Hawaiian coffee shop singer to perform with Matisyahu in concert

After some legal maneuvering, the Hawaiian musician who was seen in a video performing the Matisyahu song “One Day” in a Maui coffee shop unknowingly with the ex-Orthodox reggae star can perform an encore in California.

Matisyahu in a video posted Friday to his Facebook page invited Kekoa Alama to perform with him on Aug. 12 at the Hollywood Palladium in California. Alama responds to the call that he has violated his probation and is “on the run” from police, which would prevent him from leaving Hawaii.

Matisyahu says he will help Alama, a ukulele player and singer, to perform in the show since Alama is “trying to create love and light for the world.”

In a video posted Monday on the Facebook page of Matisyahu's manager, Stu Brooks, and the singer's Twitter feed, Matisyahu announced that following a conference call with the judge in the case, Alama's probation officer, the public defender and district prosecutor, Alama has permission to sing “One Day” at the concert.

In a video from late July that went viral, Alama did not know he was singing with Matisyahu, who was sporting a red and black checkered shirt and long blonde locks.

At the end of the song, Matisyahu asked Alama, “You know who wrote this song?” and pointed to himself, leading to expressions of disbelief from Alama. The singer put Alama and his wife on the guest list for the Maui concert that evening.

Bernie Sanders wins Alaska, Washington caucuses

Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders easily won nominating contests in Alaska and Washington on Saturday, chipping away at front-runner Hillary Clinton's commanding lead in the race to pick the party's candidate for the White House.

Sanders was aiming for a sweep of three Western states – Hawaii also was holding a contest – that would generate more momentum in his bid to overtake Clinton and help stave off calls from Democratic leaders that he should wrap up his bid in the name of party unity.

“We are making significant inroads in Secretary Clinton's lead and … we have a path to victory,” Sanders told cheering, chanting supporters in Madison, Wisconsin. “It is hard for anybody to deny that our campaign has the momentum.”

Clinton, the former secretary of state, has increasingly turned her attention toward a potential Nov. 8 general election showdown against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, claiming she is on the path to wrapping up the nomination.

Heading into Saturday's voting, she led Sanders by about 300 pledged delegates in the race for the 2,382 delegates needed to be nominated at the July convention. Adding in the support of superdelegates – party leaders who are free to back any candidate – she has 1,690 delegates to 946 for Sanders.

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, needs to win up to two-thirds of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton, who will keep piling up delegates even when she loses under a Democratic Party system that awards them proportionally in all states.

“These wins will help him raise more funds for the next few weeks but I don't think it changes the overall equation,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a Clinton supporter. “Hillary Clinton has too big a lead. It's all over but the shouting.”

But Sanders has repeatedly said he is staying in the race until the convention, pointing to big crowds at his rallies and high voter turnout among young and first-time voters as proof of his viability. After raising $140 million, he has the money to fight on as long as he wants.

Sanders has energized the party's liberal base and young voters with his calls to rein in Wall Street and fight income inequality, a message that played well in liberal Washington and the other Western states. Sanders won in Utah and Idaho earlier this week.

All three contests on Saturday were caucuses, a format that has favored Sanders because it requires more commitment from voters, and were in states with fewer of the black and Hispanic voters who have helped fuel Clinton's lead.

“He was just more aligned with my values. I am young and I never knew there could be someone like him in politics,” said Samantha Burton of Seattle, who said Sanders was the first candidate who had inspired her to make a donation.

Jocelyn Alt, a birthing assistant at a Seattle hospital, said she backed Clinton because she believed the times called for someone who could get things done.

“She knows how to make things happen,” she said. “I think Hillary is more likely to win against a Republican.”

The Democratic race now moves to contests in Wisconsin on April 5 and in New York on April 19. There were no contests on Saturday in the Republican race featuring Trump and rivals U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

On Saturday, the New York Times published a lengthy foreign policy-focused interview with Trump. The New York billionaire told the newspaper he might stop oil purchases from Saudi Arabia unless they provide troops to fight the Islamic State.

Trump also told the Times he was willing to rethink traditional U.S. alliances should he become president.

Senator Daniel Inouye, hailed by pro-Israel groups, dies at 88

Daniel Inouye, the longtime Hawaii senator described by pro-Israel groups as one of Israel's best friends in the Senate, has died.

