P. S. Tikkun Olam: Veteran Jewish educator opens charter school driven by vision of a community

Strolling through his new charter school’s rented quarters on a recent morning, Matt Albert swings open a restroom door and smiles.

“Look,” he said, gesturing toward the tiled space. “Clean bathrooms. Often, that’s the scariest place in a public school.”

The citrus-hued rooms of the Oasis Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard near Highland Avenue might not seem like a standard site for a new public school. But maybe, Albert believes, a little diversity is just what the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) needs.

After two years of fundraising and petitioning the district, Albert is opening the doors of New Los Angeles Charter School (New L.A.) on Sept. 3 to 75 sixth-grade students. The former Milken Community High School educator hopes the middle school’s small class sizes and community-service-oriented curriculum will fill a need in a part of the city that has been underserved for years.

“We want to nurture a diverse body of students who are passionate about learning, engaged in their community and have respect for themselves and others,” said Albert, founder and executive director of New L.A. “We want kids to work on solving problems in their own communities and grow up to become civic-minded adults.”

To Albert, who also served as admissions director at the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), that means getting the children out of conventional classroom programming and into the world around them. Once a week, students will walk three blocks south to Wilshire Crest Elementary School on Olympic Boulevard to read to second- and third-grade kids, through the Jewish Federation’s KOREH L.A. literacy program. They will aid cleanup efforts at the 200-acre Ballona Wetlands Ecosystem in Marina del Rey. Albert is also trying to partner with a local retirement community so the students can visit the elderly, soak up their oral histories and gain greater appreciation — and empathy — for senior citizens.

These community service activities, Albert said, will foster among New L.A. students a gut-level understanding of what makes up a neighborhood and the hard work, pride and leadership it takes to make one flourish.

“Teaching civic responsibility and the importance of knowing what’s going on in the world is a big part of the mission,” said educator Tanya Kennedy, who will teach Earth science at the school. “We want students to be connected — as part of the school community, the city community and ultimately as a citizen of the world.”

Such a mission would not be easy to carry out at a traditional public school, according to Albert.

“LAUSD is a huge, bureaucratic district with almost 800,000 students,” he said. “There are a lot of obstacles to actually getting things done within the district.”

With a charter school, Albert could create an outside-the-box educational program, while still keeping the school free and open to all L.A. students.

New L.A. is meant to serve students from both the Carthay area, which has not had a local middle school for decades, and the Mid-Wilshire area, which is served by John Burroughs, a large LAUSD middle school a few blocks away from New L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard site.

“At some public middle schools, there are 2,000 kids,” he said. “You have a 10-year-old walking through the halls, and nobody knows them. This is a critical time for them.”

Private schools can provide a top-notch learning environment for students, Albert said, but soaring tuition fees keep many families out.

Yet charter schools — which collectively serve about 41,000 students in the Los Angeles area — come with their own set of assets and pitfalls. They are authorized and funded by LAUSD, but don’t have to follow the district’s standard classroom protocol. In exchange for greater freedom in terms of budget, curriculum and programming, they must find their own location and startup funds.

New L.A.’s initial enrollment is made up of 75 sixth-graders who will be divided into three classes, and the six classrooms at the Oasis Theatre, owned by the non-denominational Oasis Christian Center, provides ample space.

The school’s faculty will set aside time at the end of the school day for an intervention program that will focus on enrichment and skill-building. Kids will also meet with a student adviser for 30 minutes each day to talk about social and emotional issues, tolerance and community building.

“Our teachers have taken a huge risk coming here,” Albert said. “They’re out of the union; they’ve had to resign their positions at LAUSD. But they are confident about our mission.”

For Adina Ackerman, who will teach language arts and history, the chance to work at New L.A. was “something I couldn’t pass up.”

Ackerman has known Albert since her sophomore year at Milken Community High School, when he was her Jewish history teacher. They also worked together as counselors at Camp Ramah in Ojai.

The Los Angeles native got her start as a fourth-grade teacher at Temple Israel of Hollywood’s day school and then taught third grade at Figueroa Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

“There is very little freedom within the curriculum and a huge emphasis on testing,” she said of her experience with LAUSD. “You can’t really be a great teacher because you’re spending all your time preparing for tests.”

South Africa native Tanya Kennedy said she was also drawn to New L.A.’s creative atmosphere after three years teaching second and third grade at an inner city San Diego school.

