The Circuit

Gift of Life

When the spring mission of the Men’s Division for Israel Bonds went to Israel in June they made a pit stop at Magen David Adom (MDA)’s Blood Center in Ramat Gan so that all the mission participants could donate blood. That stop is now going to become a permanent part of Israel Bonds’ missions to Israel.

MDA is Israel’s Red Cross, but the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies do not accept Israel’s MDA as a member. Therefore, MDA needs to find all the blood-pumping resources themselves.

MDA supplies 100 percent of the blood to all the hospitals in Israel, as well as 100 percent of the blood to the Israeli armed forces. They also maintain 93 emergency stations and ambulance services equipped with intensive coronary units able to initiate cardiac protocol en route to the hospital.

Now American Women for MDA in Los Angeles is raising funds to add two stories to the Ramat Gan Center.

“It is my greatest hope that all of the Jewish organizations will work together to help ARMDI [the support arm of MDA in the United State] maintain their services to the Jewish people of Israel,” said Gabriella Bashner, founding chair of American Women for MDA.

For more information visit .

Tikes on Trikes

Yeshivat Yavneh’s early childhood students decided to do their part to help the wider community by participating in the Cycles for Smiles Marathon this past June. The students raised money from sponsors and then got on their tricycles and did laps around the playground. The students raised $4,100 for Beit Issie Shapiro, a therapeutic educational organization that provides services for mentally and physically challenged children in Raanana, Israel.

Election Day

It’s election season once again, and Jewish organizations all over Los Angeles have been welcoming their new leadership.

At Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, one of the largest centrist Orthodox synagogues in the country, Martin Shandling was elected president of the new board of directors in July.

Temple Ner Tamid of Downey held its annual installation of officers of the board of directors in June. The new officers are: David Saltzman, president; Miriam Brookfield, Cheryl Brownstein and Sandy Dickinson, executive vice presidents; Laura Bornstein, secretary; Howard Brookfield, treasurer; Jane Hansen, financial secretary; Gloria Katz, Sheba Levine, Ruth Greenberg, Libby Lazarus, Lynette Austin and Michael Barsky, trustees; and Gerald Altman, Jean Franklin, Jim Hansen and Virginia Isenberg, members at large.

The Encino-Tarzana chapter of Women’s American ORT re-elected Charlotte Gussin-Root as president for her second term. The chapter installed their new officers at a special luncheon at Odyssey Restaurant in June. At the luncheon, Mariam Perlmutter received special thanks as she retired from 14 years of devoted work as treasurer, and Robert Franenberg, the classical bassist of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and son of longtime ORT member Jackie Franenberg treated the members and guests to a mini-concert.

Happy Birthday Bais!

More than 300 people helped Congregation Bais Naftoli in Hancock Park celebrate its 12th birthday in July with a dinner at the shul, which honored Dr. Maurice Levy, Rabbi David Thumin and Chaim Wizenfeld.

Silver Service

Temple Beth Ohr of La Mirada honored Rabbi Lawrence and Carol Goldmark for 25 years of service to the temple with a festive reception on June 18 that followed Friday night services.

Goldmark has been the spiritual leader of the congregation since 1979, and is a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and executive vice-president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. He is also the Jewish chaplain at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.

Carol Kredenser Goldmark is an adjunct art professor at Fullerton College and is known for her rich realistic paintings.

Zayde Mitzvah

Every Bar Mitzvah is special, but Al Greenberg’s was special.

As his son Ken said at the ceremony, “Usually at a Bar Mitzvah, we pass our traditions down from the older generation to the younger. But at Gateways Beit T’Shuvah, we do things a little differently.”
On Sat., Dec. 9, in front of friends, family and the addiction recovery center’s residents, 75-year-old Al was called to the Torah.

It started less than a year ago with a bagel delivery. Greenberg had retired from his successful tire business, and he wanted to give back to the community. Through the Marina del Rey B’nai B’rith lodge he had co-founded, he brought a truckload of bagels to the Venice Boulevard addiction recovery center. While there he learned that one of the residents was the son of an old friend. The boy he had once known was now a young man and a recovering addict.

Never a religious person, Greenberg became interested in the work Beit T’Shuvah did, especially the Jewish spiritual component. Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Beit T’Shuvah’s spiritual leader, put Greenberg in touch with Mark Rotenberg, an addiction counselor at the facility with an Orthodox background. The two men began studying Torah together. Eight months later, Rotenberg and Rabbi Borowitz stood on the bimah listening to Greenberg’s Bar Mitzvah speech.

