JVS scholarships encourage college students to give back


Max Goldstein was 15 years old when he hopped on a plane to Caracas, Venezuela, to spend his sophomore year of high school as an exchange student. He had never left the country before, nor had he been away from home for an extended period of time. 

While he was growing up, Goldstein’s family went bankrupt and lost their house. He looked forward to escaping the financial instability at home and having new experiences by going abroad. His host mother in Venezuela was a doctor, which inspired him to pursue a medical degree at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. 

Now 29, Goldstein told his story to an audience of more than 200 people at the Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVS) Scholarship Awards ceremony on July 17 at Sinai Temple in Westwood. 

The JVS scholarship program, founded in 1972, provides financial aid to Jewish college and university students who have lived in Los Angeles County for at least three years. Students must demonstrate a strong financial need to qualify for the program. Each year, the awards ceremony celebrates current students and donors.  

Goldstein, a second-year recipient, was one of 10 students who received a $10,000 scholarship for the upcoming academic year — the first time that individual awards have exceeded $5,000. During the past academic year, he received approximately $4,000. 

“It’s so important because if you look at any records anywhere, you’ll see what the student loan debt is these days,” JVS scholarship program manager Patricia Sills said. 

According to The Institute for College Access and Success Project on Student Debt, the average student in the U.S. graduates with approximately $26,000 in debt. The total student loan amount is more than $1 trillion.

The JVS program has been awarding aid every year since its inception. For the upcoming academic year, 2014-15, 169 recipients received awards (96 of which were renewals) ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, totaling $582,000. A record number of 435 students applied for aid, as compared to 394 in 2013. 

“It’s a really amazing way for people to give back to students who are in a time of need,” Goldstein said. “When you’re going to school with loans, it’s kind of a little boost from the organization. … It makes you feel really committed to giving back.” 

To date, the program has awarded more than $6.5 million through 4,000 scholarships. The money comes from donors, including individuals, family foundations and Jewish organizations, and from fundraising events throughout the year.

“The longitudinality of the scholarship makes me feel a part of a community, and I think that’s very unique to JVS,” Goldstein said.

Fellow award recipient and event alumni speaker Julia Greenberg shares Goldstein’s enthusiasm for JVS. She spoke of her family’s struggles in the United States after they emigrated from Russia when she was 9. 

Julia Greenberg  Photos by Karina Pires

Greenberg received JVS scholarships throughout her four years as an undergraduate at Stanford University. She recently completed an MBA in marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and will soon begin a job utilizing her degree at Toyota. 

During her speech, Greenberg, like Goldstein, both lauded and thanked JVS. 

“It’s amazing that there are people out there [who] really believe that education is a great equalizer that gives people, who come from backgrounds where they don’t necessarily have the opportunity to go to school, the chance to pursue [their] goals and to become educated … [and] as a result of that, be able to give back to the organization and continue to invest in the future of our community,” Greenberg said. “It’s very empowering and really beautiful.” 

Greenberg has received approximately $20,000 from JVS over the course of her education, the majority of which was provided through the Simms/Mann Family Scholarship Fund.

Donors in attendance included Susan and Fred Kunik, Maxine and Gene Froelich, and Joyce and Larry Powell. The donors are enthusiastic about the work of the organization and about the students they support. 

“There are a lot of charities, and they’re all good, but this really goes to the core of people’s lives,” said Fred Kunik, a donor and JVS board and scholarship committee member who became involved four years ago through a friend. “And the fact is that everybody needs a job, and that’s the mission of JVS. … What’s better,” he said, than “to help someone get a job [through] an education?”

Israel study program providing seed money for U.S. colleges


The MASA study-in-Israel initiative is giving eight U.S. colleges or systems a total of $400,000 over the next two years.

MASA will give $50,000 each to Arizona State University, Barnard College, Case Western Reserve University, Michigan State University, the New Jersey state university system, the University of Florida, and the business schools of the University of Maryland and of Washington University in St. Louis to help them establish or build upon existing programs, a MASA spokesman told JTA’s The Fundermentalist. The money is to be used as seed money.

A joint project of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, MASA has traditionally provided scholarships to Diaspora post-graduates to help them participate in extended-stay programs in Israel.

Israel is 22nd among the top 25 study-abroad destinations for students from the United States, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported, citing the Institute of International Education, which advised MASA on the programs.

Some 2,344 American college students studied in Israel in 2007-08, compared to 30,000 in Britain.

Scholarships help keep middle-income kids in Jewish schools


Amid the cascade of bad economic news of the past few months, five Jewish high schools in Los Angeles received some good news last week.

The Jim Joseph Foundation, based in San Francisco, awarded the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles a $12.7 million grant to pay for tuition subsidies for new and continuing middle-income students over the next six years at Shalhevet School, Milken Community High School, New Community Jewish High School, and the boys and girls schools of YULA yeshiva high school.

The schools with the help of the larger Jewish community, in turn, will be obligated to raise an additional $21.25 million within the next six years for a community endowment fund to pay for Jewish education into the future.

“This grant is visionary and extraordinary on multiple levels,” said Gil Graf, executive director of the BJE. “It makes Jewish education immediately accessible to more families, and also creates enduring capacity through the endowment to help future generations.”

Around $7.5 million of the Jim Joseph Foundation grant will pay for approximately 600 scholarships — up to 40 percent off of tuition, which runs an average $26,000 at the five high schools.

The remaining $5.2 million will pay for development directors for the schools, additional teachers for new students, and marketing, evaluation and administrative costs.

The Jim Joseph Foundation, established in 2006 with a mission to further all manner of Jewish education, chose to pilot this program in Los Angeles, where foundation board member Jack Slomovic lives, because of the large number of high schools and The Federation’s involvement.

“We wanted to get the community involved and to get the schools involved to see whether this will work well in other cities,” Jim Joseph President Alvin Levitt said. “We think we’re off to a good start.”

The timing for Los Angeles is both ideal and a challenge, in that the cash infusion is sorely needed as the economy takes a battering, but raising the additional millions for an endowment could be difficult.

“The grant is something that helps us reach out to donors and say we are creating access for kids who couldn’t financially take part in Jewish education; we’re creating continuity in a unique way,” said Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach, head of school at Shalhevet.

About 135 students dropped out of 22 day schools surveyed by the BJE for the 2008-2009 school year, and schools reported 170 families currently reporting distress. Schools are bracing for a tough 2009-2010 registration cycle, which begins in January.

About 23 percent of the 1,500 students in the five high schools currently receive financial aid, a number sure to go up next year.

Schools, which have historically supported the neediest families, have renegotiated tuitions and worked with the distressed families. But often middle-income families find themselves barely able to pay tuition, but not wanting to apply for financial aid, said Miriam Prum-Hess, director of day school operational services for BJE. Many middle-class families never look toward Jewish education as a possibility.

The Jim Joseph grant targets those families, hoping to bring in 180 families who would never have considered a Jewish school because of the cost, and fund about 450 continuing students.

By Jewish Los Angeles standards, middle-class can mean families making about $200,000 a year. Prum-Hess estimates that families who bought a house in the last few years in Los Angeles need to be earning about $276,000 a year to put two children through Jewish education — and that was before the current recession.

The new grants will be administered by the BJE, which is developing a tuition calculator for the 2010-2011 school year for parents to go online and input income and expense information to determine whether they qualify for the tuition subsidy. (Until then, families will apply through the schools’ existing financial-aid process.)

Families needing more than a 40 percent subsidy will apply directly to the schools’ scholarship fund. The participating schools have committed themselves to maintaining their current scholarship budgets.

The grant will also fund teachers to staff a preparatory program, offering basic Jewish education to help integrate students new to day school education.

