Program helps grandparents nurture interfaith grandkids


Bettina Kurowski is the chair of the 2008 fundraising campaign of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and active in her Conservative synagogue.

She’s also a grandmother of three young grandchildren. They give her great naches, or joy, she says, but she’s also worried — the children’s father is not Jewish, the kids are being raised in an interfaith home and Kurowski, for all her Jewish involvement, is not sure what role she should play in passing on the Jewish heritage that is so dear to her.

“My husband and I are the keepers of the Jewish tradition, the culture and values of Judaism — what it really means to be a Jew,” Kurowski said. “I took it upon myself to study how to be the best grandparent I could be while acknowledging the non-Jewish side of their family.”

“I didn’t want to give the children the sense that there’s something wrong with people who are not Jewish, but I still want to give them a sense of pride in being Jewish,” she added. “It’s a fine line.”

Looking around, Kurowski found few resources for grandparents like herself. She says she’s the only one in her circle of friends whose children intermarried, and she felt the need to share her concerns with others in her situation.

She got that chance last week when the Grandparents Circle held its first meeting at Valley Beth Shalom, Kurowski’s congregation in Encino.

The Grandparents Circle, which launched its pilot course on Jan. 8 in Los Angeles and will launch another in Atlanta on Jan. 29, is a new program created by the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI) to help grandparents present their Jewish heritage to their grandchildren in intermarried households.

Grandparents meet in groups of 20 to 25 for five weeks of guided discussion, share their concerns and learn specific skills for passing on Jewish history and tradition without forcing it on the children.

“They want to pass on their Jewish identity and background, they want to share their history and who they are with their grandchildren, but it has to be done in a way that’s interesting to the grandchildren,” said Liz Marcovitz, a program officer at the institute. “You can’t just start talking about Judaism with no context.”

The course is inspired by “Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do,” a 2007 JOI publication.

When Kurowski read the book last year, she and her husband donated the funds to build a curriculum around it. Her federation has earmarked funds to run the pilot course, and Kurowski says it hopes to expand the course to other synagogues in the Los Angeles area.

Marcovitz says the Jewish communities of Chicago and Hartford, Conn., among others, are interested.

Eventually, JOI plans to set up a national listserve for all such grandparents, whether they have taken the course or not.

Suzette Cohen is organizing the program in Atlanta. She notes that the city’s Jewish community, which has a 60 percent intermarriage rate, is in its sixth year of running the Mothers Circle, a JOI support group for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children. Many of the Jewish parents of those intermarried couples have asked for a similar program for them.

“They often dance around the issue, afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing” and offending their child or the non-Jewish spouse, Cohen said.

The first Atlanta circle is already oversubscribed; a second group is filling quickly.

The gist of the book and the course is to teach by example: Invite the grandchildren to Passover seders in your home, show them photos of your family, light Shabbat candles and tell them why it’s important to you.

Build “layers of Jewish memories,” the book suggests, that will remain with the children as they grow to adulthood.

Grandparents are an often-overlooked influence on the lives of their grandchildren, said JOI’s associate director, Paul Golin. The institute’s extensive research on the adult children of intermarried couples found that one of the major influences on the religious identities of these young adults was their grandparents.

But it’s not a straight shot.

“It’s not about parenting, it’s about influence,” Golin said. “It happens holistically. If the grandparents are just who they are and have contact with the grandkids, they’ll have that influence. That’s why we say, just be the best Jew you can be. You don’t want to come across as a Hebrew school teacher.”

The Grandparents Circle is designed for Jewish grandparents whose intermarried children are open to it. If the grandchildren are being raised exclusively Christian, Golin notes, it is a much more delicate matter.

That’s the situation facing Rose Sowadsky, an Atlanta-area grandmother whose two grandchildren are being raised Methodist.

The children “are aware” she is Jewish — they were at her home Christmas Eve and saw she had no tree — but they have never asked her about it.

“They must have been well prompted at home,” she supposed.

Sowadsky does not expect to have any influence on her grandchildren’s religious upbringing, but she signed up for the Grandparents Circle for moral support.

“I want to see how others cope with it,” she said.

Many participants come to the group as couples, and many others are single women, usually widowed, like Sowadsky, or divorced.

Dr. Bob Licht, a semiretired Los Angeles dentist, is the lone single man in the group at Valley Beth Shalom. When his wife of 62 years died last summer, he felt he needed help passing on his Jewish heritage to his 4-year-old great-grandson.

The boy’s father, Licht’s grandson, is Jewish, but the boy’s mother is not. Licht said his children and grandchildren, including the boy’s father, received an appreciation and understanding of Judaism from him and his late wife.

Now that she is gone, Licht feels somewhat adrift. The boy had a brit milah, but Licht wants to make sure he continues on a Jewish path.

A Festival of Lights — lite


How many Jews does it take to change a lightbulb?

Here’s a hint: Sing this song by Deborah Kornfield to the tune of “I Have a Little Dreidel”:

I have a brand new lightbulb,
It’s a miracle you see;
It lights the room completely,
Using half the energy.
Oh compact fluorescent lightbulb.
I really have to kvell;
It’s just so energy efficient.
And it saves you gelt as well.

The question is, in fact, the name of a campaign launched by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL). Humorous title and cute lyrics aside, COEJL is on a serious mission to heighten ecoconsciousness in a Jewish context, and this initiative focuses on — you guessed it — energy-efficient lightbulbs.

COEJL’s Web site describes its three-pronged approach of “engaging the Jewish community in awareness, advocacy and concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy conservation and sustainable legislation,” in order to “change how American Jewry responds to … daunting environmental problems.”

This all sounds good, but why, you may be wondering, is this a Jewish issue?
God said this to Adam: “See My works, how good and praiseworthy they are? And all that I have created, I made for you. [But] be mindful that you do not spoil and destroy My world — for if you spoil it, there is no one after you to repair it” (Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 7:13).

And, COEJL argues, Jewish values such as tikkun olam and tzedek should be extended to include not just people but other animals and plants.

OK, you’ve conceded. It is Jewish. But is this really about Chanukah?

Well, what about the Festival of Lights? About making resources last longer than we thought they could? Like for eight nights, perhaps?

High-efficiency lightbulbs actually last eight times longer than regular lightbulbs. Imagine that. And speaking of the number eight, see COEJL’s list of eight actions in eight days as a simple and concrete way to bring some ecoconsciousness into your Chanukah holiday practice.

