each other.
 
“The more the merrier,” Cohen of Jewish Family insists. Both groups actively promote Jewish Book Month, which runs from mid-November through mid-December, and they have flipped their ceremonies to avoid conflict.
 
The National Jewish Book Awards, which used to be held in December, are scheduled for March 6 in New York.
 
Publishers like that just fine.
 
Larry Yudelson, founder of the year-old Ben Yehuda Press, which publishes Judaica, said that more book awards mean that more books will be brought to the public’s attention. An award “gets people to notice a book, to read beyond the cover.”
 
And if the academic world feels slighted with the new emphasis on accessibility, there’s an easy solution. “Come up with a third award,” he suggests.
 

Winners of the 2006 Koret International Book Awards:

Jewish life and living:

Very fulfilled; Levin on board


The nonprofit The Fulfillment Fund’s STARS 2006 gala honoring Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman and CEO Tom Rothman, raised $2.3 million to help underserved students graduate high school and attend college.

Almost 1,000 guests enjoyed cocktails, dinner and the comedy of Wayne Brady while they ogled high-profile attendees: including first lady of California Maria Shriver, Hugh Jackman, Cuba Gooding Jr., director Baz Luhrmann, Jami Gertz, Robert Wuhl and Peter Farrelly.

Dinner chairs included Joyce and Avi Arad; Jeff Berg; Megan and Peter Chernin; Jordan and John Davis; Ann and Jim Gianopulos; Jill and Brad Grey; Bryan Lourd; Brittany and Richard Lovett; Kelly and Ron Meyer; Dr. Madeleine and Tom Sherak; Stacey Snider and Gary Jones; Dr. Jennifer Patterson and Howard Stringer; and Elizabeth and Jim Wiatt.

Brady opened the evening on a light-hearted note and then introduced Fulfillment Fund Founder Dr. Gary Gitnick who spoke about the need to nourish the spirit and minds of the youth and the importance of education in today’s society. Brady then introduced Chantel Parnell, a Fulfillment Fund student from Crenshaw High School who hopes to one day become a teacher and mentor.

The Lively Auctioneers — board member and Revolution Studios principal Tom Sherak and actor/producer Sinbad — entertained the audience with their spirited auction of one-of-a-kind packages and scholarship pledges from the generous guests.

A real highlight of the event was Grammy and Country Music Award-winner Tim McGraw performing two songs, including “My Little Girl” from the recently released film, “Flicka.”

Award-winning actor Ben Stiller presented the Fulfillment Fund’s STARS 2006 award to Rothman.

Levin on Board I

Kathleen B. Levin, Los Angeles civic leader, was ” border = 0 width=’400′ alt=0>


Charles (Chuck) Levin, right, newly elected president of the Southern California Chapter of the American Technion Society’s board of directors for 2006-2008 accepted the gavel from Rob Davidow, member of the President’s Advisory Council and National Board Treasurer. More than 60 guests gathered at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel recently for the installation of new board members and to listen to Technion professor Daniel Rittel, who discussed his research concerning the physics of failure and how it relates to defense systems.

Art of the Matter

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO John Kobara, along with gallery owner Joni Moisant Weyl of Gemini G.E.L, welcomed guests in celebration of Toba Khedoori’s print, “Untitled” (2005). Khedoori and Gemini are donated 100 percent of the sales of this limited edition etching to help the nonprofit as it assists at-risk children reach their potential by matching them with an adult mentor. For more information, or to purchase a print, visit

Shatner Horse Trek; Four of a Kind; Star Bright; Mayor Meets Mayor; Social Justice? Here I Am


Horse Trek

William and Elizabeth Shatner made their first U.S. public appearance on behalf of the William and Elizabeth Shatner-Jewish National Fund Therapeutic Riding Consortium Endowment for Israel last week at “An Evening of Magical Information.”