Inouye, 88, and a decorated World War II hero, died Monday of respiratory complications at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“Senator Inouye deeply understood the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, worked tirelessly and effectively to ensure that America’s ally, Israel, had the necessary resources to defend her people,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement. “He will be missed by all who appreciated his many decades of leadership in strengthening the ties between America and Israel.”

Inouye enlisted in 1943 as soon as a ban on Japanese Americans serving in the Army was lifted. He lost his arm in Italy in 1945 but persisted in leading an assault on a ridge heavily manned by German troops, an act that won him the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Recovering in a hospital, he heard from a fellow patient about his discovering bodies in ovens at a camp liberated by U.S. forces.

Recounting the memory as recently as October, to students in a high school in Jerusalem, Inouye said he asked his fellow patient what their crime could have been. He was told “they were Jews,” and the answer changed his life, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Inouye's first job was selling Israel Bonds in Hawaii, and he considered converting to Judaism, but pulled back, worried that his devoutly Christian mother would be upset.

Inouye, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, rose to become the top Democrat on its Appropriations Committee. He enjoyed a convivial relationship with Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, for years his Republican counterpart.

Pro-Israel Republicans and Democrats mourned his passing on social media. The National Jewish Democratic Council called Inouye “a true mensch in every sense of the word.”

Inouye was a lead sponsor of the legislation in the mid-1990s that recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. His role as a lead appropriator helped guarantee U.S. defense assistance to Israel.

“Our people owe him an immense historic debt,” Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said in a statement. “The Iron Dome system that recently intercepted hundreds of terrorist rockets aimed at our homes stands as enduring proof of his commitment to the defense of the Jewish State.”

Berkley, Lingle, Mandel lose Senate bids

Jewish Senate hopefuls in Hawaii, Ohio and Nevada went down to defeat.

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) lost her bid to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who received nearly 46 percent of the vote to Berkley’s nearly 45 percent. Berkley, an outspoken supporter of Israel who has had a long-running feud with Las Vegas casino tycoon and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, will leave Congress after 14 years in the House.

In Ohio, Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel was defeated by incumbent Sherrod Brown. The Democrat, a strong ally of unions, garnered 50 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Mandel, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran.

In Hawaii, Republican former Gov. Linda Lingle lost her bid for a Senate seat to Rep. Mazie Hirono, a Democat. Hirono won with nearly 63 percent of the vote to Lingle’s 37 percent.

Let’s play horsie!

It was a strange series of events that led me to being on a horse, too early in the morning, while I was on vacation in Hawaii.

I had only been horseback riding once
before, during the one summer I worked at a sleep-away camp. The experience had not left a positive memory, as nearly all my campers hated it, it was hot, and my horse, lovingly named Elmo, had nearly run me into a tree.

So how did I end up in this precarious position? Well, my boyfriend and I were in Hawaii and, in the spirit of “trying one another’s likes,” we had taken turns choosing activities that sounded like fun. I chose para-sailing, he chose jet skiing; I chose zip lining, and he chose horse back riding. I definitely was not pleased with the idea of actually spending money to sit atop a very large animal that either would, or would not, traumatize me. But I knew that I would just have to grin and bear it.

After all, that is how relationships work, right?

Give and take, compromise, and try new things; I had previously tried and liked camping, so who knows, maybe I needed a second attempt at horseback riding to really like it.

Now, I’ve never been an animal person. I’m convinced that whatever part of an animal-liking gene I should have been born with was divided between my older brother and younger sister. Each of them must have gotten an extra helping, leaving me with a barely palpable amount of animal tolerance. I’m the type who will wave at a dog — unlike my siblings, who will throw themselves on the floor in a puddle of baby-like cooing.

The minute we got near the horses, I vividly remembered just how much of a non-animal person I truly was. But I straddled the horse and proceeded to hold on for dear life. So there I was, in the middle of a white-knuckled-grip ride down a too steep, rain soaked trail, and not happy in the least. My boyfriend, on the other hand was grinning from ear to ear, bringing his horse to “say hello” to mine.

I decided to try to make the best of it. As we meandered down the trail, I started looking around and enjoying the fabulous scenery. The lush green hills dropping off to a sparkling sunlit ocean sent my photography senses tingling; only trouble was, I was afraid to let go and get my camera out of its very secure case. So I decided to just enjoy the scenery, as we slowly walked by.

Sounds good, right? The trouble was that my horse, Buster, had a slight eating disorder, and viewed the entire trail as a meandering all-you-can-eat salad bar. Every few steps Buster would stop, graze, I would pull up on the reigns (as my boyfriend kept telling me to do), give a little kick (as the guides told me to do) and urge the horse forward with some positive reinforcement.