So, you might be left wondering, just how many Jews does it take to change a lightbulb? As many as possible. As of the writing of this article, more than 20,000 energy-efficient lightbulbs have been sold through COEJL, saving 8,250 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

So, as you nosh on your latkes this Chanukah, be a modern-day Maccabee — take action against global warming and environmental degradation.

Rachel Kantrowitz is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.

Getting Kids Into Charity Pays Off Big


Start talking to wealthy families about the benefits of getting kids involved in philanthropy, and they’ll tell you the biggest beneficiaries are the kids — and their families. They say even young children who get involved learn the value of money, the limits of resources and the need for tough decisions. It also helps sheltered youths meet and understand people who are less fortunate and provides a values-based structure for bringing families together year after year.

But getting kids involved with giving isn’t just for wealthy families. On the contrary, middle-class kids tend to have much more than they need — and can benefit from the values and insights they will get from charitable activities. It’s up to parents to get them going, and to figure out the best structure for the entire family’s charitable activities.

Either way, decisions about giving will have to take account of what you can afford, what you believe, and what you hope to accomplish, both for your family and for the beneficiaries of your largesse. The outcome is likely to be a stronger family, as well as a better world.

Perhaps the most basic question from clients is: At what age should kids be engaged in philanthropy? The overwhelming answer from those with experience boils down to one word: young.

“As soon as you hear them say the word ‘mine,’ it’s time,” said Claire Costello, director of Citigroup Private Bank’s philanthropic-advisory service in New York.

Teaching children the right lessons about giving is a job that only families can do. In part, that’s because most high schools and colleges do little to teach young people to handle money, said Susan Crites Price, author of “The Giving Family: Raising Our Children to Help Others” (Council on Foundations). It’s especially easy for affluent kids to avoid learning about delayed gratification, establishing a budget, or making hard spending choices. Unfortunately, Price laments, parents often fail to talk to their kids about wealth. An allowance can help, but the lessons of an allowance should include the lessons of philanthropy.

“I think that’s really critical,” she said.

If you give your kids an allowance, consider starting with the old three-jar rule: one for spending, one for saving and one for giving. For an incentive, parents might offer to match what the kids donate. As the children get older, they can be given a modest pot of money, as little as $100 each, and then be asked how they might want to make the world a better place. Do they care about libraries? Animals? People with no place to live? If there are several children, they can meet to decide what causes to support. And when a cause has been identified, they can be taken to visit the potential recipient. Parents who donate their time to a philanthropic effort should have their children accompany them. These occasions are an opportunity to teach kids not only about giving but also how they should treat people.

Parents who don’t get involved in philanthropy themselves can’t reasonably expect the kids to get involved, said Douglas Mellinger, vice chairman of Foundation Source, a provider of foundation services.

“You need to exemplify it,” he said.

And active parents need to communicate their involvement.

Said Price: “I’ve talked to families whose kids said, ‘I didn’t even know my parents were philanthropic until I read in the newspaper that the new hospital wing was being named for them.'”

One of the benefits of getting the kids involved is that family members start talking about the things they care about, which can help build trust and lower the level of any conflicts over money. Greg Kuhn, a family business consultant, said the biggest problem he sees is a lack of trust among family members, which inhibits succession planning if there is a business. Family giving, he said, is one way families can build trust concerning money. The younger generation gets valuable experience, and the older generation gets reassurance.

Clients can also build a sense of togetherness by weaving the act of charitable giving into family traditions, Kuhn said.

“Create any kind of family ritual around giving,” Kuhn said, suggesting holidays and birthdays as occasions for philanthropic activity.

Do the kids really need such an avalanche of presents, or would greater satisfaction come from a little giving, along with all that getting?

It doesn’t take much legal advice or other expertise to help young children get used to giving. But over the long run, even prosperous middle-class families may want a more formal structure for giving that suits their needs, their pocketbooks and their preferences. That’s where advisers have a natural part to play. The main choice is between establishing a family foundation or relying on a donor-advised fund. Each has benefits and costs. The good news is that the expenses and headaches associated with both choices have fallen in recent years, to the point where neither is any longer solely the province of the rich.

A family foundation puts clients in the driver’s seat. The family gets to control the foundation’s assets, set policy and name board members. Having family members on the board can deepen familial bonds, and the foundation, at least theoretically, can exist in perpetuity.

“As a family, it’s brought us much closer together,” affirmed Sara Barrow, whose foundation involves her father, stepmother, husband, brother and his wife. “We meet four times a year and talk all the time about this.”

Barrow, who is also program officer for Family Philanthropy Advisors, a foundation services firm, says she’s also raising her own children to be involved in philanthropy. Her example illustrates an important point made by Citigroup’s Costello: “Philanthropy is a platform for family unity.”

Get the cousins working together, said Diane B. Neimann, president of Family Philanthropy Advisors.

Teach them which questions to ask, see that they actually get out and visit charities, and hold everyone accountable.

“Make sure there are more requests than funds, so the kids learn to say no,” she added.

On a practical level, family foundations can reimburse trustees for travel expenses to attend meetings and can pay the trustees “reasonable” fees for their work, so, in a sense, the foundation can underwrite family gatherings to discuss doing good deeds. And donations to a foundation are tax-deductible.

“The family foundation is an extremely good vehicle when the family wants to be very much involved,” Neimann said.

But some of the advantages of a family foundation can also be disadvantages. It can take a lot of everyone’s time, for example. And all that control comes at a price; it can be expensive in terms of legal fees and other costs, including an excise tax on foundation earnings. Annual tax returns are required and become public records, which might matter to donors who prefer anonymity.

Costello said that traditionally $2 million was considered the minimum necessary to make a family foundation worthwhile, but she believes this rule of thumb is no longer the case.

Mellinger agreed: he said Foundation Source, for instance, is glad to service foundations with less than $250,000 in assets for a fee of $2,000 per year plus three-tenths of 1 percent of assets. That covers all compliance and paperwork plus a secure Web site allowing foundation officers and directors to conduct their business. At those rates, a foundation with $100,000 in assets would pay $2,300 a year. Foundation Source will set up the foundation, including legal work and government filing fees, for just $4,750, Mellinger said.

If you want simplicity or have less money, go for a donor-advised fund. Sometimes operated by a community foundation, such as the Toledo Community Foundation that Georgia Welles has used for some of her Granny funds, a donor-advised fund can be established without a large initial outlay. Families typically can open a donor-advised account with just $10,000, but many community foundations will let donors start with less, making these vehicles ideal for the young. Also, most community foundations will give the money to pretty much any charity your client wants, as long as the Internal Revenue Service recognizes it as a legitimate charitable organization.

