Trauma Triggers Camp Funds


The summer he attended a Christian day camp for free made a lasting impression on Allen Alevy, age 7 at the time. “They said I’d go to hell,” he recalled of an attempted conversion.

His father, a naval shipyard laborer, could afford little else. The nonobservant family of second-generation Russian immigrants lived in a subsidized housing project, Truman Boyd Manor. None of their neighbors were Jews.

Having pulled himself out of poverty through hard work and two California real estate booms, Alevy, 67, said he doesn’t want other cash-poor Jewish families, particularly those in the military, to be guided by their pocketbook this summer.

Alevy is a 25-year financial supporter of Huntington Beach’s Hebrew Academy, which in summer becomes one of the area’s most affordable day camps. In June, he established an open-ended fund for full or partial camp scholarships to permit the children of Jewish military families to attend camp, which has a second location at Morasha Jewish Day School in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Over the course of five two-week sessions, about 850 children, ages 2 to 14, enroll between the two locations. Traditional camp activities include sports, swimming, drama, dance, cooking, computers, ceramics and fabric art. Each week also has a Jewish theme. The cost is $150 per week.

Last year, about 20 percent of camp enrollees received some financial help, amounting to about $20,000 in subsidies, said Rabbi Zalman Marcus, director of the south county camp.

“There are plenty of Christian camps, and every Jewish institution is short of money,” Alevy said. “I may as well spend it while I’m here.”

The number of requests for camp assistance “is a silent epidemic afflicting our community,” says a financial appeal issued in May by Marcus, also rabbi of the Chabad Jewish Center of Mission Viejo. “It’s definitely more desperate than in the past. I didn’t realize how widespread it is.”

His appeal describes the long summer tedium confronting two sets of young children, their parents buffeted by desertion, job loss and injury.

“Those are true stories,” said Marcus, about working parents for whom camp is not an indulgence or enrichment, but an unaffordable necessity. Parents will typically forgo work rather than leave their children alone, he said. “They’re really up a creek.”

“The kids will go out of their minds,” with both boredom and envy, Marcus said.

Many of their more affluent playmates confront a different dilemma: scheduling and selecting from among the ever-increasing array of specialty day camps locally available. These include the Jewish Community Center’s day camp held at Irvine’s Tarbut V’ Torah Community Day School. For nonmembers, its cost ranges from a three-day, $310 kindercamp to $700 for a three-week theater camp.

The needy are not so obvious here because many people superficially retain an image of affluence, Marcus said. “People are embarrassed; they are in cars they can’t afford or don’t have health insurance. They’re just making it; they’re not going into the street. But camp is a luxury.”

Community Briefs


ADL Sponsors “Safe Community” Program inEncino

Earlier this year, a string of arson attacks on five houses of worship rocked the interfaith community. Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sponsored an interfaith forum to prepare the community in case such events should reoccur.

“The series of attacks served as a wake-up call that we must remain vigilant,” ADL Pacific Southwest Regional Director Amanda Susskind said.

The First Presbyterian Church of Encino, which suffered $75,000-$100,000 in damages after it was firebombed on April 26, held the June 2 program, “Making Your Community and Religious Institution Safe,” featuring a panel of security experts and city officials, including Cmdr. Mark Leap of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau; Chief Bill Bamattre and Assistant Chief Dean Cathey of the Los Angeles Fire Department; Col. Yoni Fighel, director of the educational program at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel; City Councilman Jack Weiss; and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Each panelist stressed the importance of community involvement.

“We would not have identified that suspect if it were not for a few people in the community that actually stepped forward…. I encourage you to form alliances in your community,” Leap told the audience. “Certainly [form] interfaith alliances, so that if we do have a situation like we did a month ago, there are already those built in lines of communication so that you can get the word out.”

Yaroslavsky reminded participants to put acts of hate into perspective, but to also respond with total vigilance.

“We need to celebrate one another,” he said. “To walk a mile in each other’s shoes. We need to understand what makes each other tick. Because when we do that, we find out that our differences are far outweighed by our commonalties. We have the same ambitions, we have the same aspirations, we have the same frustrations, we have the same fears.”

Participants also received a copy of the ADL’s security handbook, “Keeping Your Jewish Institution Safe.”

To order a copy of “Keeping Your Jewish InstitutionSafe,” call (310) 446-8000 or visit www.adl.org . — Rachel Brand, Contributing Writer

Camp Valley Chai Returns to GranadaHills

Camp Valley Chai, the only Jewish day camp in the north side of the Valley, is back after a one-year hiatus. The camp, which will continue to operate out of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, is returning for a ninth summer.

“We want everyone to know that we’re back, we’re reopening and we’re bigger and better than before,” said Amy Grofsky, the camp’s director, who is returning to the position she’s held for six years after being away last summer.

The Jewish day camp is available to children from kindergarten through eighth grade and will offer the usual camp fare, in addition to swimming, karate, gymnastics, Shabbat services on Fridays and an Israeli cultural experience.

Camp begins June 30. For more information, call (818) 366-0907. — Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

Heschel West Holds Hearing on NewComplex

Like the plight of most Angelenos, Abraham Joshua Heschel West School’s biggest obstacle in obtaining permission to build its new campus is all about traffic. The Heschel West School Board had its second hearing before the Los Angeles County Planning Commission on May 7 in an effort to obtain a conditional-use permit to build a nine-building school on a 70-acre site near Chesboro Road in Old Agoura in the Conejo Valley.

The hearing focused on the property’s Environmental Impact Report. In addition to concerns like noise and destruction of the area’s rustic charm, the opposition is currently focused on the expected influx of traffic.

“They haven’t begun to satisfy traffic access. Their stated access is unacceptable,” said Jess Thomas, president of the Old Agoura Homeowners Association.