“Come on horsey, you can eat lunch later!” When that didn’t work I tried, “Come on Buster,” pulling up on the reigns and giving a nudge, “Come on!”

Nothing worked. My horse was backing up the single-file line of riders, and I was getting frustrated.

Why did this have to happen to me? The first time I went horseback riding, my horse had a challenged sense of direction, and now I had the binge-eating horse?

My boyfriend’s horse was an egotistical stallion; he would trot up ahead of the group and then turn around and come close to me to say hello. Which of course made my horse tense up, and the two would start to bicker with one another.

“Our horses don’t like each other,” I told my boyfriend.

“They are just being friendly,” he insisted, coming a bit too close to my horse for comfort.

Friendly, he said. Sure, because friendly means trying to bite each other in the face. If that is friendly according to him, maybe I should start being concerned …

By the 50th time that I had to nudge my horse to keep moving, I began to wonder if Buster was an emotional eater. Was my white-knuckled grip making my horse nervous? Or was Buster reading me as a ‘sucker’ and taking advantage of my niceness. Hmmm …

After the two hours passed and we finally returned to the stables, I got off the horse and did a John Wayne-esque walk: knees burning, sweat dripping, hobbling back to our car. My boyfriend was nearly flying with excitement, and it was then that I realized it was all worth it.

Would I ride again? Not in the near future. But it was definitely something I could hazard doing again, just to see that look of pure joy on my boyfriend’s face. After all, I know he would do the same for me.

Caroline Cobrin is a freelance writer living in Van Nuys. She can be reached at carolinecolumns@hotmail.com.

Wine, Women, Song

As the daylight hours dwindle down to a precious few, and hurricanes, fires and floods give the distinct feeling that the world is indeed coming to an end, let’s turn our thoughts to two of the things that make so many Jews so happy: wine and Hawaii.

That’s where Judd and Holly Finkelstein come in. The Journal sat with the young couple over coffee at downtown’s Angelique Café, and tried to keep track of their interests and projects.

Judd’s parents, Art and Bunnie, have been making wine in Napa Valley for 25 years, first creating the Whitehall Lane label, then Judd’s Hill. After training as a journalist, that same Judd recognized maybe there’s a reason people dream of retiring to the place he grew up, and he moved back to join the family business.

The family has numerous ties to Los Angeles, and Judd met Holly, a former program officer for the Steven Spielberg Righteous Persons Foundation, on a 2003 visit here.

Now the two form the center of a Jewish-winemaking-experimental-entrepreneurial-Hawaiian music-making community in Napa.

Along with expanding and marketing the critically acclaimed Judd Hill line, the two are marketing Napa Valley Custom MicroCrush. Customers pay to make their own wines, selecting grapes and overseeing the process from picking to labeling.

“Crushing grapes is nasty, grungy work,” Judd said. “It’s barely pleasant.”

MicroCrush customers can have others do this part, but otherwise, for about $20 per bottle, make their oenophiliac dreams come true. The idea sounds prime for a nonprofit group to use as a fundraiser — anyone for a case of ’06 Jewish Family Service Pinot Noir?

When not promoting wine, Holly and Judd perform in a Hawaiian lounge band they created, The Maikai Gents, featuring the Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa. Holly, a trained hula dancer (a.k.a. Miss Mauna Loa), and Judd, an expert on the ukelele, perform at clubs, parties and the rare bar mitzvah in the wine country.

Their new CD, “Wiki Wiki Grog Shop,” will take you back — to somewhere between Kapalua and Trader Vics.

These days, that’s a good place to be.

For more information, visit www.juddshill.com.


The Circuit

It’s ‘Theo’ Time

The 80th birthday of actor, singer, Soviet Jewry champion and Yiddish language true believer Theodore Bikel was marked by more than 1,300 well-wishers with the June 6 concert, “Theo! The First 80 Years,” at Brentwood’s Wadsworth Theater.

The fluid 90-minute show was directed by Milken Community High School middle school drama director Rachel Leah Cohen, who expertly included collages of Bikel from his 2,000 stage performances as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” plus memorable film roles in, “My Fair Lady,” “The African Queen” and his Academy Award-nominated Southern sheriff performance in “The Defiant Ones.”