With no board of directors or tax filings, donor-advised funds save headaches. And as public charities, donor-advised funds offer attractive tax advantages. Cash gifts to such a fund are deductible up to 50 percent of adjusted gross income, whereas gifts of securities are deductible up to 30 percent. For a family foundation, the maximum allowable deductions are just 30 percent of adjusted gross income for cash donations and 20 percent for securities. Another advantage: The investment income of a donor-advised fund is free of the excise tax that foundations must pay on their earnings, noted Jon Skillman, president of the more than $2.7 billion Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund.

Skillman’s outfit, which claims more than 32,000 donors and the most assets of any donor-advised fund, strives to offer a level of convenience that parallels what Foundation Source offers to foundations. Though clients need $10,000 to open an account, outbound donations don’t have to be big; Fidelity allows donations to any IRS-approved charity in amounts of $250 or more. If you use its Web site (www.charitablegift.org), Fidelity will even save you the trouble of writing a check or licking a stamp. The site also offers help in choosing a charity, including detailed third-party reports on thousands of them.

Client funds on deposit at Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund are invested in pools of Fidelity mutual funds (there are four such pools to choose from, varying in aggressiveness), and Skillman says total expenses, including administrative and fund fees, range from 1.42 percent to 1.84 percent annually. For an account worth $10,000, that translates to perhaps $150 per year — and that covers money management in addition to administrative services.

Donor-advised funds also have their disadvantages. Although Fidelity offers unlimited succession, many community foundations will allow only one or two generations to succeed the donor, after which donor influence is discontinued. Foundations make it easier to carry on a family legacy generation after generation. A foundation gives a family a sense of ownership earned through personal involvement. It forces families to lay out their values and goals and to face one another on the board. With a donor-advised fund, it is easier for family members to “phone it in.” And for most families, phoning it in is precisely what’s not wanted. That’s why so many experts recommend giving kids some money of their own to allocate.

Mellinger tells of a Brownie Girl Scout troop in Denver that raised a little more than $100 and, with some adult guidance, embarked on a serious discussion of how to give it away. Some of the girls advocated an organization devoted to animal welfare, and soon the Brownies were debating whether it was more important to help animals or people.

As David Welles Jr. said of his own family, “The real fun is to watch how engaged our kids get.”

Skillman says children can be amazingly creative in putting charitable funds to use: “We had a young donor, 11 years old, who awarded a grant to a Braille printing company so blind kids could enjoy ‘Harry Potter.'”

Still, getting — and keeping — adult children involved can be a challenge if the older generation fails to take account of the children’s values, which often differ from their parents’.

Neimann observed that the older givers tend to focus on museums, colleges and other institutions, often in the community where the family has roots. Young adults, she said, are more mobile and more international in outlook. Their interests run more toward environmental causes, civil rights and community development.

“The hard thing is to reconcile these differences,” she said.

Parents have to allow room for the philanthropic passions of the young to differ from their own. The good news, she added, is that older clients seem more aware than they used to be that they can’t run a foundation forever.

Said Neimann: “People no longer want to control as much from the grave.”

That can open the door to some creative solutions. For example, if the older folks want to fund a museum and the young ones care about education, perhaps all can agree to fund the museum’s arts-education program. Or money can be divided up so there is some for the founder’s passions and a portion for those of the new generation. Or there can be a separate fund for the young to give as they wish. “You have to get the generations talking to each other,” Neimann said. “I think they find that a rich experience.”

Daniel Akst is a novelist and essayist living in New York’s Hudson Valley. He contributes to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe, among other publications.


Getting Kids Into Giving

• Do get them started young.

• Do model philanthropic behavior. Make it part of family activities and celebrations.

• Do give teenagers money that they can decide how to donate.

• Do volunteer and take the kids along.

• Do encourage the kids’ school to make teaching service and giving a priority.

• Do choose an appropriate vehicle, whether a coffee can for loose change, a donor-advised fund, or a full-blown family foundation.

• Don’t make your children’s giving decisions for them. But insist they do the research to support their own choices.

• Don’t expect teenagers to act charitably when you never have. Be an example.

Delivery for Your Brain


Need an amazing challah recipe? Want a book on Jewish history for your child’s report? How about a film for the next holiday? Well, now you can order in.

The Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles (JCLLA) created @ Your Door, a service to send some of its 25,000 books and resource materials directly to your home. From cookbooks to history books to Judaica to kids books, JCLLA will send you materials free of charge.

“At Your Door was conceived as a way to make it convenient for people to use the resources from this library — many of them are resources people aren’t able to find elsewhere,” said Abigail Yasgur, the creator of the program. She hopes that the convenience of home delivery will encourage the community to utilize the library — the only one of its kind completely devoted to books, CDs and DVDs on Jewish history, literature, arts and culture.

You don’t even need a membership card. Browse the online card catalog and have your driver’s license ready when you call in for checkout. If you live in Los Angeles, @ Your Door will then send off your package with a return label. One catch: You have to cover the cost of return postage. There is also a drop box at the library.

The program — now one year old — is popular at schools, where teachers send for materials they can use in the classroom. With a generous grant from the West Coast office of the KARMA Foundation, the library purchased audiobooks and will cater to the visually impaired.

Despite the extra cost of actually sending out the materials, Yasgur feels confident that it’s money well spent.

“I love people discovering their Judaism, and if they do it through reading … or resources like this, it’s the greatest thing we can bring the community,” she said.

For more information, contact Jewish Community Library
of Los Angeles at (323) 761-8644 or

Bringing Caring and God to the Sick


"So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom…." (Psalm 90:12)

Truth be told, there are no "soft issues" in medical ethics, unless by "soft" we mean the human issues, the matters of the spirit that so influence people’s capacity to heal and even (as research seems to be showing more and more) their ability to be cured. "Soft" is the "how" dimension of medical ethics, a critical complement to the "what" decisions that are often its salient province or overriding focus.

Perhaps the best place to start is to ask, "What are the psychosocial needs of people going through serious medical experiences?"

Let it first be acknowledged that the needs of these people are not unlike everyone else’s — just, perhaps, more so. People who are suffering, or struggling, or facing mortality — and those who care for them — need what we all need, if more urgently, boldly, unavoidably.