The $10 million endowment will support therapeutic riding programs for the disabled throughout Israel so that more individuals can benefit from the essential contribution equine therapy makes to the overall well-being of the disabled. The long-term hope is to forge cooperative networks between Israel and neighboring countries in support of therapeutic riding for the disabled.

Four of a Kind

The San Fernando Valley Council of Na’amat USA (formerly Pioneer Women) honored two local couples Sept. 10 with its 2006 Distinguished Community Award. Marilyn and Jerry Bristol and Trudy and Lou Kestenbuam were recognized for their decades of philanthropy and public service. The lunch at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana raised $75,000 for the Petach Tikvah MultiPurpose Center in Israel. Middle East expert Yoav Ben-Horin gave a thoughtful speech on the current situation in Israel and reminded everyone that events in the Middle East never turn out predictably. Phil Blazer served as master of ceremonies for the evening.

Star Bright

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Mayor Meets Mayor

Rabbi David Baron of Temple of the Arts hosted Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Mayor Yona Yahav of Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, on Yom Kippur. The Israeli city was recently shut down for more than a month during the destructive Hezbollah missile attacks.
“Mayor Yahav is a symbol of resiliency” said Baron. “This is a recurring theme of Yom Kippur — that the Jewish people will endure hatred and violence to pray for peace.”

The vision of Temple of the Arts, which was founded by Baron, is “to reconnect fellow Jews and all people seeking spiritual enlightenment with the beliefs and traditions of Judaism through the arts.”

For further information, or to attend the services, call (323) 658-4900 or visit

Pro soccer rookie Bornstein gives small goals a big kick


ChivasUSA’s Jonathan Bornstein is the top contender for the 2006 Major League Soccer (MLS) Rookie of the Year award. Not bad for the Los Alamitos native who was not invited to the MLS combine and was chosen in the fourth round (of four) of 2006 MLS SuperDraft (37th pick overall).

“Before the year started, I had small goals, such as getting some playing time on the team, maybe eventually getting a starting position,” said Bornstein, who started 30 games, leads the league in minutes played by a nongoalkeeper (2,698 — he only missed two minutes of the season) and leads MLS rookies in goals scored (six). With his undeniable success, he’s now setting his sights higher.

“To win an MLS cup would be another huge goal of mine,” said Bornstein, who was named MLS player of the month for July. “And to eventually make it to the national team level and represent our country.”

Bornstein, 21, is taking the attention and accolades in stride, determined to take it practice by practice and game by game. A self-proclaimed average guy, he comes home from practice, fixes lunch and settles in with a video game or his new guitar.

“I just went out and bought my guitar once I got my first paycheck. I’m really interested in music,” said Bornstein, who spends the rest of his free time on the golf course, at the beach or with his girlfriend.

Bornstein spent the first half of his college career at Cal Poly Pomona, where he was named California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Freshman of the Year, First Team All-CCAA and Second Team All-Far West Region. He then transferred to UCLA. During his senior year (2005-06) as a Bruin, he started all 20 games, scored five goals, made four assists, received All-Pac 10 honors and was named Met/RX Player of the Week.

Though Bornstein spent his entire amateur career playing forward, ChivasUSA head coach Bob Bradley moved him to fullback at the start of this season. He now clocks most of his time in the backfield, and, on occasion, plays forward or midfield. Bornstein shines in his new versatile role, having scored goals for ChivasUSA from all three positions.

With his transition to defense, new coaches, fresh mentors and the thrill of playing in the MLS, Bornstein has come into his own this year.

“I’ve been learning a lot from my teammates. These guys have so much experience beyond my years, so I just watch how they play and try to mimic them,” said Bornstein, who has four assists this season. “Also, I feel very comfortable here, and I think that has something to do with why I’ve been able to do so well here.”

It’s not surprising Bornstein feels at home on the Carson- based team. He is at home. He’s been playing soccer in the L.A. area since age 3.

