Tree felled by Sandy kills Jewish teacher, college student

Two young Jews were killed in Brooklyn by a falling tree during superstorm Sandy.

The pair were out walking a dog Monday night in the storm's high winds.

The dead were identified by The New York Observer as Jessie Streich-Kest, 24, who worked as a high school teacher in the city, and Jacob Vogelman, a student at Brooklyn College. The two had been friends since middle school, according to the Observer.

They were discovered dead Monday, crushed by the fallen tree. The dog was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic.

At least 45 people in the United States and 68 outside of the U.S. have been killed in the one-of-a-kind storm, and more than 7 million people in 13 states were without power.

Meanwhile, Jewish institutions on the East Coast began to open up again. The UJA-Federation of New York announced on its website that its offices in Manhattan and Westchester would reopen, though its Long Island office would remain closed.

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey were scheduled to reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday with limited service, though New York's LaGuardia Airport remained closed.

Thousands of Israeli airline passengers and Americans in Israel trying to return home had their flights to the U.S. canceled on Monday and Tuesday. Israelis trying to get home also remained stranded in New York, New Jersey and the D.C. area. In all  more than 14,000 flights reportedly were canceled due to Sandy.

The greater New York area, home to the largest population of Jews in North America, was hit hard as severe winds and flooding toppled trees, knocked out electricity and flooded public transportation systems.

Jewish institutions throughout the eastern U.S. remained closed Tuesday.

Destroyed New Orleans synagogue to break ground

A New Orleans synagogue destroyed by Hurricane Katrina will break ground on a new building.

Congregation Beth Israel, a century-old congregation destroyed by the 2005 storm, will mark the occasion on Sunday at a new location five miles from its former home.

“Since Katrina, our job has been to rebuild a sense of community within our congregation,” said Rabbi Uri Topolosky in a news release. “Now we have to build a building and give our family a home.”

Beth Israel’s old building absorbed ten feet of water during the 2005 hurricane which destroyed vast swaths of New Orleans. Its contents, including thousands of prayer books and seven Torah scrolls, were also lost.

The land for the new synagogue was purchased from a nearby Reform congregation, Gates of Prayer.

Realities of poverty and devastation in the Katrina-affected Gulf are still unchanged

It’s a long way from the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills to the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Plaquemines Parish, La., and the divide is more than geographic.

Having participated in the Milken Conference in April and traveled to Plaquemines two weeks later, I was struck by the chasm between the viewpoints expressed in these two locales, a divide that I believe underscores one of the most significant challenges to full and meaningful recovery for the Gulf region.

While businesspeople and politicians tout the resurrection of tourism, as well as the strong Gulf business climate and plans for cutting-edge educational reform, families like those who worship at the Mount Olive Baptist Church confront a stunning failure to rebuild the low-income residential communities wiped out by the storms.

The utter devastation that still exists in the low-income neighborhoods of New Orleans and the surrounding rural areas stands in marked contrast to the revitalization discussed in boardrooms: In these poor areas it looks as if the storms just hit, and the vast majority of the families who lived in them are no closer to coming home than they were immediately following the disaster. The policy leaders paint an optimistic picture.

It was tempting to leave the late-April Milken Conference panel on “Rebuilding After Katrina” with a genuine sense of encouragement. In the midst of this conference of Nobel laureates, business titans and national political figures, the loftiness of the credentials of this panel were rivaled only by that of their optimism about the future of the Gulf region.

Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University, described New Orleans’ schools as being in the midst of the most significant and exciting educational transformation in the United States. Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Mitch Landrieu, Louisiana lieutenant governor, agreed that nearly 90 percent of the businesses in the region are doing the same or better than before the storms. And everyone was excited about a plan to turn the New Orleans’ waterfront into a modern, world-class center of culture and commerce.

Yet, alarmingly, the rebuilding of residential communities in the Gulf region seemed to be entirely off their radar screens. When repeatedly questioned about this, they did not identify any plan for repairing or replacing housing and could not describe any progress to date. Eventually, they mustered a vague response calling for a new federal “Marshall Plan” for the Gulf, Plaquemines Parish and New Orleans’ “Lower Nine.”

