BREAKING: LAPD investigating bomb threat near Wilshire Boulevard Temple


[UPDATE: 5:00 pm] ” target=”_blank”>Wilshire Blvd. Temple target of bomb threats

[UPDATE: 2:45 pm] “[The vehicle] was rendered safe. No device was found in or around the vehicle,” said police spokesman Sgt. Rudy Lopez.

The investigation is ongoing as LAPD seeks to identify who placed the bomb threat early this morning. There are “minimal leads,” Lopez said.

The LAPD BatCat vehicle, with the squad car held midair on its lifting mechanism, will remain near the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Harvard Blvd. for approximately another hour, Lopez said.

Most of the streets around Wilshire Blvd. Temple have reopened. 

[UPDATE: 2:10 pm] The squad car under investigation was moved by the LAPD BatCat vehicle.

[UPDATE: 1:50 pm] LAPD officer has approached the squad car and is inspecting the vehicle.

[UPDATE: 1:30 pm] Loud boom as the trunk of the squad car flew open. LAPD Robot inspecting vehicle.

[UPDATE 1:00 pm] ” target=”_blank”>KTLA 5

[UPDATE 12:06 pm] An LAPD BatCat unit has now deployed by the suspicious LAPD squad car outside Wilshire Blvd. Temple in mid-Wilshire.  The black fire engine-sized vehicle is using a front fork to lift the LAPD vehicle.

[UPDATE 11:30 am] Bomb squad robot has removed an object from underneath the LAPD squad car near Wilshire Blvd. Temple.

[UPDATE 11:19 am]  A loud bang as the LAPD robotics unit shot out the windows of the LAPD squad car suspected of harboring an explosive device.  LAPD canine  units are now being deployed to search for any “secondary threats,” according to Sgt. Rudy Lopez.  A robotics team is still investigating the LAPD car parked on Harvard St. between 6th and Wilshire Blvd

[UPDATE 11:00 am] The robotic unit is now moving toward the police car that LAPD suspect of harboring an explosive device.

[10:15 am] LAPD units on the scene at Wilshire Blvd. Temple‘s Koreatown synagogue are deploying bomb disposal units and robotic devices “to assess the situation” following a series of three bomb threats.

Wilshire TempleWilshire Blvd. Temple which received a bomb threat early in the morning on Dec. 18. Photo by Lynn Pelkey

Police spokesman Sgt. Rudy Lopez told the Jewish Journal at 10:15 a.m. the investigation should take about two hours.

At 2 a.m. a caller to LAPD headquarters claimed to have planted an explosive device on the grounds of the temple, one of Los Angeles’s largest. An initial search failed to turn up anything suspicious.

[Follow

WITNESS ACCOUNT: ‘We think that (it was a suicide bomber)’


A suicide bomber probably caused an explosion on a bus at Bulgaria’s Burgas airport which killed three people, an Israeli woman who was on the bus said.

“We think that (it was a suicide bomber),” witness Aviva Malka told Israeli Army Radio in answer to a question in a telephone interview from the scene.

“We sat down and within a few seconds we heard a huge boom and we ran away. We managed to escape through a hole on the bus. We saw bodies and many people injured,” she said.

Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland

French police seek to intimidate gunman with blasts


Three blasts at the building were the suspect in seven shootings in southwest France is holed up were intended to intimidate him and there has not been an assault to get him out of his apartment, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

“They were moves to intimidate the gunman who seems to have changed his mind and does not want to surrender,” ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told Reuters. “There is no assault.”

A police source and a deputy Toulouse mayor had said earlier that an assault had started after three loud blasts had been heard at the building following a more than 20-hour standoff.

Police have been trying to get 24-year-old Mohamed Merah to turn himself over after he fired through the door at them while they tried to storm his apartment in the suburbs of Toulouse in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Reporting by Yves Clarisse, writing by Leigh Thomas, editing by Geert De Clercq

Hebrew support for Siri in development


Apple reportedly is developing add-ons for the Siri interface that will include support for Hebrew, among other languages.

Sources told the iPhones.co.il website that Nuance, a company working directly with Apple, has rented a studio where sound bites and sentences are being recorded in Hebrew. Nuance is using a special developer’s iPhone app to make the recordings.

The report does not guarantee that iOS 5.1, the forthcoming software update for iPhone, will support Hebrew.

UPDATE: Gabrielle Giffords continues her recovery in Houston


March 4, 2011, 9:05 a.m.: Eight weeks after the tragedy that struck Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords continues to recover in Houston ” title=”KHOU.com reports”>KHOU.com reports.

Jan. 13, 2011, 9:12 a.m.: President Obama went off script last night to let the crowd in Tucson know that Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time since last weeks shooting. Those in the room believe she was aware of their presence and that she seemed to be responsive. CNN reports:

Giffords was squeezing and stroking Gillibrand’s hand, as doctors previously said she had been able to do.

Giffords “absolutely could hear everything we were saying,” Gillibrand said. “And Debbie (Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida) and I were telling her how much she was inspiring the nation with her courage, her strength, and we were talking about the things we wanted to do as soon as she was better.”

Jan. 12, 2011, 1:15 p.m.: Dr. Peter Rhee says Gabrielle Giffords is making ‘spontaneous movements,’ the ” title=”Washington Post reports” target=”_blank”>Washington Post reports.

Giffords, 40, remains in critical condition after she and 19 other people were shot Saturday at an event she was holding to meet constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. Six were killed and 14, including Giffords, were wounded when a young man with apparent mental problems opened fire on the gathering with a handgun. The suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was arraigned in federal court in Phoenix on Monday. He faces federal murder and attempted murder charges.

Read more at ” title=”jewishjournal.com/arizona_shooting” target=”_blank”>jewishjournal.com/arizona_shooting

Rabbi talks about Gabrielle Giffords’ status, connection to faith [VIDEO]


Israel fire update: Uncontrolled, 42 dead, 17,000 evacuated


The fire raging in northern Israel was still out of control as the sun set on Friday, with 42 people reported dead.

At least 17,000 Israelis were evacuated from the area of the blaze, which spread closer to Haifa on Friday. The University of Haifa, which was evacuated on Thursday, has become a staging ground for emergency personnel. Most of those killed by the fire were prison guard cadets aboard a bus that was trapped Thursday by burning trees felled by the flames. The guards were enroute to a nearby prison to carry out an inmate evacuation.

Although aid has poured in from countries as close as Turkey, Cyprus and Greece and as far as the United States and Russia, firefighters had yet to bring the blaze under control as of late Friday. Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen told reporters that incidents of arson had occurred at several locations on Friday.

Officials have yet to confirm the origin of the blaze, which began Thursday, but there are suspicions that it began at an illegal dumping ground in the Carmel area.

Since the blaze began, Israelis have been gripped by images of flames consuming forested areas in the mountains east of Haifa, residents watching their homes burn and footage of the scorched shell of the bus in which the prison guards were killed.

Up Front


A Shushan Social

Two party planners are not fazed by the logistics of recreating a fifth century B.C.E. capital where the Purim story took place.

Cathy R. Jasper and Sheila Stopnitsky, mothers of students who attend Irvine’s Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, are reviving the walled city of Shushan, now modern-day Iran, as a thematic platform for a glitzy gala to replenish the school’s nearly $1 million scholarship fund. The annual $500-per-couple event on Jan. 25 honors local benefactors Susan and Henry Samueli and salutes the 80th birthday of Irving Gelman, the school’s founder. Last year’s affair netted $250,000 toward scholarships.

Being held for the first time on school grounds rather than a hotel, Shushan will take more than a week to erect on a patio beside the upper school. A ballroom-sized, 4,000-square-foot tent will get a makeover fit for a sheik: chandeliers, fabric lining, an artist’s depiction of the walled city’s palace and a Persian-style menu by Encino’s Starlight Caterers.

“We want people to come to the campus,” said Jasper, of Mission Viejo, who has three children attending the school. “I’m interested in keeping it going and making sure it’s here in 20 years.”

Organizers anticipate a smaller crowd as the school dropped its mandatory participation policy this year to ensure participants receive a tax deduction for the scholarship portion of the cost.

Every student enjoys a partial subsidy as tuition alone does not fully cover expenses, Stopnitzky said.

“There isn’t enough money for all the children who want to come,” she said.

Thirty percent of the school’s 600 students receive some aid toward tuition, which varies by grade level between $10,000 and $13,000 annually.

From Home to JCF

Michele Shugarman’s first lesson in philanthropy was supplied by her grandmother, who one day emptied one of a dozen tzedakah boxes that lined her kitchen windowsill into the hands of a bearded, kippah-wearing man. When she inquired about the curious transaction, Fannie Labovitz told the child someone in the community needed help.

“This one’s for you,” her grandmother said, giving the 4-year-old a coin-filled jar.

After counting and sorting, the child deposited half with her grandmother to replenish the empty box.

“The lesson learned has never gone away from me,” said Shugarman, a 31-year Orange County resident, who for the last four years raised research funds in four counties for the Israel-based Weizmann Institute.

This month, Shugarman starts as development director of O.C.’s Jewish Community Foundation, which last year distributed $4.5 million in gifts from its donors.

She succeeds Linda S. Weingarten, 53, who resigned after less than two years in the director’s post because of the job’s after-hours demands. This month, she plans to marry Jean Stern, 58, an Irvine museum director, who travels regularly.

“This is not a life for a newly wed couple,” Weingarten said before her departure.

Hank Schrimmer, the foundation’s president, called the parting amicable.

“It’s not a divorce,” he said.

An agricultural economist who moved to Irvine in 1993 to work for an avocado cooperative, Weingarten remains emotionally tied to charity work, which enriched her life.

“It was something I never knew should be so important; I knew it, but I wasn’t living it,” she said.

A Neighborly Chat

Even though Irvine homeowners filed suit to halt construction of a new Jewish community building, informal talks took place last month to address concerns about the building’s height and neighborhood impact. Supporters of the Jewish campus expect to continue negotiations with residents in January.

“It was viewed as a very positive gesture,” said Said Mehdi, whose home on Sierra Rojas is overshadowed by the multistory facility for the Jewish Community Center and other Jewish agencies. Even so, he described a proposal made in the talks as “mediocre” as it would not adequately screen the site from homes below. “We know we have new neighbors, but they need to understand they’ve intruded on our lives,” he said.

City officials spurned talks after Turtle Rock residents in October filed suit against the government and JCC, seeking to halt construction and the completion of an impact study. Such a study was omitted when the permit was granted in September 2001.