“I really like it in Los Angeles. I was born here, I grew up here. I’ve been other places, and they don’t compare,” said Bornstein, who continues to live in Los Alamitos. “Playing in front of my family, my friends, my college buddies — it means the world to me.”

Bornstein also got the opportunity to play in front of an Israeli crowd when he led the United States to a silver medal in the 2005 Maccabiah Games.

“It was amazing. It was great. I loved it. It made me realize how fulfilling and enriched Jewish culture really is,” Bornstein said. “So in the past couple years, I’ve felt more Jewish than ever.”

His father is Jewish and his mother is a non-Jew from Mexico.

Bornstein grew up celebrating Passover and Rosh Hashanah with relatives. He did not have a bar mitzvah, and he doesn’t consider himself observant. The Maccabiah experience was a way for him to connect with Judaism.

“Outside of my UCLA teammate Benny Feilhaber, I never really thought there were other high-class Jewish soccer players out there,” he said. “With the Maccabiah Games, I definitely got the chance to experience a good thing. I realized there are a lot of really cool and really good Jewish athletes.”

Bornstein is hoping that his presence on ChivasUSA will help Los Angeles Jews feel a connection to the team and the sport of soccer.

“I’m hoping they’ll give it a chance — come out to one of the games, experience the atmosphere that comes with sitting in the Home Depot Center,” he said. “I think they would be surprised how much fun it is, how entertaining it is, how much of a real sport it is.”

ChivasUSA is headed to the MLS playoffs for the first time. The team plays Real Salt Lake at 4 p.m. on Oct. 15 at The Home Depot Center.

Chivas USA’s Jonathan Bornstein. Photo by Juan Miranda/Chivas USA


Freelance writer Carin Davis can be reached at sports@jewishjournal.com

Circuit


A for Achievement

Supporters of the Friends of Sheba Medical Center filled the ballroom at the Four Seasons last week to honor three remarkable women — Rita and Sue Brucker and Dr. Elizabeth Morgan with their prestigious Women of Achievement Award.Morgan gained national attention in 1987 when she went to jail rather than allow her daughter to attend court-ordered visits with her ex-husband who, Morgan believed was abusing her daughter. As a result, Congress passed two acts to safeguard children.

Affectionately known as “Bubbe the Clown,” Rita Brucker has decorated the faces of countless children with cancer and was recognized as “Mother of the Year” and “Volunteer of the Year” by Bezalel Hadassah Chapter, among her other honors. Brucker praised the work Sheba Medical Center is doing to ensure the health of newborns, urging everyone to continue supporting their efforts.Daughter-in-law Sue, wife of Beverly Hills Councilman Barry Brucker, credited her parents with living a life of charity and service, setting an example she has embraced and passed on to her children.

“If my children, Lauren and Richard, and their peers are indicative of the next generation, I know we have nothing to worry about,” she told the attendees. Among her other honors and achievements, Sue Brucker has been feted by Hadassah of Southern California and is currently president of Temple Emanuel.Event Chair Ruth Steinberger and co-chairs Aviva Harari and Lynn Ziman called on writer/humorist extraordinaire and “Save Me a Seat” author Rhea Kohan to hostess the event. Kohan entertained the group with a humorous take on daughters, sons and living life in the middle-aged lane.

A boutique featuring a wide variety of items drew buyers before and after the luncheon — all designed to raise money for newborn screening at Sheba Medical Center. Seen wandering about checking out the boutiques were Beverly Hills School Board President Myra Lurie and her mother, Bess; Allison Levyn and her mother-in-law, Toni; Denise Avchen; Helene Harris; Marilyn Weiss; Lonnie Delshad, wife of Beverly Hills Vice Mayor Jimmy Delshad; Susie Wallach, Stacia and Larry Kopeikin; Amy and Noah Furie, and Nancy Krasne.

Aviva Brightens Bel Air

A misty day couldn’t dampen the spirits of Aviva Family and Children’s Services supporters last week when they gathered at the home of uber-philanthropist Robin Broidy for an elegant and successful benefit luncheon.