With actors Leonard Nimoy, Larry Miller and Mare Winningham, plus the Stephen S. Wise Temple’s elementary school chorus, the $50-$350 tickets filled the Wadsworth seats as “Theo!” raised funds for Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

The VIP tent reception attracted Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), concert sponsors Jona Goldrich and Trudy and Lou Kestenbaum, plus “Fiddler on the Roof” creator, Sholem Aleichem’s granddaughter, Bel Kaufman, who said the real-life shetl milkman who inspired Tevye “wasn’t at all like this handsome Theo.”

The evening had singing by Chicago cantor Alberto Mizrahi and folk legends The Limelighters and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary.

“Thank you, Theo, for turning 80, and keeping your hair,” the balding Yarrow said of the white-bearded, full-head-of-hair octogenarian.

At the show’s end, Bikel came onstage to thunderous applause. As for what he would want on his gravestone, Bikel said, “I’m not there yet. I’m 80 years and four weeks old. I don’t aim to be there for a long time. If there is anything to be written there, I would like it to be at least partly in Yiddish, because Yiddish is the language of my people.” — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Israel Bonds Aloha

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle was greeted with a flower lei, hula dancers, orchid centerpieces and Hawaiian print tablecloths as she walked into the Beverly Hills Four Seasons banquet room for the State of Israel Bonds Golda Meir Club’ s annual spring luncheon on May 13.

The Jewish Republican was in town for a weeklong visit of her old mainland stomping grounds, before embarking on her first trip to Israel, courtesy of the Israel consulate.

Honored alongside Lingle as a “Woman of Power” at the luncheon was Jean Friedman, founding president of the Zimmer Children’s Museum, founding vice president of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and vice president of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, which sponsors the Jewish Image Awards. Friedman’s passion for the arts and education — she helped husband Jerry found Shalhevet High School — has enabled her to develop inspirational programming.

“I wanted to create inventive programs … to connect people to their Jewish background,” Friedman said.

After accepting the Golda Meir Award, Lingle drew parallels between Israel and Hawaii — “both are isolated: one by water, the other by their neighbors” — and took the election year opportunity to stump for her GOP colleague, President Bush.

“We don’t agree on everything, but he stands behind Israel,” Lingle said.

Lingle was born in St. Louis and moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was 12, splitting time between Encino and Brentwood after her parents divorced. The Birmingham High grad went on to study journalism at CSUN and then moved to Hawaii, where she started her own newspaper, the Molokai Free Press. In her 2002 campaign for governor, she promised voters a “new beginning” for Hawaii by taking on government corruption and reforming education.

“Jewish groups across the country have adopted me and don’t care what my politics are,” said Lingle, who meets with her rabbi on Monday mornings and receives challah from a Chabad rabbi every Friday.

The governor initially registered as independent in 1976, but switched to the Republican Party in 1980 to run for a Maui County Council seat.

“We as Jews identify with the poor and underprivileged,” said Lingle, who is pro-choice and favors domestic partnership. “Republican rhetoric has not been inclusive of all people historically, but we need to look beyond the old labels.”

She isn’t thinking about a higher office yet, focusing instead on a run for a second term in 2006.

The annual event is the largest that Israel Bonds’ Women’s Division puts on.

Music for the luncheon, co-chaired by Beverly Cohen and Iris Rothstein, was provided by Temple Aliyah’s Cantor Mike Stein and his family band, The Rolling Steins.

Notables in attendance included Marjorie Pressman, founding chair of Friends of Sheba; Marilyn Ziering, philanthropist and University of Judaism board member; Jewish Federation President John Fishel; Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance Executive Director Carol Koransky; and Noreen Green, conductor and artistic director of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.

Also, Esther Netter, executive director of the Zimmer Children’s Museum; Barbara Yaroslavsky, former chair of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee; Meralee Goldman, former mayor of Beverly Hills; Janet Salter, former first lady of Beverly Hills; and Michele Kleinert, Jewish liaison to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Others were Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem and wife, Miri; Rabbi Marvin Heir, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rabbi Steven Weil of Beth Jacob Congregation; game show host Monty Hall; and fashion critic Mr. Blackwell.

“I wasn’t expecting Mr. Blackwell,” Lingle said. “I would have taken more care in what I wore.” — Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Enjoy Wedded Bliss in Lotus Position

Not every couple’s notion of the ideal honeymoon entails a hedonistic beach resort and lots of fruity drinks garnished with umbrellas. Some want to begin married life with yoga.