“We’re trying to be good neighbors,” said Ralph Stern, of Tustin, who chairs the committee that has raised $21 million toward the building. “We want to do as much as we can though we have limited resources.”

Neither side has more than “vague proposals,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out a way to get our arms around the issues.” These include noise, lighting and hours of operation, in addition to landscaping.

“Residents want a complete package,” Mehdi said.

Ecumenical Exchange

The biblical passage about Abraham readying his only son as a sacrifice established two central axioms of the Jewish faith, early commentators suggest. These are the extent of man’s capacity to love, fear and serve God; and that God communicates His will to man.

The same story seen through Christian theology, however, is a foreshadowing of the trinity, where the son sacrificed by the father is not Isaac, but Jesus.

Just such comparative teaching underpins an innovative, interfaith study session taught by both a rabbi and a priest, which began last fall at Santa Ana’s Temple Beth Sholom. The 16-student class happened to be evenly divided among Jews and Christians, and included three nuns.

Class ground rules included consciously leaving persuasion, proselytizing and primacy at the door.

A second five-week, session built around biblical themes such as salvation, messianism and festivals is to start Feb. 1 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, 1309 Sycamore, Tustin. The cost is $75.

“This has been a rare, if not unique opportunity for Jews and Christians to not only engage in dialog but to study sacred texts together,” said Rabbi Michael Mayersohn, of Seal Beach. His teaching partner is the Rev. John McAndrew, who he met in 1990 when also sharing a dais as guest speakers for a junior college discussion on sex and religious values.

Mayersohn quit the pulpit of Temple Beth David in Westminster last year to pursue teaching. He hopes to recruit more students for the second session from the county’s various interfaith councils.

Community Briefs


UCLA Organizes Officials to Revive ‘Road Map’

A detailed new plan to breathe life into the Bush administration’s road map and restore a cease-fire has been proposed by prominent Israelis and Palestinians and is now circulating among U.S. officials.

The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that the plan was hammered out at a Nov. 7-8 meeting in a hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea and was organized by UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations, which gets $1.5 million annually from the Pentagon to promote Middle East dialogue.

In contrast to other recent private peace initiatives, the new plan focuses on intermediate steps, rather than on a long-range permanent settlement of the conflict.

Among those participating in the meeting on the Israeli side were Ephraim Sneh, a Labor member of the Knesset, David Kimche, a former Foreign Ministry and Mossad official, and Ze’ev Schiff, defense analyst for the daily Ha’aretz.

Representing the Palestinian Authority were Muhammad Rashid, Yasser Arafat’s personal financier, and Abed Alloun, a high-ranking security service official.

The initiative for the meeting, according to the report by the Jerusalem Post’s Washington correspondent Janine Zacharia, came from UCLA political scientist Steven Spiegel, a veteran Middle East analyst and associate director of the Burkle Center.

The UCLA center concentrates on projects to maintain dialogue between opposing sides when official negotiations break down. Spiegel is in charge of the center’s Track Two diplomacy program.

Spiegel did not respond to The Journal’s request for comments.

Key recommendations of the plan include:

  • An indefinite cease-fire between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, to be monitored by a U.S.-Israel-Palestinian trilateral committee. By contrast, earlier, short-lived cease-fires were between the Palestinian Authority and terrorist groups and did not involve Israel.
  • Future construction of the security fence should be “basically along the Green Line.”
  • Establishment of a Mideast association on terrorism, headquartered in Cairo, consisting of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States, Egypt, Jordan and the Iraqi Governing Council.
  • The Palestinian Authority to take practical steps to prevent terrorist groups from carrying out attacks, dismantle illegal militias, close weapon workshops and curb arms smuggling.
  • Encourage Israel to release more Palestinian prisoners, dismantle road blocks and illegal outposts and raise the number of Palestinian work permits to 50,000.

Israeli and Palestinian initiators of the plan believe it has a better chance for success than earlier ones, because it is “underpinned by a regional association to address the problems of terror,” Israel would be included in the cease-fire, and the presence of a trilateral monitoring committee. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Judaism’s Branches Journey Together to Israel

Israel’s West Coast tourism director met with rabbis on Dec. 1 to begin building buzz about next summer’s broad Jewish community trip to Israel, the first local trip combining Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist congregations.

“This is the time to show unity,” said Noam Matas, the Israel Ministry of Tourism’s Western USA director who is leading the “Go Israel Mega Community Mission” slated for Aug. 1-10, 2004. “Only rabbis will bring us the people.”

On Dec. 7, members of Denver’s Jewish community will begin a 10-day, 120-person Jewish-Christian trip to Israel, similar to the ministry-driven Jewish-Christian summer 2004 trips for the Las Vegas and Phoenix Jewish communities. While the Los Angeles “Go Israel” trip will be just for Jewish travelers, organizers face difficulties in navigating issues such as how Judaism’s different branches want to experience Israel and even Los Angeles’ summer camp schedules.

“I just don’t see them [parents] doing both — camp and 10 days in Israel,” said Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, the Orthodox Union’s West Coast director, one of nine rabbis and denomination officials at the Dec. 1 meeting. “Summer planning is almost done for most families; by the end of December it’s finished.”

The “Go Israel” trip is expected to have about 300 L.A. Jews traveling to Israel together, and then going their separate ways except for the trip’s opening and closing dinners plus a probable Knesset tour, military base visit and meetings with politicians. One trip logo employs the phrase, “For Israel, For Israelis, For Faith, For Spirit, For Good.” The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is expected to endorse “Go Israel,” organizers said.

“Go Israel” logistics now include sorting out specific hotels, creating a package price of about $1,400-$1,500 per person, balancing the trip’s individual and group events plus announcing “Go Israel” in synagogues.

“We need a lot of lead time so that people can leave space,” said Joel Baker, Pacific Southwest Region director of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Young Israel of Century City Rabbi Elazar Muskin said many locals travel to Israel. But unlike smaller Jewish communities in smaller cities, Muskin said Southern California’s sprawling Jewish culture never has been able, “to get the L.A. community over to Israel as a community. We have to get over there as a community. We’re behind on this, the sense that we are a Jewish community.”

For more information, visit www.goisrael.com. — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Up Front


Shoah Survivor Chanukah LunchLaunch

In an attempt to infuse a professional networking group with Jewish values, Aaron Weiner is recruiting volunteers to assist Orange County’s Jewish Family Services put on an annual Chanukah lunch for about 100 local residents, who are Holocaust survivors.

“We wanted an event we could call our own,” said Weiner, a new director of the Jewish Federation’s real estate division, which has 300 members.

Providing manpower for the lunch was suggested by Deborah Klein, director of the Federation’s professional group divisions. The event also gets financial help from Temple Beth El’s Men’s Club and a mother-daughter group, said Marcia Marcinko, JFS volunteers director.

Though members of the real estate group loyally convene for monthly bagel and speaker get-togethers, Weiner expects volunteers to serve as foot soldiers for the Dec. 23 event at the Federation campus auditorium in Costa Mesa.

“Providing transportation, finding entertainment, cleaning up. My goal was to find an event where we could roll up our sleeves, not just write a check,” Weiner said.

It is a special opportunity to be of service to Holocaust survivors, Weiner said. “They’re dying off; it’s a privilege to be involved with that effort.”

University Debuts Its Synaplex

An overflow crowd of more than 500 people came to experience University Synagogue’s “synaplex,” a multifaceted approach to Friday night services, which was introduced Nov. 7.

“It was like a finely layered cake; everything very sweet with each building on the previous experience,” said University’s Rabbi Arnie Rachlis, who began organizing the new format after winning a grant last spring from a private foundation.

Relying on the multiscreen cineplex as a model, grant winners are to develop more flexible and varied Shabbat-related programs as a tool for outreach and to deepen the involvement of existing synagogue members. University’s first marquee included meditation, creative writing, dinner, children’s services, a music service, a high-profile speaker and schmoozing for singles.

“Synaplex” attendance exceeded the 350 to 400 people who generally attend University’s monthly “Shabbat Alive” music-oriented service, which is double the routine Friday-night crowd. “I think it’s a phenomenon,” said Rachlis, whose Yom Kippur sermon urged members to put monthly “syneplex” events on their calendar like a subscription series to an orchestra. “It will be wonderful to see if people change their attendance,” he said.

Space constraints at University, which shares space with a church, should abate by next September. After many delays, last month remodeling started on the former ice rink that is to be the synagogue’s permanent home. Its social hall and sanctuary will hold 1,200 people.

Ken Blady, author of a book on exotic Jewish communities outside the mainstream Ashkenazic and Sephardic regions, is scheduled to speak at University Synagogue on Dec. 5.

A Mezuzah on Main Street

While walking down Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A., one might look up and notice that the windows above the stores are covered with the names of the men and women who helped build the park more than 48 years ago.

However, if you peek in a doorway along the Emporium on the west side of the street (before reaching New Century Jewelry) there’s one name that’s a bit different from the rest: Dr. Benjamin Silverstein.

It’s not just that Silverstein’s name is on a door rather than a window. It’s that if you look to the right of the door, you’ll find a mezuzah on the workplace of the only fictional person on Main Street — Dr. Benjamin Silverstein, general practitioner, only exists at the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Don’t worry if you missed seeing the mezuzah during your last visit, the well-hidden piece of Judaica (which does have a scroll inside, although its authenticity has yet to be verified) has only been around for a few years.

When former Disneyland President Paul Pressler, who recently left the company to head Gap Inc., took the position in 1995, he expressed concern that, during the holidays, there was nothing in recognition of Chanukah, according to John McClintock, regional market publicity manager for the Disneyland Resort.

So the decorating team at Disneyland placed a menorah in one of the upstairs windows on Main Street and — in true Disney storytelling tradition — created the name below to go with it.

But despite the welcoming sign on the door, “Have a fever? Have the flu? Come on in and we’ll cure you,” if you do get nauseous from one too many spins on the Mad Tea Party, it might be best to stick to the First Aid Center. — Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer

Fed’s Final Push for Campus Funds

Community volunteers, many who have already made their own pledges toward construction of Orange County’s new Jewish campus, last month manned telephones in an unusual pre-Thanksgiving drive for the final $1 million needed for its completion.

