Cowabunga clean up — in Israel


Surf’s up in Israel!More and more Israelis are taking to the water in wetsuits and board shorts to catch those gnarly waves. And as the sport grows in popularity, so does the need to keep Israel’s water clean and safe.

Billabong, one of the most recognizable names in surfing gear, has joined forces with Zalul, an environmental organization dedicated to cleaning up Israel’s seas and rivers.

The Australian company that has been riding the wave of success since 1973 has designed a rad catalog with Billabong beach items that are now being sold in surf shops all over Israel. Window displays are emblazoned with the catalog’s slogan, “In the end it will be clear,” playing on the name Zalul, which translates as “clear” in Hebrew. The surf-friendly items include a folding bag that turns into a beach mat, an inflatable pillow, a straw hat and a beer/cold drinks holder. In Israel, you can drink alcohol at the beach — far out! All the proceeds from those items will go to Zalul to help tidy up the surf. How awesome is that?

Zalul, of course, is stoked about the partnership. “Co-operations like these are of utmost importance to Zalul, as they help raise the issue of sea protection amongst the public and in particular surfers and beachgoers who are most effected by sea pollution,” the group said in a statement announcing the project. “We want to encourage this public to act and make a difference.”

Zalul has been making a totally awesome difference on Israel’s beaches and rivers since 1999. Its work in preserving the coral reef in the Gulf of Eilat, stopping a waste-treatment facility from dumping sludge into the Mediterranean Sea and removing harmful fish cages from the Red Sea is off the Richter.

Sagit Rogenstein is a project coordinator at Zalul and a mondo activist. Raised in our own San Fernando Valley, she moved to Israel in 1997 and has been involved in the Israeli environmental movement right from the get go. “I followed the Zionist dream and moved to Israel to contribute what I can to make a change in this world,” she said.

Rogenstein is already amped for the next project with Israel’s favorite surfing retailer. They’re designing a Zalul info tag that will be attached to Billabong’s winter line. What will it say? Save the environment, dude! Well, not exactly in those words, but something like that.

— Dikla Kadosh, Contributing Writer

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Crazy Jewish surf music from the Bay Area

Biometric sensor makes the Web safer for children


The statistics are enough to alarm any parent.

According to a recent survey, one in five children online have been approached by a pedophile and received unwanted sexual solicitations. At the same time, the San Diego Police Department reports that two in five abductions of children ages 15 to 17 are Internet-related. The U.S. government estimates that at any given moment there are 50,000 pedophiles prowling Internet chat rooms looking for children to befriend and meet.

And if that’s not worrying enough, more than 20,000 new images of child pornography are posted on the Internet every week, and that pornography, disturbingly available and often sent unsolicited to young children, is becoming increasingly graphic and violent, according to child protection agencies.

In the March trial of a pedophile, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein told the court: “Every parent’s worst nightmare is just one mouse-click away. Parents who let their children use the Internet without supervision might just as well drop them off alone on the most dangerous street in the world.”

Scared? It’s the natural response, as is the impossible instinct to hover constantly behind your child as he surfs. But now, an

Cozy Kosher Surf Shack — Observant Oasis in the ‘Bu


Joyce Brooks Bogartz’s look isn’t quite what you’d expect from the owner of a kosher restaurant. Adorned with brown and cream dreadlocks, the nearly 50-year-old proprietor of Malibu Beach Grill would at first glance seem to fit in better with customers sporting board shorts than black hats. But this post-punk Gidget is the kind of ‘Bu Jew who is as comfortable around Chabadniks as she is with surfers.

“Having a kosher place, you can only be so risqué in your appearance,” she said.

Situated a quick jaywalk across Pacific Coast Highway from Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Pier, Malibu Beach Grill is a kosher oasis in a town renowned for breathtaking seaside vistas, A-list celebrity sightings and new-age crunchiness. And nearly two years after the controversial ouster of Malibu Chicken by building owner Chabad of Malibu, Malibu Beach Grill is well on its way to carving out its own niche with an eclectic menu that can best be described as California fleishig (meat).

But the road to winning over the locals wasn’t easy.

Brooks Bogartz and her husband/silent partner, Gary Bogartz, each worked full-time jobs in addition to the restaurant during the first year. Malibu Beach Grill was open 16-hour days in the first six months, and differentiated itself from many area restaurants by offering delivery.

“I thought I worked hard before this. I had no idea,” said Brooks Bogartz, a former entertainment publicist and Chabad Telethon coordinator.
“For a year we were the walking dead,” she said. “I was sleeping four hours a night.”

Business is starting to pick up at this cozy kosher surf shack, both from word-of-mouth in the observant world and hipster bon mots in the L.A. Weekly last summer.