Some couples pursue tantric yoga, a form that includes a tranquil sexuality, in hopes of creating a powerful union of mind, body and spirit. The Institute for Ecstatic Living — (877) 982-6872; www.ecstaticliving.com — organizes tantric vacations to Costa Rica, Hawaii and cruise getaways.

If that sounds a bit too New Age, there are other benefits to learning yoga as a couple. First, one partner can help the other get into the asanas, or poses, sort of like using a spotter in weight lifting. Second, yoga helps with the pursuit of other sports and activities. Finally, it’s fun.

When planning a yoga honeymoon, consider how much yoga each of you is likely to want to practice. Most spa resorts include some yoga as part of their overall fitness program, while some retreats offer more intensive yoga instruction. Unless both of you are experienced yogis, you’ll likely want a getaway that combines quality yoga instruction with other activities. In many cases, a resort with a high-quality destination spa will keep both partners happy. Here are some getaways to get you started:

Pura Vida Spa — (888) 767-7375; www.puravidaspa.com — in Costa Rica has special yoga weeks with guest instructors throughout the year, including a tantric week for couples. You can book its "Mind/Body/Spirit Adventure Week" any time. It includes seven nights’ lodging, daily yoga classes, hiking and a rain-forest excursion from $1,100-$2,000 per person, double occupancy.

New Age Health Spa — (800) 682-4348; www.newagehealthspa.com — in New York’s Catskill Mountains has rates starting at $174 per person, per night, double occupancy, two-night minimum. That rate includes daily yoga classes. The spa also hosts weekend-long yoga programs for more intensive instruction.

In nearby Big Sur, Post Ranch Inn — (800) 527-2200; www.postranchinn.com — overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is decidedly deluxe. Accommodations start at $485 per night. Guests can join daily yoga classes in The Yurt, as well as sample tai chi and qigong. The inn is surrounded by scenic hiking trails.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa — (800) 422-2736; www.nemacolin.com — in Farmington, Pa., offers a "Couples Vacation." Accommodations range from lodge rooms to luxurious townhouse suites. Rates start at $185 per night.

Shambhala Spa at Parrot Cay — (877) 754-0726; www.parrot-cay.com — in Turks and Caicos, British West Indies, has special "Healing Weeks" scheduled throughout the year. Many feature guest yoga instructors. Prices vary, depending on the program, but one six-night yoga retreat is $4,610, double occupancy. That includes accommodations, three meals daily, five hours of yoga and meditation instruction each day, plus two hours of massage therapy during the week.

The new Mii amo Spa at Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Ariz. — (888) 749-2137; www.miiamo.com — is located right next to one of the seven "spiritual vortices" that make the area a mecca for New Age travelers. In addition to spa treatments, Mii amo hosts four-day yoga retreats that teach guests how to incorporate yoga into their daily lives. Four-night spa getaways start at $1,750.

Finally, one way to support Israel at this time is to honeymoon at a spa in the Jewish State, which offer yoga and exercise along with spa treatments. The Carmel Forest Spa Resort in the Carmel Mountains — www.inisrael.com/isrotel/hotels/carmel_forest_spa_resort — has Internet rates that range from $270 single on weekdays (Saturday to Wednesday) to $570 double on weekends for a deluxe suite.

Mizpe Hayamim, above the Sea of Galilee, offers a variety of treatments and massages. Internet rates at www.mizpe-hayamim.com — range from $179 single during the regular season (which is now) to $367 double for a two-person executive suite during the peak season, which includes the High Holidays and Passover.

Article courtesy Copley News Service.

Alison Ashton is a San Diego-based freelance travel and health writer.

The Soul of Maui

There’s a Hawaiian legend about a pregnant woman who developed a craving for the eyeballs of royalty. Advisers to the king took this to mean that the woman’s child would one day grow up to defeat the king and rule all the islands. The king decreed that the baby be killed as soon as it was born. So the woman had her newborn boy spirited away and hidden from the king.

The boy became King Kamehameha, who indeed conquered the islands of Hawaii.

I read this Moses-like story one night, sitting on the balcony of our room at the Maui Prince Hotel.

It was Aug. 20, 2003. The planet Mars was orbiting closer to earth than it had in almost 80 years. The red planet would have appeared as a fireball in a star-addled sky. The waves crashed close by, and the sounds of a Hawaiian guitar drifted up from a small wedding reception below. Beside me, The New York Times front page offered tragic news from Israel — more suicide bombings — but at that moment Mars felt closer than the Middle East.