About 2,500 families were called over three days by 21 volunteer dialers, who included Charlene and Ken Zuckerman, Dassie and Chuck Feingold, Phil Waldman, Polly Sloan, Adeline Cohen, Mary Ann Malkoff, Marti Eisenberg, Roberta Zeve, Cindy and Adam Muchnick, Adena and Jeff Kaufman, Sheila and Mike Lefkowitz, Richard Carpe, Byron Landau, Lauren Klein, Adele Sender and David Young.

The phone-a-thon is an attempt to involve more people in a project of historical importance to Orange County’s Jewish community, said Bunnie Mauldin, executive director of the Jewish Federation, which plans to relocate to Irvine from Costa Mesa along with other agencies when the campus is finished next August.

The $19 million pledged in the last two years toward the building’s construction was raised principally from major donors by Ralph Stern and his campaign managers, Mike Lefkowitz and Irv Chase. The facility’s $40 million parcel was purchased by the Samueli Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Money isn’t the only obstacle; in October, nearby residents filed a lawsuit to halt building. They seek some limits on campus operations and more landscaping. The campus is to share some facilities with neighboring Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School.

JCC Hires New Director

Anticipating a major expansion in its programming after moving to the Samueli Campus in Irvine next year, the O.C. Jewish Community Center’s board hired an executive director who has overseen similar expansion in another fast-growth, sunbelt city.

Dan Bernstein, 53, the former executive director of the JCC in Sarasota, Fla., began in a similar position this month in Costa Mesa, succeeding Gerry Buncher, whose resignation is effective Dec. 31.

“I was looking for another challenge and Orange County is proving that challenge,” said Bernstein, who has spent 21 years in varying positions at JCCs in Arizona and Florida. “My kids grew up at the JCC; they were JCC brats.”

Mary Ann Malkoff, the JCC’s president, described Bernstein as a manager with “a businessman’s brain and a social worker’s heart.” She cited Sarasota’s elderhostel programs as an example of Bernstein’s enterprise. “That made our head swim; we know we need to do that,” she said.

“We’re going to have to do a lot of nice things to fill the building,” said Bernstein. “Our job is to not give any Jewish person an excuse not to come.”

Community Briefs


L.A. Legislators Head to Israel

Los Angeles’ City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, City Council President Alex Padilla, Fifth District City Councilman Jack Weiss and Andres Irlando from the Cesar Chavez Foundation are going to Israel Nov. 6-16 as part of The Jewish Federation’s Legislator’s Mission to Israel. Participants in the Legislator’s Mission will discuss with Israeli experts issues of Homeland Security relative to the City of Los Angeles and will visit some of The Federation’s programs in Israel, including the Genesis Tel Aviv-Yafo urban revitalization project, modeled after the Genesis L.A. initiative, of which Delgadillo was the architect. Delgadillo, Padilla and Weiss will be keeping a journal of their experiences which can be viewed starting Monday at www.jewishjournal.com. — Staff Report

Producer Addresses Al Jazeera’s Portrayal ofConflict

Al Jazeera co-founder, producer and on-air personality Omar al-Issawi told a UCLA audience on Oct. 30 that the Arab world needs, “some kind of catharsis” and must, “look at ourselves” internally to discover why, “you have half the Arab world [that] cannot read or write.”

The broadcaster’s comments came in a two-person media panel at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and hosted by the Burkle Center for International Relations. When asked by one of the panel’s 60 audience members about Al Jazeera using terms like “martyr” to describe Palestinian suicide bombers, the low-key al-Issawi said the Qatar-based network has stopped calling such actions, “operations of martyrdom.”

“There are many conspiracy theories in the Arab world that blame the ills of our society on imperialism, colonialism and Zionism,” al-Issawi later told The Journal. “At the same time, there are internal problems that have not been addressed adequately yet, that compound the problems caused by the legacies of imperialism.”

Al Jazeera correspondents, he said, in the past have made, “expressions of sympathy” with Palestinian bombers, which management is trying to curb.

Speaking on the panel with al-Issawi was Norm Pattiz, chairman of Westwood One radio network, who also sits on the federal Broadcasting Board of Governors where he created Radio Sawa, the Middle East’s U.S.-run, Arabic-language FM pop music station.

“You’re talking about a very passionate and emotional part of the world,” said Pattiz, who added that in such a region, being considered anti-United States can increase a media outlet’s popularity.

Al Jazeera generates income from selling TV pictures to other networks, al-Issawi said; about $5 million was earned from footage of last spring's liberation of Iraq. — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Day Schools Tackle FinancialMatters

“We think with our hearts, but we’re a business,” said Eileen Horowitz, the head of school at Temple Israel of Hollywood Day School. Horowitz’s sentiment was a common thread among the professional and lay leaders at the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) Financial Management Conference for Jewish Day Schools from Oct. 26-27. Fifty-eight participants from 26 local Jewish day schools gathered at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles to gain financial insight for keeping their respective schools afloat. Presenters from accounting firms like Green Hasson & Janks and Ernst & Young and independent financial consultants addressed topics like nonprofit accounting, budgeting, legal and tax issues, salaries, tuition and fee-setting.

“I went to get some tips on how to get more meaningful numbers into our budgetary projections,” said Jeff Kandel, Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy’s Finance Committee chief and senior vice president of Feld Winters Financial in Sherman Oaks. “[The conference] was very helpful.”

The concept of working together to face financial issues was a key theme throughout the two-day event.

“In the final analysis, for day schools to survive depends on collaboration,” said Dr. Gil Graff, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Los Angeles during a lunchtime presentation.

PEJE is currently considering replicating this pilot conference in other cities across the country. — Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

West Valley JCC Fitness DirectorRetires

After nearly 50 years of sports and fitness that has stretched from Jewish Community Centers (JCC) in Boyle Heights to West Hills, West Valley JCC health and physical education director Eli Sherman is retiring on Nov. 7.

“It’s the right time for me to say goodbye,” he said.

Sherman, 71, will continue to serve as director of the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, an endeavor he founded at the Westside JCC in 1989. He hopes to grow and promote the hall of fame — now located at the Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills — with fundraising, a documentary and a speaker’s bureau.

“It’s my baby and I’m not prepared to walk away from that,” he said.

The hall of fame recognizes the contributions of more than 200 athletes, referees, journalists and other sports figures.

The All-American and Maccabi basketball star first started working for the centers at Boyle Heights’ Soto Michigan JCC in 1947. From 1955 to 1999, Sherman served as the health and physical education director for the Westside JCC, where he worked with a young Lenny Krayzelburg. He described his move to Milken as a “real second coming for me. It gave me a chance to recharge my batteries.”

West Valley JCC is the process of looking for both a director and an assistant director to fill the gap left by Sherman’s departure.

“When you’re leaving after almost 50 years, the shoes can’t be filled,” said Don Goodman, health and fitness chair. “We would like to see them measured, however, and fill them over a period of time.”

Sherman has met dozens of sports legends in his five decades with the centers of Southern California, but what he treasures most are the students who have become part of his extended family.

“These 6- and 7-year-olds today are men in their early 50s, and I’ve had the privilege of working with some of their children,” he said. “That’s something you just can’t put a price on.” — Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Community Briefs


Local Jewish, Christian Leaders Join to SupportIsrael

“Sometimes the greatest blessings in the world have to do with showing up,” said Rabbi Eli Herscher, senior rabbi at the Stephen S. Wise Temple referring to the more than 2,000 Jews and Christians who met at Oct. 2 at the Bel Air synagogue for a “solidarity gathering” to support Israel.

A cantor sang a pro-Israel tune made famous by Pat Boone. Beth Jacob Congregation’s Rabbi Steven Weil asked for the help of God and the audience, “to protect little Israel.” Stephen S. Wise’s Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin received strong applause when he denounced the Los Angeles Times for its Israel coverage and use of the word “militant” to describe Palestinian terrorists.

“The Los Angeles Times absolutely refuses to call them terrorists,” he said.

John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, thanked Christian tourists, “who have gone consistently in good times and when times are not so good.”

Speakers also said Israel’s enemies are inhuman “barbarians” and that the Jewish State’s current struggles are, “a fight for the future of civilization.”

The interfaith event lasted more than three hours with busloads of people showing up, including hundreds of Christians just from The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, founded by pastor Jack Hayford. “We will not stand by passively,” Hayford said, prompting a standing ovation. — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Brandeis Institute Volunteers Restore MexicanChapel

When Scott Aaron walked around the Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI) this summer, the last thing that he expected to find at the 3,000-acre Jewish retreat center in the Santa Susana Mountains were the ruins of an abandoned Catholic chapel.

“There was no roof. Just adobe wall. And on the back wall somebody carved out an enclosed alter area into the side of the mountain and built a chapel around it,” said Aaron, who serves as the Director of the Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI). “I was struck by the sanctity of the place, even in its ruin.”

In search of further information, Aaron contacted Johnny Barbel, BBI’s ranch manager and most seasoned employee. Barbel said that the chapel was built in 1949 by Eric Barclay — the original owner of the ranch currently sitting on the property. Damaged in the 1994 earthquake, the site had been abandoned, except for an occasional visit by a member of the Mexican Catholic community that maintain and live on the grounds of BBI.

“It got me thinking about the people who live on the Brandeis property,” Aaron said. “Our Mexican families are the heart and soul of this place.”

But Aaron did more than just think. He recruited his BCI participants to restore the site as part of their summer avodah “service” requirement. Aaron hoped that the experience would teach BCI participants the meaning of sacred space, caring for others, and a sense of giving back to the community.

“We weren’t making a synagogue out of it. It was about giving it to someone for their needs. Doing something selfless.” he said.

Over the course of the summer, BCI participants worked alongside each other to remove a foot and a half of dirt and debris that covered the chapel’s floor, upon which they discovered a completely tiled floor bearing a green mosaic cross. They also repaired walls and built benches.

“They had a real sense of indebtedness and gratitude to the people who work there,” Laurie Hahn, the rabbinic fellow in charge of the project said of the BCI participants. “Most people at BCI have such a transformative experience and they wanted to feel like they were giving something back.”

Upon completion, BCI participants hosted a bilingual ceremony in which they dedicated the chapel back to the Mexican community. Barbel, who speaks Spanish, was able to communicate with the Mexican community following the ceremony.

“It gave them a good sense of feeling that everyone respects them and their religion,” Barbel said of their reaction. “If they want to have their own service or meditate, it gives them a great feeling that they have a place of their own.” — Rachel Brand, Staff Writer

Efforts Planned to Woo Investors for Israel’sWeakened Economy

Two Tel Aviv University MBA students recently returned to Israel after spending the summer under the mentorship of various Los Angeles business and government leaders as part of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Fellowship.

