Briefs: Loyola hosts Jewish Studies conference, Jews at UC Irvine say they are safe


Loyola Hosts Jewish Studies Conference

The Western states conference of the Association of Jewish Studies will be held April 6-7 at — Loyola Marymount University (LMU), a Jesuit institution.

The particular venue says a good deal about the evolution of Jewish studies from an ethnic specialty to a broad academic discipline integral to any self-respecting university.

Actually, Loyola Marymount University vied with the American Jewish University (formerly University of Judaism) for hosting honors, and won out.

Professor Holli Levitsky, director of Jewish studies at LMU, pointed out that her university will initiate a minor study program in her field this fall, offering courses ranging from Introduction to the Hebrew Bible to Near Eastern archaeology.

The conference, which is open to interested persons without charge, will consist of 20 plenary and specialized sessions, workshops, and an evening of music and entertainment.

Sunday’s program on April 6 opens with a discussion on Christian-Jewish relations, and includes sessions on topics as varied as Jewish holidays in comic strips, the impact of Jewish artists Sigmund Romberg and Stanley Kubrick, and an analysis of “The Debate over American Support of Israel” by U.S. State Department historian Adam Howard.

A tribute luncheon will honor the scholarly work of UCLA professor Arnold Band. The evening program includes a performance by the Shtetl Menschen and a concert of klezmer music.

The subsequent keynote event will present an interfaith conversation, “Collars and Kippot,” with Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, national director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, and Monsignor Royale Vadakin, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

On Monday, April 7, scholars will discuss “Literature and Jewish Identity,” while a session on “Home and Hearth” will focus on Iranian Jewish women and a talk titled “Bodies, Food & (tsk, tsk) Sex.” The meeting will conclude with a panel discussion on “Israel at 60,” moderated by The Journal’s Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman.

An exhibit of paintings, “Panim el Panim” (Face to Face) by Evelyn Stettin, described as a “Visual Midrash,” will be open throughout the meeting. (See article, Page 39.)

Co-sponsors of the conference are American Jewish University, UCLA, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, American Jewish Committee, Chapman University, Cal State Long Beach and CSUN.

LMU is located in the Marina del Rey-Westchester area and all events are in University Hall. For information, phone (310) 338-2806, or e-mail nnguye15@lmu.edu.

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Jerusalem Fountain Piano Suite to Premiere at Cathedral

A tourist to Los Angeles looking for the Jewish Family Fountain will find it in a rather unlikely place — in the plaza of the landmark Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Alternately known as the Jerusalem Fountain, it will be celebrated in the world premiere of the piano suite “Water From a Stone,” by Michael Isaacson, on Saturday evening, April 5, in the main cathedral sanctuary.

Noted pianist Andrea Anderson, who asked Isaacson to compose the suite, will also perform works by Mozart, Debussy and Copland. Rounding out the program is Prokofiev’s Flute Sonata, with flautist Zachary Valenzuela.

The fountain, described by Cathedral sources as “probably the first-ever Jewish contribution to a Christian cathedral,” was built through a $2.5 million grant from the Skirball Foundation and an anonymous Jewish family.

Their purpose was “to acknowledge the long-standing and cordial relationship between the Jewish and Roman Catholic communities in Southern California.”

The biblical inscription on the rose and gold limestone from an ancient quarry outside Jerusalem reads, in Hebrew and English, “The world stands on three pillars – Torah, Worship and Good Deeds.”

Isaacson said that he tried to express “the interdependent duality of the immovable [stone] and the ever-changing [water]” through a musical combination of biblical themes, Hebrew prayers and early Israeli folk songs.

The suite’s three movements are titled “Moses Striking the Rock,” “Dew of Morning” and “Fountain of Deliverance.”

Isaacson is the founding music director of the Israel Pops Orchestra, has created more than 500 Jewish and secular compositions, and has been the arranger and conductor of music for numerous feature films and television series.

Anderson is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation grant and has performed at Carnegie Hall and other concert halls in the United States, China, Sweden, Finland and Lithuania.

The concert will start at 8 p.m. on April 5 at the Cathedral, 555 W. Temple St. Admission is free, but a $10 donation is suggested. Secure parking is $5. For information, call (213) 680-5200.