It was strange to be in a place of such magnificent tranquillity at a time of such unease, but that’s the point of vacations. And what we found in Maui and Molokai during our 10 days there last summer were places that not only helped us relax, but also replenished our souls.

We were in south Maui, staying at the Maui Prince Hotel — which hosted our visit — in Makena. The row of luxury hotels that begins in Kaanapali and continues through Wailea is a familiar litany to the Maui-bound. The Westin, Alii, Marriot, Hyatt, Grand Wailea, Four Seasons and Kea Lani: plenty of Angelenos can reel their names off with greater ease than the seven Hawaiian islands themselves.

But those developments, with their theme park-worthy pools, happening boardwalks and busy beaches, come to an abrupt end in Makena. The Maui Prince is the last development before the undeveloped coast that includes Big Beach, Little Beach and the black sands of Oneuli Beach. It is all strikingly beautiful, and even more so because comparatively few tourists make it this far south.

The Prince is part of a chain of Japanese-owned luxury hotels and in both its beauty and quirkiness it echoes its roots. A huge koi pond — the largest on the island — winds its way through the hotel property surrounded by lush native plants and Zen-like raked pebble gardens. Part of the massive garden forms the center of the 310-room hotel. The hotel hallways remain open to the atrium on one side, while the rooms face the sea or the mountains on the other.

Best of all is the wide crescent beach that even in high season is relatively deserted. Here, sea life doesn’t mean your neighbors from Tarzana fighting for cabana space, but a pair of sea turtles that loll around a nest of rocks, wading distance from shore. The Prince’s own bit of cove has a gently sloping sandy bottom edged by lava rock and rimmed further by beautiful coral outcroppings. Tourists from other hotels pay good money to take "adventure snorkeling trips" that moor about 100 yards off the Prince’s beach.

There is cable TV — the suites have two of them — but it wasn’t on my diet. There is The New York Times, but it arrives a day late. There is Internet service and probably talk radio, but no Larry Mantle or Warren Olney, so why bother? I did marvel at The Maui News, whose cover photo on Aug. 21 — this is the day after a bomb in Iraq killed 17 and a suicide bomber in Jerusalem killed 20 — featured a photo of a Los Gatos man who, while visiting Wailea, constructed an especially large sand castle.

Strange, yes, but that’s the point of Maui. You go there to replenish what the mainland and the media suck out of you. If you’re Jewish, you can even do so in a minyan. We had been to Maui once before and knew that it was no problem to suss out the island’s 2,500 or so Jews. You could raise a minyan at the hotels in Wailea in minutes. The nondenominational Jewish Congregation of Maui, headed by Los Angeles-born Rabbi David Glickman, now has a religious school. Both the Safeway and the Star Market in Kihei carry a shelf of kosher food and a selection of frozen kosher meat.

The island’s Jews turn up in some unexpected places. On a visit upcountry to what is probably Maui’s best restaurant, The Hali’imaile General Store, I discovered that founder/chef Beverly Gannon is from a large Jewish family in Dallas. Which explains the warmth and vitality of her restaurant.

"That’s the way I was raised," she said. "In the Jewish tradition of ‘eat, eat, eat.’"

But spiritual uplift is not just a Jewish thing on Maui: it’s an island thing. Following the road up from Hali’imaile, we explored Haleakala National Park, site of an active volcano of the same name. The road ascends through heavy clouds. Along the way we spotted the rare nene, placid descendants of Canadian geese that got waylaid, then evolved and adapted to life at 11,000 feet. The tropical weather turns cold and windy near the top, but the terrain of barren, wind-swept lava is overpowering, inspiring.

The next day, more of the same sense of wonder struck us at the Hawaii Nature Center in the Iao Valley. Where Kamehameha’s soldiers fought the forces of the king of Maui until a river of blood roared through the peaceful valley (more biblical Hawaiian legends), we wandered down a trail lined with guava, banana, wild ginger, Indian almonds, mango. A river of pure water did roar beside us, and thick greenery blanketing the skyward spirals rising from the valley floor. It was an escape to Eden.

After Maui, we followed Eden to Molokai. If Maui is relaxing, then Molokai, the island northwest of it, is another order of tranquillity. There are no traffic lights on the entire 38-mile island. The downside is an island with some serious development issues.

"Why are we rebuilding Iraq?" my son asked as we drove down the slightly dilapidated main street of Molokai’s main town, Kaunakakai, "We should be rebuilding Molokai."