The new program, sponsored by the Economic Initiatives Committee of the Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnership, is part of an effort called “Genesis L.A.,” which hopes to bring about the redevelopment of neighborhoods in Jaffa and south Tel Aviv via the exchange of public/private financing tools and urban development methodology.

Over the course of seven weeks the students, Aviad Arviv and Michael Gofman, interned at the Milken Institute, met with experts in real estate development, tax incentives, business improvement districts, low-income housing development, enterprise finance, the arts, and transportation, and visited a range of Los Angeles redevelopment sites.

Michael Schwartz, a partner at George Smith Partners, created an intensified training program to give the fellows an overview of the real estate finance industry. Interns sat in on meetings between capital providers and private real estate developers and were advised on procedures involved in obtaining capital flows into Tel Aviv for projects and real estate investments. Schwartz also helped Arviv and Gofman revise a slide show with which they hope to attract Los Angeles-based investors.

“Israel’s economy is in the dumpster and we have to do what we can to attract non-Israeli money to induce foreign flow of capital into Israel for redevelopment,” Schwartz said. “We helped make the slide show more in conformance to what real estate investors in the U.S. need to make an investment decision.”

Glenn Yago, outgoing chair of the Economic Initiatives Committee, said that the program is only one of several initiatives that the group has spearheaded in the Jaffa area as part of Genesis Tel Aviv. Based on the model used in Los Angeles after the riots, other projects have included issuing revenue bonds to finance public parking structures in Tel Aviv and environmental rehabilitation of the HaYarkon River.

“The goals of the project are three-fold,” Yago said. “First, to try to carve a channel for partnership investment between the U.S. and Israel in order to help the Israeli economy. Second, to solve a long-standing social problem among the poverty-stricken areas of Jaffa through a private-public partnership. And third, to show how financial innovations developed in the U.S. can help finance Israel’s future since the public budget has run out of money.”–RB

Community Briefs


Synagogues Vandalized Over Rosh
Hashanah

Synagogues and buildings in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood were hit with strange graffiti over Rosh Hashanah.

At least five buildings on Pico Boulevard, and the Kabbalah Centre on Robertson Boulevard were vandalized with spray paint sometime between 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, and 6:30 AM on Sunday, Sept. 28.

On some buildings the graffiti was anti-Semitic, on others it was anti-Bush, and on others it suggested that the vandal had some knowledge of the Jewish community and Jewish communal practices. For example, on the B’nai David-Judea Congregation on Pico near Livonia Avenue, the vandal wrote in loopy script “Bush, U are going down & all your family.” Further up the road, the Aish HaTorah Center on the corner of Pico and Doheny, was defaced with the message “Lachen Ara (sic) will kill you,” probably referring to lashon harah, the prohibition against gossiping.

The graffiti occurred the same night that 15 other stores and homes were attacked in Beverly Hills, also with anti-Bush and anti-Semitic messages.

Police are still investigating the matter and are considering classifying the graffiti as a hate crime; they are also exploring the possibility that the graffiti was done by more than one person.

“It had to have been someone who knew something about Judaism,” said a representative from one of the defaced buildings who did not want to be named.

A synagogue representative, who also did not want to be named, called the vandal “a nutcase missing a few important screws.”

“We constantly get anti-Bush stuff written everywhere — people do that all the time, and stars get stuff written [about them] all the time too,” said senior lead officer Phillip Embody of the Los Angeles Police Department. “This was strange that it happened on the High Holidays and that one of them talked about the 613 laws.” — Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer

Freedom for the New Year

Three Los Angeles participants in the Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride, a national mobilization effort in which hundreds of immigrants and their community allies are traveling across the country in 18 buses to mobilize support for immigrant rights, disembarked from Dallas, Texas, this past weekend to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

The stop was made possible by the Oakland-based organization, Jews for Equal Rights for Immigrant Communities (JERICO), which sent 11 people on the ride and organized members of the Dallas Jewish community to host the Jewish riders during the holiday.

“JERICO made it possible for Jews to do this ride and still celebrate Rosh Hashanah,” said Jaime Rapaport, co-director of the organization and a recent graduate of UCLA.

While in Dallas the riders lived with various Jewish families, attended services and spoke to the community about JERICO’s mission. Emily Kane, a senior at UCLA, blew a shofar, which was given to the participants by a Bay Area congregation to accompany them on the ride.

“The shofar means a call for the community to congeal — to come together as one,” Kane said. “Also, the rabbis say that the blowing of the shofar is supposed to open your heart so that you can concentrate and listen to what it is that you would like to change, and I couldn’t think of a more pertinent symbol.”

Rapaport told The Journal that she was originally concerned that Rosh Hashanah would interfere with the ride, but later found that the holiday enhanced its mission.

“Rosh Hashanah is not taking away from the ride, but it is very much in essence of what we’re doing because it’s all about renewal and looking at what was wrong with what preceded and looking to change it in the coming year,” said Rapaport, adding that the four points of the Freedom Ride are a clearer and better path for immigrants to citizenship, family reunification, equal rights for immigrants in the workplace regardless of status, and civil rights and civil liberties for all.

Following their Dallas stop, the JERICO riders will continue on to Washington, D.C., where they will unite with riders from across the country to lobby and rally for equal rights for immigrants. Then they will proceed to New York to participate in a shabbaton at NYU Hillel.

Community Briefs


Prager Not Running forSenate

Los Angeles-based national talk radio host Dennis Pragerannounced on Tuesday, April 1, that he has decided not to run for the U.S.Senate in 2004. However, he did not rule out a possible run in 2010.

The conservative author/commentator, whose syndicated showairs locally on KRLA 870 AM, had been mulling over the possibility of acampaign for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Barbara Boxer, but said he felthe could do more to further his cause by remaining on the airwaves.

Prager said that he had traveled to Washington in March tospeak with senators and Republican Party leaders about before reaching hisdecision.

“I came away assured that I could raise tens of millions ofdollars to finance a campaign, and that I had a good chance to win,” he said.

Prager admitted that he was wary of Democratic Party smearcampaigns, although he insisted that he had no more skeletons in his closetthan any “normal, red-blooded American.”

“Still, as someone who has been a speaker and writer for 20years, I have left a paper trail,” he said. “It would be very easy for someoneto take many of my comments out of context.”

He said family matters were also a consideration, inparticular his 10-year-old son, who would be nearly a teenager by the time hetook office.

“The years between 12 and 18 are the most formative years,especially between a father and his son,” Prager told The Journal. “Not beingwith him for half his life at that time is simply not acceptable to me.”

Prager said he will consider a campaign for political officeat a future date, but in the meantime, “I realize there are many areas inpublic life aside from running for office and in addition to the media, andthat is what I intend to pursue.”

On the radio, Prager thanked his listeners for theiroutpouring of support and offers to volunteer for his campaign, then issued anappeal.

“I ask you to join me with the same energy in fighting formorality in the civil war that is being waged for the soul of this country.” –Wendy J. Madnick and Buzzy Gordon, Contributing Writers

 

Consular Strike AffectsPassports, Visas

For Israelis wanting to renew their passports or American studentshoping to obtain visas to study in Israel, these have been frustrating times.

The Israeli consulate in Los Angeles was unable to issuepassports, visas and other official documents from March 31 to press time,because of a major strike in Israel. In a nasty labor dispute, members of theMinistry of Foreign Affair’s consular section, among other government workers,walked off the job to protest a proposed austerity plan calling for majorsalary cuts. An estimated 150,000 government workers went on strike.

Locally, up to 30 people a day were unable to receiveimportant services during the strike, said David Douek, spokesman for theIsraeli Consulate. However, the consulate was able to process visa and passportapplications in emergency situations, he added.

Israel is experiencing a growing budget deficit as the worldeconomy continues to struggle. To stanch the red ink, the government isexpected to make painful budget cuts, including a possible 8 percent pay cutfor consular workers, Douek said.

For now, it appears the budget knife could bypass the localconsulate, which employs about 40.

“The budget cuts are major and will certainly have very realand felt implications at many levels. But whether or not it reached L.A.remains to be seen,” Douek said. “I don’t think it will get that far, at leastI hope not.” — Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

 

ADL Essay Contest DeadlineLooms

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is still acceptingsubmissions for its third annual human relations essay contest forcollege-bound high school seniors in Los Angeles County. Area schools are askedto submit their student’s writing on the topic of how students can bestrecognize and combat racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry amongpeers. The awards — one first prize of $1,000 and three honorable mentions of$100 each — will be applied toward the student’s college tuition.

Former ADL President Cecilia “Cec” Katz, whose Cecilia E.& Dr. Alfred D. Katz Educational Scholarship Endowment is funding thecontest, said turnout in years past has been disappointing, particularly fromJewish schools. She said she hopes to get more participants this year.

The topic “is more important now than at any other time,with the bigotry we have to combat,” Katz said.

The contest is open to all college-eligible seniorsattending a public, parochial or private high school in Los Angeles County.Essays should be 500 words or less and are due by April 7. For moreinformation, call (800) 446-2684 or (310) 446-8000 ext. 234. — WJM

 

RJC Hires New Director, PlansGrowth

Michael Wissot took over as Southern California director ofthe Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) March 10. Wissot, the 28-year-oldRepublican who challenged Democrat Fran Pavley for the state Assembly District41 seat, replaced Scott Gluck, who left to pursue legal and governmentalaffairs work.

Wissot, a former aide to Sen. John McCain, joins otherJewish Republican notables from the 2002 election who are reinvestingthemselves in local RJC efforts to increase the grass-roots organization’svisibility in Southland Jewish communities.

“When you’re in your growing stages, you’re trying to be allthings to all people and it becomes challenging,” said Wissot, addressing theorganization’s need for greater efficiency.

RJC Southern California Chair Bruce Bialosky praised thework Gluck did last year and is anxious to see the region flourish againfollowing the organization’s sophomore slump during the 2002 election season.

“We were in the process of really growing, but we didn’thave the personnel we needed,” Bialosky said, referring to people like RJCLAPresident Dr. Joel Strom, who served as state volunteer chair for gubernatorialcandidate Bill Simon, and Vice President Connie Friedman, who ran for AssemblyDistrict 40. “Now that the elections are over, we’ve got people focusing ongrowing the organization.”

Bialosky wants to increase the Los Angeles chapter’smembership from 500 to 1,000, bolster the efforts of the Orange County andRiverside chapters and create a San Diego chapter by the end of the year.