Beginning in September 2005, Bet Tzedek Legal Services helped spearhead a major initiative to assist evacuees from the Gulf region. More than 2,500 families came to Southern California after the storms, yet many seemed to leave as quickly as they arrived, often without any forwarding address or phone number.

As we read reports of local government permitting people to return to previously sealed areas, we assumed that many of the families we helped had gone home.

In fact, the stark reality is that less than half of New Orleans’ low-income families and fewer than 25 percent of rural Louisianans are back in their homes.

People like Mt. Olive Pastor Ted Turner (not to be confused with media mogul Ted Turner who spoke at the Milken Conference) are still waiting in cramped FEMA trailers or with extended family and friends miles away from their homes and communities. Many homes remain uninhabitable but undemolished, while others like Turner’s have nothing left but the foundation.

Two weeks after the Milken Conference, I traveled with Reboot and Jewish Funds for Justice to Louisiana. We started the trip in Plaquemines Parish, the southernmost tip of Louisiana, a peninsula barely a mile wide between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

We stayed for two nights with Turner at his church and strapped on safety glasses and masks to help rebuild a congregant’s house. We toured neighborhoods utterly leveled by the storms and saw schools and supermarkets whose frames remained standing but whose interiors were torn to shreds. We saw giant shrimp boats sitting on top of each other on dry land hundreds of yards from their moorings.

It was a very different picture than the one described by the panel at the Milken Conference.

Turner told us that the parish is a wonderful place to live. His great-grandfather was a slave in Plaquemines, and he himself was born there.

It’s a place where people stop their cars to say “hi,” with an active oil refinery that still employs many parish residents. Turner had managed to rebuild his church, but, like many others we met, his insurance has refused to pay to rebuild his home, and he is faced with the threat of foreclosure. We couldn’t help but note that the lender would be foreclosing on a slab of concrete where the pastor’s family home once stood.

We also traveled to the Lower Nine, where the devastation was similarly vast.

On blocks that were not wiped entirely clean, crumbling houses leaned against each other and awaited demolition. Aside from the 10 or so new, pastel-colored homes in Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village, it seemed like nothing had happened since the storm, aside from the partial removal of the debris that once coated the streets, sidewalks and roofs.

In Plaquemines, the failure to rebuild could be based on benign neglect; worse still, in the Lower Nine, the lack of restoration seems to have been by design: Until late March, just a month before our visit, the recovery manager of New Orleans had slated this historically residential area to be returned to wetlands. Only after significant pressure from community organizers and residents did he announce his intention to rebuild this area. The plan has not yet been specified.

Where is the leadership?

Rebuilding New Orleans — With A Little Help From Each Other

One year after “the storm,” as New Orleanians refer to Hurricane Katrina, Jewish communal leaders describe the health of the community with certain expected terms — loss, trauma, devastation and challenge.

Unexpected is the word “blessed,” used repeatedly in reference to the outpouring from the American Jewish community of financial support, volunteerism and donations of everything from teddy bears to challah covers.

Funds from the United Jewish Communities (UJC), the umbrella of the North American federation system, and the national religious movements have kept New Orleans’ Jewish agencies and synagogues afloat this past year and are expected to do so through 2007.

To date, the UJC has contributed more than $17 million to the rebuilding efforts; the Reform movement has contributed some $800,000 to local Reform congregations, with another $800,000 available for recovery efforts not covered by insurance. Other movements have sent funds as well, although exact figures were not available.

What will happen in 2008 and beyond is the worry that both drives many planning meetings during the day and keeps communal leaders up at night.

“Fortunately, the Jewish community has not had to depend on the help of government, given its failure at all levels,” said Allan Bissinger, president of the New Orleans federation. “UJC has taken the place of what the government should normally have done.”

Roselle Ungar, interim executive director of the federation, said, “What UJC and the many generous contributions from individuals across the country have given us is the opportunity to take a deep breath, step back and take the time to make the hard decisions that will be necessary, so that in 2008 we can stand on our own two feet again.”

