Survivors of Mauthausen beg for food through a barbed wire fence. Photos by U.S. Army photographer Ken Parker

Rare Holocaust photos resurface in North Hollywood home

The 13 black-and-white pictures sat in a cardboard box in a North Hollywood residence, half a world and seven decades removed from the horrors they captured.

In August, Robert Aguilar, 78, a retired truck driver, found the photos at the back of a cupboard as he and his wife, Paula Parker, 69, prepared to sell their townhouse and move to Nevada to live out their retirement. The pictures are presumed to have been taken by Parker’s father, Ken Parker, a U.S. Army photographer in World War II.

Found jumbled together with an Army uniform and a confiscated German pistol, the pictures appear to show the liberation of Mauthausen, one of the Nazis’ cruelest concentration camps. In graphic detail, they offer proof of the emaciated conditions of survivors, with their apathetic expressions and jutting ribcages, along with piles of corpses discovered by the Allies.

“I can’t believe human beings would treat others like that,” Aguilar said, his voice catching in his throat as he spoke on the phone. “Prisoners — they’re not supposed to be tortured to death.”

Aguilar, a Vietnam veteran, said the images reminded him of the American prisoners who were mistreated during the war in which he served. He called the Journal and offered to provide the photographs for safekeeping in the hope that they could be of some use.

“I didn’t want to throw them in the trash,” he said. “They’re history — World War II history, you know. I wanted somebody that could use them.”

Ken Parker was better known for the “girly pictures” of scantily clad models he took in the 1950s and ’60s — some of which still can be found on the internet — than for his war photography. But the photo prints found at the back of his daughter’s cupboard indicate that, for at least a few days in the waning moments of World War II, he became a witness to history, helping record the aftermath of some of the worst Holocaust atrocities.

Mauthausen — the hub of a network of smaller death camps outside of Linz, Austria — was notorious for its cruelty. It had all the horrors of Nazi sadism seen at many other concentration camps: a functioning gas chamber, torture instruments and evidence of grotesque medical experimentation. Other horrors were unique to Mauthausen: Prisoners were forced to carry 50- to 60-pound rocks up 186 steep, uneven steps from a quarry. Sometimes an officer would shoot a prisoner, toppling the rest like dominoes.

U.S. Army photographer Ken Parker in Nice, France, in 1945. Photos courtesy of Paula Parker


As the eventual outcome of the war became apparent, the camp’s leadership considered moving the remaining 18,000 prisoners into a tunnel system and sealing the exits. Instead, the SS simply abandoned the camp. The Third United States Army arrived on May 5, 1945, to find prisoners milling about in various states of starvation.

“Mauthausen, for a person going in, was absolutely bedlam,” Richard Seibel, the U.S. Army colonel who took charge of the camp after liberation, said in an interview recorded by the Dayton Holocaust Research Center in Dayton, Ohio, in 1989. “We had no water — everything had been disrupted before we got there — no water, no sewage, no food, no power, nothing. And here are 18,000 people being corralled, if you will, by combat troops who had no experience in handling a situation of this kind.”

“I’ve always heard stories about the Germans always trying to deny that they treated the people like that. Well, there’s proof in those pictures.”

Into this chaos walked Parker, who joined the war effort at 34, having already started a successful photography business in the Midwest. He easily endeared himself to colleagues, picking up nicknames like “Little Iron Man” for his compact size and tenacity, and “Tony” for his tan skin and slicked-back hair.

Before his deployment to Europe, Parker earned a reputation as a ladies’ man. He would sneak away from his Army base in Missouri and use a car he had hidden to hit the town and pick up women, according to his daughter.

As a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, a technology and communications division, Parker was assigned to document the U.S. combat mission, tailing Gen. George S. Patton and his troops through the Battle of the Bulge before arriving at Mauthausen.

With his camera — he favored a 35mm Nikon — Parker became involved in the documentation effort undertaken by the Allies for the twin purposes of prosecuting the Germans for war crimes and alerting the public to atrocities they had been only dimly aware of, if at all.

A soldier speaks with female survivors of Mauthausen shortly after the camp was liberated in May 1945.


American generals made a point of publicizing what they saw in the camps. Patton ordered the entire town of Weimar to march through Buchenwald so its residents could see the piles of emaciated corpses and a lampshade made of human skin, among other gruesome sights. Encountering the camps, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander, ordered camera crews to film them as evidence of war crimes.

“It was as if the liberators, coming originally from Eisenhower, predicted the phenomena of Holocaust denial,” said Judith Cohen, chief acquisitions curator of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. “And Eisenhower said he wanted documentation so that people wouldn’t attribute this to propaganda. That’s an amazing thing, because, of course, we see Holocaust denial left and right these days.”

In sending the photographs to the Journal, Aguilar said he had the same thought.

“I’ve always heard stories about the Germans always trying to deny that they treated the people like that,” he said. “Well, there’s proof in those pictures.”

According to Parker family lore, some of his photos ended up in the hands of prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials.

Some of Parker’s pictures also made it into the USHMM Photo Archive, courtesy of Seibel. One of them, shown here on the top right, Cohen recognized as a particularly iconic image — a picture of a soldier speaking with female survivors. In the archive, however, the photos are missing the photographer’s name. While other members of the Signal Corps went on to win widespread fame, including movie director Frank Capra and film producer Darryl F. Zanuck, Parker remained largely anonymous outside the world of Hollywood glamour photography.

Emaciated prisoners in a bunk in Mauthausen shortly after the camp was liberated.

Cohen said large amounts of historically significant material — diaries, photographs and other documents — still are stored in people’s homes, as Parker’s photos were.

“There’s an amazing amount of material still in private hands,” she said. “And we desperately would like to get it.”

“We are in a race against time,” she added.

Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, a Holocaust scholar at the American Jewish University in Bel Air, agreed.

“The reality is we’re now at one minute to midnight in the lives of the survivors, of the living witnesses,” Berenbaum said during an interview in his office. “Kids are emptying out their parents’ homes. Survivors are dying every day.”

Parker, according to his daughter, hardly ever spoke about what he saw during the war.

Moving to California in the 1940s after his Army service, Parker became a Los Angeles Police Department photographer for 11 years. He was let go for moonlighting as a photographer of pinup girls, a career that later earned him some acclaim in Hollywood.

But what he saw in Europe evidently left him with an unusually strong stomach for horrific images. Paula Parker said her father photographed the gruesome Black Dahlia murder scene for police in 1947 and kept copies, although she later threw them out, not fully aware of their value.

A soldier poses in front of an oven at Mauthausen used for the cremation of human remains.


She recounted that once, during a family vacation, her father spotted a fatal train crash along the road and pulled over.

“My mother, she couldn’t stand blood anyway,” Paula Parker said in a phone interview. “She was so upset that my father would take time out of the vacation to take pictures of people dead.”

“After the war, nothing bothered him, I think,” she said. “My dad could do things that other people couldn’t.”

While the 13 Mauthausen pictures are unsigned and no independent source could confirm Parker shot them, his daughter — who saw the photos for the first time when she was about 30 — believes they came from his camera. He often developed his own photographs and kept duplicates as keepsakes, she said.

Moreover, the Mauthausen photographs were stored among hundreds of others she inherited that he shot over his lifetime. They showed family, friends, car races, golf games, Hollywood stars like Mae West and Bing Crosby (shot for Globe Photos), and images from other countries and of natural wonders that were taken for use in advertisements promoting American Presidents Line, a shipping company.

When she spoke with the Journal, Paula Parker said clearing out her father’s photos was a necessary part of  preparing for her Nevada retirement, after working in Jewish delis around the San Fernando Valley for 38 years, sometimes holding three jobs at once. She said she and Aguilar threw out most of her father’s photographs but kept a select few.

She was ready to pass along the pictures of starving prisoners, barbed-wire enclosures and piles of corpses.

“Oh, I’ve seen them enough,” she said, “and I’ll always remember. What am I going to do, hold on to them?”

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

How to take better photos with your smartphone

Here’s a question for you: At a gathering with friends when you want to take a photograph, do you reach for a digital camera or your phone? According to David Hume Kennerly, author of “On the iPhone: Secrets and Tips From a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographer,” “The best camera is the one you have with you.” And that camera is more than likely the one on your smartphone. 

With more than 1.8 billion photos uploaded every day on social media sites, most of them taken on smartphones, we’re a generation that obviously loves to take pictures. But as you’ve probably noticed from your Facebook newsfeed, most of these photos could use some improvement. Here, then, are some simple tips for taking better photos on your smartphone, or even your tablet. Best of all, they won’t require you to use any fancy apps or add-on lenses. You already have everything you need in the palm of your hand.

Use the “rule of thirds”

Using the “rule of thirds,” this photo, taken with an iPhone, is composed with the foreground on the bottom third, and my dog Gershwin’s face at the intersection of a horizontal and vertical line. iPhone photo by Jonathan Fong

When composing a shot, resist the tendency to position your subject smack dab in the middle. Photographers and other visual artists use the “rule of thirds,” in which the subject is off center to provide more balance and visual interest. To apply this guideline, imagine the photo divided into thirds horizontally and vertically, so that the two vertical lines intersect the two horizontal lines. Then, place the subject of the photo along one of these lines, or at the intersection of the lines. To more easily apply this rule, turn on the grid function of your smartphone’s camera, and those lines will appear on your viewfinder. Just go to your camera’s settings to enable the grid.