These universal needs include: a restoration of connection, a new relatedness — to a sense of self, the community, creation, God, the big picture; transcendence, growth, meaning, affirmation of their total identity (including but not limited to their diagnosis, condition or illness), an expanded sense of hope and possibility; re-empowerment, striking a balance of dependence and independence, taking charge and letting go; tools to integrate major losses or fundamental life-disruptions into their life-narrative.

Jews who are suffering, and those who care for them, similarly need and deserve resources of guidance, strength, insight, comfort, solace and hope — and, for centuries, have looked to Jewish tradition and the Jewish community for these resources. In diverse host cultures and civilizations, Jews developed a very strong tradition of bikur cholim (reaching out to those who are ill and those who care for them). This mitzvah was understood as a basic and far-reaching commandment that requires and enables us to emulate God’s own care and concern, indeed, to partner with God in making that care and concern manifest and tangible. Bikur cholim was highly developed through our treasured, evolving corpus of both narrative and legal texts.

"The essential feature of the mitzvah of visiting the sick is to pay attention to the needs of patients, to see to what is necessary to be done for their benefit, and to give them the pleasure of one’s company. It is also to customary to pray for mercy on their behalf." (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 193:3).

What a cogent summary of what folks need. Practical and individualized help, social and interpersonal connection and intercession/dialogue with God in echoing or amplifying the patients’ needs, wishes and prayers.

The good news is that these efforts, at least in my experience, are on the rebound in our community. More and more synagogues, Jewish community centers, day schools, healing programs, family service agencies, and other Jewish organizations are developing or revitalizing bikur cholim efforts, sometimes called G’mach for gimilut hasidim (deeds of loving kindness or caring committees). More than 200 bikur cholim organizers and volunteers, from more than 75 different sites in all corners of the Jewish community, took part in the November 2002 15th annual Bikur Cholim Conference in New York City. Jewish chaplaincy, long the terribly underfunded and neglected professional field in our community, is experiencing a growth in recognition, support and status. Rabbis, cantors and Jewish educators are devoting more time in training and continuing education to expand their skills and enhance their effectiveness in reaching out to the ill and their families and professional caregivers. And materials that help Jews hope and cope are multiplying.

Yet, so much remains to be done. We live in a society that desperately seeks not only to avoid disease and pain at all costs but also to deny vulnerability, aging, disability and mortality — and the Jewish community is not immune from these biases. Though it is somewhat more comfortable than it was in recent decades to utter the "c" word — cancer — Jews, like everyone else, recoil from serious illness, and we need to strategize how to restore illness and death to their natural and important place in our lives.

There are many ways to bring about the reintegration of illness and death into communal life. School curricula, youth group projects, film series, concerts, art exhibits, public programs where people tell their stories, rabbinic sermons and bulletin pieces can all work to undo the denial of suffering and death and enable Jews of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations to share the vulnerability and burdens of disease and disability. In these and other ways, we can reach for a time when Jews will feel freer to let others know of their challenges, more secure in asking for help and less constrained in offering it.

Complementing these educational and cultural innovations and communal change ought to be substantial advocacy efforts that work for a more humane and holistic approach to pain, suffering and healing. Convention resolutions are fine, but we must do more to "walk the walk." Synagogues, schools, service agencies and JCCs must join in challenging the current health-care systems that render so many suffering people alone, confused and despairing. Practical efforts directed at changing legislation, policies, and managed-care companies must go hand in hand with the one-on-one, direct support and service provision.

Our generation, as those before and after us, will be judged by how we listen and attend to those who are sick and vulnerable and to those who care for them. In the end, there is actually no "them"; there is only "us."

Reprinted from the Journal Sh’ma, a service of Jewish Family & Life!


Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, a certified social worker, is rabbinic director at the National Center for Jewish Healing/Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in New York.

Three JCCs to Gain Their Independence


The Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA), which last year nearly drowned amid a sea of red ink and allegations of mismanagement, wants to get out of the business of running major community centers after 60 years.

With pressures mounting to give the centers under its control greater autonomy, JCCGLA has gone a step further. Sometime next year, the Westside JCC in Los Angeles, Valley Cities JCC in Van Nuys and West Valley JCC in West Hills are scheduled to become fully independent entities with their own boards of directors, employees and budgets, said Nina Lieberman Giladi, JCCGLA executive vice president.

The trio of centers and the JCCGLA will retain strong links, Lieberman Giladi said. The JCCGLA, for yet-to-be-determined fees, will provide them with accounting, human resources, fundraising and other services, she said.

Lieberman Giladi said JCCGLA will continue to operate the Zimmer Children’s Discovery Museum, the Shalom Institute in Malibu and the Conejo Valley JCC,

It is unclear whether the independent centers would have to pay off debts incurred by JCCGLA. If they do, some observers question whether they could survive.

Lieberman Giladi said JCCGLA has balanced its budget and has made real progress in righting its finances. However, in recent negotiations with the centers’ unionized employees, JCCGLA officials allegedly asked for major concessions, including wage freezes, the elimination of several paid Jewish holidays and the curtailment of health benefits for many teachers and employees, said Jon Lepie of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 800.

"What they’ve said is that their financial situation is dire; that they have debt all over town, including credit card debt," he said. "It’s incredibly serious."

Robert Sax, JCCGLA spokesman, said the organization had no credit card debt. He declined to comment on Lepie’s allegation, saying JCCGLA doesn’t discuss ongoing negotiations.

The JCCGLA has taken steps to cut costs and better marshal its resources. For instance, it saw a one-time savings of $200,000 and will also save $150,000 annually from hiring a new accountant. It has also replaced its chief financial officer and made changes to prevent future financial crises.

"From all evidence I’ve seen in the last year, I’m confident of their abilities and that corrective actions have been taken," said Michael Kaminsky, president of Westside JCC Advisory Board and a JCCGLA board member.

However, JCCGLA remains saddled with a large debt. The organization owes The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles $2.8 million, The Federation said. Over the past eight months, the two groups have negotiated on repayment and a host of other issues. It is unclear how much debt The Federation would forgive, if any.

As part of its repayment, JCCGLA has, at the behest of The Federation, put a lien on two properties worth an estimated $1.1 million, including the site of the Silver Lake Independent JCC. That arrangement means The Federation would receive the proceeds from any sale.

The Federation said it would not take any action that would result in the closure of Silver Lake, at least until June 30, 2003. It is also in discussions with JCCGLA and the Silver Lake group to explore options after that date.