But a strong local pride infuses the island, whose roadside is dotted with handmade signs — "No Cruise Ships" — proclaiming the population’s intention to prevent the Waikiki-ization of Molokai.

The result is a population of 7,000 people who are struggling economically (many are on government assistance and hunt and fish for their sustenance) but who are stewards to an environment that recalls Hawaii of a century ago.

Back then, and for much of antiquity, Molokai was considered an island possessed of spiritual power. Only 4,000 residents inhabit the island, including the largest percentage of native Hawaiians in the state. There are dense rain forests, the tallest cliffs in the world (the opening scenes of Jurassic Park were shot here), deep pine forests, miles of ranch and farm land and a remarkable lack of tourism and industry. The island is famous for its colony devoted to people afflicted with Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, but the area made famous by the Rev. Damien is open only by arranged tours. Medication has all but eradicated the disease, and the remaining elderly residents prefer to guard their privacy.

There are tours to be had on Molokai — a coffee plantation, rain forests that are mostly on private land, snorkeling — but the island is also a wonderful place to contemplate natural Hawaii. The Sheraton Lodge has private canvas-sided luxury bungalows right on the beach, which we shared with a pair of monk seals for the duration of our stay (the beach, not the bungalow). The lodge has sweeping views of ranchland, a pool a dude-ranch-with-mai-tais atmosphere and activities like hiking, horseback riding and skeet shooting. The air is pure, the stars dense and bright, the waters blue and warm and filled with colorful fish.

When it was time to leave Maui and Molokai for the all-too-real world, the beauty had worked its magic. We were relaxed and replenished. That was in August. It’s November now, and I’m ready to go back.

FYI: Maui/Molokai

Jewish Congregation of Maui Beit Shalom Synagogue
634 Alulike St.
Kihei, HI 96753
(808) 874-5397

The Suzi and Mitch Katz Jewish Library of Maui, Inc.
1325 Lower Main St.
Suite 103
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 244-3700

Haleakala National Park
Makawao, HI
(808) 572-4400

Hali’imaile General Store
900 Hali’imaile Road
Makawao, HI 96768
(808) 572-2666

Iao Valley Hawaii Nature Center
875 Iao Valley Road
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 244-6500

Maui Visitors Bureau
1727 Wili Pa Loop
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 244-3530

Maui Prince Hotel
5400 Makena Alanui
Makena, HI 96753
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For the Kids

The Good and the Bad

This year, the 17th of Tammuz coincidentally falls on the 17th of July. The 17th of Tammuz (the 10th Jewish month) is a fast day — no eating, no drinking. Why? Because on this day, a few thousand years ago, the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem. Three weeks later, the Temple was destroyed.

The rabbis tell us something a bit curious about this day: it is associated with the word tov (good).

Here is a hint: It has to do with the gematria (numerical value) of the word (Remember: alef = 1, bet/vet = 2, gimel = 3, etc.). The rabbis say that what looks bad now can always be turned to good.

Shakespeare Festival/LA

Pershing Square (downtown Los Angeles) and South Coast Botanical Gardens (Palos Verdes).

July 15-20 and 22-26, downtown Los Angeles; July 31, Aug. 1-3 and 6-10, Palos Verdes . Featuring Shakespeare’s "The Merry Wives of Windsor." And if you bring canned food for the Food for Thought Project, you get free admission.

(213) 481-2273, www.shakespearefestivalla.org

Ho’olaule’a 2003

Alondra Park (adjacent to El Camino Community College). July 19-20. All-day entertainment by performing groups representing Hawaii’s multicultural heritage. Enjoy highly diverse food that represents Hawaii and its people. A two-day event filled with Polynesian arts, crafts, music, dance and fun. (949) 458-0933, www.hiccsc.org.

Aloha, B’nai Mitzvah

Minnie Marvit stepped up to the bimah in Hawaii to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah. This "girl," however, was a 92-year-old bubbe. "I wanted to do this for some time, but I waited until I moved to Hawaii," she said. "I feel so at home here."

Marvit is a member of Congregation Sof Ma’Arav ("The End of the West") in Honolulu, a Conservative synagogue that prides itself on educating "children" and preparing them for b’nai mitzvah.

Even in Hawaii, the westernmost part of the United States, Jewish congregations are faced with the same concerns as around the states: How to educate children and prepare them for b’nai mitzvah.