A community-wide task force is in the beginning stages of implementing a recovery plan. The plan focuses on such issues as how to retain current residents while encouraging new ones to resettle in New Orleans. It also is determining how the organized Jewish community can work smarter to make the best use of limited dollars.

One of the positive outgrowths of the storm has been the burgeoning spirit of cooperation among all the New Orleans Jewish institutions. Beth Israel Congregation, the Orthodox synagogue that took on 10 feet of water, is now holding a Shabbat minyan at the Reform Gates of Prayer Congregation.

The Anti-Defamation League is sharing federation office space. Interagency programs are on the upswing, and a Hebrew free-loan program is in the works. The JCC is getting needed revenue by renting out its facilities to community groups.

Tackling the population issue will not be as easy. Current estimates are that the Jewish community will stabilize at about 65 percent its pre-storm strength of about 10,000 individuals.

Although there are no hard and fast data about the population exodus, the increasing number of “For sale” signs attests to residents’ continued impatience with the slow pace of recovery, frustration with the government and concern about the rising crime rate. And it would be difficult to exaggerate the impact another hurricane would have on people’s decisions to move.

Although all age groups have joined this exodus, one particular cohort — those in their 60s and 70s with grown children in other communities — has been leaving in large numbers.

Communal officials count the loss of these individuals particularly troublesome because these are the big machers — those with the money and the time to make significant contributions. Every institution has lost some of its biggest donors and officers.

At the same time, each of the five synagogues surveyed has reported new members, mostly young people drawn by the pioneer spirit of rebuilding and the opportunity to make a difference.

Indeed, despite the loss of members, synagogue attendance seems to have remained stable. As Rabbi Andrew Busch of the Reform congregation, Touro Synagogue, put it, “In their new lives after the storm, people have a greater need to come together in the synagogue.”

Rabbi Ted Lichtenfeld of Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation agreed.
“Though I have not had people battering down my door for pastoral counseling, in a sense, the storm underlines everything,” he said. “Fortunately, very few of my congregants lost family members to the storm, but most are rebuilding their homes and almost everyone’s job was affected in one way or the other. That is taking up so much of their energy. They come to synagogue to be in community.”

Undaunted by the storm, Chabad-Lubavitch of Louisiana has committed to build a new student center at Tulane University; the cornerstone ceremony is scheduled to be held Aug. 27, two days before the storm’s anniversary.

The New Orleans Jewish Day School, a community school supported by the federation, has been hit hard by the population exodus. From a pre-storm enrollment of nearly 90 children in kindergarten through eighth grade, it will begin the coming school year with 23 children in just two classes: a combined kindergarten-first grade and a second-third grade class. This precipitous decrease comes despite a halving of tuition, made possible by outside contributions.

Because the local Jewish Family Service (JFS) helps individuals cope with the challenges in their lives by providing counseling and financial support, it has been a lead agency in the post-storm year.

And it has transformed its way of doing business.

Although it had always provided small grants of $500 to $1,000 to individuals in need, that activity increased exponentially over the past year, when it distributed $900,000 in UJC funds directly to individuals affected by the storm, according to agency officials.

By requiring individuals to come to the JFS office to pick up their checks, JFS staff had the opportunity to see how recipients were doing, to hear their concerns and to offer help that went beyond the financial.

Anne Freedman, associate director of JFS, said of its clients: “All that some people needed was the chance to cry and tell their story to the staff, people who really understood them because they had gone through the same thing.”

“Many people were so used to giving to others that they were embarrassed about accepting aid,” she said. “I would tell them that the sooner they were made whole, the sooner they could be back to their traditional role of helping others.”

The traditional counseling role of JFS has changed as well. With many families now living with several generations while their homes are being repaired, more clients are coming in for family counseling. In Baton Rouge, which received many older evacuees, JFS plans social events that bring isolated older adults together; the JCC in New Orleans puts on similar activities.

The agency’s suicide prevention and education program, Teen Life Counts, is needed more than ever. One volunteer reported that pre-Katrina, when she would ask high-schoolers what they thought of teens who committed suicide, they would characterize them as selfish and foolish. This past year, the responses were much more sympathetic. She heard students say, for example, that peers who committed suicide “must be real sad because their parents were crying all the time.”