The other two teachers on Albert’s five-member staff bring a range of personal talents to the mix. Math teacher Lena Liu, fresh from a five-year stint at an elementary school in Koreatown, is also a violinist who has played with hip-hop orchestra daKah, MC Mos Def and musician Rahzel. Humanities teacher Stephen De Sal has 20 years’ teaching experience, including for gifted and talented students in the Pasadena Unified School District.

It’s Time to Heal Workers’ Comp

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reformed California’s disastrous workers’ comp system in 2004, I was bothered by the effort expended by Sacramento’s elected Democrats to fight reform in order to protect their lawyer allies who were gaming the badly broken system.

Although the Democrats controlled the state legislature and governorship for five years, they adopted only tepid reform under Gov. Gray Davis, aimed largely at reducing doctor and drug costs — not the main causes of the worst workers’ comp crisis in America.

In a column for The Journal a year ago, I noted that the media failed to explain the long resistance by the Democrats to deep reforms. Had the media been awake, we might not have been saddled so long with terrible policies that created the most expensive workers’ comp system in the nation, yet provided truly injured workers among the worst benefits.

Where did all that money go? Much went to middlemen like lawyers who were milking California’s supposedly “no fault” system in court, fueling a cottage industry of private detectives who earned a living investigating workers — and too often catching them moving furniture or working in demanding new jobs.

Senate Bill 899, the Schwarzenegger reform authored by state Sen. Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno), took direct aim at the bloat and the spiraling costs of “permanent disability” awards from which the lawyers skimmed their fees.

Not surprisingly, the reforms aren’t perfect. David DePaolo, of workcompcentral.com, said California needs to ensure that permanent disability awards for the truly injured compare to awards in states with fair systems. His preliminary findings show “California is now at the bottom in compensating for permanent disability.”

Nevertheless, the rules written by California’s tough workers’ comp czar, Andrea Hoch, are bringing positive change. According to the state Division of Workers Compensation, rates dropped 16 percent in the past year, and experts expect another 10 percent drop this year. Moreover, filings of disputed claims are dropping rapidly.

Hoch was confirmed by the state Senate a few days ago after an attempt to oust her by the lawyer lobby, unions and elected Democrats. We can thank Senate President Pro-Tem Don Perata, the powerful Oakland Democratic who shrugged off intense pressure from Democrats and voted for Hoch, leading to her confirmation by the senate.

Hoch, California’s former assistant chief attorney general for civil law, appointed last year by Schwarzenegger to write the new regulations, has refused to allow loopholes that lawyers hoped would give them a toehold to resist reform.

Her regulations are clearly helping small businesses that fuel the California economy. They were socked by rate increases of 250 percent to 1,000 percent, according to legislative testimony, and were laying off workers or fleeing California.

One local business, reeling last year from skyrocketing costs, was Northridge Mills garment factory in San Fernando. President Howard Barmazel, a man respected both by his Jewish brethren and his 400 mostly Latino workers, was one of the good guys, offering solid jobs to workers and making an earnest effort to promote home ownership among them.

But Barmazel was fighting to survive in the face of workers’ comp costs of more than $25,000 per week. Even so, he greatly feared SB 899, which put new and complex responsibilities on him.

Today, a year later, Barmazel praises SB 899. And no wonder. His rates have dropped by roughly 20 percent, and he expects further reductions. That means security and prosperity, not only for him but also for his workers.

“The truth is, I’d probably have shut down by now without the reforms,” Barmazel said. “I’ve not only seen a 20 percent drop in my premium, but I have had virtually no claims.”

He’s not sure exactly how the reform law has achieved this. But he praises a core element requiring California to use American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines for determining “permanent disability” — as do 41 of 50 states. Unions and lawyers had made sure, for years, that using AMA guidelines to determine permanent disabilities was banned — yes, banned — in California.

Barmazal’s hunch is that “the medical mills and the attorneys have finally figured out they are not going to get anywhere. That is a big, big positive for small business.”

Susan Gard, spokeswoman for the state Division of Workers Compensation, said reform has squeezed out middlemen who profited from “permanent disability” awards that, prior to reform, resulted in huge disparities for the exact same injury.

“It was a system that encouraged the outcome of ‘disability’ because doctors got more fees and lawyers got more fees by encouraging people to hold out for more treatment and higher award amounts,” Gard noted.

