Spirit and Chocolate Top Temple Emanuel Installation

There was chocolate and music last week when Sue Brucker was installed as president of Temple Emanuel’s board of directors at Shabbat Unplugged. Amid the singing and Shabbat rituals, Brucker was applauded for her talents as a leader, and her commitment and dedication to getting any job, no matter the task, accomplished.

The services were filled with those who enjoy the upbeat Shabbat melodies of singing and celebration Temple Emanuel has become famous for. Known as a “go-to person,” Brucker is always the first to achieve any goal, take on any task and commit to any cause. Brucker, along with her mother-in-law Rita Brucker, will be honored at the Women of Sheba Achievement luncheon later this month and is the immediate past president for the Beverly Hills High School PTSA. She also received the Humanitarian of the Year from Amie Karen Cancer Society. Her husband Barry is on the Beverly Hills City Council and was the former president of the Beverly Hills School Board.

Big Fun in Big Apple

Leaving Los Angeles and spending a month at Yeshiva University (YU) in New York this summer was a fun and rewarding experience for five Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles (YULA) students. The teens met and mingled with other Orthodox students in New York City, taking in the sights and enjoying the Big Apple. The five students, Michael Bank and Jesse Katz of Los Angeles, Marlon Schwarcz of Beverly Hills, Joel Shuchatowitz of Tarzana, and Netanel Zilberstein of Encino stayed in dormitories on YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights.

Students spent mornings studying Jewish topics, and in the afternoons chose between “The World of Finance and Investment,” a practical experience establishing and analyzing a portfolio of investments and working with traders, financial planners and entrepreneurs; “Explorations in Genetics and Molecular Biology,” a laboratory experience introducing students to the theory and techniques of molecular biology; and political science/pre-law, which exposed students to politics and law through the lens of current issues and by taking trips and hearing from speakers around New York City.

The YULA students toured the area attractions, including a Broadway show; the Museum of Natural History; Six Flags Great Adventure; a Mets game; a double-decker bus tour; a visit to the World Trade Center site; and a tour of YU’s campuses.

“It was great to have an opportunity to feel the YU experience,” said Zilberstein, the first of his siblings to go to college.

He said spending the month at YU took some of the mystery out of the college experience: “You get to feel like you are a college student, taking real college classes.”

Students also spent several days in the Washington, D.C. area, visiting the Capitol building, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Spy Museum and spending Shabbat in Silver Spring, Md.

“Many of the students are interested in YU, but want to see more than they would if they just came for a tour,” explained Aliza Stareshefsky, program director.
For more information about next year’s program, e-mail summer@yu.edu.

Rabbi on Board

The Olympia Medical Center recently added Rabbi Karen L. Fox to its board of governors. The group is comprised of 15 community leaders and business executives, and recommends and implements hospital policy, promotes patient safety and performance improvement while helping provide quality patient care.
“We are honored to have someone with Rabbi Fox’s prominence join our board of governors,” board chairman Dr. Sharam Ravan said. “I know that she will be an asset to Olympia Medical Center as we grow to meet the needs of the community.”

Fox, who has served at Wilshire Boulevard Temple for nearly 20 years, graduated from UCLA in 1973. She earned a master’s degree in Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and received her ordaination there in 1978. She earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology as well as a doctorate of divinity from Pepperdine University, and is a licensed marriage and family psychotherapist. She published a user-friendly guide to Jewish holidays title “Seasons for Celebration” and has authored numerous articles about women’s experiences and Jewish thought.

Kids Raise the ‘Roof’

The Children’s Civic Light Opera (CCLO), one of the Los Angeles area’s original and longest-established performing arts programs for youth, ages 7-17, celebrated its 19th year with a stellar production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Parents and friends shepped naches as 40 talented and dedicated kids rehearsed for eight weeks to present the Broadway-style production complete, with professional sets, costumes, sound, lighting and a live orchestra. Their show was a treat for theater-goers who sat awed by the kid’s spirited performances.