Yet, even against the backdrop of government incompetence and uncertain levees, many residents are buoyed by optimism.

On a recent Sunday, community members gathered in the afternoon for a chanukat habayit, a home dedication ceremony in which a mezuzah is hung, for Georgette Somjen, a physician moving to town. Later, a brit milah was celebrated for the son of Gary and Susan Lazarus, who are committed to remaining in New Orleans.

Dan Alexander, a fourth-generation New Orleanian, and his wife, Lazelle, also a native, attended both celebrations.

Katrina destroyed their home and surrounding neighborhood, where they had lived for 43 years. The house was bulldozed a few weeks ago.

An 81-year-old retired public schoolteacher, Dan Alexander, said, “When you lose your home, it is like losing a relative.”

Buying and moving into a new house was “the farthest thing from my mind,” he said. “But what’s the alternative? You have to move on and establish a whole new type of existence.”

Declaring that he and his wife are satisfied in their new home, he added: “I couldn’t have made these changes without the support of Lazelle and my family and the community. We just have to be strong and work together as a team.”

Building Homes, Building Hope

The prophet Isaiah asks: “What is the house which you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest?” (Isaiah 66:1). In the days following the Easter and Passover holidays, 41 Angelenos traveled to the Gulf Coast to translate their faith into action. We were rabbis and pastors, African Americans and Jewish Americans, high school seniors and senior adults, synagogue and church members from 12 Los Angeles congregations who rebuilt homes in Gulfport, Miss.

We spent our days building and rebuilding roofs — separated into teams of eager “rookie roofers” under the patient supervision of AmeriCorps volunteers. In short order we were on the rooftop tearing off old shingles and tar paper, and replacing them with new materials. The work was hard, the heat and humidity intense. Few of us had prior construction experience, and many of us had never even been on the roofs of our own homes. But we were determined to finish “our roofs” before we left Gulfport. By week’s end, our volunteers had built six new roofs valued at $30,000 for uninsured or underinsured homeowners in the region.

The individuals and families we helped shared their moving stories of struggle and survival during and after Katrina. “Bob” described his 12-hour ordeal as the hurricane battered his house, and vowed never again to ignore evacuation orders. He lost his job at a federal facility that was destroyed in the hurricane and has no other job prospects. Bob lives day by day as he contemplates an uncertain future.

“Cheryl” is a single mom who has a job but lacks the funds to fix her leaky roof. The night before our site visit, a powerful thunderstorm blew through Gulfport and water crashed through the ceiling of Cheryl’s modest home. Our crew rebuilt her roof in one day, preventing further damage to the interior of the house. However, it will take years to heal the psychological and emotional scars borne by Cheryl and her family.

Everywhere we traveled along the coast, we witnessed heartbreaking scenes of devastation. We passed gutted churches that are now mere shells of formerly majestic houses of worship; twisted and dangling signs identifying businesses that are heaps of rubble; ruins of mansions and homes that are reminiscent of a war zone; front yards adorned with trailers whose occupants worry about how they will survive the next storm.

Through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the people of the Gulf Coast have met with tragic circumstances. The storm robbed them of homes and livelihoods, battered their dignity and in many cases left them for dead. The people we met have lost faith in FEMA, their insurance companies, their government, and so many others who have let them down over and over again. But the Jewish and African Methodist Episcopal Church communities of Los Angeles — two diverse groups working together — had compassion on the people of Gulfport and worked together to make a difference.

By repairing roofs, we helped to bandage their stricken community. Beyond the financial contributions our groups have previously made to the relief effort, by shouldering our neighbors’ burdens, we offered something equally as important: hope. That hope was seen in the eyes of the homeowners that we served and felt through the prayers and tears they offered as thanks for our assistance.

This journey was a lesson in faith and partnership. Our partners in Mississippi included the amazing young men and women of AmeriCorps, who devote one to two years of their lives in volunteer service for their fellow Americans. Our hosts were the staff and congregants of Westminster Presbyterian Church, which has transformed itself into a 24/7 center for volunteer relief groups. One of the church elders told us that he is especially pleased to welcome Jewish groups to the church, since he is a leader in ongoing efforts to overturn the divestment resolutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

This mission was a lesson in spirit and fellowship. The region’s sole Jewish congregation and B’nai B’rith chapter warmly welcomed us to their annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) commemoration, held in a Methodist church while the synagogue awaits repair. As the multifaith, multiracial congregation read the names of Holocaust victims, we prayed that we honor their memories by building bonds of faith and friendship between Los Angeles and the Gulf Coast.