Get closer

One of Kennerly’s tips is to get closer to your subjects. A big advantage of a smartphone is that its size makes it easier to shoot at close range without being intrusive. If you’re photographing children or pets, kneel down to their level. I often do this when taking photos of my dogs. The shots look so much more compelling when they’re taken at eye level.

Turn off the flash

The flash is not your friend. A smartphone camera’s built-in flash gives people washed-out, yellow skin tones and red eyes, like they’re extras in “Children of the Corn.” Disable the flash and rely on available light. When you look for light, you’ll be surprised how many interesting sources you’ll find. As Kennerly notes, “It can be fireworks over the Washington Monument or a shard of light funneling through a hole in the wall onto the face of a sleeping child. The possibilities remain endless.”

Use AE/AF lock

The AE/AF lock can be helpful in difficult lighting situations. iPhone photo by Sara Budisantoso

If you’ve ever taken a photograph where there is high contrast in lighting (e.g., part of the shot is in the shadows, and part of it is in bright sunlight), you know it’s a challenge to get the right exposure and focus. Frequently, your subject will be completely in the dark while the rest of the photo is washed out. The AE/AF lock solves this problem. Just place your finger on the screen where the lighting is good, hold it there until the AE/AF indicator goes on, and then move the camera to your desired subject. The photo maintains the good lighting conditions that you locked in. 


HDR improves the range of exposure in high-contrast situations for more even lighting. iPhone photo by Lynn Pelkey

Another smartphone function to improve uneven lighting conditions is HDR. You may have noticed the letters “HDR” on the camera screen but weren’t sure what they meant. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. When you turn on HDR, your camera takes three photos at different exposures, and then highlights the best of each photo, combining the three into one HDR photo. HDR works really well for landscape shots in which the sky is much brighter than the land, or for portrait shots in bright sunlight, which can cause harsh shadows on the face. HDR evens out the lighting so everything looks better.

Be square

There’s just something about the square format that makes your photos look more vibrant. For one, it forces you to leave out extraneous elements that don’t fit in the frame. Without these distractions, the eye is immediately drawn to the subject. Black-and-white photos look particularly striking in the square format. And another benefit: Square photos on Facebook are displayed larger than vertical or horizontal ones.

Take candids

Most photos that you take of people will be posed — that’s inevitable. But the more interesting photographs are the ones taken when people are not looking at the camera. Having an unobtrusive smartphone makes this possible. Kennerly advocates, “Photograph your family when they aren’t paying attention to you.” These unguarded moments create a naturalistic honesty in the photographs that can’t be replicated with a posed smile. If you’re in a situation, such as a wedding, at which you and several other photographers are aiming cameras at the same subject, take your photos when the subject is looking at the other photographers instead of at you. You and your smartphone might just capture a more fascinating image than the professional photographer. 

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at

Photos of slain Israeli soldiers appear in Germany’s largest daily paper

Germany’s most widely read daily newspaper, Bild Zeitung, published the faces of the 64 Israeli soldiers killed in the current conflict in Gaza.

Together with short biographies of a few soldiers, the images appeared in the Monday edition of the paper under the headline “Israel’s War Against the Hamas Terrorists: Faces of the fallen.”

Among those profiled are Benaya Sarel, 26, who was about to marry; newlywed Liran Adir, 31; Eitan Barak, 20, the first Israeli soldier to die in Operation Protective Edge; and Matan Gotlib, 21, an avid mountain climber who was about to finish his three years of military service.

Gotlib’s brother Omer, 31, told Bild that Matan was planning to travel the world, as many young Israelis do after completing their service.

“Do you know any big brothers who look up to their little brothers? I admired you,” he said.

The report, by Anne-Christine Merholz, describes the soldiers as “64 sons, friends, husbands who will never return to their families. They died for their homeland, fighting Hamas in Gaza.”

Bild, which has a circulation of at least 3.5 million, is published by the Axel-Springer company, which has a strongly pro-Israel editorial stand. Its articles of association, which date back to 1967 and were most recently updated in 2001, include a commitment to promote reconciliation between Jews and non-Jews in Germany and to support Israel’s right to exist.

Fearful times: A timeline of the current Israel-Gaza conflict

A young relative of Gaza police chief Tayseer Al-Batsh mourns during the funeral of his family members, who hospital officials said were killed in an Israeli air strike.

Images of destruction have been flowing in since the on-going Palestinian-Israeli conflict flared up again in recent days, with Palestinian rockets being fired at Israel and Israeli air strikes hitting the Gaza Strip.

The current hostilities were triggered by the kidnap and killing of three Jewish seminary students (pictured above) and the subsequent revenge murder of a Palestinian youth.

Rising tension swiftly turned to all-out conflict.

June 30. Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by Nir Elias/Reuters

In the image above, an Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod on July 8, when cross-border fighting with Hamas-led militants surged.

After a week of fighting, Egypt proposed a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza that would start on July 15.

Israel unilaterally accepted but the dominant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said it had not been consulted by Cairo and kept up rocket attacks while Israel held back for six hours.

With tension escalating, on July 16 Israel urged the evacuation of several Gaza Strip areas where more than 100,000 people live, threatening ground operations.

July 8. Ashdod, Israel. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters

Palestinians gather around the remains of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City.

Gaza health officials said the death toll in the coastal enclave had risen to 202 and that most of the dead were civilians.

World powers urged calm, worried about spiralling casualties should Israel send tens of thousands of troops it has mobilised into Gaza.

It is one of the world's mostly densely populated areas, its poverty exacerbated by the collapse of public works and displacement of at least 18,000 Palestinians who the UN said have taken shelter at its Gaza City schools.

July 14. Gaza City, Palestinian Territories. Photo by Mohammed Salem/Reuters

With Palestinian fire having inflicted the first Israeli fatality of the conflict – a civilian bringing food to soldiers near Gaza – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “expand and intensify” to stop persistent rocket strikes that have made a race for shelters a daily routine for hundreds of thousands in the Jewish state.

In the image above, Israelis take cover on the side of a road as a siren warns of incoming rockets outside the northern Gaza Strip.

July 15. Gaza Border, Israel. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

More photos:

Moving and Shaking: Louis Josephson named president/CEO, Ed Royce Sr. honored

Louis Josephson

Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services has named mental health professional Louis Josephson as its new president/CEO. His hiring became effective July 1.

“Vista’s long history, rich heritage and solid reputation make me excited to accept this challenge. My family and I look forward to enriching our lives in Los Angeles, with the obvious opportunities Vista Del Mar offers,” Josephson, the former president/CEO of New Hampshire-based Riverbend Community Mental Health, said in a statement. 

He succeeds Elias Lefferman, whose career at Vista spanned 37 years, including a decade as president/CEO. 

“While it is difficult to leave, I am very pleased that someone so skilled and caring will be joining an equally skilled and caring staff,” Lefferman said in a statement.

A social services agency with a historically Jewish background, Vista Del Mar offers a variety of programs to youth and their families facing emotional, behavioral and developmental challenges, as well as children with special needs. Vista’s appointment of Josephson concluded an intensive national search for a new leader.

From left: Rabbi Meyer May, executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC); Congressman Ed Royce; U.S. Army veteran Ed Royce Sr.; Rabbi Marvin Hier, SWC founder and dean; and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC associate dean. Photo by Ruth Andal Photography/courtesy of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

U.S. Army veteran Ed Royce Sr., 91, a liberator of Nazi Germany’s Dachau concentration camp, was honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) last month.

Royce received the SWC’s Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his role with the Army unit that freed those in the infamous camp in 1945. Then a private first class, Royce was serving under Gen. George Patton as the Americans fought their way from Normandy through Nazi Germany and walked through the gates of Dachau on April 29, 1945. At Dachau, he witnessed firsthand the evidence of the brutalities inflicted on Jews and other inmates.

During the July 1 ceremony, which was held at the Museum of Tolerance, Royce recalled his Army experiences and showed photos he had taken of the liberation. Among those attending the event were his son, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton); survivors of Dachau; SWC officials Rabbi Meyer May, Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper; and other community leaders. 

SIJCC co-executive director Ruthie Shavit (center) was honored by L.A. City Council last week. Attendees included Shavit's family and co-workers, as well as Councilmembers Mitch O' Farrell (left of Shavit) and Tom LaBonge (back row). Photo by Scott Levin.

Ruthie Shavit, co-executive director of the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center (SIJCC), was honored by Los Angeles City Council on Aug. 6 in recognition of her 41 years of service to the Jewish community. Shavit said she was surprised by how touched she was by the gathering. 

“I usually feel those things are very political, kind of like you have to behave a certain way. [But] it was very sweet. … They were really very wonderful,” Shavit told the Journal. 

Attendees at the ceremony at L.A. City Hall included her daughter, Tamar Shavit; Ayana Morse, co-executive director of the SIJCC; Meisha Rainman, SIJCC board president; and Mike Abrams, SIJCC past board president. 

The office of L.A. City Council member Tom LaBonge — whose 4th District includes much of Los Feliz, Griffith Park and parts of Silver Lake — organized the commendation. He and council member Mitch O’Farrell, who also was at the ceremony, both were educated by Shavit at some point.

Under the leadership of Shavit, who joined the SIJCC in 1972 — back then it was known as the Hollywood/Los Feliz JCC — the preschool’s enrollment has doubled. She was born and raised on a kibbutz in Israel.

Barbara Meltzer

West Hollywood resident Barbara Meltzer was honored by the Los Angeles County Commission for Older Adults (LACCOA) at its annual luncheon last June.