Schools can also use the funds to hire a development director to help raise their obligation toward the $21 million endowment fund — $2 million to $5 million per school, depending on its budget.

The BJE has been working to create a fund like this for years and has already secured a large portion of its $4.25 million commitment toward the endowment. The goal is to eventually create a $100 million endowment for Los Angeles, Prum-Hess said.

This is the latest — and largest — grant Prum-Hess has brought in during her tenure as director of day school operations, a post she’s held since December 2004, when she moved to BJE from planning and allocations, where she was vice president. Under her guidance, BJE schools have brought in $6 million in grants from sources such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund and the Jewish Funders Network, a consortium of organizations that incentivizes schools to increase their own fundraising capacity. “I like the idea that the Jim Joseph Foundation grant forces the school into thinking about long-term financial health,” said Jason Ablin, head of school at Milken Community High School. “This is something that has been going on at independent schools for years, and it’s time the Jewish community got on board with it.”

Of course, even a $21 million endowment would be just the beginning. Bruce Powell, head of school at New Community Jewish High School, has for years been talking about a $1 billion Jewish education endowment for Los Angeles, and he is thrilled to see that the door has finally been cracked open.

“Los Angeles should be a place where no Jewish family can’t get a Jewish education because of income. That is the goal. That is the big idea,” Powell said. “To do otherwise is at some point to lose the whole enterprise — not just the education, but the Jewish people’s contribution to America.”

$10 million in scholarships helps day school flourish


The start of the new academic year at Irvine’s Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School (TVT) ushered in what could be a new era in its outreach to Orange County’s Jewish community. This fall, administrators began disbursing the first installment of a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor for scholarships to new and returning students at the county’s only independent K-12 Jewish day school. The gift is payable at the rate of $1 million annually.

It’s a step toward increasing TVT’s enrollment, bringing it closer to its 1,000-student capacity, up from the 585 students who now attend. More importantly, acting head of school Derek Gavshon said, the infusion of cash is intended to eliminate finances as an impediment to a Jewish education.

“Between three Jewish day schools in the county, we should be able to capture a lot more kids than we have,” Gavshon said. “The main reason why we cannot is financial.”

About 25 percent of the school’s 377 families receive financial aid, previously capped at half of the annual tuition of $14,000 to $17,000. Gavshon hopes that removing the aid cap, as the donor requested, will help the school attract new students and provide relief for current families struggling with economic hardship.

Tuition aid of that magnitude is rare in the pricey world of Jewish day schools. Still, the gift complements TVT’s mission to make Jewish education accessible to children who would otherwise have no opportunity to be attached to their religion or cultural roots.

Perched high on the hills in Irvine’s sprawling Samueli Jewish Center, TVT’s $18 million, 21.5-acre campus is a far cry from the converted Costa Mesa warehouse where several dozen elementary students first met in 1991. Relocating the school to its permanent site in 1998, alongside the bustling Merage JCC, the Jewish Federation and other community organizations placed it in the hub of the county’s rapidly developing Jewish communal activity.

“The concept of the Samueli Jewish Center enabled a lot of Jews to come out of the woodwork,” said Gavshon, a South African-trained attorney and the school’s former business manager who took over as chief administrator 17 months ago. “Suddenly, they had a place go and their kids had a place to go, which heightened their awareness of their Judaism.”

“With the Jewish community’s focus being here, the focus is on Tarbut as well,” he added.

Drawing predominantly from Irvine, Newport Coast, Tustin and Laguna Niguel, TVT attracts a diverse student population, at least half of which is unaffiliated with a synagogue or religious movement. The wide range of backgrounds, from observant to traditional to nonpracticing, can be challenging, Gavshon said, especially when it comes to tefilah (prayer), where Orthodox, Conservative and Reform practices diverge greatly. The school provides students with a range of observance options, including an Orthodox minyan with a mechitzah along with a mixed-gender service, allowing students to practice where they feel spiritually comfortable.

A staff of 131 delivers the school’s project-based, hands-on curriculum, which is roughly 65 percent secular and 35 percent Judaic. Emphasis is placed on teaching by demonstration, with students actively applying their knowledge to practical situations. A nine-to-one student-teacher ratio at the elementary level and 14-to-one in the middle and upper schools creates a caring environment where teachers attend to their students’ individual needs. That is a comfort to many parents turned off by the vast number of students in the public school system and the implications that has for education.

“There is a whole culture of friendliness and communication at Tarbut,” said Mike Natelson, whose oldest daughter, Danielle, graduated in June 2008. “We decided on Tarbut because we had such a good feeling of caring. Danielle blossomed in kindergarten, and her first grade teacher felt like an extended member of the family working with our kid.”

For Natelson, a former Los Angeles public school teacher, and his wife, who works in the Tustin Unified School District, enrolling their younger daughter, Gabrielle, now a 10-grader, in TVT’s more intimate kindergarten class three years later was a no-brainer.

Middle-schoolers will be housed in their own unit this year for the first time. Administrators hope that separating the middle-school students from their older peers will allow them to explore the host of puberty-induced identity issues in a pressure-free environment.

“The learning process is different, so the school needs to be different; the layout of the class and access to teacher must be different,” Gavshon said.

To encourage students to bond with teachers and each other, they spent the fall’s first three days of school off-site at “middle school boot camp.” Without their cell phones, PDAs and other means of contact to the outside world, students engaged in trust-building and relationship-developing exercises intended to foster camaraderie and to prevent bullying from becoming a problem during the year.

That ethos of caring is extended beyond the school’s majestic Jerusalem-stone walls to the larger community. Tikkun olam — repairing the world — has become the fourth “R” of TVT’s rigorous curriculum, as students are taught to integrate their Jewish experience into everyday living. Ideas for community service projects flow freely in a collaborative exchange between students, faculty and parents that supports student initiatives and encourages creative thinking.

As a seventh-grader, Jaclyn Singer, now a freshman at San Diego State University, started a food drive to assist Marine families at Camp Pendleton. The experience, said her mother, Jill Singer, left a lasting impact

“The event changed all of our lives,” said Singer, of Laguna Hills. “Since that time, our family continues to assist Marine families through Orange County-based Moms4Marines.”

“Jewish life values [and] a deep and treasured understanding of Jewish history and law have created a rich foundation for Jaclyn to live her life,” she added. “She is empowered by her Judaism because she understands it and cherishes it.”

“We emanate a commitment to our core values,” lower school principal Jean Oleson said. “We’re creating global and economic awareness and connection.”

That awareness led sixth-graders to donate 2,000 books to the budget-stricken Orange County Educational Arts Academy in Santa Ana last year and to paint the school library. TVT was recently named an “O Ambassador,” in a program run by Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network and Free the Children. The program promotes awareness of poverty, education and sustainable development in struggling countries and promotes fundraising programs for development projects overseas. TVT students will raise funds for an African elementary school throughout the year.

Gavshon brimmed with excitement as he showed off the school’s high-tech facilities, including a TV studio, where students can learn production skills while staging a live weekly news program. The music room is home to Tarbut’s very own five-student garage band as well as choral and other musical programs. The lower school is built in five self-contained “villages,” complete with classrooms, teacher workrooms and an open-concept computer lab.

Last year, the school inaugurated a college-counseling center, where full-time counselors help students navigate the application process.

“We have the luxury of being able to look at each child and see what their potential is,” Gavshon said. “We must tap into that and extract the fullest potential so that each student will defend Judaism, be solid in themselves and be prepared for life. The first question we ask alumni is ‘Were you prepared?'”

They seem to be. The nationally recognized Blue Ribbon school boasts a college matriculation rate of more than 98 percent and SAT scores well over the national average.

“[TVT’s approach] stems from an innate love and passion for children and learning,” lower school principal Oleson said. “We see learning through the eyes of children and we share in the excitement of learning.”