There’s probably a need to improve SB 899 to ensure that the seriously injured don’t get shorted — as noted by DePaolo. But the Democrats, who fought long to protect the tainted system and then tried to oust Hoch, have lost the moral high ground in this debate.

That job must fall to Schwarzenegger, Perata and Hoch, who even in the super-heated partisan world of Sacramento, are showing that they can resist the partisans and middlemen fighting reform and ensure that workers’ comp works for all.

Jill Stewart is a syndicated political columnist and can be reached at

Dividing Lines

About two miles northwest of Bethlehem, Israel’s much-discussed security fence comes to an end — not with a bang but with a whimper.

A massive pile of coiled razor wire lays in a tangled heap beside the completed portion of the fence, which here separates the newly built Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa — a pile of stone-fronted apartment houses plopped onto a mountaintop — from the Palestinian city across the valley.

Israel’s Ministry of Defense doesn’t call the fence a fence. Spokespeople there refer to it as the ma’arechet, or "the system." The system, designed to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating Israel, is actually a two-sided series of barriers. The layers go as follows: a razor wire fence, an anti-vehicle ditch, a patrol road, a gravel road raked to betray footprints, an 8-foot-tall fence studded with cameras and electronic sensors; then, on the other side of the electronic fence, the mirror image: gravel road, patrol road, vehicle ditch, razor wire. The remote sensors relay information of trespassers to army posts, which can dispatch a patrol in minutes to race up the roads and investigate.

Marc Luria, an American immigrant to Israel who is lobbying the Knesset for full and speedy completion of "the system," drove me through an open gate and up the empty patrol road — a bit of a thrill considering the traffic that chokes the country’s real roads — to the place where the fence ended. Construction equipment lay scattered about nearby, and workers backed cement trucks up to the spot. But the workers weren’t completing the fence: they were building a road that would bisect the system and continue on deep into the West Bank, to the Jewish settlement of Nokdim. Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman happens to live in that settlement, so Israelis, for whom a cynical sense of humor is practically a birthright, have taken to calling the nascent road "Lieberman Street."

The intersection of Lieberman Street and the system is as good a place as any to try to understand this small, divided and complex country. Here are the symbols of Israeli prowess — modern development, military might, technological ingenuity. Here, too, is the proof of Palestinian presence: The system separates several Palestinian homes from the homes across the wadi and from a mosque some 500 yards up the opposite hill. Lieberman Street goes out to a settlement inhabited by religious Jews who believe their presence there is a God-given right that cannot be compromised.

Even a large drainage pipe running beneath the fence resonates. A sensor is affixed to its iron grill as well, because five months ago, a terrorist shimmied through such a pipe beneath a northern section of the fence, emerged onto Israel’s new transnational highway, and fired on a passing car, instantly killing a 7-year-old boy.

But of course the most obvious symbol is the fence itself. To many Israelis it is a sign of increased security. To many Palestinians it is a sign of conquest. But there is no denying that it is an all-too-convenient image for a deeply divided land and society.

The most profound political division I found in Israel on this trip is the same one I found 19 years ago, when I lived for two years on a quiet street near the center of Jerusalem: what is to be done with the Palestinians and the territories?

In 1967, following an attack on Israel by Arab armies, Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, along with the Sinai and the Golan Heights. The conquest tripled the size of the land Israel controlled — from 8,200 to 26,000 square miles — and brought 1 million Palestinians under Israeli control.

Analysts estimate that within a few years, the Palestinian population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean will exceed the Jewish population. The loss of a Jewish majority within Israel’s post-1967 borders will force Israel to face the choice of being either a non-democratic Jewish state or a binational state that is no longer Jewish. One day in the next two or three or five years, said former Speaker of the Knesset Avrum Burg, a Palestinian baby will be born who will tip the population balance between Jews and Arabs in the land called Greater Israel. "If the Palestinians put down their weapons and go for one vote," Burg said, "that will be the end of the Jewish State as we know it."

Burg said these dire words to participants in the United Jewish Communities’ (UJC) General Assembly (GA), which brings together representatives of Jewish communities throughout North America (see story, page 24). Five years ago, UJC planners decided to hold the assembly in Israel, and went ahead with their plans despite the increased terror and a State Department warning against travel to Israel. The turnout astounded organizers: 5,000 Jews attended from around the world, making it the largest GA in the meeting’s history.