Silver Lake Independent JCC has improved its finances since breaking away from JCCGLA and now operates with a slight surplus, Silver Lake Chairman Janie Schulman said. In early December, a silent auction and dinner dance raised $20,000, she added.

Lieberman Giladi said the worst is behind JCCGLA, adding that the impending split with the Westside, Valley Cities and West Valley JCCs would help the centers.

"I believe this gives them the best possible chance [to survive]," she said. "Each of the JCCs will be able to broaden their base of support by developing their own governing bodies and programs."

Critics of JCCGLA had long complained that money raised by individual centers went into the JCCGLA general fund. They also groused that JCCGLA was sometimes unresponsive to local concerns.

"This will give us more control over our individual destinies," said Judy Boasberg, a Westside JCC board member. "Before, we didn’t have much input on what was going on."

Despite the optimism, the centers’ futures are by no means assured.

The Federation, by far JCCGLA’s biggest benefactor, has itself come under increasing financial pressure from the many agencies it supports. With cash-strapped federal, state and local governments slashing funding across the board, several nonprofit groups will likely turn to The Federation to make up any shortfalls. That could stretch The Federation thin, making it more difficult for JCCGLA or independent centers to tap its resources.

"We do not have unlimited funds," Federation President John Fishel said. "We have many responsibilities and will continue to meet as many of them as possible. It’s a balancing act."

In 2001, Federation grants, loans and advances to JCCGLA totaled $6.1 million, or nearly 44 percent of its $14 million budget, according to The Federation (that figure includes a $2.8 million emergency advance). Nationally, federation giving accounts for just 12 percent of the budgets at typical Jewish community centers, the JCC Association said.

This year, The Federation has earmarked $2.9 million for JCCGLA. The Federation also is contributing another $600,000 to run programs shed by JCCGLA during its financial crisis and taken over by Jewish Family Service, including SOVA, the Israel Levin Senior Center and Westside Adult Day Care.

It appears that JCCGLA has struggled more than many of its peer organizations nationwide. The Bay Cities JCC was the only Jewish community center in the United States to have closed in the past two years, the JCC Association said. As JCCGLA contracts, the overall number of affiliated Jewish community centers in the United States has grown in recent years, according the JCC Association.

Lieberman Giladi remains upbeat.

"I think the fact that the centers are here today is proof that they’ll be here tomorrow," she said. "We’ve already beaten the odds."

Services Offered by Community Centers

Conejo Valley JCC: Early childhood education (ECE); and intergenerational programming and community programs, such as lectures on parenting.

West Valley JCC: ECE; family programs; seniors programs; health and fitness; summer day camp; after-school child care; and cultural and fine-arts programs.

Valley Cities JCC: ECE; summer day camp; after-school child care; family programs; and some cultural programs, including staged-play reading series. Weekly seniors group and monthly senior dinner-dances.

Westside JCC: ECE; kindergarten; family programs; and some cultural programs. Budget cutbacks forced the suspension of seniors and health and fitness programs. Jewish Family Service runs a senior adult day care program.

North Valley JCC (Independent): ECE, after-school child care; after-school karate and gymnastics; winter, spring and holiday minicamps; swimming classes; senior bridge club; and adult social clubs. Beginning in January: adult evening programs, including Israeli dancing, beginning Hebrew and Jewish history.

Silverlake Independent JCC (Independent): ECE; kindergarten; after-school child care; ballet and other children’s classes; and fitness class for seniors

New Century Poses Challenge


One hundred years ago, when Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s predecessor, Kaspare Cohn Hospital, opened its doors with 12 beds as Los Angeles’ first Jewish hospital, such medical staples as penicillin and insulin remained to be discovered. Life expectancy was 51 years, and the average annual income was $467.

Today, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center exists in a world of dizzying medical developments, where scientists manipulate genes, and doctors are testing a diagnostic camera in a capsule so small that patients can swallow it. Life expectancy has increased by more than 25 years, and in 2000, the country spent $1.3 trillion on health-care costs.

In such an increasingly complex health-care environment, Cedars-Sinai’s ability to celebrate a second century will depend on how the medical center, which is also a research and educational institution, navigates a modern set of challenges. The 905-bed facility, like other U.S. hospitals, is facing skyrocketing costs coupled with shrinking insurance reimbursements, staffing shortages and an aging population that will place a severe strain on resources in the future.

"[There are a] myriad of challenges being thrown at the institution … [which put] a tremendous amount of pressure on all [health-care] organizations," said Thomas M. Priselac, president and chief executive officer of Cedars-Sinai Health System. "We believe that if we [fulfill the strategic objectives supporting] our mission and our vision — what it is we stand for and what we want to achieve … we will be able to keep the institution at the leading edge."

Perhaps the most formidable challenge facing Cedars-Sinai is rising health-care costs. New procedures and emerging technologies, while advancing medical care, outpace the payments hospitals receive from insurers and government health plans. Many of these plans pay health-care providers a fixed fee rather than one based on the nature of services rendered. According to the California Healthcare Association, the state has had more than $60 billion in Medicare payment cuts over the last four years. About 45 percent of Cedars-Sinai patients are on Medicare, and another 14 percent are on Medi-Cal.

Compounding the problem of limited payments is the prospect of no payments at all. More than 2 million Los Angeles County residents are uninsured, and Cedars-Sinai will now be caring for an even greater percentage of them.

The Los Angeles County Health Department may deal with a projected $700-800 million deficit over the next three years by converting Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance and Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar into outpatient clinics.

Both currently operate emergency rooms, and like Cedars-Sinai, Harbor-UCLA is one of the county’s 13 trauma centers. Eleven community health clinics and four school-based clinics have already been closed as part of county cutbacks. The closures will funnel more uninsured patients to Cedars-Sinai’s emergency room and ambulatory care clinic.

Last fiscal year, Cedars-Sinai spent approximately $70 million on uncompensated and under-compensated care and community health programs, Priselac said. "Clearly [these factors present] a financial challenge to the institution.

"However, because we are a not-for-profit community hospital … we welcome [this challenge], because of our roots and founding, and because of our obligation to the community and our desire to be a community-oriented organization," he said.

Barbara Factor Bentley, board of directors chair, added, "It goes back to our Jewish traditions. When people look up and see the Star of David on the medical center, they know it means quality care for all people."

Providing care requires continually updating and adding to facilities and equipment. Under Cedars-Sinai’s Master Facilities Plan, nearly every building on the medical campus is scheduled to undergo renovations and improvements, either to replace facilities lost in the 1994 earthquake or to house expanded programs and services.