Representatives for Heschel West say its current site, near the Liberty Canyon exit of the 101 Freeway, is inadequate for the growing student body.

Brian Greenberg, president of Heschel West, said the school’s board will respond to the traffic concerns and was clearly not thrown by the prospect of additional hearings.

“This is the process, and we knew ahead of time that it’s long and complicated process,” Greenberg said. “I personally don’t see any surprises.”

A third hearing is set for Sept. 10. — SSR

Briefs


Programs Continue at Valley JCCs

Programs will continue at the various Jewish Community Centers (JCC) around the San Fernanado Valley, albeit not all under the same umbrella. The new North Valley Jewish Community Center, Inc., (NVJCC) a nonprofit organization created after the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) divested itself from the Granada Hills site, is still in negotiations to purchase the site, and is temporarily relegated to using only part of the property. But it still opened its summer camp July 1 with 10 children.

The organization hoped to use the entire property by September, NVJCC board member Andrea Goodstein said, noting that discussions with the JCCGLA toward that end were going well.

As for the other two Valley centers, the West Valley JCC is fully functioning and remaining a part of JCCGLA for the time being, according to JCCGLA Executive Vice President Nina Lieberman Giladi. Valley Cities JCC’s preschool ended the school year with an enrollment of more than 100 children, Giladi said, so both the site’s preschool and after-school programs will open in the fall as usual. Programs for seniors at Valley Cities are also continuing in a limited fashion, despite the cuts made following the JCCGLA’s declaration of near bankruptcy last December.

Enrollment has begun for preschool and after school programs at the NVJCC with a message line set up for both at (818) 594-4075. — Wendy J. Madnick, Contributing Writer

West Valley Community Health ExpoDebuts

Shomrei Torah Synagogue will join forces with co-sponsors Temple Aliyah, Valley Outreach Synagogue and the West Valley Jewish Community Center to present the very first West Valley Community Health Expo, a daylong fundraiser benefiting Magen David Adom West, on Aug. 4.

The concept behind the Health Expo evolved as a vehicle for an idea of Shomrei Torah’s Rabbi Richard Camras to raise the $54,900 needed to purchase an ambulance for Israel. The Expo will feature a variety of medical screenings, a blood drive and health- and safety-related exhibits. Scheduled speakers include: Judy Ziedler, who will lecture on the joys of kosher cooking; Jerry Guon, liver transplant recipient, who will speak on Jewish perspective on organ donation; Dr. Rena Falk, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who will talk about genetic screening; and representatives of Stroller Power, a group that teaches exercise workouts for new moms.

“I’m hoping that people will come to the Expo to learn about their own health,” said Nedra Weinreich, Health Expo Committee chair, “as well as do something that will help the health of those in Israel. You can help save lives here and as well in Israel.”

West Valley Community Health Expo will take place from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Aug. 4 at Shomrei Torah Synagogue, 7353 Valley Circle Blvd., West Hills. Blood drives will be held from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will be encouraged. For information, call (818) 346-2721; or visit shomreitorahsynagogue.org.

— Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Need a crock pot? Or would you prefer to donate your old one? If so, you’ll want to know that one of the San Fernando Valley’s most popular thrift shops has moved. The National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles (NCJW/LA) celebrated the opening of its Canoga Park store on June 11.

The store replaces the one previously located in Reseda. Harriet Baron, executive director of NCJW/LA, said she hopes the change will attract even more customers and donors.

“Quite simply, we felt that there was a market in the West Valley we were not reaching,” Baron said. “We know we have many constituents there.”

Baron said the new location has the advantage of being within the radius of a stretch of antique stores and thrift shops. The Canoga Park store is more spacious than its predecessor, with furniture housed on one side of the store and racks of clothing, mostly for women, on the right. There is a limited amount of children’s clothing but plenty of bric-a-brac for the kitchen and the prices are very reasonable. The store is easy to spot from the street due to its distinctive blue-and-white mural. The mural is based on an original design by Burton Morris in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was painted by a local artist known as Chase, who does all of his artwork for NCJW using spray paint.

Altogether, NCJW operates six thrift shops.

The store is located at 21716 Sherman Way. Hours of operation are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Monday through Saturday) and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday). For more information, call (818) 710-7206. — WM

How the West Was Jewish

Historical figure Solomon Heydenfeldt, a Jewish justice on the California Supreme Court from the Gold Rush era, ruled on California water laws and cases involving religious freedom. Donning black-and-purple robes, an old-fashioned bow tie and his best southern accent, law professor Peter Reich brought Heydenfeldt to life for fourth-graders at Valley Beth Shalom Harold M. Schulweis Day School in Encino this past spring.

As the school’s fourth-grade social studies curriculum includes the California Gold Rush, Reich’s presentation brought a Jewish element to the study of American history during this period.

For the last 12 years, Reich has taught property and environmental law at Whittier College, as well as a legal history class at UC Irvine. — Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

A Parent’s Guide to a Jewish Summer


Hebrew school is out. Day school is over. The High Holidays are off in a distant time called fall. Hey, even most rabbis take July off. But all this doesn’t mean children and teens — and their parents — can’t find a way to make Judaism and summer fun go hand in hand. Besides, there are only so many times they can see “Tarzan.” Below is a mostly comprehensive list of what summer ’99 has to offer the families of Jewish Los Angeles.

If you’re looking for a more long-term Jewish activity for your children, most JCC’s and local synagogues offer summer camps and “Mommy and Me” programs. If a family vacation beckons, Ron Wolfson of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future at the University of Judaism suggests that you “think of something Jewish to do on the trip.” Bring along kosher delights, Shabbat candles, or call up the synagogues and JCCs in the area you choose to visit.

Here’s a roundup of classes and activities for children of all ages. Many require fees and advance reservations, so it’s best to call ahead.