Organizers took heat from some Israelis for not presenting some of the serious problems facing the country, a charge North American co-chair Susan Gelman denied. "We didn’t run away from any issue," she told reporters at an opening press conference.

What the program’s Israeli critics didn’t understand is that the goal of every GA is first and foremost to rally the fundraising troops. The GA always includes Israel, but it is never all about Israel. The divide between the American and the Israeli Jewish experience is such that, with the exception of a small percentage of passionate activists, Israel is more of a symbol to American Jews than a reality. Israel is their team, and they show up for the big games (war, peace treaties), but they don’t follow every game, or even every season. This GA, held in the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, may have had Israel as its focus, but it also devoted time to issues of concern primarily to the North American audience: addressing dwindling affiliation rates, philanthropic leadership, gay and lesbian inclusion, alternative spiritual expressions, etc.

But either out of design or accident, this year’s GA tried to draw delegates much deeper into the game. In the past three years, when Israel has been on the agenda, the forums have tended to be less than sharply critical and the Israel-oriented events more cheerleading than scrimmage. This week some of Israel’s strongest and least critical American Jewish supporters got a taste of the political debate that has defined so much of Israeli society.

At the opening ceremony, delegates leapt to their feet and cheered when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared, "Our enemies have yet to understand that the Jewish people can’t be broken, and will never be broken."

But the next day they heard Hebrew University political scientist Yaron Ezrachi say, "Solidarity with Israel is not always an uncritical solidarity with the Israeli government. Sharon speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He says he supports the ‘road map’ but he has not removed one illegal settlement from the West Bank."

Ezrachi was the rule, not the exception. At the sessions I attended, speaker after speaker exhorted American Jews to get involved in the debate over the Palestinian question. "We are facing the most difficult historic choice since 1948, and it is imperative that every Jew must take a stand," Ezrachi said.

Arye Carmon, founder of the Israel Democracy Institute, told another audience, "I call on you to agonize with us. The time has come to translate slogans into action."

Israelis and others outside questioned whether it was American Jewry’s place to weigh in on the policy direction of a country they don’t live in. It is not Diaspora Jewry’s role to be nuanced and involved, one resident told me, it is our role to just support Israel in the face of an international community that finds it legitimate to question the existence of Israel but not of, say, Finland.

But in another session, Ami Ayalon, the former head of Israel’s General Security Services, or Shin Bet, directed his remarks — ominously — to just that concern. "You have to think about what will happen as a result of our actions to Jews everywhere," he said. "I’m not sure we [Israelis] understand that."

The debate that marked these particular GA sessions distilled the concerns I found everywhere during my week and a half in Israel. Ayalon made waves internationally just as the GA began by joining with three other former Shin Bet directors in publicly criticizing the direction of the Sharon government. It was an unprecedented moment in Israel’s history when an interview with the four appeared in the Nov. 14 edition of Yediot Aharanot. Sharon, they said, is using terror as an, "excuse for doing nothing," in the words of Carmi Gillon. "In this terrible situation," Ayalon said, "where civilians are slaughtered in restaurants and buses, in my opinion there is no other way but to take unilateral steps."

Ayalon, together with Palestinian activist Sari Nusseibeh, drew up a declaration of principles that they are circulating among Palestinians and Israelis as a way of building grass-roots support for negotiations. Along with his former colleagues, he believes the current government is endangering Israel’s security and its democracy by reacting to terror militarily without a strategy that holds out hope for the Palestinians.

But it is terror that has made the debate over the Palestinian question both more urgent and more difficult. "It is hard to talk about peace and democracy when you are under attack," said MK Tommy Lapid, the leader of the Shinui Party.

I spoke with Israelis who were convinced that the only solution to the conflict was the eradication of the Palestinian people. "I shoot first, then I ask whether they’re interested in peace or not," said a man who had just returned from reserve duty in the Gaza Strip.

A diplomat I spoke with echoed another common idea for addressing the problem: increased aliyah, or immigration, to Israel. One million Jews moving to Israel, she said, would counter Palestinian population growth. Sharon received a standing ovation for saying the same thing to the GA delegates. "It’s so crazy," said one participant of Sharon’s suggestion. "These people are not going to come, and they would think it’s a tragedy if their kids came."