— TT

Saving America from the SAVE Act

Standing up for immigrant and employer rights, the American Jewish Committee (AJ Committee) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, along with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, voiced opposition to the SAVE (Secure America with Verification and Enforcement) Act during a press conference and subsequent vote at L.A. City Hall on March 26.

The SAVE Act, sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), is a new immigration enforcement bill intended to help secure America’s borders. Title two of the SAVE Act requires all U.S. employers to go through a mandatory work authorization verification system using an “E-Verify” program that would check the legal status of all employees.

During the press conference on the bill, however, AJCommittee representatives outlined some of the act’s flaws.

“Over 10 million workers would be identified incorrectly. This Act does not address the real issues of border security,” said Seth Brysk, director of the AJCommittee’s Los Angeles Chapter.

Following the press conference, the L.A. City Council voted against implementation of the bill. AJCommittee hopes that members of Congress will look to their constituents and take into account this opposing stance. Brooke Menschel, AJCommittee’s assistant legislative director, said that if the bill goes through it would undermine local law enforcement and create unrest and distrust within local communities.

“The database is riddled with errors,” Menschel said. AJCommittee “has strived to protect those who come to this country to escape persecution. We need to also secure homeland security and ensure that the gateway to America isn’t just an open door. We need to work to find a delicate balance, and this bill does no such thing.”

The magic Spend/Save/Tzedakah Plan keeps kids thinking


“I know what I want for my birthday,” my first-grader announced upon returning from school today. “A PSP [PlayStation Portable].”

“Jake” I replied, intent on giving my son perspective on how much his request would cost. “Do you realize that you could go to the dollar store and buy 300 toys for the price of one PSP?”

“Really?” Jake asked, clearly pondering this revelation. “I guess I’ll just do that instead!”

It’s not that my son is inherently greedy. On the contrary, he’s compassionate and generous. It’s just that he is in a developmental place where it’s difficult for him to grasp the concept and value of money. In fact, the vast majority of grade-schoolers (up to age 11) are what cognitive psychologists call concrete thinkers. That means they have a tough time conceptualizing anything they can’t physically see or touch. Money — thanks to credit cards, checks, Internet PayPal accounts and the like — is a hugely abstract concept.

Through the eyes of my soon to be 7- year-old, the difference between $300, $30 and $3 is largely inconsequential. I know it seems hard to believe that this could be so, but that’s only because we adults have the ability to think abstractly. Trust me, after a decade and a half as an elementary school teacher, I can tell you that, with rare exception, the only way an early elementary-aged child is going to truly understand the quantitative distinction between these amounts is if he actually sees 300 $1 bills piled next to 30 $1 bills piled next to three $1 bills.

So how do we enlighten our concrete-thinking kiddies to the fact that — despite popular playground belief — money doesn’t grow in ATM machines? With the Spend/Save/Tzedakah plan, of course! A superconcrete, positively priceless program that helps children the grasp the value of money, empowers them with financial smarts and encourages them to give back to their community, all in one fell swoop.

Here’s what you need to know to get it working for your little spenders.

Three Little Piggies

The basic premise of the Spend/Save/Tzedakah plan is to have our kids regularly divide their allowance into three distinct sections — one for personal spending, one for saving and one for giving. Deciding how to allocate the money (i.e. 60 percent spending, 30 percent savings and 10 percent tzedakah) is a personal family choice, but it’s important to make sure kids stick to their designated amounts every week.

Spending

For the Spend/Save/Tzedakah plan to work its magic, children should be required to use their personal spending money for all nonessential purchases other than birthday and Chanukah gifts. That means our kids pay for their own popcorn at the movies, Power Ranger popsicles from the ice cream man and fruitless attempts on the “try-to-pick-up-a-stuffed-animal-with-a-metal-claw” machine.

Still doubtful? Consider the following scenarios:

Shopping at Target without the Spend/Save/Tzedakah Plan:
Child: “Can I get that Hot Wheels car?”
Parent: “No”
Child: “Please? It’s only $1.29, and I’ve really been wanting that one.”
Parent: “I said NO.”
Child: “But, it’s a Hummer Hot Wheels — with real monster truck wheels!”
Parent: “How many times do I have to tell you? No means no!”
Child: “Please? PLEASE? PLEEEEASE?”
Parent: “OK, fine. Just put it in the cart and stop whining.”