RJC is expecting to build on the success of its youngprofessionals mixers at Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills and its slate of upcomingspeakers, such as Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and terrorism expert SteveEmerson.

“Over the last few years, we’ve been creative and courageousin trying new things,” Wissot said. “Now it’s time to put it all together andfigure out what works to make us a successful group.”  — Adam Wills, AssociateEditor

Community Briefs


Israeli Businessman Arrested onSmuggling Charge

Israeli businessman David Menashe is being held in a federalprison in Los Angeles on charges that he tried to smuggle missile parts intothe United States without declaring their proper value and contents to U.S.Customs inspectors.

Menashe, 52, managing director of Kam-Tech Systems, Ltd. inTel Aviv, intended to transship the parts to China before his arrest in anundercover operation, according to prosecuting U.S. Assistant Attorney MaryCarter Andrues.

His lawyer, Donald Etra, said that Menashe was innocent ofall charges and was a respected member of the Israeli and internationalbusiness communities.

Menashe was arrested Feb. 12 in Los Angeles, pleaded notguilty on Feb. 18, and his trial is scheduled for April 8. Bail was set at$750,000, which, Etra said, will be posted shortly.

 According to the four-count indictment, Menashe and hiscompany tried to smuggle Hawk Missile and AIM-9 Missile parts into the UnitedStates “by falsely representing the value and contents of the packages to avoiddetection by customs inspectors.”

He disguised the missile parts as “Samples for Evaluation”and undervalued one shipment of an AIM-9 Seeker Section by more than $19,000,the government charged.  Etra was asked why Menashe would want to shipAmerican-made missile parts back into the United States.  He responded that asa seller of surplus parts, Menashe could frequently offer such parts morecheaply to the U.S. military than the original manufacturer.

Kam-Tech Systems, Etra said, was established in 1971 and islicensed in both Israel and the United States.

Andrues said that the import of the parts into the UnitedStates was not in itself an illegal act. Where Menashe ran afoul of the law,she said, was in not declaring their true value and contents and in planning totransship them to China.

Menashe’s wife, Mathilde, and daughter, Revital, havearrived in Los Angeles from Tel Aviv to lend their moral support. The Menasheshave an additional daughter and son.

If convicted, Menashe could face up to five years in prisonon each of the four counts. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

 

Thousands to Celebrate ShabbatAcross America

Some 700 Synagogues and temples — including 27 in LosAngeles — will celebrate Shabbat Across America on Friday night, March 7.Organized by the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP), the seventh annualShabbat Across America program introduces unaffiliated Jews to an authenticJewish Shabbat. The program consists of a Friday night service and kosher mealcomplete with singing and prayers, as well as discussions on different aspectsof the Shabbat such as the song, “Shalom Aleichem” (“Greet the Sabbath”). Todate, more than 430,000 Jews have participated in the program, and organizerexpect more than 70,000 people to be participating this year.

“Since Sept. 11, participation in all our programs hasincreased,” said Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, founder and executive director ofNJOP. “The people of the United States are under tremendous stress right now,Shabbat and faith can be a real antidote.  For more than 3,400 years, Jews havefound hope and comfort in their faith. Ancient traditions are as relevant now asever.”

For more information and to find ShabbatAcross America locales, go to www.njop.org .

— Gaby Wenig, Contributing Writer

 

Chabad Emissaries Visit Israel inSolidarity

On Feb. 26, 30 Chabad shluchim (emissaries) from all overthe West Coast went on a one-week solidarity mission to Israel. It is the firstof four such missions that West Coast Headquarters of Chabad Lubavitch haveplanned for 2003. While in Israel, the shluchim are to meet with terrorvictims, IDF soldiers who are on the frontlines, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,President Moshe Katsav and other Israeli officials. However, this mission isnot a political one, in accordance with Chabad’s philosophy of not interferingwith political matters in Israel.

The missions are the result of a resolution that was takenat the Kinus Hashluchim (Convention of Emissaries) of the West Coast held Jan.4-5.

The idea is that shluchim travel to Israel to offer support,and then return to America and arrange solidarity missions with theircongregations.

“Chabad shluchim at the convention took it upon themselvesto go there and demonstrate first and foremost their personal support for thepeople of Israel in this time of need,” said Rabbi Chaim Cunin, director ofpublic relations for Chabad.  “We are going there as a sign of solidarity andto offer courage and strength to the people of Israel, and it is everyone’shope that other people will follow suit and the communities throughout the westcoast will also visit Israel.” –GW

 

Shoah Foundation Receives $1Million Grant

Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual HistoryFoundation has been awarded a $1 million grant by the Andrew W. MellonFoundation to transmit its massive digital video archive, containing thetestimonies of more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses, to USC, YaleUniversity and Rice University in Texas.

The archive will be transmitted remotely via Internet2, andthe grant will also support a pilot project to explore the research andinstructional uses of the material at the three universities.

Douglas Greenberg, president and CEO of the ShoahFoundation, said that “the grant affords us the opportunity, for the firsttime, to open this electronic library to faculty and students at threedistinguished universities. Once the pilot project is completed, we hope tobroaden access to include institutions throughout the country and the world.”

The Shoah Foundation’s archive contains some 117,000 hoursof videotaped testimony, recorded in 32 languages and 56 countries. — TT

 

Torah Fair Highlights Bible Code,Israeli Heroes

Students at Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Centerpresented their annual Torah Fair last week at the school’s campus at Magnoliaand Sepulveda boulevards. Lower-division students in first, second, and third gradescompleted class projects. Fourth- through eighth-grade students were allowed towork in small groups or complete individual projects on any aspect of Jewishlife.

Seventh-grader Binyomine Levine created an exhibit on theBible Code, which arranges the Hebrew text of the Torah in rows and findsencrypted messages by skipping a set number of letters throughout the entiretext. Using special software, Levine found the name of Israeli astronaut IlanRamon intersecting the word “Columbia.”

“I really wanted to do a project on the Bible code, andafter the shuttle tragedy it just made sense to me to look that up,” Levinesaid.

Ilan Ramon was highlighted by another student, fifth-graderAvi Weinberg. “I’m not all that interested in the space program, but when Iheard about Ilan Ramon, I knew that was the project I wanted to do. I was soimpressed when I read about the things Ilan brought into outer space — akiddush cup and other Jewish things. He wasn’t Orthodox, but he made a point ofshowing the world that he was Jewish.”

In the past, prizes were awarded in several categories atthe fair, but in recent years teachers decided to remove the competitiveelement and focus more on appreciating students’ creativity and skills.

“In a time when war is imminent, it’s truly humbling to seethe innocence of children and the beauty they find in Torah and Yiddeshkayt,”said Mona Riss, an Emek teacher and the organizer of the fair for the past 13years. — Abbi Peretz, Contributing Writer

 

Settlers Share Experiences WithAngelenos

Two Israeli women toured Los Angeles synagogues in Februaryto share their experiences as long-time residents of Kedumim, the first Jewishsettlement in Samaria. Raphaella Segal and Shoshana Shilo came asrepresentatives of the Israeli branch of American Friends of Kedumim. Segal, afounding member of the community and the executive director of the IsraelBranch of American Friends of Kedumim, explained the especially harsh realitythat Jews in the disputed areas face as a result of the recent intifada.

“Our areas are more vulnerable. We live under constantalert,” Segal said.  

Nevertheless, the message that the woman hope to spread is amessage of hope.

“We want to bring a spirit of Zion — it’s still alive atKedumim — there’s still a pure spirit of Zionism,” Segal said, noting that 80percent of residents have remained at the settlement since the violence began.

Currently, Kedumim is home to 700 families. For Segal andShilo, the goal of their visit to the United States is to seek financialassistance, encourage aliyah and educate.

“We hope to create awareness, especially now,” Segal said.

— Rachel Brand, Staff Writer

 

Wiesenthal Center Denounces TombDesecration

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has petitioned a United Nationsagency “to vigorously protest the barbaric desecration of Joseph’s Tomb” aftera group of Jewish chaplains found last week that the site “is now destroyed,the building cracked open with hammers, a huge hole in its dome and the gravelittered with trash and car parts.”

In a letter to Franceso Bandarin, director of the U.N. WorldHeritage Committee (WHC), Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Paris-based internationalliaison director of the Wiesenthal Center, also called for the condemnation ofthe Palestinian Authority for violating its commitment to respect the  sacredsites of all religions.

Samuels noted, “In October 2000, under the pretext of theintifada that had been launched a few days earlier, Palestinian violencewillfully desecrated the tomb of the biblical patriarch in the vicinity ofNablus. The compound was set on fire and sacred Hebrew texts were burned.”

Samuels also notified the WHC, which serves as the UnitedNations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization watchdog for theprotection of the world’s cultural sites and historic monuments, that”Palestinian claims that Joseph’s Tomb was also sacred to them have beenvividly discredited. We would have expected global expressions of outrage hadIslamic or Christian sites been deliberately vandalized.”

Recalling that the WHC had condemned the destruction by theTaliban of two giant Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, Samuels concluded that,”We would expect a similar condemnation of this new crime against culturalheritage.” — TT

Community Briefs


Baca: “Heroes of the World are inIsrael”

Thirty-four chiefs of police and other law enforcementofficials from the United States and Canada arrived in Israel on Sunday toparticipate in a first-of-its-kind four-day seminar on “Police and LawEnforcement in the Era of Global Terror,” Ha’tsofeh, an Israeli newspaper,reported. The seminar, hosted by Israel Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky,included workshops on identifying terror cells, drawing public support for thefight against terror, and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Inaddition, the group laid a wreath at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and toured the Dolphinariumsite, where a Palestinian homicide bomber killed 21 people, and met with one ofthe victims’ mother. On Tuesday evening the group met with Prime Minister ArielSharon. 

According to The Jerusalem Post, Robert Doyle Campbell,chief of homeland security at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, said thevisit stresses that terrorism is a global problem and described it as a soberingexperience. “You go to places like the discotheque that was bombed in Tel Aviv,and come face to face with the damage that terrorism does to a community and toa society as a whole. Up close, it is so different than reading about it in anewspaper or seeing the pictures on television,” he said. His colleague SheriffLeroy D. Baca declared that, “the heroes of the world are here in Israel. Icannot imagine any community as strong and as helpful as the community here in Israel.The help that victims of terror attacks, who have had their bodies torn apartby a terror explosion receive, is an act of heroism of an unprecedented level.”