As Haaretz columnist Akiva Eldar pointed out, the 30,000-40,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who have recently left Israel have made Moscow one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the world. The sad fact, said Lapid, is that the Israel he sought refuge in as a survivor of the Holocaust is now the most dangerous place in the world to be a Jew.

The presentations at the GA were Israeli society in a nutshell: vibrant and fearful, cautious and defiant, pessimistic and hopeful. Sometimes, as in the case of Lapid, one speech hit all these notes. Yes, there must be a two-state solution, he said, but don’t expect it to put an end to conflict. "We will give up all kinds of biblical dreams in order to have a pragmatic solution," he said, "but to promise you there’s only a few steps we have to take and they have to take is not enough."

The security fence, Lapid said, may be a system for defense, but it is not a solution.

Israelis harbor deep doubts that their leaders, much less the Palestinian leadership, are able, now and in the foreseeable future, to work out a settlement to their conflict. Lacking that, they know full well the clock is ticking on the demographic issue, a conflict that a temporary security system manages but doesn’t solve. The deepest divide of all here remains the one between the country Israelis and American Jews want, and the one they are likely to get.

Your Letters

JCC Closures

As a longtime Jewish Community Center (JCC) devotee and one-time Hollywood-Los Feliz director, I find our community’s possible loss of any part of the JCC system as tragic and appalling (“Flourish, Not Fail” and “JCCs in Jeopardy,” Nov. 30). Yes, the handwriting has been on the wall for some time. Wherever the blame is to be lodged matters less now than saving the distinctive contribution the system has, can and must continue to make to Los Angeles’ diverse Jewish community.

All of our institutions have their role and vital purpose, but JCCs are and will always be the only Jewish door that many Jews will go through. How many Jews will be less Jewishly involved without JCCs?

Jerry Freedman Habush, Van Nuys

Last Friday at lunchtime, I heard the first rumor that the Westside JCC was to close down as of Jan. 1. When I went to the center later that afternoon to help coach my daughter’s basketball team, and then play a quick game myself before Shabbat, the rumor was confirmed. I was incredulous. My entire existence in Los Angeles is inextricably bound up with the Westside JCC, where I have played basketball three times a week for 12 years.

I can find another basketball game. What about my daughters, who played, went to camp and swam there? What about the hundreds of preschoolers for whom the JCC was a wonderful learning environment, and a most inviting gateway to Judaism? And what about the seniors, many of them immigrants with little support structure, for whom the Westside JCC was the center of their world, the site of a friendly smile, a nutritious meal, and daily physical or cultural stimulation? Are these people, young and old, simply to be forgotten?

If so, then we have moved tragically away from any meaningful sense of communal responsibility. Throughout Jewish history, crisis has always been met with creativity. The case before us is surely not the first financial crisis to hit a Jewish institution. Why then has the crisis been met not with creativity, but surrender? Why is the immediate response to shut down the centers? To the best of my knowledge, there was no public debate about the “restructuring” (i.e., closing) of the JCCs. Nor was there any opportunity to undertake a communitywide campaign to save them.

One wonders if the leaders of the organized Jewish community have much appreciation for the history of the JCC movement. Do they know that the JCC has been the paradigmatic Jewish communal institution in America, open to Jews of all persuasions and denominations? Do they recognize that in a vast city like Los Angeles, the JCC literally constitutes community for thousands of Jews otherwise without a Jewish home?

We hear much about the new and improved Federation, with its aspiration to represent and reach out to the entire Jewish community. We hear much about the spanking new facility at 6505 Wilshire Blvd., which required millions of dollars of renovations. But what we do not yet hear are expressions of concern and compassion for the thousands who will be put out of their Jewish home if the JCCs close. What we do not yet hear is a plan of action to offer the essential services and fulfill the vital social and communal function of the centers. It may well be the case that years of mismanagement brought the JCCs to the brink of closure. And it seems clear that we are in a serious economic downturn.

But it is precisely at such moments of crisis that true leaders step to the fore. John Fishel, Todd Morgan and their colleagues at The Jewish Federation must now demonstrate their mettle. This is the measure of Jewish communal responsibility. We should expect no less from our leaders.

David N. Myers, Los Angeles

The plight of the Jewish Community Centers in Los Angeles saddens me deeply. My 41 years in Jewish communal service was motivated by a dual desire to strengthen the overall Jewish community, and to provide assistance to those least able to afford alternative services. My tenure as director of the Westside Jewish Community Center from 1977 until my retirement in 1995 was guided by those principles.