(Epilogue: The same scene plays out the next day only this time the kid wants a pair of $70 Heelys roller sneakers.)

Shopping at Target with the Spend/Save/Tzedakah plan:
Child: “Can I get that Hot Wheels car?”
Parent: “Sure. You can use your spending money any way you’d like.”
Child: “Well, I don’t really need it. I’d rather save my money for those Heelys roller sneakers.”

On Saving

Just to clarify. The kind of savings we’re talking about here is the kind you put away for a long-term goal — like going to college or spending a high school semester in Israel — not an exorbitantly priced toy or an overpriced outfit. The key here is to help our children move beyond the instant gratification mentality toward understanding that some things cost so much money it takes years to save and pay for them.

Finally, it’s important for children to have a concrete representation of their savings progress. Have them place a sticker on a chart each time they surpass a $10 increment, or enroll them in a kiddie savings program that requires no minimum balance and provides monthly statements. We parents will be as excited as our kids to see how much money they are putting away for their future!

Tzedakah

Our kids’ lives largely exist within a vacuum. They have their families, their friends, their schools, their neighborhoods and their material possessions. They often don’t consider the needs of those less fortunate, not because they don’t care but because they are not used to thinking outside their familiar worlds.

By putting a small portion of their allowance toward tzedakah each week, our children will begin to appreciate their responsibility as Jews and human beings to share their resources with the community.

They’ll come to recognize that many of life’s most precious gifts come without a barcode. And that — in the scheme of things — a PlayStation Portable isn’t really that important after all.

For a piggy bank perfectly designed to fit the Spend/Save/Tzedakah plan, check out the Learning Cents bank at

Gear Up for an Israel Vacation


With summer travel to Israel around the corner, now’s the time to plan your packing strategy. From new high-tech gadgets to easy-care clothing, from hybrid shoes to crushable sun hats, there’s plenty to choose from as gifts for loved ones and must-haves for your own comfort. We’ve identified select products to help with common travel dilemmas. Peruse our list for solutions to help you pack light, avoid sunburns, save on batteries and more. An added bonus: nearly everything — except for new prescription contact lenses — is available online or by phone.

Threads
Women visiting Meah Shearim and other religious sites need cool clothes for modest cover-ups. The hip, Pack-N-Go Cotton Crinkle Skirt ($59) stores in its own pouch and welcomes wrinkles; ” target=”_blank”>Sahalie.com, (800) 547-1160.

A convenient handbag is a woman’s travel must. The Space Saver Bag ($29.50) offers plenty of pockets to tuck it away with outdoor style; Sahalie. A microfiber Convertible Bag ($50) doubles as a compact backpack; Travelsmith.

For him, a Pre-Wrinkled Shirt ($45) works for daily and Shabbat wear; Sahalie. Cotton Kenya Convertible Pants ($69.50) double as shorts by zipping off the lower portion; Travelsmith. And the Intrepid Travel Hat ($52), a lightweight fedora, breathes, bends and repels water. Wrap it into itself for travel and then pop it back into shape upon arrival; Travelsmith.

For him and her, breathable CoolMax blended with cotton wicks away moisture while providing sun protection. A variety of styles, polos, tees, long sleeve shirts and undies, are available. Travelsmith ($40 and up). Avoid insect bites and sunburns with Buzz Off Convertible Pants with UV30+ protection for him or her ($79); Sahalie.

Footwear
Multipurpose sandals for hiking, touring and synagogue are the ticket. Chacos offer great support (even for those who usually wear orthotics) and come in a variety of designs. New thin-strap styles better conform to your foot. Lug soles offer great traction; ” target=”_blank”>REI.com ($60 and up).

Cool Mesh Low Quarter Socks ($9) keep tootsies cooler, drier and blister-free; Sahalie. And for shower wear and beach duty, Adidas ClimaCool Slides ($30) offer air mesh screening underfoot. Ventilated running shoes, warm weather sports tops and other products in the ClimaCool line are also available; ” target=”_blank”>Magellans.com, (800) 962-4943. And prevent carry-on security problems by packing the TSA-approved Personal Travel Kit ($70); Sharper Image.