Briefs: Jewish educators award scholarships, State accredits Jewish teacher training


Jewish Educators Award Scholarships

Nine students from Los Angeles Unified School District schools each received a $2,000 scholarship from the Association of Jewish Educators (AJE), a group of Jewish teachers and administrators at Los Angeles public schools.

At a May 18 brunch, the group handed out six scholarships to high-performing Jewish students who were involved in the Jewish community.

The winners were: Zara Atanelov, Taft High School; Max Cecil, Cleveland High; Lili Pariser, Cleveland High; Arielle Turner, Narbonne High; Michaela Sola, Hamilton High Music Academy; and Lauren Zalman, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies.

In addition, the AJE has teamed up with its counterparts in the black, Latino and Asian communities to award Human Relations Multi-Cultural Awards to deserving students. Those scholarships, also for $2,000, went to Briana Ford, Carson High School; Alma Martinez, King Drew Medical Magnet; and Djamilia Niazalieva, Hollywood High.

More than 300 people attended the annual brunch, including LAUSD board member Julie Korenstein.

“I applaud these high school seniors for their commitment to their Jewish heritage and maintaining excellent grades,” Korenstein said. “Being active in your community is just as important as maintaining good grades.”

Since its inception, the scholarship program has provided more than $250,000 in scholarships.

For more information on the Association of Jewish Educators, contact Stu Bernstein at (310) 459-0022 or e-mail theambergroup@aol.com.

— Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

State Accredits Jewish Teacher Training

After six years of training soon-to-be-teachers, the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has earned the ability to grant state teaching credentials.

Instead of going through the 13-month teacher training program and then having to apply for a California teaching credential, attendees of Day School Leadership through Teaching (DeLeT), a program of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR, can earn credentials in multiple subject areas for grades K-8.

The program helps teachers-in-training learn how to implement best practices in classrooms throughout North America. Partnered with Brandeis University in Boston, HUC-JIR’s DeLeT program recruits educators with a zest for learning for a yearlong fellowship that includes a mentored internship at a Jewish day school in Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay Area.

During DeLeT training, teachers learn current methods and how to incorporate Jewish values and ideas into general studies.

This is the first time any Jewish institution in California has been authorized to give state accreditation, said Michael Zeldin, director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education.

“We want to create a new kind of teacher who will be mindful of general and Judaic studies, who can incorporate and infuse all subjects of teaching. It takes a unique teacher to help students explore their Jewish self-identity, and it doesn’t matter if he or she is a math, science or language teacher — it’s all integrated,” said Rivka Ben-Daniel, the program’s education director.

For more information on the DeLeT program visit http://www.huc.edu.

— Celia Soudry, Contributing Writer

Van Nuys High Valedictorian

Van Nuys High School named Cherise Meyerson its valedictorian. The top student in her graduating class of 503 students, Meyerson — who had a record of perfect attendance over her 12 years in school — is president of Van Nuys’ Jewish Student Union, a weekly club with Jewish events and discussion topics. She is also president of the school’s National Honor Society chapter, captain of the Science Bowl team and the highest individual scorer in Van Nuys history in the Academic Decathlon competition. Meyerson will attend UCLA in the fall as a Regents Scholar.

— JGF

New Millions for Day Schools

The Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE), a beneficiary of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, helped Jewish day schools bring in more than $3 million this year from new donors and foundations.

The Jewish Funders Network challenged schools to find new donors of $25,000 or more through its MATCH grant program. The Network, backed by the AVI CHAI Foundation and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, matched new-donor money 50 cents to the dollar.

Fourteen Jewish schools earned those matching funds this year, bringing in a total of more than $1.3 million. Four years ago, the first time the grant was offered, only two area schools qualified. With the help of Miriam Prum-Hess, heading up the BJE’s new department for day school operations, schools received training and guidance in finding grants and nurturing new donors.

That approach also paid off with the Department of Homeland Security, which awarded close to $2 million to 14 Los Angeles Jewish schools in 2007. The funds pay for security infrastructure, such as cameras or fences. The BJE conducted joint training sessions with The Federation, and a total of 23 Jewish institutions received Homeland Security grants.

For additional information, visit http://www.bjela.org/.

— JGF

Irvine School Donates 6,000 Books

Students at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School teamed up with Access Books, a nonprofit organization, to donate over 6,000 books to a new charter school, Orange County Educational Arts Academy, during a community book drive this spring.

Leighann Pennington, the sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher, facilitated the program at Tarbut V’Torah, a school in Irvine that promotes values of tikkun olam (repair the world) to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Along with donating books to the library, Tarbut V’Torah students bonded with peers who attend Orange County Educational Arts Academy, mingling, cataloging books and painting murals together.

Founded in 1999, Access Books has worked with over 100 schools and donated more than 1.2 million books to several libraries.

“This project really helped my students take on important leadership roles,” Pennington said. “It was very inspiring to see the students interact with each other during the book drive. We are so proud to be a part of building the Orange County Educational Arts Academy.”

For more information, visit

Education Giant Simha Lainer, 100


Simha Lainer
Simha Lainer, a diminutive centenarian who cut a towering figure in Jewish education in Los Angeles, died Tuesday, Aug. 8. He was 100.

“He was a giant,” said Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) Executive Director Gil Graff. “What he did was singularly remarkable: he established scholarships for children to attend Jewish schools, he created a program fund to recognize excellence in Jewish education. The Bureau of Jewish Education sits on the Sara and Simha Lainer floor of the Jewish Federation building, and it couldn’t be more fitting than that. Everything you envision in Jewish education, this is what Sara and Simha Lainer were all about.”

Lainer was born in Ukraine in the town of Bar in 1906. He moved from Ukraine to Palestine in 1925, then to South America and to Mexico until settling in Los Angeles with his wife Sara and three children in 1951.

In Los Angeles, Lainer founded Lainer Development, specializing in industrial warehouse type properties in the San Fernando Valley. Lainer’s sons Mark, Nahum and Luis joined him in business.

“Simha once told me his three rules for business success,” Graff recounted. “His first rule was, ‘Treat your workers like family.'”

From establishing funds through the Jewish Community Foundation in Los Angeles to starting the Simha and Sara Lainer Fund for Jewish Education through the BJE of Greater Los Angeles to supporting Israel, Lainer and Sara were key supporters of the Jewish community.

The Simha and Sara Lainer Fund for Jewish Education, which Simha and Sara Lainer established in 1989, has awarded close to $1 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 children at 37 Jewish day schools of all denominations across the city.

“When you do something for Jewish life, you do it for the good of the Jewish people,” Lainer told The Journal in a 2003 interview. “For 3,000 years the Jews have lived. Other people have disappeared in that 3,000 years, but we Jews have continued to survive primarily because of Jewish education. We need to continue our existence. Not that many Jewish families understand that Jewish education is critical for the continued existence of the Jewish people.”

Lainer is survived by his sons, Mark, Nahum and Luis; daughters-in-law, Ellie, Alice and Lee; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. at Mt. Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries.

Even Utopia Has a Price Tag


Late in the summer of 1987, my parents shipped me off to the Cleveland Jewish Community Center’s cleverly named Camp Wise. It was August, the weather was hot, and the little village of wooden cabins with tent flaps for walls was a welcome change from the air-conditioned houses of the city.

I was smitten with camp after my first peek at those cabin-tents — and that was just the beginning of a six-year-long love affair. Camp Wise sprawled over more than 250 acres of lush East Coast-style woods, which also were home to a pint-sized lake, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a rudimentary ropes course, horse stables and lots of wooden shacks designated for just about every activity you could think of. And, of course, the best part was the campwide Shabbat processional through the woods to our open-air, tree-lined chapel.