It is always regrettable when cutbacks in human services are required. I urge that as buildings are closed and staff fired, the most central issue in the minds of decision-makers be: Which of the services that will be lost are available elsewhere in the community, and which will cause genuine hardship for those directly affected?

There are other swimming pools and health facilities in the community, but there is only one Senior Adult Day Care Center for the frail elderly at Westside JCC. There are other places with drama groups and Israeli dancing, but services to the Russian immigrants in Hollywood must be maintained. The single-parent families, poor elderly and other Jews in need must be assured that services they value and deserve will continue. They must not be left behind because they cannot pay their way.

A Jewish community should not be judged by the magnificence of its buildings or by how it serves the upper middle class, but rather by the dignity, respect and genuine services it provides to those least able to pay. May our communal leadership rise to the occasion.

Mort Schrag, Los Angeles

The Valley Cities JCC is a precious resource for parents like me. If it closes, many will be left without options. Many parents who put their children in the JCC after-school programs can’t afford a private Jewish school. [A JCC] is Judaism in action — a place where children have a safe and enriching place to go after school and elderly people can drop in for classes and companionship to fend off boredom an depression. The center also runs an excellent and affordable nursery school.

In a city with one of the largest and wealthiest Jewish populations, how can we let this happen to the JCC? My son has been going to the Valley Cities JCC after-school program for three years. From the JCC, my son has gotten a connection with his heritage and religion that he will carry throughout his life; he has been part of a family of people who care about each other; and he has had the opportunity to explore all kinds of new interests and hobbies. How can our children and our elderly not be more of a funding priority?

Leila Lavizadeh, Van Nuys

I have always equated the JCCs with Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.” I grew up with an active Jewish community in Cleveland, and played basketball at the JCC during high school. After college, the JCC gave me the gift of a wife. Finally, after retirement, the JCC gave the gift of exercise and meeting Jews from different countries and economic brackets. Where else on any given day could one have the opportunity to practice up on their Hebrew, Russian and Farsi?

I only hope that future generation of Jews and non-Jews have the wonderful experiences from our “Giving Tree.”

Richard Bernstein, Los Angeles

We, the undersigned, are members of the Westside Jewish Community Center and parents of children in the center’s preschool who have committed ourselves to working within the Los Angeles Jewish Community. We are deeply troubled by the lack of dissemination of information to the public and feel disappointed and shocked by the nonexistent public discussion regarding the closing of the Westside JCC.

We have become aware that all non-preschool employees have received letters of termination. This indicates a far graver situation than the “restructuring” that was discussed in Nov. 30 article.

It is shortsighted to believe that because some of the services that the Westside JCC provides are duplicated by other institutions, both inside and outside the Jewish community, that the Westside JCC does not play an integral role in the Jewish life of Los Angeles. We are acutely aware that the Westside JCC is the sole gateway into the Jewish community for many Jewish constituencies.

In place of carefully crafted public statements, we urge a process of communication, which includes all concerned parties, namely the Westside JCC and Federation administrations, their boards, The Jewish Journal, and the constituencies who directly benefit from the services and programs of the citywide JCC structure.

Jason Ablin, Director of General and Integrated Studies, Milken Community High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple; Lisa Bellows, Ablin Care Coordinator Jewish Family Service; Dina Bernat-Kunin, Unit Director, Vista Del Mar; Rabbi Gordon Bernat-Kunin, Rabbinic Director, Milken Commnity High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple; Aryeh Cohen, Jewish Studies Chair, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies; Andrea Hodos, Jewish Studies Faculty, Milken Community High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple.

Los Angeles Hebrew High

In Tom Tugend’s article (“The New Face of the UJ,” Nov. 30) Los Angeles Hebrew High School (LAHH) is spoken of in terms which are inconsistent and not representative of the views of the board of trustees or the administration. We have been supported by the University of Judaism (UJ) for many years. Together, we have continued to find a way to provide excellent Hebrew and Judaic education at the UJ facility each Sunday morning for more than 400 Jewish teens. The UJ’s leadership have been consistently forthright and flexible with LAHHS, and we are grateful that our two institutions have continued to focus on quality Jewish learning.

Carol Askuvich, President Board of Trustees
William Cohen, Principal