Among the participants are the police chiefs of Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore. and Chicago. The group also includes the police commissionersof Washington, Boston, Kansas City, Detroit and Philadelphia, and various FBIrepresentatives. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Swastikas Found at Northridge RecCenter

Vandals painted a large swastika and scrawled obscenities ata Northridge recreation center and soccer field last week.

The private facility is owned by two Jewish men and policeare investigating the incident at the Northridge Arena Soccer League as apossible hate crime.

On Wednesday morning Jan. 15, caretakers discovered a 5-footdiameter swastika painted on the soccer field turf, and a smaller one on thewall.

Co-owner Ron Dennis said that one swastika “was donecorrectly, and one was backward. If it was really a hate crime, they would haveknown what they were doing.”

Dennis also noted that “They tore up some of the artificialturf. It weighs a lot, so it would take a few people to do it.”

Damage is estimated at $10,000. Some 40 games are playedweekly on the field by various amateur men, women and youth teams. By the timethe Wednesday evening match began, the offending symbols had been painted over.

Dennis said he had no idea why his facility had beentargeted and police have not identified any suspects. “We’ve had no problems,”he said. “This is a place you go to so you can get away from problems.”   –Tom Tugend,Contributing Editor

German Consulate Honors Trio ofAuthors

German Consul-General Dr. Hans J. Wendler, recently hosted abuffet dinner at his L.A. home to honor Rabbi Andreas Nachama, former presidentof the Berlin Jewish community and now director of the Topography of TerrorFoundation; Julius H. Schoeps, director of the Moses Mendelssohn Center forEuropean-Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam, near Berlin; and Dr.Hermann Simon, director of the New Synagogue Berlin-Centrum JudaicumFoundation. Wendler’s guests also included the local leadership of the AmericanJewish Committee.

The three Berliners were in town to introduce the Englishtranslation of their joint book, “Jews in Berlin” (Henschel Verlag, Berlin).The richly illustrated book traces the history of the community, from theMiddle Ages to the present, which stood at about 165,000 in the pre-Hitleryears and now numbers about 11,000. During their stay here, the three visitorsalso spoke at the Goethe- Institut and the Villa Aurora European-Americancenter.

Currently Germany is the the world’s third largest market forJewish books, after Israel and the United States. Ironically, of the 300students enrolled in the Jewish studies program at the University of Potsdamsome 95 percent are non-Jewish.

These statistics speak to the fascination of today’s Germanswith Jewish history and life, according to the three leaders of the BerlinJewish community.

At the same time, the Jewish presence in Germany, writtenoff as permanently obliterated in the wake of the Holocaust, has been growingsubstantially due to a large influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, Nachamasaid.

Hardly any descendants of the pre-Hitler Jewish communityhave remained or returned to Germany, Schoeps jocularly referred to himself andhis two colleagues as the last “real” German Jews.

If the composition of the Berlin Jewish community haschanged, with its present roots more in the Russian than German culturaltradition, so has the outside attitude toward the very fact of its existence.

“When I visited the United States in the 1970s and talkedabout Jewish life in Germany, some people were so angry they walked out,” Schoepssaid. “Now people are more accepting.”

In another generation, Schoeps predicted, the children ofthe Russian immigrants, schooled in Germany and some even serving in the Germanarmy, will become German Jews rather than just Jews living in Germany.

Anti-Semitism of course exists in Germany, Nachamaacknowledged, but it is no more or less virulent than German dislike, say, ofAustrians or Poles.

“The good news is that Germans have shown that they will notelect anti-Semitic politicians,” he said. And while there are some strains inGerman-Israeli relations, Germany remains the Jewish State’s most importantally in Europe.

Now in the works on the academic side is a triangular facultyand student exchange program in Jewish studies between the University of Haifa, University of Potsdam and the California State University system, historyprofessor Michael Meyer of Cal State Northridge told The Journal. — TT

Community Briefs


Kahane Chai Claims BillboardVandalsim

“Jews for Kahane.”

That was the statement greeting the Pico-Robertson area on Sun., Dec. 29 after vandals defaced a Jews for Jesus billboard advertisement, replacing the word “Jesus” with “Kahane,” and covering up a portion of the organization’s 800 number. The billboard features a Jewish Holocaust survivor discussing her faith in Jesus.

Rabbi Nachum “Surfing Rabbi” Shifren, a self-described longtime Kahane activist, sent The Jewish Journal an e-mail claiming responsibility for the act, stating that members of Los Angeles Kahane Chai (Hebrew for “Kahane Lives”) “dealt a blow to missionaries … when they attempted to infiltrate the heart of the Jewish community.”

This is the first time that the right-wing organization, labeled a terrorist organization by the FBI, has made an appearance in Los Angeles.

“It’s a stupid thing to do,” said Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, founder of Jews for Judaism, a countermissionary organization engaged in opposing the efforts of Jews for Jesus, of the defacement. “It’s against the law. We have to follow the law.”

According to California law, the defacement of the billboard can carry a six-month jail sentence and/or a $1,000 fine.

“People made phone calls to the billboard company to get it removed and that’s the way to do it,” Kravitz said.

Viacom Outdoor confirmed that it has received complains about the Jews for Jesus advertisement, but said that the sign will remain in place for the time being.

“We don’t mean to offend anyone, but it’s a fine line,” said Tim Fox, public affairs director for Viacom Oudoor. “I would hope people in the community would appreciate that.”

Fox said that the company will not discriminate against a client based on religion and that Jews for Jesus’ ad copy wasn’t overtly anti-Semitic and fell “inside industry norms.” Fox added: “If it’s going to incite riots or if it’s hate-filled speech, we’ll reject it.” — Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Israeli Merchants Plan ‘GarageSale’

A garage sale with a different flavor will be held at the Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center on Sunday, Jan. 12, when the Israel Vendors Caravan will display the wares of approximately 30 merchants, shopkeepers and craftsmen from Israel. On sale will be jewelry, ritual and ceremonial objects, toys, books, videos, home furnishings, paintings, Yemenite and other art, clothing, microcalligraphy, tapestries and an array of Judaica items. The caravan is traveling across the United States from West to East, stopping at 45 cities in 75 days. The final stop will be New York City in mid-March.

At the Jan. 5 opening tour stop in Orange County, 4,000 people, more than twice as many as expected, showed up. Approximately 150 volunteers at Irvine’s Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School helped unpack and sell the merchandise.

The project was conceived and organized by Stuart Katz, president of TAL Tours in Valley Stream, N.Y., as a means “of stimulating the struggling Israeli economy and to give Americans a chance to show their support for the Jewish state.” Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., inside and on the roof of the west garage at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. For information, phone (323) 761-8077. After visiting the San Diego area, the caravan will return Jan. 21 to the San Fernando Valley and spend the day at Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. Hours will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information, phone (818) 766-9426. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Tu B’Shevat Fetes to Bloom inCounty

From Malibu to East L.A., Jews will be able to take part in Tu B’Shevat festivals celebrating and appreciating the environment. On Jan. 12, thousands of Jews are expected to gather at the Shalom Institute: Camp and Conference Center in the Malibu mountains for the fifth annual Community Tu B’Shevat Festival. The event, which is free and open to the community, is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles’ Shalom Institute and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life of Southern California.

The daylong Jewish Earth Day festival will launch a week of Tu B’Shevat events sponsored and coordinated by the coalition in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

“We hope that we’ll take a better understanding of Judaism and the environment and the connection between the two and to enjoy a great day of Tu B’Shevat celebration,” said Bill Kaplan, Shalom Institute executive director. The festival will offer a full range of outdoor activities for adults and children, including an artists’ fair, environmental expo, concerts, storytelling, hikes, sports, arts and crafts and Shalom Institute tours. Tree planting will take place throughout the day.

In Boyle Heights on Jan. 19, the Breed Street Shul Project of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California (JHS) will hold its own Jewish Arbor Day tree planting. The society is inviting the community to join it — along with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, TreePeople and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy — in planting saplings as part of a neighborhood beautification endeavor. The California Heritage Fund will announce the details of the $150,000 matching grant it is contributing toward stained-glass window restoration.

“We almost have in hand the money that is needed to do the very basic first phase of work to the building,” said society President Stephen Sass, who has headed the effort to renovate and revitalize the deteriorating Breed Street Shul. “This marks our preparing to do construction on the seismic retrofit and put roofs on the building, both of which are badly needed.”

For information on fifth annual Community Tu B’ShevatFestival, call (818) 889-5500, ext. 103; or e-mail coejlsc@aol.com. For information on the BreedStreet Shul Project event, call (323) 761-8950; e-mail JHSociety@aol.com . — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Community Briefs


Menorah at Work

Menorah Housing Foundation, a beneficiary agency of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, celebrated the grand opening of its Echo Park Senior Housing — 41 units of affordable accommodations earmarked for the elderly — at 1727 Morton Ave., just north of Sunset Boulevard at Echo Park Avenue. Special guests at the opening included Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Dist. 30), Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Dist. 45) and L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti.

The Echo Park complex will house tenants 62 years of age and older, who earn certified annual incomes no greater than 50 percent of the area median income. Rent equals approximately one-third of a tenant’s income.

“Thirty-three tenants have already moved in,” said Anne Friedrich Menorah Housing president. Each of the one-bedroom independent-living apartments is handicapped-adaptable, and five of the units are handicapped-accessible. All units are equipped with an emergency call system.

The housing is financed primarily by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City of Los Angeles Housing Department. HUD subsidizes the portion of rent that exceeds 30 percent of a tenant’s income. With that HUD subsidy, the tenant rent portion averages less than $200 per month per unit. Menorah Housing also obtained grants from the California Community Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the Jewish Community Foundation for the Echo Park site.

Friedrich said that the complex, which took about six years from idea to completion, comes at a crucial time.

“The rents in Echo Park/Silver Lake have gone up about 42 percent in the past year. There’s a huge demand,” she said.

The Echo Park opening follows the inauguration of a 62-unit Santa Monica location earlier this year on Feb. 19. Established in 1969, Menorah Housing manages more than 950 senior apartments in 14 buildings citywide, with other locations in West Adams, South-Central, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, Pico-Robertson, Reseda, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys and West Hollywood. — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Saluting the Shoah Foundation

It was a grand night under a huge tent on the Universal Studios backlot on Dec. 5, when celebrities and commoners paid unstinting tribute to the work of the Shoah Foundation and praised the vision of its founder, filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

The sunny mood was marred only briefly, during an impromptu discussion with The Jewish Journal, when Spielberg was asked to respond to Israeli criticism that he and other big Jewish names in Hollywood were not speaking up for, or even better, visiting, the embattled country.