Last year saw the opening of a 45-bed neonatal intensive-care unit — close to 7,000 babies are delivered at the medical center annually — and a new unit within the department of psychiatry and mental health. This month marks the opening of the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center, and the commencement of construction on the new North Care Tower to house predominantly intensive-care services.

Philanthropy helps make such growth possible. The medical center’s major fund-raising initiative, the Campaign for the 21st Century, has so far raised $322 million of its $500 million goal. Cedars-Sinai also benefits from the efforts of 40 different fund-raising groups. In addition, it receives another $80 million in grants.

However, even with sufficient funding, Cedars-Sinai, as well as other hospitals nationwide, faces the specter of staffing shortages. According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, more than 126,000 U.S. nursing positions are currently unfilled, and "that number [is] expected to skyrocket as aging baby boomers begin placing unprecedented demands on America’s health-care system." One of the reasons for the national nursing shortage is that nurses are aging. In 2000, 60 percent of registered nurses were over 40.

Dr. Michael Langberg, Cedars-Sinai’s chief medical officer, said the medical center isn’t feeling the nursing crunch right now. To keep it that way, the medical center has just established the Cedars-Sinai Institute for Professional Nursing Development.

Through a partnership with California State University Los Angeles, the institute will eventually graduate 150 new bachelor’s degree nurses annually to help increase the number entering the profession. The hospital will try to persuade institute graduates to stay at Cedars-Sinai by picking up their internship tab if they remain for a specified period of time.

While the nursing shortage has received the most news coverage, shortages of other professionals exist, too. There is a need for hospital personnel such as radiology technicians, computer systems specialists and laboratory personnel, among others.

"We’re working hard to create a work environment . . . that makes Cedars-Sinai an attractive place to come to work," Priselac said. He added that the medical center works with other institutions to provide professional training programs and lobbies at the state and federal levels to increase funding for educational institutions.

As baby boomers edge toward retirement age, they will increasingly utilize health resources. The number of elderly in California will almost double in the next 25 years, according to the National Economic Council.

To gear up for anticipated increases in the demand for services, Cedars-Sinai is boosting resources in fields heavily utilized by geriatric patients, such as cardiology, neurology, oncology, orthopedics and pulmonary medicine. Priselac said that as options for outpatient treatment increase, patients who do require hospitalization will be sicker and require a more intense level of care.

This month construction is beginning on the North Care Tower, which will add 120 intensive-care beds. Educational programs on health and wellness, and early intervention tools, such as the Cedars-Sinai Heart Watch, have been adopted to attract the health-conscious baby boomer generation. The American Association of Retired Persons ranked Cedars-Sinai as the No. 2 metropolitan hospital in the nation.

Baby boomers are only one segment of the diverse population served by the medical center. To reach vulnerable groups with little access to care, 120 programs target the elderly, ethnic minority populations, pregnant women, children and the poor.

As technology advances, the potential for ethical dilemmas also increases, for example, end-of-life issues. As part of the hospital’s bioethics program, physicians and other professionals regularly meet to discuss challenges they face as health-care providers. A committee is also available to doctors and families when they need help sorting through options in a specific case.

Rather than coming up with the answers, Priselac said, "we put in place the resources and a process to let the individual, the family members and their physician come to the right decision as a group."

Last year, the medical center cared for more than 44,000 in-patients and more than 137,000 out-patients. Assuring quality control and patient safety is challenging for a system where close to 10,000 people — from doctors to orderlies to volunteers — provide care in some form.

Cedars-Sinai "is universally committed to patient safety and patient care quality," Langberg said. Priselac chairs the medical center’s Quality Council, and the hospital maintains numerous committees to address aspects of this issue.

While state law will soon mandate such solutions, the medical center is already in the process of instituting a $20 million computerized patient information system that includes entry of physician orders. By having doctors enter orders electronically, rather than by writing them, the system streamlines the process and allows prescriptions to be immediately and automatically checked for potential problems, such as drug interactions or allergies. Langberg said the system reduces medication errors by about 60 percent.

The patient information system is just one example of how Cedars-Sinai has embraced information technology. The medical center was named one of the 100 "most wired" hospitals and health systems in Hospitals and Health Networks magazine. The new S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center features all-digital instruments, enabling rapid transmission of test results to physicians.

To view a patient’s X-ray or lab results, doctors no longer have to wait for film to be delivered to their offices. They don’t even need to be on site. A special computer program enables physicians to have instant access to patient and other medical data with a few key strokes on their Palm Pilot or computer.

The doctors who founded Cedars-Sinai would be amazed to see how their 12-bed hospital has grown and astounded by today’s world of medicine that utilizes such tools as computers, magnetic resonance imaging and artificial livers. While it’s hard to imagine what the next century might bring, Priselac promised, "What will be here … is Cedars-Sinai’s continued commitment to the community."

Resource Round-up


To foster a sense of community among Jewish youth in the far corners of Orange County is a difficult task, given that most resources are available exclusively at the county’s Jewish Community Center in Costa Mesa.

For parents able to shlep their youngsters, the center offers an array of youth-oriented programs such as Sunday sports leagues and after-school enrichment classes. But, in practice, participation thins beyond the borders of Huntington Beach or Irvine. "Anything further north or south takes a pretty high-level commitment," said Jay Lewis, assistant director of the Bureau of Jewish Education.

After-school classes, offered either at the JCC or Tarbut V’Torah in Irvine, include piano, voice, crafts, painting, chess, kung fu and cheerleading. Sunday soccer and basketball leagues are offered for grade-school children.

Since 1977, in an effort to create critical mass among youth, the bureau has operated Adat Noar, which literally means youth community. Currently, about 175 ninth-graders participate in the program, which runs during the academic year and meets Sundays at different synagogues throughout the county and for weekend retreats at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley.

TALIT, an acronym for "Teens Are Leaders in Training," is a bureau-led group for high-school age youth. About 240 TALIT members meet 12 Sunday nights a year in Costa Mesa. Besides schmoozing and kosher pizza, the teens learn how to serve as camp counselors, song leaders and teacher aides in religious schools. They also help organize social action projects. TALIT is intended to prepare teens to become future community leaders.

Orange County Teen Shabbat, organized by an inter-agency Jewish task force, meets in Costa Mesa on intermittent Friday nights for youth-led Shabbat services, dinner and a teen-oriented speaker. Scheduled dates are Dec. 14, Feb. 22, April 5 and May 10.