Meltzer, who was appointed to the commission by L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and serves in the Jewish leader’s third district, received the 2013 LINK Award, in recognition of the outstanding volunteer service she has provided to seniors in L.A. County. 

“We have a very large senior population, and it is essential that we do everything possible to provide programs and services that enable L.A. County’s older residents to be safe and to live healthy and productive lives,” Meltzer said in a statement.

The June 17 ceremony honoring Meltzer took place at the Altadena Community Center.

Since 2007, Meltzer has served on the LACCOA commission, advocating for the needs and welfare of residents over the age of 60. Additionally, she is the founder and president of public relations agency Barbara Meltzer and Associates. She also serves as vice president and chair of Friends of the West Hollywood Library. 

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more, as well as local events that featured leaders from the Jewish and Israeli communities. Got a tip? E-mail it to

Moving and Shaking: Chris Silbermann, Morton Schapiro and Lawrence Trilling honored

From left: Saban Free Clinic CEO Jeffrey Bujer, producer Andy Friendly, ICM Partners founding partners Chris Silbermann and Bob Broder and producer David Friendly. Photo by Christianne Ray. 

The Saban Free Clinic, a medical clinic for the underserved, honored Chris Silbermann, founding partner of talent agency ICM Partners, during its 18th annual Golf Classic last month. 

The tournament was held at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana on June 3. It is one of the largest fundraisers for the clinic, which has raised nearly $230,000 in funds this year and more than $3.5 million to fund medical, dental and behavioral health services since its inception.

Event chairs and co-chairs included music industry executive Irving Azoff, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairman Rob Friedman, producers Andy Friendly and David Friendly, entertainment lawyer John Frankenheimer, NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert and Marcia Steere.

Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro addresses Valley Torah High School's annual trustees dinner. Photo by Yehuda Remer.

Valley Torah High School honored Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro with its inaugural Education Leadership Award last month, in recognition of Schapiro’s encouragement of religious tolerance and sensitivity on the Evanston, Ill., campus.

Under his leadership, “Northwestern has changed its climate, attitude and atmosphere … and is attracting more high school graduates from Jewish communities throughout America,” Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, Valley Torah’s dean, said in a statement.

Schapiro received the award during the Valley Torah annual trustees dinner on June 6, which took place at a private home in Valley Village. The dinner featured Schapiro addressing “The Role on Faith in Secular Universities.” Valley Torah alumni Rabbi George and Lisa Lintz chaired the dinner, which also promoted a scholarship fund of the Valley Village Orthodox school.

Recently, the mainstream media has spotlighted Valley Torah graduate Aaron Liberman, who played on Northwestern’s basketball team last year as a freshman. The team has accommodated the religious practices of Liberman, who is Orthodox. Lenard Liberman, Aaron’s father, was in attendance at the Valley Torah dinner.

Bend the Arc honoree and board member Lawrence Trilling with wife Jennifer Kattler Trilling and children, Jonah, Lyla, and Dahlia. Photo by Amy Tierney.

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice honored television producer Lawrence Trilling (“Parenthood”) during its Pursuit of Justice gala last month.

Bend the Arc CEO Alan van Capelle. Photo by Amy Tierney.

Appearing at the June 9 dinner at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Trilling — a board member of the social justice organization — described himself as “a storyteller who tries to ennoble the people portrayed in stories and expand the capacity for empathy in people watching them. Those are Jewish values, and tonight I’m honored to be in a room full of people who live those values.” 

Trilling’s TV credits also include “Alias,” “Felicity,” “Pushing Daisies” and “Damages.” 

A nonprofit, Bend the Arc advocates for progressive positions on issues such as immigration, tax reform and more. 

Approximately 400 supporters of Bend the Arc turned out for the event. Bend the Arc CEO Alan van Capelle and Serena Zeise, Bend the Arc’s new Southern California regional director, delivered remarks. 

In addition to celebrating Trilling, the gala recognized the California Domestic Workers Coalition, which has fought for fair labor standards for the state’s domestic workers since 2006. Bend the Arc is a partner of the coalition. 

Julia Cosgrove, joined by her family, submits Pages of Testimony to Debbie Berman, manager of the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project. Courtesy of Remember Us. 

During a visit to Israel last month, Los Angeles teen Julia Cosgrove submitted pages of testimony memorializing her grandfather’s family members who died in the Holocaust to the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims’ Name Recovery Project.

Organized by the Jerusalem-based institute, which is devoted to the research, documentation and education of the Holocaust, the worldwide project is part of an effort to recover the names of millions of Holocaust victims that remain unidentified.

Cosgrove’s grandfather, Gabriel Legmann, lost his three brothers and mother in the Shoah. Only Legmann and his father survived. The family was from Reteag, Romania.

Cosgrove, a student at the Harvard-Westlake School, is a participant of the Remember Us: The Holocaust B’nai Mitzvah Project. Run by Los Angeles nonprofit Remember Us, the project involves boys and girls remembering lost children from the Shoah during their b’nai mitzvah. Additionally, it has partnered with Yad Vashem to advance the work of the Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project in Los Angeles.

Cosgrove becomes a bat mitzvah this August, at Sinai Temple.    

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more, as well as local events that featured leaders from the Jewish and Israeli communities. Got a tip? E-mail it to

FBI identifies two suspects in Boston Marathon bombing [PHOTOS]

Investigators released pictures of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing on Thursday, seeking the public's help in identifying two backpack-toting men photographed on the crowded sidewalk on Monday before bombs exploded near the finish line.

The blasts that killed three people and wounded 176 began a week of security scares that rattled the United States and evoked memories of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijacked plane attacks.

“Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members of the suspects,” Richard DesLauriers, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's special agent in charge in Boston, told a news conference.

“Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us,” he said.

DesLauriers warned the public that the men were considered armed and dangerous.

Both men carried backpacks that were believed to contain the bombs. The FBI identified suspect No. 1 as a man wearing a dark baseball cap and sunglasses. Suspect No. 2 wore a white cap baseball cap backwards and was seen setting down his backpack on the ground, DesLauriers said.

The FBI released a 30-second video of the two men, one walking behind the other, that edited together three different angles. The video appeared to have been taken from security cameras.

A picture of both men in the same frame was taken at 2:37 p.m., about 13 minutes before the two explosions tore through the crowd that had been cheering on finishers of the race.

Investigators believe the bombs were made of pressure cookers packed with shrapnel. Some of the wounded suffered gruesome injuries and at least 10 people lost limbs as a result of the blasts.

Investigators hoped the men would be identifiable within hours of the release of the pictures and video, a national security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Investigators were looking at the men for some period of time before deciding to make the videos public, and they had extensive video and still pictures to justify the FBI decision to label the two men as suspects, the official said.

At least one other person of interest who featured in crime scene pictures had been ruled out as a suspect. Also ruled out earlier in the week was a Saudi student who was injured in the attacks, the official said.


President Barack Obama sought to bring solace to Boston and the nation in an interfaith service at a cathedral about a mile (1.6 km) from the bomb site, declaring “You will run again” and vowing to catch whoever was responsible.

He promised resilience in a message directed toward Boston but also to a country that was on edge.

A man was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of mailing the deadly poison ricin to Obama and a massive explosion at a fertilizer factory devastated a small Texas community, sending shockwaves at least 50 miles (80 km) away.

Obama said the country stood in solidarity with the victims of the Boston bombs on their road to recovery.

“As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you, your commonwealth is with you, your country is with you,” Obama said. “We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. Of that, I have no doubt. You will run again.”

After his speech, Obama met with volunteers and Boston Marathon organizers, many of whom cared for the injured, and with victims at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The bombs in Boston killed an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard; a 29-year-old woman, Krystle Campbell; and a Boston University graduate student and Chinese citizen, Lu Lingzi.

Before his visit, Obama declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts, making federal funding available to the state as it copes with the aftermath of the bombing. 

Suspects wanted for questioning in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing April 15 are revealed in this handout photo during an FBI news conference in Boston, April 18, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Handout

Suspect wanted for questioning in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing April 15 is revealed in this handout photo during an FBI news conference in Boston, April 18, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Handout

Suspect wanted for questioning in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing April 15 is revealed in this handout photo during an FBI news conference in Boston, April 18, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Handout

Suspect wanted for questioning in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing April 15 is revealed in this handout photo during an FBI news conference in Boston, April 18, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Handout

Photos of a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings are seen during a news conference in Boston, Massachusetts April 18, 2013. The FBI said on Thursday that it has identified two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing and is asking the public for help in identifying the two men. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Suspect wanted for questioning in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing April 15 is revealed in this handout photo during an FBI news conference in Boston, April 18, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Handout

Reporting By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

Moving and shaking: City Hall Passover, Shalhevet School crowned champs, Beit T’Shuvah runs

Los Angeles City Hall held its first-ever Passover celebration, which was organized by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The March 19 festivities took place on the City Hall forecourt, adjacent to the Spring Street steps. It brought together city leaders and clergy, including Los Angles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; L.A. City Council Members Jan Perry, Paul Krekorian, Dennis Zine, Bill Rosendahl and Joe Buscaino. Rabbi Joshua Hoffman of Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) led the ceremony. Jonathan Freund, interim executive director of the Board of Rabbis; Rabbi Judith HaLevy, of the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue, who is president of the Board of Rabbis; Cantor Ilan Davidson of Temple Beth El; Rabbi Morley Feinstein of University Synagogue; and David Siegel, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, also participated. Cantor Phil Baron of VBS led a chorus of sixth-graders from VBS Day School, and additional music was performed by kindergarteners and transitional-kindergarteners of Beth Hillel Day School.