Sure, camp is utopia, but even communing with nature can be expensive these days. So, how do families — who have all of life’s necessities plus Hebrew school and bar mitzvahs to think about — afford such a luxury?

At Camp JCA Shalom, a JCC camp in Malibu, a three-week camping experience can cost almost $2,400, a full summer can run twice that, and these numbers do not include all of the expensive extras — hiking boots, outdoor gear, sleeping bags, etc. — that may be necessary.

Luckily, there are a lot of options out there for families on a budget, said Jerry Silverman, the president of the Foundation for Jewish Camping. “Talk to the camp, talk to your rabbi, and talk to your local [Jewish] federation — it is all about asking.”

“The end justifies the means,” he added. “If you don’t ask, your children will suffer.”

And Silverman wouldn’t want that. He and his organization share the same simple goal: To increase the number of Jewish campers, since it views camp as one of the most powerful ways to build Jewish identity and commitment in young people.

The Foundation for Jewish Camping’s Web site has a directory of camp scholarships that will be updated next month to include a more complete list of options for Californians.

Most camps have some sort of scholarship program. Camp JCA Shalom, for example, offers two different financial aid packages — the Camp JCA Shalom Summer Campership Fund and the Marla Bennett Campership Fund — to help families afford camp. Although neither of these funds covers the full cost of camp, through the help of The Jewish Federation and individual donors, the camp is able to provide $170,000 in scholarship money each year. Last year, roughly 200 campers received some amount of aid.

Federation allocates more than $500,000 annually to camps, including almost $400,000 to Camp JCA Shalom in 2005. About $160,000 of that total is designated for scholarship programs. California-based Camp Ramah, Camp Alonim at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp and Gilboa Habonim D’ror also receive scholarship money.

At The Federation’s Summer Camp and Israel Programs Expo on Sunday, Jan. 22, at Valley Beth Shalom, camp discounts will be among the raffle prizes.

The Foundation for Jewish Education is a Beverly Hills-based organization that offers full scholarships for first-time campers whose families are not affiliated with a Jewish school or synagogue. Last year, the foundation sent nine campers to Camp Alonim.

If financial aid is not right for your family, Rachel Grose of the Jewish Free Loan Association, a Jewish Federation agency, suggested tapping the many interest-free loan options available to the Jewish community. For example, she said the Morris Doberne Camper Experience Loan Fund and the Jewish Free Loan Association are two great resources, both of which offer loans of up to $2,000 per camper.

According to Silverman, finding the right financial assistance or loan option is worth doing some research.

“Jewish summer camp is the most undervalued investment in the Jewish community,” he said.

He knows this from first-hand observation. When Silverman’s 9-year-old daughter, Alison, attended her first year at camp, she fell in love with the intoxicating mix of nature and Jewish culture. Silverman was struck by his daughter’s real emotion when she cried for her now-disbanded camp family and when she questioned why her real family does not sing for an hour after Shabbat dinner like she did at camp.

“I am telling you right now, I cannot describe the glow on my daughter’s face,” Silverman said of his daughter’s return.

Phil Liff-Grieff, the associate director of the Bureau of Jewish Education, agreed with Silverman that camping is a wonderful tool for all Jewish people — namely because it is undiluted Jewish living.

“Rules of the outside world can be left in the outside world,” he said. “It is a total experience.”

At camp, Liff-Grieff said, every activity becomes an opportunity to teach Jewish life — even a basketball game. For example, he explained, campers learn how to behave on the court from friends and staff members.

Maybe times have changed, but I seem to remember more healthy competition than moral instruction on the b-ball courts of my Camp Wise childhood. Another thing I can’t remember: What financial sacrifices my parents made so that I could go to camp. But I definitely remember the one-of-kind experience of JCC summer camp — or, as I prefer to call it: utopia.

The Federation’s Summer Camp and Israel Programs Expo will be held Sunday, Jan. 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. Summer programs for all ages and denominations will be represented, plus food, entertainment, prizes and raffles for camp discounts. For more information, call Lori Harrison-Port at (323) 761-8343.


For more information and a directory of camp scholarships, visit the Foundation for Jewish Camping at www.jewishcamping.org. For information on the Jewish Free Loan Association go to ” target=”_blank”>www.tfjeinc.org.

The Circuit


Kadima Kudos

Kadima Hebrew Academy honored its past and its future at an April gala celebrating the school’s 35th anniversary. Rabbi Elijah and Penina Schochet, the school’s founders, were honored alongside Dorit and Shawn Evanheim, the benefactors who enabled the school to purchase and move into the new campus in West Hills.

The purchase of the Evanheim Family Campus on Shoup Avenue marks the first time that Kadima owns its building, and the school is growing into its new facilities of a 55,000-square-foot former hospital set on a lush green campus.

Kadima opened a camp this summer, and next year will mark the inauguration of a new preschool, which already has a waiting list.

For the Earth

Environmentalist of the Year honorees have been named and will be feted at a reception in September featuring former Assembly speaker Robert Hertzberg.

Honorary co-chairs for the event include: former Gov. Gray Davis; Dorothy Green, founding president of Heal the Bay; Pacoima Beautiful’s Marlene Grossman; Assemblyman Lloyd Levine; H. David Nahai; Assemblywoman Fran Pavley; Schwarzenegger Cabinet Secretary Terry Tamminen; and Arden Realty’s Richard S. Ziman.

The Business Environmentalist of the Year award goes to BP America, Inc. The Guardians in Washington Award will be given to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles).

The Interfaith Environmental Council and the City of Los Angeles honor those individuals and corporations that have shown dedication in sustaining our natural resources and caring for the environment. Religious and moral heritage teaches that it is a responsibility to care for creation to provide for our children and grandchildren. Honorees exemplify these teachings and help educate and mobilize the tens of thousands of members that fill the pews in the local faith communities.

Prior honorees have included Tamminen, Grossman, Green, Pavley, Ziman, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Gail Ruderman Feuer, Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, Heal the Bay Executive Director Mark Gold, Emil Lawton and TreePeople founder Andy Lipkis.

Good as Goldrich

On June 26, an L.A. recognition celebration was held by Tel Aviv University American Council at the Peninsula Hotel to honor Jona Goldrich. Professor Itamar Rabinovich, president of Tel Aviv University, and Joel Tauber, national chairman of Tel Aviv University American Council, hosted this event for Goldrich, the western region chairman emeritus; 11 recipients of the President’s Council Award; and to welcome Ruth Singer, the incoming Western Region chair.

Honorees have a long-standing commitment to Tel Aviv University.

Hot Time, Cool Funds

The day was hot and the affair even hotter as the Fulfillment Fund’s annual Summer Splash once again brought devotees out in force to support scholarships for children.

The day featured a Pro Am Tennis Tournament and exhibition, entertainment and swimming. Actors Jessica Biel, Tim Daly and Carrie-Ann Moss served as honorary co-chairs.

The event was held at the Mann residence in Beverly Hills, which features a waterfall and pool, lush grounds and a spectacular view.

Net proceeds from the event will be allocated toward Bright Future Scholarships for promising, but economically disadvantaged, Fulfillment Fund students.

Founded in 1977, the Fulfillment Fund is a nonprofit organization providing long-term mentoring, classroom-based outreach programs, and college counseling to nearly 3,000 economically disadvantaged students in Los Angeles.

For more information, visit www.fulfillment.org.

It’s a Miracle

The Miracle Project, a Jewish musical theater children’s program that includes youngsters with disabilities and special needs, is funded in part by a new and innovative grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. The Miracle Project is a program of Breeyah, an organization that specializes in Jewish tradition, spirituality and music. The Foundation awarded the grant for the program’s creative approach of bringing children with special needs and mainstream youth together with their families. The Miracle Project plans to conduct another series of workshops beginning in October 2005.