Spielberg initially responded that Hollywood’s creative community, Jewish or otherwise, was made up of individuals with widely divergent opinions, and it would be presumptuous of him to assume the role of its spokesman.

He characterized the situation in Israel as “a human tragedy” for which “most of the world is weeping.”

When pressed for his personal views, a slightly annoyed Spielberg said that “I have visited Israel in the past and will visit it again, and my family goes there quite often.”

“I don’t understand why there should be any question or assumption that the maker of ‘Schindler’s List,’ and a bar mitzvah boy, should have anything but a very positive attitude toward Israel,” he continued. “My work and my art speak for how I feel.”

The conversation became more cheerful when Spielberg praised the evening’s three Ambassadors for Humanity — Gerald Breslauer, Bruce Ramer and Mickey Rutman — whom he introduced as “the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion.” He lauded the three men for holding up the tent that shielded the Shoah Foundation during its inception and early struggles.

In the past eight years, the foundation has videotaped the testimonies of close to 52,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses.

Once the dinner party, produced with customary flair by June Beallor, got underway, some 450 guests reveled in a combination of encomiums and serious reminders of the Shoah Foundation’s work and mission. The evening yielded some $600,000 in support of the Shoah Foundation. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Community Briefs


ADL Warns Schools Against Missionaries

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is currently warning school districts around the country about a Christian ministry group trying to recruit teens under the guise of an anti-violence campaign. "Rage Against Destruction," a traveling musical program sponsored by Joyce Meyer Ministries, has already made appearances at several schools in New York, Boston and Nashville. Conveying message at school assemblies with a live band, dancers and flashy giveaways, the group said that their goal is to promote anti-violence messages. According ADL, the group’s mission also aims to "strengthen and equip youth in their spiritual walk with God and help them reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ."

During the concerts, the group promotes "Firefest," a concert held off-campus toward the end of their city tour. It is there that ministry members speak candidly about accepting Jesus. As "Rage Against Destruction" is set to tour across the country through June of 2003, the ADL has been warning state education departments of the group’s intentions. ADL is currently gearing up for the group’s Los Angeles tour in early January.

"What ADL is going to do in Los Angeles is send a letter to superintendents of school districts alerting them to the nature of this program and give them information on what’s happened in other cities," said Sue Stendel, the ADL’s western states counsel. In addition to warning educators, Stendel said ADL hopes to get the group to "take their religious message out of the events and to ensure they’re not recruiting or proselytizing to kids when presenting in public schools." — Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

Ozair Trial To Begin Nov. 5

The trial of Michael Ozair, the charismatic rabbi who was arrested last August and charged with the 1997 sexual molestation of a then-14-year-old girl, will begin Tuesday, Nov. 5. At a Sept 18 hearing, Ozair — who was released on $95,000 bail from Los Angeles County Jail last month — has pleaded not guilty to three counts of lewd acts on a child and one count of oral copulation of a person under the age of 16, said an L.A. County District Attorney office spokeswoman.

The trial will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the L.A. County Superior Court near LAX. Ozair, 33, taught briefly at both Shalhevet High School and Sinai Akiba Academy, but was best known through his association with the Happy Minyan at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills. — Wendy J. Madnick, Contributing Writer

Wiesenthal Wants Netanyahu Event Rescheduled

Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, warning that there is "more open expression of hate against Jews than in the 1930s" around the world today, has asked the head of Concordia University in Montreal to reinvite former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a campus talk.

Netanyahu had been scheduled to speak on Sept. 9, but the event was canceled for security reasons after pro-Palestinian students and sympathizers created havoc by throwing chairs and breaking windows just before his appearance.

Writing that "at the age of almost 94 … I never thought I would live to see" such a resurgence of anti-Jewish hatred, Wiesenthal asked Rector Frederick Lowy of Concordia to reschedule an appearance by Netanyahu as soon as possible.

"I hope that Concordia University will act soon to correct the damage done, for more than glass was broken the day of that riot. And it will take more than words to repair the damage," wrote Wiesenthal, who stressed that he had no political ties to Netanyahu.

The letter was delivered to Lowy in person by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, in a meeting at the university on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Cooper told the Montreal media that, "The idea of inviting Mr. Netanyahu back is not to pour oil on the fire. It is to say that this university is committed to freedom of speech and the exchange of ideas. It’s about making a statement that the university is not going to be dictated to by blackmail and violence."

A university spokesman said that Lowy has not decided whether to invite Netanyahu back on campus. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

World Briefs


Arafat Calls for Elections

Israeli politicians and pundits alike were skeptical after Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat called this week for new Palestinian elections.

Arafat called on Palestinian legislators to make “speedy preparations” for new elections, but mentioned no date. In an address Wednesday before the Palestinian legislative council, Arafat also said it is “time for change and reform” in the Palestinian Authority. Arafat offered a rare acknowledgment that he has made mistakes, but he placed most of the blame for the current crisis on Israel. At the start of the speech, Arafat vowed that the Palestinians would never give up their dream for freedom, independence and sovereignty. Arafat’s speech came on the day of Al-Nakba Arabic for the “catastrophe” which marks the founding of the state of Israel.

Report Links P.A. to Terrorism

A U.S. State Department report says “there is no conclusive evidence” that Palestinian leaders had advanced knowledge of terrorist attacks against Israel. But the semiannual report, which assesses the Palestinian Authority’s action from July through December 2001, says Palestinian leaders knew about the involvement of the Al-Aksa Brigades, Tanzim and members of the Force 17 presidential guard in terrorist attacks “and did little to rein them in.”

U.S. to Act Against Boycotts

The U.S. Department of Commerce plans to enforce regulations prohibiting Americans from supporting anti-Israel boycotts. “The U.S. government stands firm in its policy of opposing restrictive trade practices or boycotts against Israel,” Kenneth Juster, under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said Tuesday. U.S. law prohibits Americans from supporting unsanctioned boycotts by foreign governments.

Jewish Teens Attacked Near Paris

French police are searching for those responsible for a weekend attack on five Jewish teenagers in a Paris suburb. A gang of around 10 people, described by police as being of North African origin, beat the youths Sunday in the suburb of Saint Maur Des Fosses. “According to witnesses, the attackers shouted racist insults like ‘Go back where you came from. You don’t belong here,’ beat them up, then broke into their car and stole some of their CDs,” a local police official said Tuesday.

All briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Community Briefs


Pastor Delivers 8,000
Signatures in Support of Israel

Pastor Roger Cochran of Calvary Chapel Long Beach delivered more than 8,000 signatures on a pro-Israel petition to Israeli Consul-General Yuval Rotem on April 11. The petition was distributed nationwide, and more signatures from every state are arriving at the church’s offices daily. Cochran noted that his congregants are fervent supporters of Israel and spend two weeks in the country every year. Rotem thanked the pastor and his congregation for their support of Israel during this time of crisis and promised to forward the signatures to the foreign minister’s office. The meeting with Cochran and his family was arranged through the consulate’s expanding Christian outreach program, which the consul-general has indicated is one of his priorities for the upcoming year.

Getting Gets

From April 21-25, the West Coast Rabbinical Court-Beit Din of Beverly Hills invites all rabbis and the entire Jewish community to the first demonstration of support for agunot and agunim — people who cannot obtain a get (Jewish divorce). They will discuss approaches to deal with the agunot crisis. The rabbinical court will assist in obtaining a get for every Jewish man or woman who has been civilly divorced, has settled his/her financial differences and/or is completely disattached. “Many of our brothers and sisters, whose marriages have been terminated or are estranged from their spouses, use the get as a tool of manipulation,” organizers of the conference wrote in a press release.

The conference will take place at Bais Naftoli Congregation, 221 N. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles. For more information on the event, call (323) 939-0298.

Cal State Suspends Israel Program

The California State University system has suspended its junior year abroad program in Israel, although it will not penalize current students who decide to stay and finish their academic year in Israel.

The suspension became official as of April 15, said Leo van Cleve, director of international programs for the 23-campus Cal State system.

However, two Cal State students currently at the University of Haifa, and their academic advisor, intend to stay until the end of the school year, according to an e-mail from Norma Tarrow, Cal State’s adviser and resident director in Haifa.

The two students are Ayelet Arbel of the San Jose State campus and Adam Ascherin from Chico State. “We are encouraging the students to leave, but we will not be punitive if they decide to stay,” van Cleve said. He indicated that if the students stay put, they will not be deprived of academic credit, financial aid and health insurance.

Five Cal State students have applied to study in Israel for the 2002-2003 academic year, but no decision has been made on whether to reinstate the program at that time, said van Cleve. The nine-campus University of California system suspended its Israel program on April 11 and recalled its 27 students there. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Mishkon Tephilo Wins Grant

Temple Mishkon Tephilo, the oldest synagogue on the Westside, received a Preserve L.A. grant from the Getty Grant program. This grant will allow the synagogue to prepare a historic structure report that will form the basis of conservation efforts and preservation goals for its historic sanctuary building, the synagogue’s gathering place for religious services since 1948. Mishkon’s two-story sanctuary building is one of the few remaining examples in Los Angeles of the classical revivalism that was popular in synagogue architecture until the 1940s. It has been a vital presence in Venice and southern Santa Monica since its founding in 1918. Temple Mishkon Tephilo is holding a kiddush and luncheon on April 20. Services begin 9:30 a.m. at 206 Main St., Venice. To R.S.V.P. for the luncheon, call (310) 392-3029.

Community Briefs


Israel, We’re Standing By

The United Jewish Communities visited Israel on a two-day mission this week to express the support of the American Jewish community for Israel. The “We Stand With Israel” mission delegates met with intelligence officials, Israeli Defense Forces representatives, and members of the government, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. The group visited the Park hotel in Netanya and met with relatives of the Passover Massacre victims. John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; Jake Farber, chairman of The Federation board; and Rob Irmas of the Irmas Family Foundation, partook in the mission. Fishel and Farber brought to Israel a $1 million contribution as the first installment of The Jewish Federation’s United Jewish Fund-Crisis Fund, a $10 million campaign to provide emergency support to the people of Israel. — Staff Report

Berkeley Hillel Vandalized

Berkeley Hillel was vandalized over the Passover holiday, the glass front door shattered by a brick and the words, “F— the Jews” scrawled on the Dumpster. While investigative steps were taken after the March 27 incident was reported, police have suspended the investigation because there are no suspects, said Lt. Cynthia Harris of the Berkeley Police Department said. “If we develop some leads, we will reopen the case,” Harris said.