For in-flight comfort, consider collapsible MP3-Enhanced Headphones ($35) and the ultra-cozy Nap Travel U-Pillow with Eye Mask ($25); Brookstone. Breathe in cleaner, fresher air with a personal Ionic Breeze Air Purifier ($30); Sharper Image. To relieve motion sickness, the watch-like ReliefBand ($89) sends gentle electrical pulses to interfere with nausea messages from the brain. Flight Spray ($15) helps relieve nasal dryness. And for bad backs and skinny tushies, select specially designed pillows and pads; Magellan’s.

In Israel, cool off Aussie-style with a Cobber Neck Cooler ($15), which features lightweight nontoxic crystals that stay cool for up to three days; Travelsmith. A Mini Misting Fan ($13) simulates playing in sprinklers — even in the back of the bus. The even larger Personal Cooling System ($30) fans the neck; Sharper Image.

Forget the need for constant batteries with electronic devices that you can crank up by hand. You “churn on” the Freeplay EyeMax Radio/Flashlight ($50) or juice up its solar cells in the sun; Sharper Image.Volunteering on kibbutz or studying abroad? Tune in with the AM/FM Grundig Emergency Hand Crank Radio ($50), complete with built-in flashlight and cell phone charger. ” target=”_blank”>rhythmfusion.zoovy.com, (831) 423-2048. Bird-watch with Micro-Zoom Binoculars ($99); Magellan’s. And take home memories with the Canon Powershot SD600 ($349), an economical solution for super high resolution in one tiny package.

Yeladim


 

Good Deed Indeed

Earth Day is about healing all creatures on the Earth. Here is a chance for you to do a good deed by entering The Good Deed Contest.

Here’s what you will do:

1. Do a good deed (an amazing one!)
2. Write an essay, telling what you did, what motivated you and what you got out of the process, and send it to: Abbygilad@yahoo.com

The will receive a Baskin-Robbins gift certificate and get the essay printed in an upcoming issue of The Jewish Journal.

Answer this quiz question from the California Wildlife Center for a sweet prize:

What do you do if you meet a rattlesnake?

a. Throw rocks at it to make it go away.
b. Walk away slowly and quietly.
c. Hiss at it to threaten it.

Talk to the Animals

Here is another Earth Day-related event that you might want to check out:

California Wildlife Center Open House,

26026 Piuma Road, Calabasas, May 1, noon-4 p.m.

Unscramble what you will see there:

Animal ASLUKSL and OOFRINPTST

Penny for Your Thoughts

Go to Google.com and type in Pennies for the Planet. Find out how you can collect pennies and help save the big cats around the world through the World Wildlife Fund.

 

Yeladim


 

The Ugly Bug Ball

In Parshat Shemini, we learn which animals are kosher. A young friend of mine asked: Why did God create both kosher and non-kosher animals? The sages of the Talmud ask the same question. They said there is something we can learn from every animal – kosher or not.

For example, the Sages say we can learn honesty and industriousness from an ant. Ants are hardworking, and they are “honest” in that they don’t steal from each other.

King David tried to uncover the meaning behind each animal and he succeeded – but he couldn’t figure out the spider. So, God showed King David how the spider could even save a life. When running for his life from King Saul, David hid in a cave. King Saul and his soldiers were searching everywhere. God sent a spider to spin a web over the opening of the cave in which David was hiding. When the soldiers came to his cave and saw it was covered with a spider’s web, they moved straight past, not realizing that the web was freshly made.

All Creatures Great and Small

Did You Know?

The word for “kindness” in Hebrew is chesed. In the Torah, the Hebrew word for stork is chasida. The rabbis say that the stork was given this name because this bird is very kind and generous with its food and shares with other birds.

1. Where are koala bears from?

a) United States

b) Russia

c) Australia

2. Whales and dolphins are large fish.

a) yes

b) no

c) both

3. What is the largest flying bird alive today?

a) Bald eagle

b) Penguin

c) Condor

d) Albatros

Answers From Last Week

Tell Me a Story: Hamantaschen

 

Barbaric Acts Kill Palestinian Sympathy


I know there are many Palestinians out there who are sickened and ashamed by what happened in Gaza to the remains of the six dead Israeli soldiers.

I don’t hold them responsible; I don’t associate them with those acts just because they are Palestinians or Arabs, not in any way.