 

Center Aids Iranians in Need of Help


After only a few months in Los Angeles, Shirley N., a 30-year-old Jewish immigrant from Iran, almost returned to her homeland because of financial difficulties.

"I was down, I was broke, I didn’t have anyone here, and I was also worried about my family in Iran," Shirley said. "I would have probably gone back to Iran if it weren’t for all the miraculous help of these ladies and SIAMAK."

"These ladies" Shirely refers to are Manigh Youabian and Manizheh Yomtoubian, co-director for the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center’s charity outreach.

With a substantial number of affluent and financially successful Persian Jews living in Southern California, it might be hard to believe there are some who live below the poverty line. Yet Youabian and Manizheh and their volunteers encounter this all-too-sad reality every day.

"We help them because no one else does, and we offer them what they cannot receive from welfare; or some don’t have any documents in this country but are hungry," said Youabian, who has been volunteering for the past 14 years. Co-director Yomtoubian has volunteered for the last 14 months, and together they help provide food, home furnishings, clothing, transportation, financial assistance and even temporary housing to approximately 100 Persian Jewish families living in poverty in Los Angeles.

The organization provided Shirley with food, clothing, rent money and even a used car to get around, and it also recently granted her a full college scholarship because of her high grades.

"If I wanted to say what they’ve have done for me, it’s beyond words," said Shirley, who is now a student at Santa Monica College and works part-time at Starbucks. "They’ve helped me financially and emotionally. I don’t have anyone here; they’ve basically been my family."

Originally working with the Iranian American Jewish Association of Southern California (SIAMAK) — one of the oldest Iranian Jewish organizations in the city, which in February merged with the Eretz Cultural Center in Tarzana — the group has taken up the monumental task of providing support to Iranian Jews just barely getting by in Los Angeles. With their primary goal to feed hungry Jews locally, the new Eretz-SIAMAK organization subsidizes food expenses for needy families by giving them $50 to $100 worth of coupons per month — depending on their income — help from other organizations and assistance from people in their households, Yomtoubian said.

Food coupons are used by many struggling families at Glatt Mart and F&Y Kosher Market in West Los Angeles and at Q-Market in Van Nuys, all kosher markets that have entered into contracts with Eretz-SIAMAK to assist those in need. On a daily basis, the organization is bombarded with desperate phone calls for help from locals who have discovered by word of mouth or by the organization’s monthly magazine, Iranian Jewish Chronicle (Chashm Andaaz), of the group’s charitable efforts, said Lili Kahen, a volunteer of nine-years.

"People call me at the office here or even at home asking for help because they’ve lost their job and beg us for one more bag of rice or gallon of oil," Kahen said.

Youabian, who often makes personal deliveries to some of the families’ homes, said the organization not only helps local Persian Jews in need but also new Iranian Jewish immigrants struggling to make ends meet in Los Angeles.

"A lot of [Persian Jews] who come here from Iran or Israel have absolutely nothing — no clothes, no furniture — and we give them those basic things they need to get by," Youabian said.

For many recipients, it’s more than just financial support from the organization: it’s the emotional bonds forged.

Elisa P., a 14-year-old resident of the San Fernando Valley, said that Yomtoubian "is so amazing — not only did she help me get a lawyer for my green card and gave me food coupons, but she’s been like a mother figure to me." She said she shares a special relationship with Yomtoubian, who has become a second mother to her after her own mother died in Israel five years ago and her father has been in a coma in an Israeli hospital.

"She really cares about me, let’s me into her life, gives me confidence in myself, and that makes me feel special that there’s someone who cares," said Elisa, who currently lives with her 75-year-old grandfather.

The two women’s charitable work has also motivated younger Jews to volunteer their time locally.

"After I found out that there are Jews in L.A. who don’t have food for Shabbat dinner, I was heartbroken," said Eman Esmailzadeh, a 21-year-old Brentwood resident. "It was very simple for me to give back to the community and this was the best way possible." He and six other college and high school Jewish students have volunteered to deliver food parcels to families in need of food on Shabbat throughout the city.

Dariush Fakheri, co-founder of Eretz-SIAMAK, said besides helping poor Iranian Jews locally, his organization has, on numerous occasions, come to the aid of non-Jews by handing out food parcels to the homeless downtown and even donating medicine to Bosnian Muslims during the recent Balkans War.

Having cooperated with the Hope Foundation, Torat Hayim, the Iranian Jewish Federation and SOVA, Yomtoubian said Eretz-SIAMAK would like to collaborate with other local Jewish groups who are aiding poor Jewish families.

Volunteers said their greatest challenge has been overcoming the lack of resources to help everyone who has approached them for help.

"The most difficult part is when we have to put a limit on the help we can offer because we just don’t have the money every time to help everyone," Youabian said.

With Camperships for All


They are not scholarships but “camperships” in Jewish summer camp parlance. Of the 1,000 campers expected soon at Malibu’s Camp JCA Shalom, which is supported by JCCGLA, about 200 parents applied for camperships.

“It’s amazing, in the past few years, the income level of people who are requesting camperships,” said Bill Kaplan, executive director of the Shalom Institute, which runs Camp JCA Shalom. Its campership aid this year will run about $130,000, $75,000 of which is general camp aid from The Federation. That is an increase from the $50,000 The Federation made available 2002, the boost due to the increase in cash-strapped families.

In addition to that $75,000, there is a separate $18,000 in Federation money for kids from Russian immigrant families, with the rest of Camp JCA’s $130,000 coming from donations and regional federations for campers from Arizona, Las Vegas and Southern California’s outlying Jewish communities not served by the L.A. Federation.

“About half of the parents are unaffiliated,” Kaplan said. “One of our targets is Jews who are not affiliated with a synagogue.”

In an outreach to public high school kids, the Orthodox Union’s National Council of Synagogue Youth is running a $2,500, July 1-25 coed “Caravan West” motorcoach tour of the western United States.

Whatever the denomination, applying for any campership usually is simple and discreet.

“On the application for camp we have a checkbox. Our office then will send out a packet; a financial aid application,” said Rabbi Daniel Greyber, executive director of the University of Judaism’s Camp Ramah in California, which has about 15 percent to 20 percent of parents requesting aid, and this summer will distribute $175,000 in camperships. Parents are also asked if their synagogue will help.

“The expectation is that everybody contributes something,” Greyber said. “Many but not all of the Conservative synagogues have a scholarship fund, either for Camp Ramah in California or Jewish camp in general.”

Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu helps Reform kids through a campership fund.

“We will at least match the temple,” said Hess Kramer director Howard Kaplan. “There are times when I have a rabbi call and say they’re out of funds and they really need to get this kid to camp; can we find a way? We find a way.”

Wilshire Boulevard will distribute about $30,000 in camperships to about 60-80 kids.

“We try to get everyone something, even if it’s a hundred bucks for a short session,” said Howard Kaplan, who added that safeguards are in the application process. “We ask for the front page of their taxes, just so that they’re not earning $250,000 and they don’t want to pay. It happens.”

Camp Hess Kramer gives camperships covering no more than half its fee, and its director avoids making such aid habit-forming.

“If we have families on scholarship we try to wean them off it over the years,” he said.

Above all, he said, “If a kid’s deserving, you get him there.”

Financial aid is also available through interest-free loans from Federation-backed Jewish Free Loan Association and its Morris Doberne Camper Experience Loan Fund.

Aid is not just for sleepover camps. At Temple Israel of Hollywood, the six-week day camp costs $300 a week, with 60 percent of its 70 campers from the shul’s school.

“We don’t have an express scholarship program, but we work with individual families who express a specific need,” said Jackie Symonds, the school’s general studies coordinator. “It’s basically what can you afford.”