We also built strong and sure bonds within our L.A. delegation — between African Americans and Jewish Americans; between Jews and Christians and their congregations; among Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Jews and their synagogues. Too often it takes a crisis or disaster for people of diverse races, religions and cultures to draw closer to God and to one another. Sometimes it takes a trip away from home to remind neighbors to celebrate their differences and their shared destiny as God’s children.

We returned home with a pledge to work together to meet the needs of our community in Los Angeles, even as we remember the needs of the Gulf Coast. The lives and struggles of the people we met are daily reminders of the sacred mandate to rebuild our broken world. We will not rest until the community has healed.

On June 4, the first Sunday of the 2006 hurricane season, churches and synagogues throughout Louisiana and in all cities with major concentrations of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita evacuees will join together in remembrance of those who were lost and to raise awareness of those still missing from the storms. For more information, e-mail

The Rev. Kevin Taylor is associate minister of Grant AME Church in Los Angeles. Rabbi Mark S. Diamond is executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. The Mississippi trip was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, The Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee and the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Ministerial Association.


The Road to Mississippi

Driving through the deserted streets of New Orleans, we peered through the windows of our charter bus and watched as we drove past miles of destroyed homes. As we approached our destination, Waveland, Miss., the houses became increasingly tattered and decayed; on some lots, only kitchen floors remained. As we approached the shore and our worksite came into view, the entire bus was silenced by the broad stretches of land where only the scattered debris of homes remained.

We were 100 sophomores and juniors from Milken Community High School who traveled to the Gulf Coast April 2-6 to help rebuild areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We were sponsored by Milken’s Yozma (initiative) Leadership for Social Action program, which, every year, arranges a project to assist those in need.

Stepping off the bus in Waveland, we were handed shovels and gloves by volunteers for the Gulf Side Assembly of the United Methodist Church. For the next six hours, we submerged ourselves in strenuous physical labor, leaving our sheltered-life inhibitions on the air-conditioned bus. While clearing the site of destruction, we came across pieces of lives left behind. Our eyes lingered on purple Mardi Gras beads crusted with dirt, and dresses hanging on tree limbs. Instead of buildings there were scattered tiles, buried wires and remains of refrigerators and toilet seats.

Cleaning the site at Waveland was our first encounter with the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. In the next few days, we also were exposed to the aftermath of the hurricane in the small cities of Natchez and Utica in Mississippi. In those places, we undertook social action projects to support the Jewish and secular local communities both emotionally and financially.

Some in our group began by going to the local Wal-Mart and filling shopping carts with items requested by a shelter, while keeping within a $45 budget. The money we were spending was taken from the $15,000 Milken students had raised to help the citizens of Natchez, which we had adopted as our sister city.

In our short visit to Wal-Mart, we witnessed a culture drastically unlike our own. Many of the residents were poverty stricken, and we were surprised by their habit of counting every last penny of change. They in turn were surprised by our willingness to contribute our own time and money to help people whom we have never met.

Wal-Mart was not the last place we encountered poverty. On another day, we traveled to residential areas where we worked alongside volunteers of Habitat for Humanity to rebuild damaged homes. Families of at least five lived in houses that resembled shacks. The news became reality; we were finally seeing the destruction we were never able to picture.

Although residents of Natchez were affected by devastation and lack of supplies, they succeeded in maintaining faith and spirit. On a Tuesday night, we joined the AME Zion Chapel for a gospel service. We sang along with the gospel choir with the sense that religion and race were unimportant. We were unified by our past experiences of slavery and struggle. Seeing the grateful congregation inspired us to appreciate our own lives and to hope that soon, all of those affected by the hurricane would recover and restore their rich culture.