“‘Fiddler’ is a rare and beautiful gift,” CCLO’s founder and artistic director Diane Feldman Turen said. “It is an incredibly powerful piece of theater overflowing with an abundance of learning opportunities on multiple levels. Its universal themes allow us to address and examine the opposing forces that drive our lives and it’s wonderful that our ensemble can apply what they’re learning on the stage and off.”

Sense From Senselessness

What follows is an edited version of a speech that Judea Pearl, the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, delivered upon accepting an award on his son’s behalf from the Los Angeles Press Club on June 22, 2002.

It is a great honor for me and Ruth to accept this award on behalf of our son, Danny.

I would like to share with you a few thoughts on how we can make sense of the tragedy that befell Danny, and whether anything good can possibly come out of it. I have been asking myself these questions a million times in the past few months and, frankly, the answers are not easy.

To be honest — the terrorists who killed Danny got everything they wanted. They embarrassed [Pakistan President Gen. Pervez] Musharraf, gained publicity, recruited more terrorists, inflicted pain and humiliation on the West and scared foreign journalists. They even managed to lure a greedy American weekly into publicizing their gruesome victory in vivid colors. So, on the surface, they seem to have won on all fronts — and this thought caused me great pain.

Fortunately, among the many letters that we have received, there were several that lifted my spirit and gave me a glimpse at what good may possibly come out of it. I would like to share them with you.

The first letter comes from a 23-year-old medical student in Torino, Italy. She tells me that she has written to the mayor of Torino and, to her surprise, the mayor’s office agreed that they should build a memorial for Danny in Torino. "Torino?" I asked. "Danny never set foot in Torino." Yes, she replied, but we are going to host the Winter Olympics four years from now, and who can better personify the spirit of humanity and international comradeship than Daniel Pearl?

It then dawned on me that they are not doing this for me, or for Danny — they are doing it for the people of Torino who evidently had difficulty finding a symbol for that abstract concept called "humanity," and needed to give the spirit of humanity a face and a body and a smile. And I understood then that, if Danny’s death can give humanity, or whatever is left of her, the banner that she needs to defend herself, then something good may come out of it.

The second letter was from a Jewish congregation in East Brunswick, N.J., asking my permission to name their religious school after Danny. "Religious school?" I asked. "Danny barely survived one year of Sunday school!"

But the rabbi insisted: "We want our children to have a model of what it means to be Jewish, and every mother that I speak to wants her son to be like Danny Pearl."

Again, I realized that he is not saying that to flatter me, but to serve the needs of those good mothers in East Brunswick. I realized then, that to fight anti-Semitism, Jewishness, too, is in need of a banner with a human face on it. And if, by pointing to Danny’s picture, the children of East Brunswick could lift their heads up high and say: "He is one of us, this is who we are," and if being "who we are" entails the pursuit of truth and friendship, then something good will come out of it.

The third letter, believe it or not, came from Alex [Block], informing me of the L.A. Press Club’s decision to establish this award in Danny’s memory. I immediately concluded that journalism too, especially the elusive notion of courage in journalism, needs a banner and a human role model. This was further reinforced by a letter from a Minneapolis lady who writes: "Hi there, my name is Jennifer, and I am going to become a journalist. For a very long time I was confused as to what I wanted to do with my life. When Daniel’s story began unfolding, I realized what passion and courage journalists like him have. I carry a picture of Daniel in my wallet to remind me of why I finally chose to become a journalist."

My goodness! I thought, if the picture of Danny can inspire young talents like Jennifer to become journalists and help reduce ignorance and hatred in this world, then something good already came out of it.

It is in this spirit that the Daniel Pearl Foundation was created. It is based on the simple premise that humanity is fighting a battle of survival, and that troops do not rally behind abstract concepts — they rally behind banners with real faces. I think of the foundation as an enterprise that creates partnerships for good causes, and lends Danny’s banner to help humanity win her battle of survival.

Your presence here, tonight, makes you a partner in this enterprise, and I feel confident that, with partners like you, I would be able to tell my grandson, Adam, some day: "You see, Junior. Your father’s banner helped us win that battle."