Walking the Walk for Heritage Pointe


Setting a contemporary example for the ancient value of "l’dor v’dor" (from generation to generation), supporters of Heritage Pointe will walk through Irvine May 31 in a communitywide 5K walk to raise money for the county’s only Jewish retirement home.

"My goal is to help keep this worthy residence in great shape so that senior members of our community won’t go uncared for in their time of need," said Samantha Markowitz, 12, of Villa Park. Three of her great-grandparents, all now deceased, were among the earliest residents of the 14-year-old facility in Mission Viejo.

Markowitz, among 40 or so early registrants, is organizing a team to participate in the walk, called "Generation Celebration," as her mitzvah project. She set an ambitious $10,000 goal and asked for help in a letter to congregants of Santa Ana’s Temple Beth Sholom. Her grandfather promised to match every dollar she raises.

"It’s the community involvement that makes [Heritage Pointe] different from a for-profit," said Meryl Schrimmer, of Laguna Beach, the home’s co-founder and the walk’s organizer. "If you don’t have a resident there or aren’t a volunteer, you wouldn’t know about it," she said. But throughout the year, hundreds of children and adults volunteer at Heritage Pointe, enlivening the environment of more than 120 residents, many of them housebound, with programs and visits.

"Some people think it’s enough to pay the rent, but we want them to be involved," Schrimmer said. For example, Markowitz’s grandparents, Jacquee and Mel Lipson, of Newport Beach, will assist with event registration. Ten years ago, their entire family hit the streets during the first Heritage Pointe walk, including baby Samantha in a stroller.

Proceeds from the walk will go toward $700,000 expended annually for residential scholarships, providing varying levels of financial aid for about a quarter of residents. Funds will also help re-equip an underused recreation room into a planned wellness center. About $30,000 in specialized exercise equipment is needed. "It’s designed for people trying to regain strength as well as equipment that would meet the needs of those maintaining fitness," Schrimmer pointed out.

Some Heritage Pointe residents will participate, such as the 100-year-old grand marshal Rose Horvitz, who lived in Laguna Woods for 20 years before relocating in 2000. She and her caregiver will ride in a convertible, leading the procession from Irvine’s Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School. Schrimmer is hoping for 500 people.

Warm-up events begin at 8 a.m. Walkers, strollers and wheelchairs will complete a circuitous five kilometers after setting out down Federation Way toward Shady Canyon Road and then reversing the route.

"It’s not a timed race," said Schrimmer, who has set suggested fundraising minimums of $200 for families, $1,000 for 10-person teams and $50 for a senior and a child. Teams could be organized by a school, a family, a synagogue or a havurah.

To aid supporters in soliciting funds and involve younger adults, Schrimmer is relying on a Web site to ease registration and encourage competition (www.generationcelebration.kintera.org). The site allows entrants to seek donations through e-mail, create a personalized Web page and permits online contributions by credit card. Donors receive an instant "thank you" and a tax-deductible receipt.

"It makes it easy for busy people who don’t have hours to spend on the phone," Schrimmer said.

Virtual walkers who seek donations are welcome, too, she said.

While the walk may lack a timekeeper, the Web site keeps score nonetheless with a dollar tally of pledge leaders. Individuals and teams can post both fundraising goals and results. Checks, too, eventually are reflected in results, Schrimmer said.

Early on, Markovitz’ team, "Juniors for Seniors" was trailing among four rival teams, and Victor Klein was leading as the top individual solicitor.

Teams or event volunteers are still welcome and should contact Bonnie Gillman at (714) 838-9797.

The Circuit


Chaverim Simcha

Four members of Chaverim, a social program for adults with developmental disabilities celebrated their bar/bat mitzvahs at Valley Beth Shalom. Karen Cook, Cindi Rothstein, Ron Corn and Stephen Wise didn’t have the opportunity to partake in the Jewish ritual at the traditional age of 12 or 13. Now in their 30s, the members trained under Rabbi Sara Berman and Rabbi Sharon Gladstone in preparation for the Torah reading. Directed by Dr. Amy Gross under the auspices of the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, Chaverim organizes social events from dances to Shabbat dinners.

For more information, e-mail the Chaverim at info@mychaverim.org . — Leora Alhadeff, Contributing Writer

Academic Honors

Magnanimous Los Angeles is sharing its prodigious brainpower with other less cerebrally fortunate cities. Tarzana resident David Tabari, 18, was selected to receive San Francisco State University’s most distinguished academic award for freshmen, the Presidential Scholar, which is worth some $17,000 over four years. Tabari, who comes from a family of Iranian refugees will major in molecular biology and plans to move to Israel and build a children’s hospital there.

And in Philadelphia, the American Academy for Jewish Research recently elected University of Judaism (UJ) professor Ziony Zevit to become a fellow. Zevit is the Distinguished Professor of Biblical Literature and Northwest Semitic Languages at the UJ, and is one of only four Southern California scholars to be elected to the academy, one of the oldest Jewish studies organizations in America.

Bronstein’s Breakthrough

If you have trouble recognizing faces, then perhaps a Technion student can help. Michael Bronstein and Raz Zur, two students from the Technion, one of Israel’s premier science universities, visited members of the Southern California Chapter of the American Technion Society at the Four Seasons Hotel on Sept. 7. Bronstein demonstrated his revolutionary facial-recognition software that he developed with his twin brother, Alexander.

Winn Win Situation

Betty Winn has been appointed the new head of school at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge. Winn, the former head of school at Los Encinos School in Encino will be responsible for providing educational leadership and direction at Heschel.

Mo Money, Mo Books

The Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles came into the dough recently, receiving two large grants. The first was $40,000 from the Library Services and Technology Act/California State Library, which will go toward providing Jewish cultural programs at the Los Angeles Public Library’s Roberston branch.

The Jewish Federation/Metro West Region provided the second grant of $12,000, which will go toward a program called The Right Book @ The Right Time that provides educators and librarians with knowledge of how to use literature for children and families facing troubling times.

Bat Yam Yum

The Hadassah Chapter of Bat Yam Daughters of the Sea held their second annual membership dinner on Sept. 10 at the home of Miriam Zlotolow, where special guest speaker Judy Gruen read excerpts from her latest humor book “Till We Eat Again.” The Bat Yam chapter was formed to attract residents from Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Westchester areas.

For more information, call Dorraine Gilbert at (310) 822-5250.

L.A. Law

Lawyers, judges, law professors and others involved in the legal profession converged at the St. Regis Hotel on Sept. 24 as Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was honored with the Harvey L. Silbert Torch of Learning Award at an event sponsored by the American Friends of Hebrew University (AFHU). Silbert, who passed away last year, supported Hebrew U for more than 50 years, providing scholarships and naming buildings and programs at the university.

On hand to greet the crowd were Richard Ziman, AFHU Western region chair; Peter Weil, AFHU Western region president; and Martinn Mandles, AFHU Western region vice president; Eliyahu Honig, Hebrew U’s vice president; and Dean Eyal Zamir, representing Hebrew U’s Faculty of Law.

Upon accepting the award from Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom Kozinski clerked for, Kozinski paid tribute to his parents’ love for learning and said that Kennedy taught him “that judging is a serious business, and that there is no easy solution.”

“[Kennedy taught me] that you didn’t have to be Jewish to be a mensch,” he said. “But you can’t be a good judge, and you certainly can’t be a great judge, unless you are a mensch.”

Having an IMPACT!

What do Israeli soldiers do when the fighting is over? The Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, a group that promotes the well being of Israeli soldiers, has instituted the IMPACT! Scholarships, which provide soldiers with the financial resources to pursue a college education once they have completed their service. To date, more than $3.5 million scholarship dollars have been raised in the United States.