We have been repeatedly asked, “Why are you going all the way to Mississippi? If you want to help, why don’t you just donate money?”

The answer lies in the power of human connection. Our mere presence in Mississippi gave hope to the community there, which has been ignored by the media and fellow Americans. Money could never replace the relationship formed between Milken and the Natchez community. Not only did we each learn about Southern culture and get to know people there, but we discovered that we have the ability to overcome personal limits and fears. The trip to Mississippi opened our eyes to a culture unlike our own and pushed us out of our comfort zones. In the process we built a friendship with the grateful people of Natchez. It is an experience that will forever stay with us.

Sophia Kamran and Eve Arbel are 10th graders at Milken Community High School.

Speak Up!

Tribe, a page by and for teens, appears the first issue of every month in The Jewish Journal. Ninth- to 12th-graders are invited to submit first-person columns, feature articles or news stories of up to 800 words. Deadline for the June issue is May 15; Deadline for the July issue is June 15. Send submissions to


Class Notes – Hurricane Heroes

Sarah Rose Isenberg had a sure-fire marketing plan and a product no one could object to. So the fact that she took in hundreds of dollars in a few hours wouldn’t be surprising — if she weren’t 7 years old.

In the days before her lemonade sale to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina, Isenberg went door to door in her Sherman Oaks neighborhood delivering hand-written letters inviting her neighbors to support those who lost their homes. On the letter she drew a picture of a hurricane.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, one neighbor who came with a $100 contribution said she’d put the letter up on the fridge. Another elderly woman came not only to drink lemonade, but to deliver a donation from another neighbor, who was too frail to come herself.

Isenberg donated her $609.97 to The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles’ hurricane relief fund.

Such kid-driven efforts have brought tears of pride to parents, educators and tzedakah recipients since Katrina struck.

At Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, kids filled 150 backpacks with new school supplies — and a small toy or candy — for children who had to settle in to new schools at a moment’s notice.

Kids at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles packed and sent 100 backpacks, while also donating 27 teddy bears they crafted at Build-a-Bear’s Westside Pavilion store, which discounted the donated bears. A schoolwide project at Pressman involved assembling and packing personal toiletry kits — a Ziploc bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and deodorant — to be sent to shelters.

Families absorbed locally at the Dream Center in Echo Park received welcome cards from students at Valley Beth Shalom day school. The student council also organized a walk-a-thon that raised $7,500 for Katrina victims.

Students at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy have collected more than $5,000 for a Katrina relief fund, through a student council cookie sale in the carpool line, weekend lemonade stands and donated proceeds from bar and bat mitzvah gifts.

As for Isenberg, she proved to have a knack for courteous follow-through as well as fundraising. Within a week, she’d delivered hand-written thank you notes to all her customers.

Early Childhood at Kadima

With their new, permanent facility now in operation for a year, Kadima Hebrew Academy in Woodland Hills initiated an early childhood program this fall. The new Early Childhood Center (ECC) serves children ages 2 and older. Previously, the school offered only a Pre-K class for 4-year-olds.

“This space enabled us to fulfill a vision we had all along of nurturing our future students and their families,” said Dr. Barbara Gereboff, head of school. “Research shows the importance of early-childhood education as pivotal to helping children.”

The center, which can accommodate 52 children, is fully enrolled.

The ECC facilities include an outdoor area where children can ride bikes, play on a jungle gym, plant in the garden or paint on easels.

“Kids learn all over,” said Hanna Livni, early childhood director, who described the space as an “outdoor classroom.” Inside, the rooms are filled with new furniture , toys and school supplies.

For more information, visit or call (818) 346-0849. — Nancy Sokoler Steiner, Contributing Writer

You can reach Julie Gruenbaum Fax at or (213) 368-1661, ext. 206.

Fundraiser to Benefit Storm Victims

This Sunday, September 18th!


Jewish Experience & The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Present:

LA Jewish Katrina Benefit

All Proceeds To Benefit Jewish Federation’s Hurricane Relief Fund


The Moshav Band

Comic Relief by:

Edgar Fox
Avi Leiberman
Plus Special Guests

Silent Auction, Special Prize Drawing, Kosher Food, And More!