Ryan Dishell. Photo courtesy of BBYO, Inc.




Pacific Palisades teenager Ryan Dishell, a student at Crossroads School, has been elected to serve as the international vice president of programming of the BBYO (formerly B’nai B’rith Youth Organization) leadership program and high school fraternity, Aleph Zadik Aleph. Dishell, who was elected to the board of the worldwide pluralistic teen movement during BBYO’s international convention this past February, will hold the post for a yearlong term beginning in July.

Shalhevet School's Firehawks were crowned the champions of Yeshiva University's annual Red Sarachek, a prestigious tournament for Jewish high school basketball teams. Photo courtest of Yeshiva University.

After beating the Frisch School Cougars of Paramus, N.J., 62-53, in a basketball game on March 11, the Shalhevet School’s Firehawks were crowned the champions of Yeshiva University’s annual Red Sarachek, a prestigious tournament for Jewish high school basketball teams.


Beit T'Shuvah resident Noah Mann completes the L.A. Marathon in 3 hours, 35 minutes and 26 seconds. Photo courtesy of Beit T'Shuvah.

Culver City’s Beit T’Shuvah, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, participated in the Los Angeles Marathon on March 17. As part of team Run to Save a Soul, 54 runners, including Beit T’Shuvah residents, board members and alumni, completed the 26.2- mile race. This is the fourth year that Beit T’Shuvah has participated in the marathon, with residents training for six months leading up to it. As of March 22, the rehab center’s team had raised $125,500, surpassing its goal by $500, to help fund the cost of care for residents of Beit T’Shuvah.

Michel Jeser. Photo Courtesy of Marvin Steindler Photography.



Michael Jeser, executive director of Hillel at USC, will move to become executive director of Jewish World Watch (JWW) in mid-June, USC Hillel Foundation board chair Howard Schwimmer announced on March 20. Jeser will replace JWW interim director Lois Weinsaft. JWW was founded in 2004 to fight genocide, and its education and advocacy work is done through a coalition of synagogues, churches, individuals and partner organizations. JWW’s ground-breaking solar cooker program has helped women in the Sudan and Congo to cook without having to leave their camps to search for firewood, which had previously left them vulnerable to rape and assault.

Suzy and Stephen Bookbinder and Leora and Gary Raikin were honored March 17 at Kadima Day School’s annual gala, held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. Suzy Bookbinder, president of the school’s board of trustees, is chief development officer for Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, while Stephen is a senior high-definition video editor at Technicolor. Leora Raikin has a passion for African folklore embroidery and lectures, exhibits and teaches workshops throughout the United States, while Gary is a CPA. A Special Lifetime Achievement Award from the school, which is now in its 42nd year, went to Ronit and Amnon Band.

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more. Got a tip? E-mail it to

Purim in Israel [SLIDESHOW]

Israelis celebrate Purim in full costume throughout Israel. 


The Mensch List: With a little help from his camera lens

When Joel Lipton, who has been a professional photographer for almost 30 years, first started shooting events for Big Sunday, at the time a one-day, annual volunteer event, he initially had some second thoughts about just how much the clicks of his camera were helping. 

“You know, people are planting, and they’re doing heavy labor,” Lipton said of the other volunteers who were creating gardens and painting murals to permanently spruce up public-school campuses, often in low-income neighborhoods, among other jobs.

“I’m just taking pictures.”

But Lipton, who in his work life has photographed actors and poker players, hulking cheeseburgers and sculpted athletes, found that at the Big Sunday events he was taking pictures of ordinary people, often mothers and their children, bringing to each shot the same artist’s eye of all of his work, but done here for free, a gesture of generosity. So over the past five or six years, he’s created hundreds of these posed portraits, producing beautiful prints, which he gives out to his subjects on the spot. 

David Levinson, founder and executive director of Big Sunday, loves Lipton’s work, as much for the photographer’s working method as for how the final products turn out. He recalled how Lipton, on Halloween 2011, shot pictures of kids in their new costumes at a Big Sunday-organized party for underserved children. 

“He brought a seamless background, professional lighting, and took everyone’s pictures with patience and humor and attention to detail and respect,” Levinson wrote in an e-mail, “as if he were taking a photo of a senator.”

Pictures and videos produced by Lipton have found their way into Big Sunday promotional materials, even onto the walls of the organization’s offices. 

And though professionally he more often works in the premeditated style of photography used in advertising and editorial images, Lipton said when he volunteers as a photojournalist for Big Sunday, an annual Christmas dinner for Temple Israel of Hollywood and a few other lucky organizations, he feels like he’s validating the work others are doing by showing it to the world.

“A lot of things that people do are little things,” Lipton said. “I think that a lot of times, what people do, they don’t think it matters. But it does, because every little bit builds on something else.” 

Facebook acquires Israeli

Facebook acquired an Israeli company that specializes in facial recognition software.

The terms of the deal between Facebook and were not disclosed by either company, according to the New York Times, which reported the deal on Monday. has been used by Facebook in the past two years for its “tag” feature in order to identify individuals across Facebook.

The facial recognition technology used by is designed to identify individuals by their gender and age.

Nashuva Lag Ba’Omer [SLIDESHOW]

Nashuva Lag Ba’Omer Bonfire, Thursday, May 10. Photos by David Miller

First images of Gilad Shalit released; IDF confirms he is alive and well

An Israel Defense Forces official confirmed Tuesday that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was identified at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and is “alive and well.”

Earlier Hamas said Israel completed the transfer into Egypt of Palestinian prisoners due to be deported overseas and into the Gaza Strip, in a clear sign that a deal geared at securing the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was back on track.

The Hamas report came following a brief stall in the prisoner exchange deal after IDF officials said two female Palestinian prisoners refused to be deported into the Gaza Strip.

One of the prisoners resisting deportation is reportedly Amna Muna, who was jailed for life in 2003 for luring 16-year-old Israeli Ofir Rahum from Ashkelon to Ramallah, where he was shot dead by Fatah terrorists.


Images of Gilad Shalit post-release

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returned home to a national outpouring of joy on Tuesday after five years in captivity as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners exchanged for him were greeted with kisses from Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip.

Shalit, 25, was taken across the frontier from the Gaza Strip into Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and driven to Israel’s Vineyard of Peace border crossing, where a helicopter awaited to fly him to an Israeli air base for a reunion with his parents.

Political commentators said it appeared unlikely the prisoner exchange agreed by the two bitter enemies would have any immediate impact on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that broke down last year.

The mood in Israel was one of elation, with “welcome home” signs on street corners and morning commuters watching live broadcasts of the swap on cellular telephones.

Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit (C) is escorted by members of Hamas and Egyptian mediators on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Middle East News Agency (MENA)/Khalid Farid/Handout.

Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit (C) is escorted by members of Hamas and Egyptian mediators on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Hand Out/HAMAS

Gilad Shalit speaks to his family on the telephone in this handout released by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/IDF/Handout.

Gilad Shalit, center, salutes in front of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, upon his arrival at Tel Nof air base in central Israel in this handout released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/GPO/Handout

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, greets Gilad Shalit at Tel Nof air base in central Israel in this handout picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/GPO/Handout

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, stands beside Gilad Shalit as he is hugged by armed forces chief Major-General Benny Gantz at Tel Nof air base in central Israel on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/PMO/Handout

Gilad Shalit, right, is hugged by his father Noam at Tel Nof air base in central Israel in this handout released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/GPO/Handout

Gilad Shalit walks with his father Noam, right, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak at Tel Nof air base in central Israel, in a photo released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/PMO/Handout

Israelis cheer as they watch a television broadcast showing Gilad Shalit, at a former protest tent calling for his release, near the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli activists remove a sign counting the number of days since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, at a former protest tent calling for his release, near the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Gilad Shalit is seen next to his mother Aviva as they go for a short walk outside their home in Mitzpe Hila on Oct. 19. Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias.

The Circuit: Jewish Vocational Services 80th Anniversary, Richard Michael Powell inducted into HUC

Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) celebrated its 80th anniversary on Jan. 29 with a gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel to honor its past board presidents. Among the 500 guests were Stanley Dashew, who received the agency’s Tzedakah Award, and emcee Keith Erickson, a former L.A. Laker and longtime CBS sports broadcaster. Thirteen board presidents attended the event as well as family members representing JVS board presidents who had passed away.

From left: JVS CEO Vivian Seigel, Tzedakah Award honoree Stanley Dashew and emcee Keith Erickson. Photo by Bill Aron

Front row, from left: Joan Berne, wife of JVS President Fred C. Berne; MaryAnn Klapper, wife of Mike Klapper; JVS President M.M. Chuck Maltz; Shirley Goldenberg, wife of Irwin H. Goldenberg; and son Dan Goldenberg. Second row, from left: David Licht; Sunny Caine; Adrienne Horwitch; Marilyn Garber, wife of Robert Garber; James Maslon; and George Polinger. Third row, from left: A. Charles Wilson, Susan W. Robertson, Abner Goldstine and Donald S. Simons.  Fourth row, from left: Current JVS President Jeffrey Paul; Jack Suzar; Ivan Axelrod, son of Morry Axelrod; Andrew Palmer, grandson of Felix Juda; and Rick Powell.
Photo by Bill Aron.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion inducted Richard Michael Powell, president of Ashjer, LLC, and Joan B. Seidel, president of Morton Seidel & Co. Inc. into its board of governors during a meeting in Los Angeles on Feb. 7. From left: Irwin Engelman, HUC-JIR board of governors chair; Powell; Seidel; and Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR president.