Ken Aronowitz, a Jewish educator and cantorial soloist, has worked with many b’nai mitzvah students at Sof Ma’Arav and its next-door neighbor, Reform Temple Emanu-El, the largest congregation in the islands. But the time he spent tutoring Marvit during the four months preceding her bat mitzvah was special. "Some of my other students have become a bar or bat mitzvah because their parents wanted them to," he said. "But Mrs. Marvit did it for herself. She worked very hard and overcame obstacles. And she did a great job!"

The obstacles faced by Marvit, a former Floridian and native New Englander, included reading from the Torah, because of her aging eyes, and learning the liturgical lilt, because of her hearing impairment. She also faced the task of writing and delivering the drash, a commentary on the Torah portion; hers was about Joseph’s time in jail.

"I started a trend," said Marvit, noting that other seniors signed up for bat mitzvah lessons. A succeeding bat mitzvah was scheduled for the same month Marvit planned to return to the bimah for an encore presentation of her parsha on the Shabbat anniversary of her bat mitzvah — one year later.

B’nai mitzvah also are celebrated at Congregation Kona Beth Shalom on the western edge of the Big Island, Beit Shalom Synagogue on Maui, the Aloha Jewish Chapel on the military base at Pearl Harbor and even on the lava field of a volcano. High heels are not recommended footwear for the sloped site.

Rabbi Rita Leonard is the spiritual leader who lives — literally — on the lava, and delivers sermons within striking distance of Kilauea, the active volcano of Mauna Loa. She reaches out to interfaith couples and unaffiliated families in an effort to bring spirituality and the joy of Judaism to all.

Leonard, an accomplished composer of Jewish music, is head of the East Hawaii Havurah in Hilo. Since informality rules in laid-back Hawaii, she teaches her b’nai mitzvah students at her kitchen table near a window with a view of another volcano, Mauna Kea.

"These kids don’t have bubbes and zaydes around to transmit the ta’am [flavor] of the immigrant generation," Leonard explained. "The goal is truly that they feel good about their Jewishness and feel liberated by their inheritance, not oppressed by it."

B’nai mitzvah ceremonies in Hawaii have a much sportier look than those held on the mainland. An aloha shirt and a pair of pants is the uniform of the boy on his big day. A muumuu is often worn by the girl on hers. In Hawaii, casual Friday is followed by casual Shabbat.

At the end of most b’nai mitzvah services, the celebrant is wished "mazel tov" while a lei is placed around his or her neck. The religious ritual is followed by anything from a basic oneg Shabbat to a complete "Kiddush" feast. And the festivities can continue with a catered reception at another venue, often on the beach.

Though some families book a DJ and have the usual, all-American post-pulpit party, others add a little island culture to the Jewish event: They hire a hula group to perform to the accompaniment of a slack key guitar.

According to some sources, 5,000 Jews live in Hawaii. Other estimates range as high as 15,000. Jewish life in Hawaii is not exactly a microcosm of the mainland, the term islanders use for the continental part of the United States. Unlike most American metropolitan areas, Honolulu, Hilo and other coastal communities can’t boast an abundance of synagogues. A handful of formal congregations and casual havurot are sprinkled throughout the more populous islands — Oahu, Hawaii (the Big Island) and Maui — and about half of these are led by lay people.

It’s hard to pinpoint when the first Jews journeyed to the Sandwich Islands, the former name of our 50th state. There are some scant records of a few 19th-century British and German traders and California adventurers who settled there. Even early 20th-century arrivals were rare. After the long voyage from Europe, most were happy to go ashore in New York and stay put. They had no desire to set sail again, even for paradise.

For those who now call Hawaii home, Jewish life can be rich and rewarding. But if they’re strictly kosher, it’s still not quite frum-friendly. After all, it’s the land of luaus — roast pig in a pit — not chopped liver on rye. However, Chabad Lubavitch established a presence in Honolulu in the 1980s and has made being observant on Oahu a little easier.

Chabad Rabbi Yitzchok "Itchel" Krasnjansky and his wife, Pearl, invite all members of the local Jewish community to participate in prayer, study, celebration and ceremony. And they schedule Shabbat dinners and holiday happenings like latke luncheons and Passover seders. The rabbi and rebbetzin try to bring traditional teaching and pious practice to this relatively remote location, and they have enabled many bar and bat mitzvah students to learn in an Orthodox setting, something that until recently was impossible.

In an Eden-like paradise, Hawaii’s Jewish communities are alive and flourishing. They wish you shalom and aloha — shaloha — their special greeting that says it all.