Broidy tented the yard in her Bel Air home for the delicious event, which was catered by Wolfgang Puck and featured a tempting Fendi boutique that contributed 15 percent of its sales to the charity — as well as the fabulous Fendi goodie bags.

The luncheon planned and executed by Broidy and underwritten by Susan Casden, raised more than $75,000 to support the worthwhile projects of Aviva. President Andrew Diamond updated the group and invited guests to tour the facility. The guest list was brimming with many of Los Angeles’ most charitable and giving women including: Linda May, Barbara Miller, Pamela Dennis, Lilly Tartikoff, Lola Levey, Diane Glazer, Jami Gertz and Annette Plotkin.

Founded in 1915, Aviva Family and Children’s Services provides care and treatment to abandoned, neglected, abused and at-risk youth in the greater Los Angeles community.

On the Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue-Beverly Hills held its “I Want It” event last week to raise funds for the Tower Cancer Research Foundation. Attendees, including Judy Henning, Bonnie Webb and Lillian Raffels, sipped martinis and nibbled morsels while wandering through the store trying to decide what to purchase with their $50 gift cards. The Henri Mancini Trio provided live music as fabulous frocks and jewels by designers such as Tony Duquette kept everyone mesmerized. The night was a complete success for cancer research and a fun shopping experience for guests.

Liberty for All

The first Torah scroll written exclusively to honor and memorialize members of the U.S. military was inaugurated in a ceremony Sept. 10 at the Chabad of Oxnard Jewish Center.

Known as the first letters of the Liberty Torah, it was inscribed by a Jewish scribe, or sofer, at the ceremony timed to coincide with the eve of the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 and marked by prayers for our military and peace in the world.

The Liberty Torah was initiated by Oxnard residents Dr. David and Edi Boxstein and their family to honor their son, Jonathan, who is currently serving in Iraq in the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

“The Liberty Torah gives everyone, regardless of their political or religious affiliation, the opportunity to honor all our soldiers who have served our great country throughout our history, and to pray for an end to all hostilities,” said Chabad of Oxnard director Rabbi Dov Muchnik.

The Torah was sent to Israel to be completed, and then will be returned to the Chabad of Oxnard Jewish Center for use in its holiday and Shabbat services.The event also featured live music, refreshments and a hands-on Torah writing workshop for children.

For more information, visit www.libertytorah.com, or call (805) 382-4770.

Happenings I

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels was honored with a Peace Award from the Wilshire Center Interfaith Council and the Interreligious Council of Southern California at the Islamic Center of Southern California. Comess-Daniels thanked the Beth Shir Sholom community for enabling him to “pray with his legs” in ways that result in this kind of recognition and he gratefully shared the award with Beth Shir Sholom.

Happenings II

Screenwriter author Nora Ephron (“Heartburn, “Silkwood” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “When Harry Met Sally”) spoke to an overflowing crowd last Thursday night at the Writer’s Guild Writer’s Bloc event. Hosting Ephron and serving as moderator was megaproducer mogul Linda Obst, who offered insights into her longtime friendship with Ephron. Ephron entertained the audience with stories about her years in Washington, her experiences as a journalist and the agony of aging as chronicled in her new book ” I Feel Bad About my Neck.”

For more information about upcoming events, call (310) 335-0917.

Reflecting on a Great Cause


The UCLA Marching Band escorts Jewish Home Lifetime Award recipient Sylvia and Sherman Grancell into the gala Celebration of Life: Reflections 2006 event held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The beat of the UCLA Marching Band announced the opening of festivities last week when almost 600 people attended the Celebration of Life: Reflections 2006 dinner at the Beverly Hilton to benefit the Jewish Home for the Aging. A live auction hosted by Monty Hall raised $31,000 of the more than $500,000 total by offering blimp rides, a Wells Fargo box at Dodger Stadium, private screening with catering and Fox football studio viewing.

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