Jon Stewart on the bin Laden photo debate

Video courtesy of Comedy Central.

Obama decides not to release photos of bin Laden’s body

U.S. President Barack Obama has decided not to release photos of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden dead, U.S. television networks said on Wednesday.

“We discussed this internally, did DNA sampling. It was important for us the photos won’t become a propaganda tool,” Obama said, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.

“We don’t use this staff as a trophy that’s not who we are. Given the graphic nature of these pictures, it could be used for incitement members of my national security team agreed,” he said.


Early Holy Land photos surprise viewers in 1800s

With the introduction of photography in 1839, pioneer practitioners of the nascent medium flocked to the Holy Land, expecting the glorious biblical scenes imagined by Renaissance painters, but finding instead mainly dusty villages and a largely ramshackle Jerusalem.

One disappointed visitor in 1867 was the American Samuel Clemens, who, under the pen name of Mark Twain, wrote in “The Innocents Abroad” that “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince.”

Yet, the 21st century visitor to the exhibition “In Search of Biblical Lands: From Jerusalem to Jordan in 19th Century Photography,” through Sept. 12 at the Getty Villa in Malibu, will be amply rewarded.

The daguerreotypes, salted-paper and albumen silver prints, and stereoscopic views may lack the subtlety and color of modern photography, but they offer a fascinating glimpse of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian inhabitants of that era.

Jerusalem, with a population of 9,000, is hardly the shining city on the hill, but its skyline is dominated by the magnificent Dome of the Rock, and the pious Jews praying at the Western Wall testify to the unbroken connection of the Jewish people to the city.

Most of the early photographers were French and British, with the Maison Bonfils studio, founded by France’s Félix Bonfils, particularly active in scouring the hinterlands. Bonfils, his countryman Louis Vignes, and such British pioneers as James Robertson, Francis Frith and Sgt. James M. McDonald, took their bulky equipment to Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jaffa, Gaza, the Dead Sea and the Jordanian rock city of Petra.

The first photographers, like those who came later, were not above “enhancing” their works to meet the expectations of their Bible-loving customers and boost sales.

Félix Bonfils may well have been the founding father of Photoshopping. Finding a view of the Jordan River uninspiring, he combined multiple negatives to add a picturesque Arab with a camel and a tented encampment of pith-helmeted British tourists.

Such photos soon became all the rage in Europe and North America, spurring Jewish immigration and a boom in Christian tourism.

Among the latter were many Americans, whom Twain viewed with a jaundiced eye. Describing the “solemnity and silence” of one particular desert site, he added, “Behold, intruding upon a scene like this comes this fantastic mob of green-spectacled Yanks, with their flapping elbows and bobbing umbrellas.”

Also drawn to the Holy Land were Christian missionaries, who sought to convert the local Jews “but met with little success,” the exhibition brochure notes.

A side attraction are the early 19th century maps of Jerusalem and Palestine, with a vast area east of the Jordan River, stretching from the Sea of Galilee to the Gulf of Akaba, designated as an uninhabited “Great Syrian Desert.”

The exhibit continues at the Getty Villa through Sept. 12, along with the exhibit, “Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze.” Admission is free, but parking is $15 and advance reservations are required. For more information on the exhibition and related events, visit

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor [SLIDESHOW]

“>Find more photos like this on

Photos courtesy of Temple Israel of Hollywood and Lynn Pelkey.

The Circuit: 50 Plus

Skirball music director Yatrika Shah-Rais presents Fred Katz with a birthday cake as John and Jeanne Pisano look on. Photo by Bonnie Perkinson

Jazz composer, cellist and pianist Fred Katz performed during a retrospective of his career at the Skirball Cultural Center on Feb. 20. Honored on the occasion of his 92nd birthday, Katz was joined by his son, flutist Hyman Katz, bassist Richard Simon and saxophonist Dave Koz, as well as the Flying Pisanos, John and Jeanne Pisano.

Robert and Ruth Blank have been married for 63 years. According to the Blanks, their marriage has been a partnership from day one. They met when they were young, survived the Holocaust and reunited again after the war. “We came from Europe together, we learned English together, and we are together forever,” Robert Blank said. Photos courtesy of Belmont Village

Belmont Village Westwood held a reception for a special exhibition, “The Look of Lasting Love,” featuring the work of photographer Thomas Sanders, on Feb. 10. The collection of portraits, all of Belmont Village residents, paid homage to love and commitment as seen through the eyes of 16 couples. Collectively, the couples represented 884 years of marital bliss.

Rachel Perlson, with her dog, Schatzi, celebrated her 102nd birthday on Jan. 13 among family and friends at Belmont Village Hollywood Hills. Fleeing Jewish persecution in Poland, Perlson joined her brother in Israel, where she later met her husband. Decades later, the couple moved to the United States, where they raised their daughter, Nureet.  Photo courtesy of Belmont Village

The Fogel family funeral [SLIDESHOW]

Fogel Funeral from Rosalina Nieves on Vimeo.

Photos reveal anti-Semitism of 1936 Winter Games

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Most everyone knows how Jesse Owens went to Berlin and won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics. As the legend goes, Owens showed Adolf Hitler a thing or two about the Nazi myth about superiority.

Birger Ruud of Norway is also one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time, a great ski jumper who could also beat you at alpine racing. Moreover, his story is one of incredible personal courage. After his time in the Olympic spotlight, he spent 18 months in a Nazi prison camp and then, upon release, joined the Resistance, where he used his unmatched ski skills to find and hide ammunition dropped from British aircraft.

It is no accident that the photo of Ruud’s moment of triumph in the ski jumping event at the 1936 Winter Olympics, here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, high in the Bavarian Alps, makes for the emotional centerpiece of an unprecedented exhibition that brings to light not just the story of those Games , but, more importantly, the back story.

Here in the photo are the three Olympic champions: Ruud, the winner, just as he had been four years before, flanked by the silver medalist, Sven Eriksson of Sweden, and the bronze medalist, Reidar Andersen, another Norwegian. Here, too, is the then-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Belgian Count Henri de Baillet-Latour. And over on the right side of the photo — here is the jarring note that underscores the great lie of the 1936 Winter Games, the notion that sports and politics don’t mix: Karl Ritter von Halt, the organizing committee president, snapping a sharp stiff-armed Nazi salute.

It’s not a pretty picture. Indeed, it’s jarring. But it is an honest photo. It happened. And that is precisely why it’s on display, now, after 75 years, along with dozens of other photographs and other materials that confront the ugly history of the 1936 Winter Games, the town’s mayor, Thomas Schmid, said.

“We really said that for this 75th anniversary we need to talk about this openly — the ‘dark side of the medal,’ ” he said, referring to the title of the exhibit, which opened here Feb. 15 and which the Museum of Tolerance has already expressed interest in bringing to Los Angeles.

“We can’t make it go away,” Schmid said, “but we can show how Garmisch-Partenkirchen has changed.”

The 1936 Berlin Summer Games have, over the years, been the subject of extensive study. Not so the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Games just months before. 

Building upon the success of the 1932 Los Angeles Games, the 1936 Berlin Games announced the emergence of the modern Olympics as a worldwide phenomenon. 

A confluence of factors explains why — the expanding reach of communication technologies, the attempt by the Third Reich to use the Berlin Games as a massive propaganda exercise, the power of the film “Olympia” by Leni Riefenstahl, Jesse Owens’ four medals and more.

To this day, of course, the 1936 Berlin Games remain a source of enduring controversy.

Again, the reasons are complex. The Riefenstahl film, for one. Just to pick another, many of the stories from Berlin have remained alive: Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, the only Jews on the U.S. track team, were denied sure gold medals when they didn’t run in the 400-meter relay; for reasons never made clear, they were told the day of the race they would not run.

In comparison, the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen — it’s as if they hardly happened.

And yet, as Charlotte Knobloch, the leader of the Jewish community in Munich and Bavaria, put it, those Winter Games hold significance that deserves to be fully, deeply understood:

“People have, of course, gladly glossed over the fact that this was a most revolting show of propaganda, a nasty deception of public opinion worldwide, under whose guise the very first signs of the Shoah could already be detected.”

Why look back now at 1936?

Munich is bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics. An IOC inspection team is in Germany this week; the full IOC will pick the 2018 site in a vote on July 6. Annecy, France, and Pyeongchang, South Korea, are also in the 2018 race.

The Munich candidacy proposes to hold ice events — skating and curling — in the city. The snow events — skiing and so on — would be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. 

Thus the impetus to revisit 1936, the mayor and others stressing that the 2018 process affords the opportunity for reflection, perhaps even healing.

In February, meanwhile, the 2011 Alpine World Ski Championships were held here in Gapa, as Garmisch-Partenkirchen is colloquially known on the ski circuit. Some 100,000 euros, roughly $138,000, from the championships’ cultural budget — supported by the German federal ministry of the interior — was allocated to fund the exhibition.

That took care of the logistics. 

As for the will to get it done: 

This exhibition is the first of its kind in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Not once in 75 years has there been anything like it, according to Alois Schwarzmüller, a retired local high-school teacher, long-time community activist and one of the exhibit’s primary curators.

For decades, he said, most of the archives were locked away in communist East Germany. It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall that one could even get at the files, he said.

Then more time had to pass.

“The first generation — they were the Nazis. … They did not allow us to go behind the wall.

“The second generation — in community politics, they told me it was only a sports event,” Schwarzmüller said, referring to the 1936 Winter Games. “There was nothing else. 