In fact, I think it’s important now to remember Arabs like the Palestinian man who drowned in the Sea of Galilee a couple of years ago trying to save a drowning Israeli boy. I remember a Jaffa Arab who was killed in 1992, I think, trying to stop a wild man from Gaza who was slashing at Jewish children with a saber.

An old Iraqi Jewish woman in Ramat Gan once told me how her neighbor back in Baghdad, a rich Sunni Muslim, had sheltered her family and scores of other local Jews from a pogrom, and had told the rioters that if they wanted to kill the Jews in his house, they would have to kill him first. A lot of Jews who survived the 1929 pogrom in Hebron could have described the same kind of scenes.

There are some Arabs who have a humanity and courage that is rare to find in any society — including, by the way, among Jews. Then there are many Arabs, although I can’t guess what proportion, who are just ordinary decent people.

But there are some Arabs living in the Middle East who are, to say the least, indecent. They do things that Jews here or anywhere else don’t do, no matter the provocation — and Jews over the years have had their provocations, including some even worse than anything faced by the Palestinians.

There is no shortage of Israeli soldiers who have done despicable things to Palestinians — although less despicable, on the whole, than what soldiers in most, if not all, other armies have been known to do to their enemies.

The point is, we are living next to a society that is, for all its decent people and even its righteous gentiles, different from ours in a crucial way: some of its members are out and out monsters.

Their behavior is utterly demented, yet they’re perfectly sane. Worse, they’re not only tolerated, they’re cheered by many of their peers. And the decent members of Palestinian society seem powerless to stop them or prevent them from coming out again and again.

I’m an Israeli leftist who hates the occupation, and there are a lot of things the Palestinians do that I’m willing to put down to circumstances, to this long tragedy we’ve been living in. Zionists, after all, deliberately killed plenty of innocent Arab civilians in the ’30s and ’40s.

But there are no circumstances that mitigate this reveling in the body parts of the enemy, the grabbing and parading of Israeli bones and gore as trophies. That’s something that can’t be traced to politics, and there is no political solution for it.

Wherever this behavior comes from, it didn’t begin with the bone-snatching in Gaza’s Zeitoun neighborhood. In this intifada, it began with the crowd dancing on the blood of the two soldiers lynched in Ramallah. It resurfaced when two boys in Tekoa were bludgeoned literally to a pulp. It gets reprised every time a crowd of Palestinians gathers to celebrate another bus full of Israelis getting blown apart.

This prominent feature of the intifada has hollowed out any idealism I once had about “making up” with the Palestinians and becoming good neighbors. While there are so many I’ve met whom I would love to have as neighbors in my apartment building, and a great many more I haven’t met who are in no way monsters, as far as the Palestinian nation goes, I want a hard border between them and us, and separate national lives — because of what we were reminded of at Zeitoun, because Palestinian society allows that element to flourish.

I’m afraid that this deformed face of the intifada has withered the idealism of a lot of people on the Zionist left. I don’t think it’s made anybody a fan of the occupation, or changed their ideas about where the final borders should be, but it’s blighted the spirit of the peace movement. Speaking for myself, it’s deadened my heart toward the Palestinians.

As much as ever, I’m still filled with rage at Israelis who enjoy abusing and humiliating innocent people. I still have no tolerance for sadism. But my attitude has become sort of abstract, a matter of conscience alone, because while I still feel fury at the bullies, I no longer feel compassion for the victims.

If I knew that the civilians being treated viciously were not enthusiasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, that they did not root for the violent deaths of Israeli children, then my heart would go out to them as before.

But since the intifada began, I know there’s a very strong chance that a given Palestinian goes around hoping that the suicide bombers will get through. So unless I know otherwise, I’ll believe in his human rights, but I can’t feel any sympathy for him. Too much candy has passed between Palestinian hands for that.

Sympathy for the Palestinians and shame over their repression were the animating emotions of the Israeli peace movement, but the eager barbarity of the intifada has removed much of that shame and about all of the sympathy. What remains for peaceniks is a hatred of injustice and brutality, and a yearning for security, but a numbed heart.

To all the brave and humane or even just decent Palestinians out there, I’m sorry. In no way am I blaming you. I just hope you won’t blame me, either.


Larry Derfner is the Tel Aviv correspondent for The Jewish Journal.

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