Jewish tradition, history and Hebrew are taught at the Pacific Community Jewish Culture School, which meets for a three-hour session two Sundays per month at the JCC. The school is allied with secular, humanistic Judaism, which celebrates Jewish traditions and culture, except for those involving a belief in God. About 30 students are currently enrolled, according to Terry Bayer, a volunteer spokeswoman. Tuition is $375 for 20 sessions. For information contact (949) 640-4246.

The B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, a community-based youth group, serves as the unofficial youth group for the Reform Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Fountain Valley and the Reform Temple Beth Tikvah. The largest local chapter is in Irvine, where two-thirds of its members are unaffiliated with any synagogue, said Rob Petroff, BBYO’s regional director. Members participate in group retreats, regional dances, basketball tournaments and social activism. In all, about 500 teens participate in the southwestern region, which includes Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego counties.

United Synagogue Youth has active programs at the Conservative congregations of B’nai Israel in Tustin and Eilat in Mission Viejo. Besides a Shabbat club for its youth, B’nai Israel also holds Saturday night youth parties, such as a recent jungle-themed event that featured African fire dancers. "Our kids choose USY over anything else," said Barbara Sherman, the congregation youth director.

The National Federation of Temple Youth has active groups at the Reform temples Bat Yahm in Newport Beach, Beth El in Aliso Viejo and Beth Shalom in Santa Ana.

Camp Haverim, which operates during summer and school holidays, is located at the Tarbut V’Torah campus at 5200 Bonita Canyon Drive in Irvine. Winter camp dates are Dec. 24 through Jan. 4. A camp brochure can be obtained by calling (714) 755-0340 ext. 126.

The Young Single Parent Group holds monthly get-togethers for members and their children. For information on upcoming events contact (949) 595-9079.

The Jewish Education Bureau has received $3,500 to create a county teen resource guide and Web site. The guide is expected in late spring of 2002.

Valley Community Resources


According to The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance, 43 percent of the total estimated Jewish population of the greater Los Angeles area live in the San Fernando, Conejo, Simi, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

The following is a partial list of Jewish organizations, schools and synagogues in Valley cities with already developed, and growing, Jewish communities. For more information on Jewish activity in a particular city, call The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance or a local synagogue.

(Please note that some of the synagogues listed may also offer Jewish schooling.)


AGOURA/AGOURA HILLS

Agencies/Organizations

Conejo Valley JCC
5004 Lewis Road
(818) 865-6663

Schools

Heschel-West
27400 West Canwood St.
(818) 368-5781

Synagogues

Chabad of Conejo (O)
30345 Canwood St.
(818) 991-0991

Chabad of Oak Park (O)
28708 Timberlane St.
(818) 991-0991

Congregation Or Ami (RI)
28025 Dorothy Dr., No. 105
(818) 880-6818

Temple Beth Haverim (C)
5142 Clareton Dr., No. 160
(818) 991-7111

GRANADA HILLS

Agencies/Organizations

North Valley JCC
16601 Rinaldi St.
(818) 360-2211

Synagogues

Temple Beth Torah (R)
16651 Rinaldi Street
(818) 831-0835

ENCINO

Agencies/Organizations

Hadassah – Western Region
17609 Ventura Blvd., No. 302
(818) 788-1604

Synagogues

Chabad of Encino (O)
4915 Hayvenhurst Ave.
(818) 784-9986

Temple Ner Maarav (C)
17730 Magnolia Blvd.
(818) 345-7833

Valley Beth Shalom (C)
15739 Ventura Blvd.
(818) 788-6000

NORTH HOLLYWOOD

Schools

Emek Hebrew Academy
12732 Chandler Blvd.
(818) 980-0155

Valley Torah High School (Boys)
12003 Riverside Dr.
(818) 984-1805

Valley Torah High School (Girls)
12326 Riverside Dr.
(818) 762-6611

Synagogues

Adat Ari El (C)
12020 Burbank Blvd.
(818) 766-9426

Adat Yeshurun (O)
12405 Sylvan St.
(818) 766-4682

Bais Medresh Ohr Simcha (O)
12430 Oxnard St.
(818) 760-2189

Chabad of North Hollywood (O)
13079 Chandler Blvd.
(818) 989-9539

Em Habanim Sephardic Cong. (O)
5850 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
(818) 762-7779

Shaarey Hahayim Congregation (S)
12500 Emelita St.

Shaarey Zedek (O)
12800 Chandler Blvd.
(818) 763-0560

Valley Mishkan Israel Cong. (O)
6254 Beeman Ave.
(818) 769-8043

Yad Avraham (O)
12428 Burbank Blvd.
(818) 766-6736

NORTHRIDGE

Agencies/Organizations

Hillel at Cal State Northridge
17729 Plummer St.
(818) 886-5101

Schools

Abraham Heschel Day School
17701 Devonshire St.
(818) 368-5781

Synagogues

Chabad of Northridge (O)
17142 Devonshire St.
(818) 368-3937

Temple Ahavat Shalom (R)
18200 Rinaldi Place
(818) 360-2258

Temple Ramat Zion (C)
17655 Devonshire St.
(818) 360-1881

Young Israel of Northridge (O)
17511 Devonshire St.
(818) 368-2221

RESEDA

Synagogues

Eretz Cultural Center (I)
6170 Wilbur Avenue
(818) 342-9303

SHERMAN OAKS

Agencies/Organizations

Southern California Council for Soviet Jews
P.O. Box 1542
(818) 769-8862

Synagogues

Beth Midrash Mishkan Israel (S)
13312 Burbank Blvd.
(818) 901-1598

Chabad of Sherman Oaks (O)
14960 Ventura Blvd.
(818) 789-0850

Congregation Beth Meier (CI)
11725 Moorpark St.
(818) 769-0515

Congregation Beth Ohr (In)
12355 Moorpark St.
(818) 773-3663

Temple B?nai Hayim (C)
4302 Van Nuys Blvd.
(818) 788-4664

TARZANA

Synagogues

Chabad of Tarzana (O)
18181 Burbank Blvd.
(818) 758-1818

Havurat Olam (Re)
14209 Chandler Blvd.
(818) 345-2983

Sephardic Cohen Synagogue (O)
18547 Ventura Blvd.
(818) 705-4557

Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf (R)
5429 Lindley Ave.
(818) 363-5580