“I was always proud to be Jewish because of what other Jews had done to make me look good,” said Greenberg, who grew up in Los Angeles. “Plus, I met my wife in B’nai B’rith.”

Religion never appealed to Al until he found Gateways. “I became an addict to this place,” he punned, hugging Rotenberg. “I used to be Jewish in my head. Then I was Jewish in my hands. Now, I’m Jewish in my heart, because of some of these crazy people here.”

Ball Mitzvah

Last week, Brandon Kaplan cashed in on a family Bar Mitzvah tradition when he brought a baseball worth $1,800 to the Union Bank of California branch in Encino. In 1976, Brandon’s father, Jerry, received $1,800 for his Bar Mitzvah from his father, but the check was written on a football. This year, the elder Kaplan continued the theme by writing Brandon’s Bar Mitzvah check on a baseball.

“Brandon thought it was a really great idea because he is a big baseball fan,” said Jerry Kaplan. “This will be one of the Bar Mitzvah gifts he will never forget.”

Bat Mitzvah

The photos above show 27 women from Los Angeles and Long Beach in the final stages of preparing for an important milestone in their lives: their Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

Sponsored by Hadassah of Southern California and guided by five able local teachers, the women of diverse ages and backgrounds worked hard to prepare themselves for a special Havdalah service, which was held Saturday, Dec.16, at Adat Ari El in North Hollywood. Co-chairs of the B’not Mitzvah class of 2000 were Bobby Klubeck, Ruth Seeman and Lisa Blank. Rabbi Sally Olins and Cantor Maurice Glick led the service, and Judith Raphael, one of the children saved from the Holocaust by Hadassah’s founder, Henrietta Szold, read a commentary on her life and Torah.

The ceremony. which was open to the public, was followed immediately by a kiddush and later by a dinner for invited guests, with entertainment by Cindy Paley.

A new class will be forming soon for the 2001 Bat Mitzvah Program.

For more information, contact Nasrim Rashti at the Hadassah Southern California office: (310) 470-3200.

Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs lobbies for the release of three captive Americans

When Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs was received at the White House on Monday, together with other members of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s mission to Belgrade that successfully lobbied President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia for the release of three captive American soldiers, he passed on a message to President Clinton.

It came from Aca Singer, the elderly head of the Jewish communities in Yugoslavia, who had told Jacobs, “I did not survive Auschwitz in order to be killed by American bombs in Belgrade.”

Clinton did not react to the message.

But to the rabbi, Singer’s words represented one aspect of NATO’s response to the “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo. On the one hand, “if ‘Never Again’ is to be more than just a slogan, we, especially as Jews, cannot be indifferent to the immense suffering of the Albanian refugees. We must keep up the pressure on Milosevic,” said Jacobs, speaking by phone from Washington, immediately after an hour-long session with Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

But we must also be aware, he said, that “there are many wonderful Serbians, as well as 3,000 Jews in Belgrade, who are living in constant fear of air raids.”

Jacobs, the spiritual leader of Kol Tikvah, a Reform congregation in Woodland Hills, was the only rabbi among 20 clergymen who accompanied Jackson on his tense mission, which included a heavy bombardment during their first night in Belgrade.

The 59-year-old Jacobs said that he has worked with Jackson since the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. The week before the Belgrade mission, he had attended a service in Mississippi to remember the murder there of one black and two Jewish “freedom riders.”

Jacobs was not among the five delegates who participated in the decisive meeting with Milosevic, because he preferred visiting the three American soldiers, who had been taken prisoners a month earlier. The rabbi added that he also had no desire to shake hands with the Yugoslav leader.

As a fellow Angeleno, Jacobs established a special bond with one of the freed men, Staff Sgt. Andrew Ramirez. The two agreed to attend a Dodgers game, at which Ramirez will be welcomed back to his hometown.

Before he left Belgrade, Jacobs met one Jew who had survived the Holocaust by having his name placed on the famous “Schindler’s List.”

“I wish at that time there had been a Jackson or a rabbi who had interceded for us with the Nazis, as you have done here,” the survivor said.

Women of the Ancient WorldRabbi Steven B. Jacobs of Woodland Hills’ Kol Tikvah is part of Jesse Jackson’s mission that brokerered the release of three American soldiersBy Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor