JCC Wants a Few Good
The Jewish Community Center (JCC) is on the lookout for teen
athletes who want to compete in the 2003 JCC Maccabi Games, a week-long
international Jewish youth summer games competition, to be held Aug. 8 through
This year, 70 local athletes will be able to participate in
games to be held in Houston and St. Louis, said Matt Lebovits, a Maccabi
coordinator. This year’s sports include boys basketball and soccer (for those
14 and under), boys and girls soccer (for those 16 and under), girls volleyball
(16 and under), baseball, tennis, dance and swimming.
Last year, the 82-person local contingent included a newly
formed girls volleyball team that defied expectations by competing in the final
medal round against Israel. Though gold medals eluded the Cinderella-team,
their coach said the six girls returned enriched and pride-filled from Baltimore,
which hosted 2,000 athletes from six countries.
The experience proved infectious to another adult chaperone,
Julie Rubin, the JCC’s assistant director. Her goal is for Orange County to
host the games in the near future.
Israel Merchants on
With violence scaring off trinket-buying tourists, Israeli
merchants are turning the tables and bringing their wares to shoppers. On Jan.
5, a caravan of 30 Israeli artists and craftsmen will open up shop in the high
school campus of Irvine’s Tarbut V’Torah Jewish Day School, the first stop in a
75-day national tour of 35 cities from Hawaii to Maine.
“With tourism at all-time lows in Israel, this is a great
way for us to show solidarity with Israel by helping her economy,” said event
chair Charlene Zuckerman of Laguna Niguel. The fair is the second initiative of
the Orange County Israel Solidarity Task Force, a community-wide group, and the
While sympathy has stimulated shop-in-Israel initiatives
online, Zuckerman figures personal chemistry will help draw a projected 2,000
visitors for the event, which will include kosher refreshments. “It’s nice to
see who you are helping. It’s also nice to be able to see the goods,” such as
the contemporary kiddush cups created by Judaic artist and silversmith Dan Givon,
or the contemporary jewelry crafted by his wife, Stacy. Their studio is in Zur Hadassa,
in Jerusalem’s Judean mountains.
A similar fair, organized independently and held last summer
on Long Island drew 17,000 people and netted merchants $750,000, said Stuart A.
Katz, president and owner of New York-based Tal Tours, an Israel-tour operator
who organized the national merchant tour. “Frankly, I was surprised,” he said.
With his own business down 70 percent compared to 2001, Katz
figured he could apply his skills in reverse. By aiding merchants, who pay
their own way, he might still serve his own interests. “Our goal is to promote
tourism,” he said.
Guess Who’s Coming to
In a warmup for Orange County’s second Jewish
scholar-in-residence program later this month, the Bureau of Jewish Education
is putting on its own scholarly event Jan. 12, but adding an edible twist.
“Dinner With a Scholar” is a one-night affair featuring five
different experts that intend to share their scholarly pursuits in the
salon-like setting of private homes. It is hoped they will be joined by 14
dinner companions willing to pay $125 for the privilege.
“It has the potential to turn into our main fundraiser,”
said Joan Kaye, executive director of the bureau, which creates youth programs
and trains local religious-school teachers. She modeled the event after one in Boston.
“This is who we are,” Kaye said.
To mark its 25th year, the bureau held a fundraiser last
October with a Catskill-styled dinner. A comedian who lived up to his name,
“Noodles,” entertained at the event.
Dinner guests have varied menu choices on several counts.
Host sites include three homes and an art gallery in Newport Beach and one home
in Long Beach. Topics range from social responsibility to the history of
chutzpah to whether God had a consort. Presenters include scholars of
archeology, management and Midrash, the biblical interpretations of rabbis.
Archaeologist Looks at Science
To set the stage for Passover, Aliso Viejo’s Kershaw Museum
will host a slide show by an archaeologist who has written a best-selling book
that links scientific findings to biblical history.
William G. Dever, 69, a retired professor who has excavated
in Israel for 40 years, is now busy developing television shows for the BBC
based on his first nonscholarly book, “What Did the Biblical Scholars Know and
When Did They Know It?” which was published last year and is a runaway
bestseller for its publisher, Eerdmans Publishing of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Dever’s museum lecture retraces the biblical exodus from Egypt
with illustrations of Pharoah’s monument building, Moses’ journey into Sinai to
receive the Ten Commandments and the Ark’s passage from the Tabernacle to
Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. His lecture notes are a soon-to-be-published
second book, “Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?”
“The answer is not from Egypt,” Dever said, explaining that
the book and lecture attempts to steer a middle course between biblical
literalists and those who call the exodus fiction.
The book is written for a nonscientific audience, but is
based on excavations and surveys in the West Bank made in the last decade by
Israeli scholars, whose findings have not been popularized, Dever said.
Dever’s talk was scheduled as a preview of a planned exhibit
in March about the early Israelites emergence from slavery to freedom, but the
focus of the exhibit is now uncertain, said Gail Levy, a museum board member.
After the museum lecture, he is also scheduled for a talk
titled, “Did God Have a Consort? Archaeology and ‘Folk Religion’ in Ancient
Israel,” as part of the Bureau of Jewish Education’s “Dinner with a Scholar”
Dever said architectural evidence shows that all deities in
the ancient world were paired, a concept monotheistic Judaism abandoned. “Did
God Have a Wife?” is the working title of his third planned book.
2 p.m. Jan. 12 at Temple Beth El of South Orange County, 2A Liberty,
Aliso Viejo. (949) 362-3999.
Biblical Scholar Will Give
30 Talks on Ancient Texts
Biblical scholar Shalom Paul will hold 30 talks as part of
the second Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program beginning Jan. 19.
For a nonacademic audience, Paul’s talks are a rare
opportunity to glimpse how scholars solve mysteries within ancient texts. Paul,
65, also chairs the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation and a Bible curriculum
committee for Israel’s Ministry of Education. His topics will include, “The
Genesis of Genesis,” the keynote address Jan. 20 at the Jewish Community
Center, to innovations by classical prophets.
More than 2,000 people attended talks by the previous
scholar-in-residence, Avigdor Shinan. As a result, more synagogues, schools and
special interest groups clamored for a slot in his schedule and twice as many
individual patrons wrote checks.
“We’ve raised sufficient money to fund the program through
2004,” said Arie Katz, an Irvine lawyer who, late in 2001, started the program
that has since mushroomed with a calendar of unusual speakers. “We almost have
more people who want to come here than places to put them,” he said.
An advisory board of rabbis compiled their own wish list of
high-profile thinkers that Katz promised to tackle. This year, Katz also
scheduled a separate session for the more advanced theologians, requested by
one rabbi eager to engage in a higher level discussion.