“Now I think it’s time. We have a generation that wants to be informed.”

The way the story has been largely understood for the past 75 years, Schwarzmüller said, is that the 1936 Winter Games offered near-perfect organization, an array of new buildings and impressive competition venues. 

Reality check:

The Games served as cover for a brutal dictatorship that oppressed political opponents and that harassed, humiliated and disenfranchised Germany’s Jews. That is “the dark side of the medal”:

• A photo depicts Gapa-area road signs above another announcing, “Jews not welcome.” Such “not welcome” signs disappeared by the Feb. 6, 1936, opening ceremony. They came right back after the Games.

Baillet-Latour, the IOC president, had encountered numerous such signs on a visit to the area just four months before the Games. He was “especially horrified,” historian David Clay Large writes in the sole chapter devoted to the 1936 Winter Olympics in his first-rate book “Nazi Games,” to see, too, that “the speed-limit markers on dangerous turns included explicit exemptions for Jews, thereby encouraging them to kill themselves.” 

• A photo shows Hitler at the 1936 Winter Games’ opening ceremony. Some number of the Austrian team “unmistakably” shouted out, “Heil Hitler!” as they left the stadium at the end of the ceremony, Large writes, causing Hitler to “gaze wistfully” across the border. Innsbruck is just a few kilometers away.

• A photo of von Halt, the Winter Games organizing committee chief, is accompanied by a striking caption. It says, in part, that in 1936 and 1939,  von Halt visited concentration camps in Dachau and Sachsenhausen. “As a convinced national socialist,” it says, “he approved suppression of political opponents and the destructive anti-Semitism that was done by the brown dictatorship since 1941. At the collapse of Berlin he sent in the last hours very young soldiers and old men to fight hopelessly against the Red Army.”

“We need to tell people what happened,” said Christian Neureuther, who, having grown up in Gapa, is something of local ski royalty and whose voice thus carries locally, nationally and even abroad. He raced at three Winter Games. So did his wife, Rosi Mittermaier, and she won three medals, two of them gold, skiing in 1976 in Innsbruck. Their son, Felix, skied at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games.

“Everyone thinks the 1936 [Winter] Games were fantastic and beautiful,” Christian Neureuther said. “The truth comes out here — the two sides of the medal.”

Oscars 2011 Slideshow

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The Circuit: CBS Executives, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ Centennial birthday

CBS senior executives Nina Tassler, David Stapf and Deborah Barak co-hosted A Night of Hope with special guests Geena Davis and Jim Belushi at CBS Radford Studios in Studio City on Oct. 14. The celebration of strength and survival raised more than $220,000 to help the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ (JFS) Family Violence Project provide shelter and counseling services to victims of domestic violence.

From left: David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios; JFS Chief Operating Officer Susie Forer-Dehrey; Deborah Barak, executive vice president of business affairs, CBS Network Television Entertainment Group; Abby Leibman, co-founder of the California Women’s Law Center; Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis; CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler; and JFS Chief Executive Officer Paul S. Castro. Photo by CBS/M. Davis

Inner-City Arts, an arts instruction campus for at-risk children in the heart of Skid Row, honored actress Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Janet Lamkin, president of Bank of America California, during its Imagine Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Nov. 4.

From left: Inner-City Arts President and CEO Cynthia Harnisch with honorees Doris Roberts and Janet Lamkin. Photo by Vince Bucci

From left: “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal along with cast members Brad Garrett, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton and Monica Horan surprised honoree Roberts, front, with a birthday cake. Photo by Vince Bucci

Shirley Jones and emcee Florence Henderson. Photo by Vince Bucci

Friends of Sheba Medical Center held its annual Women of Achievement luncheon at The Beverly Hills Hotel on Nov. 9. From left: Luncheon co-chair Sonya Waldow, honoree Maria Engracia Hernandez, emcee Joely Fisher, honoree Dr. Eve Kurtin Steinberg, honoree Anat Kristal and luncheon co-chair Laura Stein.

Monarch Village resident Meyer Bell celebrated his centennial birthday on Nov. 5. More than 100 guests, including family and friends, attended the milestone event. When asked what the secret of his longevity was, Bell responded, “I live one day at a time.”

Sharon Stone, Howie Mandel, Arianna Huffington, William Kristol

Jewish TV Network honors Uni honcho Jeff Gaspin


(From left) Howie Mandel;  Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer, Universal Studios; Bonnie Hammer; Jeff Gaspin, president and chief operating officer, Universal Television Group; Mark Graboff, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, and Jay Sanderson, CEO, JTN Productions). NBC Photo: Trae Patton

“It’s a groundbreaking week,” Howie Mandel said to some 1,000 guests at Jewish Television Network’s annual benefit at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Nov. 5. “Just yesterday we elected a black man president, and tonight we’re honoring a Jew in show business.”

Mandel hosted the event to bestow JTN’s 2008 Vision Award on Jeff Gaspin, president and CEO of the Universal Television Group, who was honored with the 2008 Vision Award at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Gaspin, who developed such shows as “Deal or No Deal,” “The Apprentice,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Project Runway,” was feted by Jeff Goldblum, Tori Spelling, Dean McDermott, Katee Sackhoff, Billy Bush, Nancy O’Dell, Cory Hardrict, singer Lenka, who performed, and Sean Hayes, who introduced/roasted his longtime friend.

“Jeff is a visionary executive … committed to his family and his community and a real ‘mensch,’” said Jay Sanderson, the CEO of JTN Productions.
JTN announced a $5 million lead gift from co-chair Seth Merrin and aired a portion of its upcoming PBS documentary on genocide, “Worse Than War.”

Zimmer fetes advocates for kids


(From left) Dr. Charles J. Sophy, Sharon Stone, Esther Netter, Zimmer Children’s Museum CEO, and Jeff Wachtel. Photo by Barry E. Levine

The Zimmer Children’s Museum feted two important people in children’s lives: a doctor and a guy who creates TV programming. The lucky recipients of The Discovery Award, Jeff Wachtel, USA Network’s head of original programming, and Dr. Charles J. Sophy, medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, which is responsible for more than 30,000 foster children, were celebrated on Nov. 6 by an industry-heavy crowd at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Jeff Garlin, an executive producer of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” emceed.

Rock among the rockets


(From left) Ada Horwich,  L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Elana Horwich, Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan, director Laura Bialis, Avi Vaknin, Ravit Markus and Dan Katzir Photo by Orly Halevy

Ada and Jim Horwich hosted a private film screening of Laura Bialis’ documentary, “Sderot: Rock in the Red Zone,” about the nascent music scene taking hold in the rocket-riven town in Southern Israel. Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan joined the gathering on Nov. 5 to support the resilience of a place where bomb shelters are transmuting into rock clubs.

Westside JCC dives into pool construction


(From left) Nancy Bell, capital campaign chair; Michael Kaminsky, board president; Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Beryl Weiner, capital campaign co-chair; Lenny Krayzelburg, honorary capital campaign chair; Brian Greene, executive director.

The Westside Jewish Community Center has a hot new commodity. Neighbors and city officials gathered on Oct. 29 for the groundbreaking of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Aquatic Center, a multiphase renovation that will add locker rooms, saline water systems and an environmentally friendly design for the Olympic-size pool. Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg, who trained at the Westside JCC, attended the event, where an expected 1,400 monthly visitors will swim in medal-making waters.

Celebration of Books draws big names


(From left) William Kristol, Arianna Huffington, Rabbi Robert Wexler at Celebration of Jewish Books.

American Jewish University’s Celebration of Jewish Books brought some big names to town to discuss and debate topical issues of the day: William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post squared off on the aftermath of the nation’s historic election on Nov. 10; two nights later, Rabbi David Wolpe and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens debated the role of religion in society to a full house at the Wilshire Theatre.

Stars come out for Big Brothers and Sisters


(From left) Rising Stars gala honorees Paula Wagner, Abigail Breslin, Michael Sitrick and Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles Guild President Sandy Bilson.

PR mogul Michael Sitrick, producer Paula Wagner and young actress Abigail Breslin were honored at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters biggest annual fundraiser, the “Rising Stars Gala,” on Oct. 30 at the Beverly Hilton. Larry King, Alan Arkin and Cuba Gooding Jr. presented awards and the cast from the upcoming “Forever Plaid” movie entertained the 700 guests. Catch a falling star, anybody?

Milken High students join AIDS Walk


Milken Community High School’s Kids Who Care AIDS walk team

A group of students from Milken Community High School joined the fight against AIDS with their feet and their finances. The school-sponsored Kids Who Care team participated in AIDS Walk Los Angeles on Oct. 19. Tenth-grade chairs, Michelle Nabati, who raised nearly $2,000 on her own, and Jillian Weyman signed up more than 100 students for the walk and raised $5,000 for AIDS medical research.

Inaugural award goes to volunteer social worker


Sally Miller and Charlotte Kamenir Photo by Melody Vargas/JFS

Sally Miller, a social worker from New York City who moved to Los Angeles, has spent the past few years caring for lonely and frail seniors living in Park LaBrea. Her volunteer efforts through Jewish Family Service’s L.I.F.E. program earned her the first Charlotte Kamenir Volunteer of Distinction award,presented during a Nov. 5 luncheon in Brentwood.

U.N. kids support Israel


(From left) Nir Winshtok, Liron Hala, Viviana Artzyeli, Public Affairs Consul Shahar Azani, Dalia Mizrahi, Carolyn Ben Natan and LiAmi Lawrence

The Israeli Consulate staff participated in the 10th annual “Kids Uniting Nations Day” at the Santa Monica Pier. The event, sponsored by Daphne Ziman, brought together 1,000 foster children for an afternoon of L.A. fun. But the best part? A bunch of multiethnic children wearing backpacks that said, “You have a friend in Israel.”