To compensate for being closed Friday night and Saturday, the restaurant stays open until 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, making it a favorite with Pepperdine students, especially during winter months. The free wi-fi doesn’t hurt, either.
The novelty of buying kosher food at the beach keeps observant families showing up en masse on Sundays and on weeknights during the summer. More than a few put Malibu Beach Grill on the itinerary so out-of-town guests can savor the SoCal ta’am (flavor).

“It’s a small place, but it’s better than what we have in Philadelphia,” said Shira Weitz, 22, who was visiting with friend Este Kahn.

“They put an interesting twist on everything,” said Kahn, a 22-year-old Fairfax resident. “It’s different from what you get at other kosher restaurants. It’s not just a plain burger.”

The burgers at Malibu Beach Grill offer a Cali twist: the Sunset features sundried tomatoes, caramelized shallots and basil aioli. And when the kitchen staff asked Brooks Bogartz how she wanted to prepare the Mexican food, in Jewish fashion she answered the question with another question: “How does your grandmother do it?”

Kashrut for the restaurant is handled by Rabbi Levy I. Zirkind out of Fresno.
Brooks Bogartz identifies as shomer Shabbat, and as a resident of the Malibu area since 1994, she attends services at Chabad of Malibu, whose sign featuring a surfing rabbi has graced PCH since 2001.

Despite the dread cred and her sister Collette’s local notoriety as a surfer, Brooks Bogartz has yet to actually grab a stick and hit the waves.

“My dream is to learn how to surf in Hawaii, where it’s warm,” she said.
Instead, Brooks Bogartz spends her time working alongside her dedicated kitchen crew, which has remained the same since its opening, slowly building up the restaurant’s catering and walking the tables to make sure her customers are happy.

“I have the Jewish mother inclination to feed everybody,” she said.

Jew at the ‘Bu


In June 1956, Kathy Kohner, a Jewish girl from Brentwood, began tagging along with some of the neighborhood boys driving out to Malibu. The new sport of surfing intrigued her, and she convinced the boys to teach her. Because she was young, slight and a girl, the surfers took to calling her “Gidget,” short for girl midget.

The story is true. Gidget is real, and she’s Jewish.

The Laguna Art Museum’s current exhibit, “Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing,” examines the impact of the culture that developed on those beaches with the works of artists who surf and surfers who make art. As with their 1993 hot rod exhibit, “Kustom Kulture,” the Laguna Art Museum takes a serious look at the art and the impact of Southern California surf culture; a wave that swelled and broke over America in the ’60s when Gidget hit the screen.

Whether they admit it — or like it — surfers and artists have been influenced by Kathy Kohner (now Kathy Kohner Zuckerman). Gidget not only learned to surf, but she also talked all about the goings-on at “the ‘Bu” to her screenwriter father, Frederick Kohner, a Czech-born Nazi refugee who came to Los Angeles in 1933. Frederick Kohner, who co-wrote the 1938 Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Mad About Music,” wrote the novel “Gidget” in 1957 based on his daughter’s experiences and the new surfer lingo she brought home from the beach. That book inspired the first of many Gidget movies in 1959, starring decidedly non-Jewish sweetheart Sandra Dee. Those movies spawned three separate TV series, the first introducing Sally Field as everybody’s favorite little surfer girl.

In 1964, when Kathy Kohner married Yiddish scholar Marvin Zuckerman (who recently retired as Los Angeles Valley College dean of academic affairs), her fictional namesake had already gone to Hawaii and Rome. Now a 61-year-old grandmother, Gidget is an honorary member of the Malibu Surfing Association and still occasionally gets out in the waves.

On Sept. 29, the museum presents “All About Gidget,” a discussion with Kathy Kohner Zuckerman (that’s Gidget to you) and journalist Deanne Stillman.

Stillman, a sometime surfer herself (“I can often be spotted hanging 20,” she jokes), had not realized Gidget was a real person until she took a job writing for the 1986 revival TV series “The New Gidget.” The Laguna Art Museum exhibit is accompanied by a 240-page, full-color book that includes Stillman’s essay “The Real Gidget.”

As surf culture became more heavily commercialized in the 1980s, Stillman discovered that the original “Gidget” book had gone out of print. The journalist and author (“Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines, and the Mojave”) campaigned for its re-release; it was published in June 2001 with Stillman’s introduction and has already sold through its initial printing. “I realized what a lost treasure the book is,” Stillman says. “The real Gidget is a cultural treasure, and the book is like a message in a bottle.”

In Laguna, they are taking that message out of the bottle and hanging it on the walls.

“Surf Culture: The Art and History of Surfing” runs
through Oct. 6 at Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach. On Sept. 29,
5 p.m., Kathy Kohner Zuckerman and Deanne Stillman talk “All About Gidget” at
the museum. For more information, call (949) 494-6531 or visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org .