Temple Judea (R)
5429 Lindley Ave.
(818) 758-3800

THOUSAND OAKS

Agencies/Organizations

Conejo Valley Counseling Office
100 East Thousand Oaks Blvd., No. 110
(805) 379-2273

Synagogues

Temple Adat Elohim (R)
2420 East Hillcrest Drive
(805) 497-7101

Temple Etz Chaim (C)
1080 East Janss Road
(805) 497-6891

VALLEY VILLAGE

Synagogues
Beis Midrash Toras Hashem (O)
12422 Chandler Blvd.
(818) 980-6934

Ohr HaTorah (R)
12410 Burbank Blvd., No. 103
(818) 769-8223

Temple Beth Hillel (R)
12326 Riverside Dr.
(818) 763-9148


VAN NUYS

Agencies/Organizations

Jewish Communal Retirees Association of Los Angeles
13834 Califa St.
(818) 786-3687

Valley Cities JCC
13164 Burbank Blvd.
(818) 786-6310

WEST HILLS

Agencies/Organizations

Chaverim – Jewish Programs for the Disabled
22622 Vanowen St.
(818) 884-1092

Habonim Dror Youth Organization
22622 Vanowen St.
(818) 464-3224

JCC Teen Services/Maccabi Games
22622 Vanowen St.
(818) 464-3277

The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance
Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus
22622 Vanowen St.
(818) 587-3200

San Fernando Valley Counseling Center
22622 Vanowen St.
(818) 464-3333

West Valley JCC
22622 Vanowen St.
(818) 587-3300

Synagogues

Shomrei Torah Synagogue (C)
7353 Valley Circle Blvd.
(818) 346-0811

Temple Solael (R)
6601 Valley Circle Blvd.
(818) 348-3885

Valley Outreach Synagogue (RI)
P.O. Box 4717
(818) 348-4867

WOODLAND HILLS

Synagogues

Beit Hamidrash of Woodland Hills (O)
5850 Fallbrook Ave.
(818) 712-0365

Kol Tikvah (R)
20400 Ventura Blvd.
(818) 348-0670

Makom Ohr Shalom (JR)
P.O. Box 1066
(310) 479-0559

Temple Aliyah (C)
6025 Valley Circle Blvd.
(818) 346-3545

Religious Studies Resources


Aish HaTorah: 9:30-11:10 a.m. “The Understanding Minyan,” focusing on the meaning of prayers, Hebrew-reading skills and the “how- to” of the synagogue service. Saturdays. Kiddush included. 9102 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 278-8672.

B’nai Horin: Torah classes begin. “Prayer for Everyday Moments.” (310) 470-9390 ext. 105.

B’nai Tikvah: 10:30-11:30 a.m., “Schmooze and Views,” a discussion of current events. Wednesdays. Free; 6:30 p.m., UJ’s Intro to Judaism program for 18 sessions. 5820 W. Manchester Ave., Westchester. (310) 645- 6262.

Chabad of Simi Valley: 2391 Cochran St. (805) 577-0573:

“The Light of Kabbalah,” Tuesdays, 8 p.m.

Shabbat services, Fridays, sunset; Saturdays, 10 a.m.

Chabad of the Marina: 2929 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey. (310) 578-6000:

Talmud study, Mondays, 8 p.m.

Tanya: Mystical and Chasidic Philosophy, Wednesdays, 8 p.m.

Women’s discussion group, Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.

Genesis, every second Friday, noon.

Parsha overview, Saturdays, 9:40 a.m.

Mishnah, Weekdays, 6:30 a.m.

Congregation Beth Meier: 8 p.m. Sabbath services Fridays. Saturdays at 10 a.m. 11725 Moorpark St., Studio City. (818) 769-0515.

Congregation Beth Shalom: 8 p.m., Shabbat services, Fridays; Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.; Family night services first Friday of month, 7:30 p.m. 21430 Redview Drive, Santa Clarita. (661) 254-2411.

Etz Jacob Congregation: 6 p.m. Beginner’s minyan followed by Shabbat dinner. Fridays. 7659 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 936-4350.

Happy Minyan Shabbos: 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Traditional service every Saturday. Beth Jacob Synagogue, 9030 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. Free. (310) 285-7777.

The Movable Minyan: 10 a.m. Shabbat services. First and third Saturday of month; 7 p.m., fourth Friday of month: dairy potluck Shabbat dinner. Westside JCC, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 285-3317.

Or Emet: 8 p.m. Shabbat services. Fridays. 26111 Bouquet Canyon Rd., H-6, Santa Clarita. (661) 291-5106.

Pasadena Jewish Temple: “Get acquainted days.” (626) 798-1161.

Pacific Jewish Center: 10:30 a.m. Shabbat “learner’s services.” Saturdays. 505 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, except the first Shabbat of the month when it is held at the PJC Learning Annex. (310) 392-8749.

Sha’arei Am: The Santa Monica Synagogue: 7:30 p.m. Shabbat services. Fridays. 7:30 p.m., 1448 18th St., Santa Monica. (310) 453-4276.

Sinai Temple: 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 474-1518 ext. 3234:

Early Friday Night Live: 5:45 p.m. Shabbat service for all ages. Second Friday of month.

Family Minyan: (310) 474-1518 ext. 3212.

Torah on the Road: 10 a.m. Shabbat service led my Rabbi Sherre Zwelling. Third Saturday of month. Kiddish to follow service.

Temple Beth Ohr: 7:30-9 p.m. Weekly Torah Study. Thursdays. Free. 15721 Rosecrans Ave., La Mirada. (714) 521-6765.

Temple Knesset Israel: 9:30 a.m. Shabbat services.Saturdays. 1260 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 665-5171.

Temple Ner Tamid of Downey: 8 p.m. Services every Friday. 10629 Lakewood Blvd., Downey. (562) 861-9276.

Valley Beth Shalom Counseling Center: 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 784-1414:

Caregivers support group: For those caring for Alzheimer or other dementia related diseases, first and third Mondays of month.

Weekly widow/widowers support groups: Led by licensed therapist. Suggested donation: $15. Thursdays, 7-9 p.m.

Support group: Newly separated or divorcing. Wednesday.

“Simply Singles”: Building communication and relationship skills.

“Marriage Enhancement Course”: Five-week course for couples contemplating marriage.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple: Adult volleyball, Tuesdays, 7:30-9 p.m.; adult basketball, Thursdays, 7:30-9 p.m.; yoga, Tuesdays, 10:45-11:45 a.m. and Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m., 11661 W. Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 445-1280.