Sgt. Maj. Tzahi Turman, a recipient of an IMPACT! scholarship spoke to prominent business leaders at the Four Seasons Hotel about how he benefited from the scholarship. Turman served in the navy, and is currently a student at the University of Haifa, where he studies law and economics.

“The moral and financial support Jews in America provide [to] soldiers during their military service and after is a tremendous boost to our moral and our overall readiness,” Turman told the crowd. “Your caring means the world to us.”

Time for Something Sweet


Platters of apple slivers prepared for dunking in honey are a holiday ritual symbolizing hope for a sweet New Year.

The Jewish Federation of Orange County is on its way to starting another New Year tradition by again urging residents to buy Israeli-made honey for their own Rosh Hashanah tables as well as contributing a jar to an Israeli family.

This year, six other Jewish communities in Western states are joining in the “Honey for the Holidays” promotion, started by the broad-based O.C. Israel Solidarity Task Force, said Bunnie Mauldin, the Federation’s executive director. “We are with you in sweetness and sorrow,” reads the card that will be attached to hundreds of honey jars expected to be distributed in the Israeli communities of Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon.

Some of the nectar-filled jars, produced by the Hof Askelon apairy, Yad Mordechai, are also available for sale at several distribution points through October. Sites include Costa Mesa’s Jewish Community Center, Irvine’s Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, Rancho Santa Margarita’s Morasha Jewish Day School, Santa Ana’s Temple Beth Sholom and Fountain Valley’s Congregation B’nai Tzedek. A donation in multiples of $18 is requested, with extra funds going toward worthwhile projects in Israel.

For several years, Orange County has sent aid and visitors to the two Israeli towns. Last year, their cumulative gifts provided scholarships for higher education to four families, Mauldin said.

For more information or to order jars, call the Jewish Federation of Orange County at (714) 755-5555.

The Circuit


Justice Seekers

Bet Tzedek’s sixth annual Justice Ball has always been a popular affair for Los Angeles’ young professionals. But this year, add “swanky” to the fundraiser’s list of superlatives.

Justice Ball 2002 was held at the recently renovated and reopened Park Plaza, an art deco vestige of Los Angeles’ glamour and glitter days that gave the occasion a different ta’am from previous years.

“What we tried to do was to find a venue to enjoy great music as well as provide a place where people can talk,” said Allan Schweitzer, who is serving his fourth year with the Justice Ball and his first year as event co-chair, with Jennifer Kleinert.

More than 2,500 young professionals attended the evening, made possible with the help of a 23-member steering committee and a large group of co-sponsors that included The Jewish Journal. The $350,000 raised in proceeds that night will directly benefit Bet Tzedek (House of Justice), which annually provides free legal services to more than 10,000 local low-income residents who can not afford the price of justice.

“I’m so excited by how this has turned out,” said Kleinert, a real estate attorney who helped organize all six Justice Balls.

“It’s a classy, fun crowd,” said corporate real estate attorney Shervin Gabayan, this being his second year on the Justice Ball’s planning committee. “Bet Tzedek is a wonderful organization that provides a fantastic service to our community.”

There were enough performers at this year’s Justice Ball to overstuff a deposition brief. Former Wailers frontman Elan delivered the reggae; DJ Jason Bentley, of KCRW and KROQ fame, spun the ambient music; disco cover band royalty The Boogie Knights gave up the funk; and Smittin, fronted by “The Practice” star Marla Sokoloff, rocked the room.

Also appearing, in the nonsinging category, Sokoloff’s “Practice” pal Camryn Manheim. The actress, who also played in Todd Solondz’s “Happiness,” is a longtime devotee of Bet Tzedek and has attended The Justice Ball since its inception.

“Every year, it gets better and better,” said Manheim, hanging out with Joshua Malina of “SportsNight.” Malina, a nice Jewish boy, found out about Justice Ball from Kleinert’s sister, Michelle Kleinert, a pal of his from their New Israel Fund involvement.

“Bet Tzedek’s a Jewish organization whose philosophy extends to everyone, regardless of race or religion,” Malina said.

“He’s been instrumental in getting the celebrity crowd here,” said Randall Kaplan, Justice Ball founder and chair emeritus. “He goes a million miles out of his way to make it happen.”

Bartenders poured cocktails — courtesy of VIP room sponsor Grey Goose Vodka — for attendees through an ice sculpture as the group SmackDaddy jammed for the VIP crowd.

Also spotted at the Justice Ball: Bet Tzedek Executive Director David Lash; socialite Janis Black; South Park Group Vice President Sean Hashem; jewelry designer Lili Rachel, and Hollywood Reporter online editor William Yelles.

Kaplan was pleased with this year’s fundraiser — the first Justice Ball he hasn’t directly overseen.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job this year in every respect,” said Kaplan, proud papa of the Justice Ball and of 5-month-old twins, Bianca and Arianna, whose picture he flashed to friends. “It’s truly wonderful to see the event raised to a new level and continue with a talented group of volunteers.”

For information on Bet Tzedek and the Justice Ball, call (323) 939-0506 and www.TheJusticeBall.org .

Talk of the Town

Local property manager SK Management LLC will present several college scholarships to tenants of buildings it maintains. Jerry Steinbaum, founder of SK Management, will present the scholarships to tenants in need of financial assistance for college.

4Robert Hertzberg, Assembly speaker emeritus, presented Boyle Heights native Judge Harry Pregerson of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals with a resolution officially naming the interchange of the 110 and 105 freeways in his honor.

4Los Angeles Hillel Council will honor its immediate past president, Michael Diamond, on Aug. 18 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.

4UCLA heart surgeon Dr. Hillel Laks, professor and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine, was honored in Beverly Hills by the American Heart Association.

4Commissioner Ruth Jernigan has been elected as president of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.

4San Fernando Valley Business Journal has named Arter & Hadden LLP partner Deborah Feldman one of its “Women Who Means Business” for 2002. The Woodland Hills lawyer was honored at a Warner Center Marriott gala.

Survivor: Malibu


Forget the South Pacific, the Australian Outback and Africa — if you want to see a real survivor, look no further than in your own backyard.

Despite the well-chronicled hardships of its parent organization, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA), Malibu-based The Shalom Institute: Camp and Conference Center has managed to maintain its composure in the face of the organization’s upheaval.

“Fortunately, we are in a good place financially,” Bill Kaplan, Camp JCA Shalom’s director, told The Journal. “We’re right there. We’re doing OK. We’re maintaining.”

Based in Malibu, the Shalom Institute is the umbrella entity of four basic departments: Camp JCA Shalom, which offers summer and weekend camps for young children and teens; Shalom Adventure Center, which offers rock climbing, hiking and other activities; Shalom Nature Center, which offers educational environmental programs; and the Emma Stern Conference and Retreat Center, an elderhostel program. At an annual budget of just over $2 million from revenue and contributions, the institute has grown since 1994, when it operated on $855,000.

Kaplan, who has been director for eight years, believes multiple factors have kept The Shalom Institute afloat. However, not to be undervalued are his institution’s great relationships with parent institution JCCGLA, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Jewish Community Foundation.

“Jewish camping has such a great impact on Jewish continuity,” Kaplan said. “Financially, we’ve been more independent. We’re less costly. We’ve grown over the years, and we’ve reinvented ourselves from summer camp into a year-round camping institute.”

Post-recession and Sept. 11, the institute’s elderhostel, which is based in its recently established 24-room Emma Stern building, took a hit in attendance, although it is slowly rebounding.

“After Sept. 11, a lot of people, who come from out of town, weren’t flying — especially senior citizens,” said Joel Charnick, 27, who serves as both assistant director of The Shalom Institute and as director of the Emma Stern Conference and Retreat Center. Nevertheless, Charnick will push forward with developing the Shalom Senior Arts Program, which will offer classes in Jewish humor, theater, dancing and song.