Dear Condoleeza Rice:

Last Saturday, on the Jewish Sabbath, I was attending prayer services at one of the big synagogues in Los Angeles, Beth Jacob Congregation, when something unusual happened that made me think of writing you this letter.

After the services, a young black man named Adam Akabar got up to speak. He was a Muslim refugee from Darfur, and he came to tell us his story and ask for our help.

His cause, he said, was to expose and protest the genocide going on in his homeland.

Akabar is a sweet-looking man, maybe in his late 20s or early 30s. In front of a few hundred members of the synagogue, he looked a little awkward, even intimidated. But he got more comfortable as he began telling his story. It started several years ago, when he was in college in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and he heard troubling reports from his home area of Darfur.

He got a digital camera and headed south to Darfur, where, at first, he worked as a translator in the camps for displaced persons. While interviewing people in the camps, he saw the extent of the atrocities, so he made it his mission to document them. For a few years, he secretly investigated and documented the genocide, until he was caught, shot and tortured by the Sudanese government.

By a stroke of luck, he was able to retrieve his memory cards when his camera was confiscated and destroyed and his pictures survived. Through the help of a U.N. official, he managed to flee Sudan, and, for the past year, has been traveling the United States with his photos and personal accounts to expose the ongoing nightmare happening to his people.

The pictures are so gruesome that the activist who accompanied him to the synagogue decided they wouldn’t be appropriate for an audience that included families with children.

The absence of pictures, though, didn’t stop members of the audience from expressing their sadness and frustration at the state of affairs in Akabar’s homeland.

When it came time to ask questions, one person after another, many of them children of Holocaust survivors, wanted to know: “What can we do to stop this genocide?”

The answers, of course, were weak.

How could they not be? When an estimated 400,000 people have already perished, and millions are still being “cleansed,” typical activist ideas like “write a letter to your congressman,” “get on this Web site and make a donation” and “tell everyone you know” are simply no match for this level of crisis.

It’s when I heard those weak answers, Ms. Rice, that I felt compelled to write to you.

Personally, I’ve been hearing about the crisis in Darfur for longer than I want to remember, and I’ve seen how celebrity activists and numerous groups around the world have done their best to expose and protest the genocide.

Yet, somehow, the years go by and the tragedy continues.

In the Jewish community, the word “Darfur” has become a shorthand for tikkun olam (healing the world). Sadly, though, we have reached the point where the infuriating absence of real progress has brought many of us close to “Darfur fatigue.”

So I am calling on you, Ms. Rice, for the obvious reason that as the top diplomat for the most influential country in the world, you have real power.

Still, while I am envious of that power, I confess that when I look at your sense of priorities, I’m not very optimistic.

I don’t understand, for example, how you could go to the Middle East 21 times over the past few years, and agonize for weeks on end on the Israel-Palestinian conflict over things like roadblocks, building permits and border crossings, and, while millions of Darfurians are going through a historical genocide, make only one short, ineffective trip in four years to that part of the world.

Even accounting for my innate cynicism about politics and politicians in this case, you probably not wanting to upset China, which owns a huge chunk of U.S. government debt and which sucks up 80 percent of the oil in the Darfur region your lack of a concerted response to this crime against humanity is disheartening.

Nevertheless, it’s still not too late to save the Darfurians who are still alive. Congress has already passed legislation expressing its outrage and empowering you to act. Your boss would love nothing more than a foreign policy accomplishment to salvage something to his tarnished legacy. And you can bet this won’t come from Jerusalem: You probably realize by now that in the present circumstances, a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians has the same likelihood of happening as Louis Farrakhan becoming an Israel-loving Christian evangelist.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Jews don’t appreciate your 21 trips to the Middle East. It’s just that there are other areas, like Darfur in Africa, where millions of people are in clear and present danger, and they also need your immediate and undivided attention.

So go to Darfur, Ms. Rice, and make a stink. Knock a few heads. Expose the criminals. Do what you should have done a long time ago: Create an urgent global coalition to save the Darfurians.

You’ve already shown how you can bend over backward for the Palestinians, who have been under special U.N. care for decades, and who are easily the most coddled refugees in history.

Now show the world what you can do for the Darfurians, whose cause may not be as “politically relevant” as the Palestinians’, but whose humanitarian crisis has no modern-day parallel.

In the little time you have left, you can still make a difference. Just be as tenacious with Darfur as you’ve been with Jerusalem and Ramallah.

And if you decide to go, I suggest you contact Adam Akabar and ask him to show you some of his pictures. Just make sure there are no kids around.

David Suissa, an advertising executive, is founder of OLAM magazine and He can be reached at

Albert Winn’s photography captures the intertwining influences of Judaism and illness

When the cold-and-flu season rolls around, Albert Winn’s longtime boyfriend usually gets sidelined by a bug for a week or two, but Winn says he seldom gets a sniffle.

“Virus?” Winn said with a chuckle as he mused on his robustness. “You don’t know from virus.”

Sixty-year-old Winn has been living with HIV since at least the late 1980s.

“I was diagnosed in 1989, but a previous boyfriend had died, and I knew plenty of guys who had become sick,” he said.

In 1989, many gay men were burying lovers and tending to sick friends.

That grim landscape inspired many gay artists and activists to turn morosely inward or angrily outward — to create art heavy with loss or to shake a fist at the larger social and political order that stood by idly as thousands died.

But as a gay Jew with AIDS who was about to launch his career as a photographer, Winn saw that fateful turn in his life not as a predicament but as an opportunity to document and explore the interplay between the distinct yet overlapping elements that defined him as a person.

Which is not to say that Winn’s 20-year AIDS odyssey has been anything less than arduous.

Like many people who received a diagnosis in the early years of the epidemic, Winn suspects he had been living with HIV for some time before telltale illnesses prompted him to get tested.

“It hit me pretty strongly,” he said. “I was perfectly OK in the doctor’s office, then I got into my car and started crying.”

At the time, Winn was living in West Hollywood with Scott Portnoff, his flu-prone boyfriend, and working toward his master of fine arts in photography at California Institute of the Arts.

“I told Scott, ‘I’m not going to let this get me down,'” Winn recalled.

Winn’s resolve was soon tested. He began to develop wasting syndrome — a condition in which the body can’t produce enough energy to replace the muscle and fat it loses as it fights disease — and his doctors told him there was nothing they could do to stop his decline.

Coming out to his family as gay had been a long, difficult process for Winn. The sudden onset of AIDS served to clarify the preciousness of time for him, and he decided he was going to explain his new situation to everyone who was dear to him as soon as possible.

He got on a plane and flew to Florida so that he could tell his parents about his illness face-to-face.

“At the time, AIDS was a death sentence, and they needed to see that I was alive,” Winn said. “A funny thing happens when you become ill. Even though you’re the person who’s sick, you have to be a caregiver in a way. You can’t just dump information on people.”

Such insight — that people who are gravely ill are not “the dying” but are still to be counted among “the living” — was pivotal for Winn. It informed not only his approach to his illness but also his angle on the work he was producing as a photographer.

“I had already been doing a lot of self-portraits,” he said. “Then it clicked — this is now my topic. Not just self-portraits, but autobiography.”

His thesis project at CalArts began to take shape as “My Life Until Now,” a collage of images and text anchored by autobiographical photography that reveals Winn and his life in thick detail.

If his HIV diagnosis spurred the development of his artist’s eye, Winn’s sparring with Nicholas Nixon, a mentor to Winn who had been one of the first photographers to document the AIDS crisis, helped to clarify his vision.

Nixon’s photographs depicted the ravages of AIDS in clinical and often gruesome imagery. When Nixon’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the show was picketed by gay activists who saw the pictures as dehumanizing.

“I had a similar reaction to the project,” Winn said. “I was concerned about how gay people and people with AIDS were represented. You’ve got to remember that you’re looking at a person.”

Portraying his personhood meant, for Winn, including signifiers of his Jewish and gay identities as well as emblems of his struggle with AIDS. Thus, images in “My Life Until Now” often feature moments in his relationship with Scott and the everyday, intertwining influences of Judaism and illness.

One of the most affecting pictures in the project is “Akedah,” in which the viewer sees Winn’s bare torso, his arm wrapped with tefillin, and an adhesive bandage in the crook of his left elbow.

“I began to practice putting on tefillin,” said Winn, who was raised in a Conservative family but had never considered himself religious. “There was something primal about binding prayers to your arm, next to your heart — to get them as close to your skin as you can.”

The act of binding prayers to his body also helped Winn contain the difficult feelings triggered by the daily ritual of having his blood drawn while he was in a clinical study of experimental AIDS therapies at UCLA.

“Over time, instead of getting used to it, it got worse,” Winn said. “So I wondered, ‘How do I make sense out of something that’s driving me insane?'”

The physical similarity between the act of putting on teffilin and “a Jewish guy having a rubber thing wrapped around his arm” was obvious to Winn. But the deeper resonance was between the life-and-death urgency of his situation and the ancient story of the binding of Isaac.

“I realized I was making a sacrifice for science, but it was also saving my life,” Winn said.

The picture, which Winn took shortly after having his blood drawn during the UCLA study, became one of the most iconic images in “My Life Until Now.” It has since become part of the permanent collections in the Library of Congress and the Jewish Museum in New York.