Sunday September 18th 2005
3:00 – 7:00 PM
Westside Jewish Community Center
5870 W Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles Ca, 90036

$25 Adults
$15 Students & Families
Space is Limited

For More information Contact:

Community Sponsors Include:

Anti-Defamation League
Aish Ha-Torah
Congregation Beth Jacob
Congregation B’nei David Judea
Congregation Mogen David
Jewish big brothers
Los Angeles Hillel Council
The Chai Center
The Westwood Kehilla
Young Israel of Century City
And Many More


Nation & World Briefs

Federation Sets Up Hurricane Fund

The United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh (UJF) has established a mailbox to accept donations for humanitarian aid for members of the Jewish and general communities impacted by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Western Florida.

Characterized by authorities as one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history, Katrina battered Louisiana’s southeastern shore Monday morning, killing dozens, after first taking at least nine lives as it swept across South Florida on Thursday. Homes and businesses across the entire region have suffered massive damage.

The United Jewish Communities (UJC), UJF’s national partner agency, is working with federations in the affected regions. These federations are unprepared to handle donations and request that money be sent instead to such organizations as the UJF.

These federations will assess damage and help coordinate relief; UJC will serve as the conduit for distributing all funds collected by the Pittsburgh federation.

“When natural disasters have hit, the Jewish community has always been at the forefront of responding,” said Jeff Finkelstein, UJF president and CEO.”Just as our community reacted with such generosity to the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia last December, we anticipate an outpouring of concern once again from many in our community.

“Hurricane Katrina’s full impact is not yet fully realized,” he added, “and damages are already set in the billions. The emotional toll — and the damage to property and other tangibles — is likely to be well beyond anything we can imagine.”

For more information, visit

Terror Attack in Beersheba

After months of focusing on its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel returned to an all-too-familiar experience this week: Palestinian terror.

A suicide bomber wounded 20 people Sunday at the central bus station in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, the first such attack since the just-completed evacuation of settlements from Gaza and the northern West Bank.

It could have been bloodier. The bomber was blocked from boarding a bus, thanks to the vigilance of two guards who chased him away. Both were seriously hurt.

P.A. to Rename Settlements

The Palestinian Authority plans to rename Gaza Strip settlements after Yasser Arafat and Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Palestinian officials said this week that Arafat, the late Palestinian Authority president, and Yassin, the late founder of Hamas, were among the “martyrs” who would be honored in renaming the 21 settlements, most of which Israel built on empty land and which therefore did not have prior Arabic names. The Palestinian Authority is divided on a proposal to rename some settlements after suicide bombers, fearing that doing so risks alienating world opinion.

Gaza Protester Dies

An Israeli woman who set herself alight to protest the Gaza Strip withdrawal died. The 54-year-old West Bank resident succumbed Friday to injuries sustained Aug. 7 when she doused herself with kerosene and lit it at a police checkpoint outside Gaza. Police described the incident as a protest suicide. The woman was to be buried in her home settlement of Kedumim. She was the only Israeli fatality linked to the withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank, despite early predictions that the evacuation could spark bloodshed.

Kfar Darom Detainees Freed

Israel has freed scores of pro-settlement activists arrested during a violent Gaza Strip confrontation. A Beersheba court released the 175 detainees, almost a quarter of them minors, last week after they signed agreements not to take part in violent political protests. The decision to free the detainees, who were arrested after holing up on the roof of a synagogue in the Kfar Darom settlement last week as part of protests against the Gaza withdrawal, ran counter to earlier police pledges to see them prosecuted to the fullest extent.

Army to Eye Extremists

The Israeli army resolved to scrutinize extremists and potential terrorists among its conscripts. An internal military query into the Aug. 4 killing by an army deserter of four Israeli Arabs concluded Thursday that authorities failed to respond properly to warnings by the soldier’s family as well as an investigative reporter that he had become a right-wing extremist and was liable to resort to violence. Under the panel’s recommendations, which were accepted by top brass, the armed forces will work more closely with the Shin Bet’s Jewish Division, which monitors potential extremist threats. The army also will empower training officers to profile conscripts believed to have extremist political views and report them to higher authorities.

Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.