The institute has also seen rises in costs of basic operations. “Our utilities shot through the roof, “Kaplan said. Some of the facilities are aging and require maintenance and repairs. “The reality is those are the costs,” he said. “We’re not making huge profits.”

“Overall, the big impact on us is scholarships,” Kaplan said. “Scholarship requests from kids more than doubled than last year.”

With the Federation’s help, Camp JCA Shalom distributes between $50,000 and $100,000 in scholarships to more than 160 children each year. The scholarships are crucial for many children, since the institute has had to raise tuition fees over the years in order to stay competitive and maintain a quality staff. A two-week session at Camp JCA costs about $1,300 per kid; a four-week session costs $2,600.

The Shalom Institute’s world goes back 51 years. Back then, Camp JCA (which stands for Jewish Community Association, the original acronym for the JCC system) was located at Barton Flats in the San Bernardino Mountains. In 1972, Camp JCA opened its Malibu campus. In 1990, the Barton Flats location was sold, and the Malibu campus became the camp’s primary location, which it remains today. The campus consists of 135 acres nestled within a canyon filled with oak and sycamore trees, and the area is conducive to the institute’s various athletic activities.

In 1997, the institution’s advisory board made a bold move to reinvent itself from Camp JCA Shalom to The Shalom Institute.

The Federation was a crucial player in Shalom’s rebirth a few years back. “They gave us $50,000 per year to help out in scholarships,” Kaplan said. “We’re hoping that they’ll help us again.”

Another reason for Shalom Institute’s feasibility might be Kaplan himself, and the tradition and continuity he has brought to the institution. Kaplan’s history with JCA spans most of his 36 years. Before rising to the position of director, he served as JCA’s assistant camp director for four years.

Since becoming a year-round camping destination, the institute, under Kaplan’s aegis, has become more ambitious in its programming, because he was intent on cultivating “new and innovative ways to attract young Jews.”

Last year, a Murder Mystery Weekend was held for young adults. This year, the institute will develop its Young Adults Getaway Weekend for 21 to 39-year-olds, to be held Labor Day weekend. Singles will be able to mingle as they participate in activities such as rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, and Israeli dancing.”

The Shalom Institute has also partnered with Hillel in its College Campus Initiative, a $552,000 Jewish Community Foundation grant doled out over three years, to involve college students.

“Under Bill’s leadership and Adam Grant, president of the institute’s advisory board, as the lay leader, you have great people involved,” said JCCGLA Executive Vice President Nina Lieberman Giladi. “It’s also vital and successful because there’ve been a lot of healthy initiative with Hillel to do outreach with college people.”

The firsthand experience and personal touch that Kaplan, Charnick and their staff have contributed to Shalom Institute has made JCCGLA’s top brass very happy campers.

“Where it is going is an opportunity for continued growth,” Giladi said. “Bill is treating this as an institute without walls. He has been and will be doing a lot of programming offsite, and I think that it’s an area that we can keep growing.”

For more information, visit The Shalom Institute: Camp and Conference Center at campjcashalom.com and www.shalominstitute.com .

The Hidden Co$t ofJewish Education


My husband Larry and I could be creating a retirement portfolio, renting a vacation villa in Tuscany or buying badly needed furniture.

Instead, we are investing in our four sons, ages 10, 12, 14 and 17. More specifically, we are investing in their Jewish education by shelling out a total of $64,917 — after-tax dollars, for the 2001-2002 school year only — to Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge and Milken Community High School in Los Angeles.

Plus, we will be shelling out another couple thousand dollars for books, trips, lunches and a myriad of incidentals as well as fundraising drives, dinners and wrapping paper sales.

Originally, Larry and I selected Jewish day schools for the convenience of "one-stop shopping." But we quickly discovered, as our oldest, Zack, then in kindergarten, confidently belted out "Dovid Melech Yisroel" in the checkout line at Ralphs, that Jewish day schools give youngsters a solid Jewish identity.

And that identity, as Zack begins his senior year at Milken, has only intensified. "If you’re going to call yourself a Jew," he says, "you need some foundation in Jewish principles and some understanding of modern Jewish thought."

Indeed, day schools, as described in the 1995 Report of the North American Commission on Jewish Identity and Continuity, are "arguably the most impactful single weapon in our arsenal for educating Jewish children and youth."

"Except that they don’t have tackle football teams," Danny, 10, complains.

"Jewish mothers don’t allow their sons to play tackle football," I answer.

But Jewish mothers — and fathers — do allow their children to attend Jewish day schools, in increasing numbers. According to Dr. Gil Graff, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE), 9,885 students in the Los Angeles area were enrolled in Jewish day schools in grades kindergarten through 12 during the 2000-01 school year. That number has more than doubled from the 4,219 enrolled for the 1980-81 school year.

The increase is a nationwide phenomenon. The latest figures, a day school census released by the New York-based Avi Chai Foundation, published in January 2000, puts the 1998-1999 day school population, for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, at nearly 185,000. This is an increase of more than 25,000 from a study done a decade earlier by Israeli demographer Sergio Della Pergola.

But while both the need and the benefits are obvious, the costs are staggering. And tuition doesn’t even begin to cover them.

In Los Angeles, according to Graff, expenses for the operating budgets of all the Jewish day schools during the 2000-01 year, "not building campaigns, but paying the salaries, keeping the lights on, janitorial service, etc.," came to $96 million. Tuition accounted for $73 million, with 39 percent of all day school students receiving some kind of tuition assistance, which varied from $500 to as much as $8,000. As a result, schools had to scramble to make up the $23-million deficit, with fundraisers, donations and grants, including a $2.3-million contribution from the BJE. And some had to carry on with large deficits.

The problem will only worsen, especially in light of the well-publicized teacher shortage. The Department of Education estimates that public schools will need at least 2 million new teachers in the next 10 years. Private schools face an even greater challenge — 500,000 new teachers over the same time period.

Plus, Jewish day schools, with their extensive Judaic studies and Hebrew language programs, incur additional costs. "We are literally adding another third of a curriculum to an existing curriculum," says Dr. Rennie Wrubel, Milken head of school. "The dual curriculum costs money — and that’s our bottom line."

Wrubel, as well as other day school educators, is looking to the larger Jewish agencies to help with the ever-increasing costs, especially in terms of teacher salaries and benefits, and to help make day school education more affordable to more families.

There are some projects in the works. The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), a group of philanthropist partners, is committed to helping day schools across the country develop the resources and expertise to compete on a level of excellence with independent schools.

This October, PEJE is hosting its Second Donor Assembly, giving major supporters of Jewish day school across the country an opportunity to network and learn new strategies. Additionally, PEJE is introducing the Resource Development Expertise Program, which will provide specific day schools with the services of specially trained development consultants. A test program rolls out this fall, beginning with 15 schools.

Locally, The Jewish Federation intends to become more active in this arena. According to Bill Bernstein, executive vice president for financial resource development, there are plans that are part of a larger effort to seek donors to fund specific programs, including day schools.

"The money is there," says Hillel Korin, PEJE’s director of resource development initiatives. "There isn’t a community in the country that can’t support a day school, or two or three or four."

But until Jewish day schools create endowed funds for salaries, scholarships and facilities, families are stuck paying hefty tuitions. For families like ours, affording day school is a matter of changing priorities and making some sacrifices.

But given Judaism’s historical and heartfelt commitment to education and given the success of Jewish day schools in promoting Jewish identity and continuity, many educators and parents believe that a day school education should be a right rather than a privilege. And that’s a decision that will ultimately have to be made by the entire Jewish community.

"The road to learning is endless," Jacob Ben Asher, a 14th-century rabbi, says.

"Endlessly expensive," my husband points out.

He then adds, "But with four boys, it wouldn’t make sense to invest in new furniture."