Photography: A ‘Vanished’ Berlin through Roman Vishniac’s lens

Shortly after famed photographer Roman Vishniac died in 1990, his daughter Mara checked through his New York apartment. In the bottom drawer of a file cabinet she found a bundle of folders and envelopes labeled “Berlin.”

The discovery was a surprise to Mara and her mother, Luta. Vishniac had gained worldwide renown for his masterful photographic record of Jewish life in the shtetls and urban ghettoes of Eastern Europe, shortly before they were extinguished in the Holocaust.

Later, this collection of photos was exhibited and published under the apt title, “A Vanished World.”

But the Berlin photos were practically unknown, or were presumed to have been left behind when Vishniac fled Berlin, his home for 20 years, in 1939.

Vishniac hadn’t given much thought to his Berlin photos either. Many were found at the end of long sequences of pictures of plant and insect microorganisms. A pioneer in microphotography, Vishniac had apparently snapped the Berlin scenes to finish up rolls of film.

Some 40 of the Berlin photos, first curated by Aubrey Pomerance at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, are now on exhibit through Dec. 14 at UCLA Hillel’s Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts.

Most of the photos were taken in the 1920s, shortly after the Russian-born Vishniac settled in Berlin, then the center of a vibrant art and music renaissance.

Vishniac seemed most interested, however, in the lives of ordinary people, the distinctive “Berliner” types who now represent a vanished world of their own.

Or, as UCLA Hillel director Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller put it at the exhibit’s opening reception, “You are standing in front of history.”

There are working-class pub patrons, chimney sweeps, bus conductors, booksellers and rotund beer wagon drivers.

After the Nazi takeover in 1933, Vishniac’s attention turned toward the increasingly embattled Jewish community, with Jewish children in separate schools, petitioners seeking help to leave the country, placards extolling Hitler, and young Jews on training farms preparing for kibbutz life in Palestine.

Scattered throughout are photos of Vishniac’s extended family, taken mostly at party reunions, which resemble, to the unschooled eye at least, the stiff-posed pictures spread across any family album.

The master’s touch is more apparent in a series of remarkable portraits of Vishniac’s friends, among them the Russian pre-Bolshevik leader Alexander Kerensky and the great tenor Joseph Schmidt.

Mara Vishniac Kohn, who is the keeper of her father’s legacy and a living link to his work, was at the opening reception and talked at some length to The Journal.

Now living in Santa Barbara and the wife of Nobel Laureate Walter Kohn, she said that as a youngster in Berlin she was largely unaware of the momentous changes happening around her and that the family was at first partially shielded by holding Latvian passports.

However, Vishniac Kohn recalled one unusual assignment. While her parents listened to illegal radio broadcasts from Moscow and London, young Mara was stationed outside to warn of any approaching strangers.

“Roman Vishniac’s Berlin,” a handsome book of the exhibit with commentary by Vishniac Kohn, has been published by the Jewish Museum Berlin in English and German.

The exhibit is at UCLA Hillel, 574 Hilgard Ave. in Westwood, and is co-sponsored by Germany’s Goethe Institut and the local consulate general, Club ’33, and the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information, go to, or phone Hillel artistic director Perla Karney at (310) 208-3081, ext. 108.

Celebrating Jewnity the Jewlicious way

“It’s become cool to be Jewish,” says comedian Eric Schwartz, a.k.a. Smooth E., before he quotes one of his own songs, “Jewish is trendy, Jewish is fun, it took 2,000
years, but it finally caught on!”

Schwartz is on stage dressed in a flat cap, brown tweed jacket, jeans and a big bow tie during ” vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ border = ‘0’ align = left width = 250 alt=””>
Jewlicious attendees represent the spectrum of Jewish faith. Young women from more liberal streams walked around in shoulder-baring tank tops, while many men covered their heads with kippot.

Here people are comfortable “wearing their Jewish identity on the outside,” said Rachel Bookstein, director of the Long Beach Hillel and program coordinator for the Jewlicious festivals.

The annual gathering seeks to create a forum for celebrating Jewish identity, values and traditions. Along with celebrating in the traditional sense — loads of good food, wine, raucous music and dancing — participants also delighted in late-night talks about kabbalah, kosher wine tasting and for one girl, meeting a great guy she wants to set her sister up with.

Most of the crowd was under 22, evenly divided between men and women. And the number of people attending the 60-hour weekend has grown tremendously since the first gathering in 2005 drew roughly 100 people.

There were attendees who came to meet new people, and there were those who came to reunite with old friends from Camp Ramah, NFTY and Birthright Israel.
Most of the students were from nearby California colleges, like Jordan Antonoff, 21, from Cal State Long Beach.

Antonoff played his guitar as part of an impromptu parking lot jam session on Saturday afternoon, and during Sunday night’s Israeli Shuk Dinner, the Starbucks barista made use of his drink-serving skills by volunteering to hand out soda bottles. At some point during the weekend, just about everyone contributed to the kibbutz-like atmosphere.

Layah Barry, 24, came not knowing a single person.

The Long Beach student remembered walking past the campus Hillel booth when someone handed her a bright pink, green and blue flier that read: “Jewlicious 3.0 at the Beach, ‘Good for the Jews!'”

Barry had just moved to the area and was looking to make Jewish friends, something she never had growing up.

“I knew right away I would go,” said Barry, whose hand was covered in intricate henna designs from a popular festival booth.

Barry arrived alone Friday afternoon and wandered into the “Jewlicious Cafe,” a lounge stocked with self-serve coffee, tea and other drinks available around the clock.

“I sat in the empty cafe and a big group of girls from Sonoma walked in. They sat down next to me,” said Barry, who added that to her surprise the girls asked her name and struck up a conversation.

In addition to the local contingents, college students and presenters came from such places as Seattle, New York, Las Vegas, Toronto, Israel and Uganda.

” target = “_blank”>Rabbi Yonah “Rabbi Yo” Bookstein, 37, and his wife, Rachel, 34, director of the Long Beach Hillel.

To Tell the Truth

Harry Potter’s Mirror of Erised, tucked into a secret room in the dark corridors of Hogwarts, allows the person who looks into it to see what they most desire to be. There seems to be a similar notion in the world of online dating.

A computer becomes a tool to create a “new and improved” version of yourself.

Short people become “not overly tall,” shy people become “pensive and thoughtful,” unemployed becomes “self-employed,” and living with the folks becomes “family oriented and saving for the future.” Delusional becomes creative. And dating reaches some desperate lows.

A little embellishment here and there isn’t so bad — creativity and a sense of humor are always great things. But there are just certain things that you should never lie about.

1. Physical attributes.
How many times have you opened the door to find a person 4 inches lower to the earth than what they had told you? One person I agreed to meet told me he was 5-foot-6 — exactly my height — so I was a bit annoyed when, even wearing lip-flops, I turned out to be a good 2 inches taller than him.

“My eyes are only blue with certain outfits” is actually a buyable lie. But height is pretty much set in stone once you exit the teens.

Then, of course, there is the touchy subject of weight. Most people probably post their wishful driver’s license weight, thinking at least they have “proof” in writing.

One guy admitted to me that although his profile said he was 170 he was more like 190, and honesty is a good thing, right? So how was he to explain the additional 45 pounds that followed him to my door on our first date? Did he think that I just wasn’t going to notice, or believe that he went on a crazy pre-date jitters eating binge that made 45 pounds show up overnight?

2. Pictures
There are those online who are honest and upfront enough to post recent and un-Photoshopped, untouched up, non-photo shoot, actually-looks-like-me pictures. And then there are those who are not.

I’ve had too many dates start with a smile and confusion as I have an inner dialogue: That’s who I’ve been talking to? Did I remember to ask him if his photos were recent? How fast can I eat this ice cream and leave without getting brain freeze?

3. Age
Like it or not we were all born on a certain day of a certain year, and that (along with your height) is set in stone. The people who have lied to me about their age all have their own reasons. Usually it’s the younger guys who make themselves a few years older so that they will show up in my search preferences. Then three or four dates down the road they give me the, “Oh, by the way….”

One guy who was already four years older then me lied and made himself even older! When I asked him why, he said that he looked older anyway so he changed his age to match what people usually said. Excuse me? I mean I’ve been told oodles of times that I have a baby face, but you don’t see me telling people that I’m 300 months old to somehow get that infantile sense.

4. Personal Habits
I had one man tell me that he was a nonsmoker, though four conversations later he divulged that he did smoke, just not cigarettes. Then another told me he was a nonsmoker, to later go into detail that he was actually just “working on trying to start convincing himself that he should really begin to seriously think about” quitting. Or some other equally far-fetched story that left me rolling my eyes and politely declining plans to meet.

5. Odds and Ends Details
One of my personal favorite stories was a man who told me that he had never been in a serious relationship before, so one could understand my confusion when during our first date he mentioned his exes. When I finally asked him what he meant, he said that since he wasn’t with them anymore it just didn’t count. Oh, if only the world worked that way.

The bottom line is just don’t do it. Do you really think people aren’t going to notice those few inches, those extra pounds that cloud of smoke around your head? What do you expect will happen when you start a relationship by completely misrepresenting yourself?

Most of the men I’ve confronted about it just got mad, hoping that I would “give this a chance.” Give what a chance? The delusional version of yourself that you created in your own Mirror of Erised? I don’t think so. The next upgrade that online dating needs is a giant red stamp saying liar that a person can vote to place over your profile, warning the next innocent online dater of what is really going on.

Caroline Cobrin is a writer living in Van Nuys and can be reached at