Although there is no proof that the incident is connected to the recent upsurge in violence in the Middle East, those familiar with the atmosphere on the UC Berkeley campus suspect that it most definitely is.

“Given the history of events at Berkeley Hillel over the past year-and-a-half, I have no doubt whatsoever that this is related to what’s going on in the Middle East, and people’s hateful and violent responses to it,” said Adam Weisberg, executive director of Berkeley Hillel.

Jonathan Bernstein, Central Pacific regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said that his organization has long looked to the college campuses as a “barometer of where society is heading.” That is particularly disturbing, he said, since “these are people who are going to be the future leaders of our country, and you can get an idea what could possibly spread into the rest of society from the campuses. Looking at what’s going on could make one very nervous right now, particularly at Berkeley.”

Jessica Oleon, president of the Jewish Students Union said, “The rest of campus doesn’t always feel so safe for Jewish students, so this was really a violation of a space that is safe.” Oleon was one of about 30 students who attended a meeting last Tuesday to process the attack and talk about preventive measures that could be taken in the future.

Oleon had asked the assistant chancellor and dean of students to attend because she wanted them to hear firsthand that Jewish students were feeling under attack on campus.

As Jewish students report feeling more and more under siege on local campuses, the ADL hopes to offer students support.

“We’re developing better strategies for getting the kind of responses we need from administrators and campus police,” Bernstein said. In general, he said, “the response has been rather tepid, in my view, which sets a tone and creates an environment where these kinds of things are allowed to continue.” — Alexandra J. Wall, The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California

Yom HaShoah at Wiesenthal Center

Approximately 1,000 people, including dignitaries like Mayor James Hahn and diplomats from around the world, attended the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance on April 9. Speakers, including Hahn, Israel Consul General Yuval Rotem and the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, recalled the tragedy of the Holocaust and denounced the current violence against Jews in Israel, Europe and here in Los Angeles.

In addition to honoring the memory of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, Hier, the founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, spoke of the recurrence of violent anti-Semitism. “I believe that once again, with the exception of the United States, Israel stands alone,” he told the crowd,

The commemoration also honored The Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who risked their lives to protect Jews from the Nazis. Nicholas Winton, now 92 and living in London, was honored for his efforts in saving nearly 700 Czechoslovakian children during World War II. His daughter, Barbara, traveled from London to accept the honor on her father’s behalf. — Mike Levy, Staff Writer

Community Briefs


Slave Labor Compensation Claims Due

Attention Holocaust survivors and their heirs: The deadline is rapidly approaching for compensation from a fund established in July 2000 by the German Government and more than 6,000 German companies that used slave and forced labor during the Nazi era. “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future,” a $4.8 billion compensation fund managed by the German Economic Foundation Initiative, has an application deadline of Dec. 31, 2001, for all claimants worldwide.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services is helping Holocaust survivors apply for, litigate over and recover reparations, free of charge. “Navigating the Byzantine application process, with its many requirements and questions, is something we have expertise in and we urge all survivors and their heirs in California to contact us immediately for help in the process,” said David Lash, executive director of Bet Tzedek, a beneficiary agency of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Eligible claimants include “slave laborers” forced to work in a concentration camp, ghetto or under comparable conditions of confinement or “forced laborers” in Germany or Axis occupied territories. Not included in the definition of “slave laborer” — victims of medical experiments and children in concentration camps and ghettos, whether they worked or not. Also included are heirs of survivors who were alive on or after Feb. 16, 1999. Former prisoners of war and laborers in Soviet-occupied territories are not eligible under the new fund’s guidelines.

For more information, potential claimants can contact Bet Tzedek at (323) 549-5883. — Staff Report

Conference Explores Israel Coverage

An eager crowd of nearly 200 braved the rain-slicked Sepulveda Pass on Sunday, Nov. 4 to attend “Israel and the Media Challenge,” a half-day conference organized by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). Held at Stephen S. Wise Temple, a co-sponsor with The Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee, the conference focused on identifying problems relating to the media’s coverage of Israel.

Founded in 1982, CAMERA is a national research and education organization that monitors media coverage of Israel and the Middle East, and strives to promote “accurate, balanced and complete reporting.”

Alex Safian, CAMERA’s associate director, addressed National Public Radio’s (NPR) reporting on Israel, which he said is disproportionately pro-Arab despite the media outlet’s strong Jewish donor base.

“The danger of NPR is that its listeners are influential and politically active,” said Safian, who also alleged that NPR has blackballed terrorist expert Steven Emerson following pressure from the Council on American Islamic Relations.

During her address, titled “Hearts and Minds,” CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin was roundly booed when she commented that Los Angeles Times reporter Tracy Wilkinson was doing an “acceptable job.”

“The sense of the [Los Angeles Times] having a hostile approach toward Israel really comes from the extreme Op-Eds,” Levin said.

Further disagreement from the audience prompted Levin to openly consider pursuing a meeting with the Times and the possibility of establishing a West Coast CAMERA presence in the future.

Other speakers included Rep. Brad Sherman; David Wurmser, director of American Enterprise Institute’s Middle East studies program; and Fiamma Nirenstein, Jerusalem correspondent for Italy’s La Stampa. — Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Rabbis Support ‘Recall Rights’

Displaced workers in Santa Monica’s beleaguered tourist industry may have something to give thanks for this Thanksgiving, thanks to a group of interfaith clergy taking action on their behalf.

Religious leaders gathered Thursday, Nov. 9 on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade in support of proposed “recall rights” legislation. The legislation, under consideration by the Santa Monica City Council, would guarantee laid-off workers the right to return to their jobs when their positions again become available.

The group included Rabbi Jeff Marx of Temple Sha’arei Am and Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Temple Beth Shir Shalom, along with Christian and Buddhist clergy. Standing in front of a “half-empty Thanksgiving table,” the group read from religious texts in support of workers’ rights.

For more information on efforts to help displaced workers, call (310) 260-9149. — Mike Levy, Staff Writer

Israelis Visit Los Angeles

In recent weeks the local Jewish Community enjoyed a number of Israeli visitors. Former Israeli Ambassador and former Defense Minister Moshe Arens met with The Journal prior to speaking about security and the Middle East to a packed room at a program hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC) of The Los Angeles Jewish Federation.

“I don’t put much faith in the coalition, that won’t stop the war on terror,”Arens told The Journal, referring to the broad anti-terror coalition President George W. Bush has put together to include Arab countries. Arens called it a “wasted effort” and said it “will become clear in due course” that Israel and the U.S.’ relationship is the strongest one.

But Israeli Minister Without Portfolio Danny Naveh had a different opinion: “We understand the need for the U.S. to form such a coalition,” Naveh told The Journal during his visit here. “We understand and we will do whatever it takes to help, and we expect the public here to understand what we face in Israel.” Naveh spoke to more than 500 Israelis at a program comemmorating slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Israel Women’s Network (IWN) also came to L.A. earlier this month to meet with local leaders and raise money toward promoting equal rights for women in Israel. Meetings included a breakfast at the home of Consul General Yuval Rotem, and a meeting at the Hebrew Union College. “Some people think that because of the political situation in Israel, it’s not the time for the IWN,” Rina Bar-Tal, the Chairwoman, told a group of more than 30 people gathered at the home of of Rivka and Reuven Dori.

Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior met this week with the Board of Rabbis and other Jewish leaders. — Amy Klein, Managing Editor

Community Briefs


Spielberg Foundation Gives Grant

Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation has given a grant of $100,000 to establish a continuing public lecture series on rescuers who braved large risks to save Jews and others during the Holocaust.

The grant, distributed over a five-year period, was awarded to the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education at Chapman University in Orange, to honor the memory of Leopold “Paul” Page.

Page was one of the Jews saved by German entrepreneur Oskar Schindler. He repaid his benefactor by using his extraordinary powers of persuasion to convince Thomas Keneally and Fred Schepisi to write, and Spielberg to make, “Schindler’s List.”

Page, who died last March, was a founder of The “1939” Club, an organization of Holocaust survivors — the formal title of the series is The “1939” Club’s Leopold Page Righteous Rescuers Lecture Series.

The small, independent Chapman University, with close ties to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has one of the most active Holocaust education programs in the country.

The lecture series started in early October with a talk on American rescuer Varian Fry. On Nov. 27, author David Crowe will speak on “The Search for Oskar Schindler: One Historian’s Journey.”

For information, call (714) 628-7377.

–Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Chapman Remembers Jedwabne

Members of the general public are invited to join Chapman students, staff and faculty in journeying back in time to one of the most horrific and disturbing episodes of the Holocaust as Dr. Jan T. Gross speaks about the destruction of one Polish Jewish community.

Sixty years ago, the half-Jewish, half-Christian town of Jedwabne, Poland, imploded when the Christians murdered their Jewish neighbors. About 1,600 men, women and children were killed in the massacre.

Gross, a professor at New York University, has written a best-selling book on this horrific event. “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland” is a thought-provoking work that has stimulated worldwide discussion about how neighbor can turn against neighbor.

“We are fortunate to be able to host Dr. Gross — perhaps especially during this period in American history, when so many of us are focused on the issue of what drives human beings to kill other innocent human beings,” says Dr. Marilyn J. Harran, Stern Chair in Holocaust Education and director of Chapman University’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.

Educated at Warsaw University, Oxford University and Yale University, Gross has been a Senior Fulbright Research Fellow and a Fellow at the Hoover Institution for War, Peace and Justice at Stanford University. In addition to “Neighbors,” he is the author of “Revolution from Abroad: Soviet Conquest of Poland’s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia” and co-editor of “The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath.”

“From Neighbors to Victims: The Destruction of the Jewish Community of Jedwabne, Poland,” will take place Monday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. in Argyros Forum 209 at Chapman University. It is the first event of the fall semester in The “1939” Club Lecture Series, sponsored by the “1939” Club, including Shoah Survivors of Orange County/Long Beach, one of the nation’s largest and most active Holocaust survivors organizations. Admission is free. Parking is available in the university’s parking structure on Sycamore Street.

For more information, contact The Rodgers Center forHolocaust Education at (714) 628-7377 or cioffi@chapman.edu. Or, visit the center’sWeb site at www.chapman.edu/holocaust .

Community Briefs


Sherman Talks With Students

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) took advantage of the anthrax scare-related days out of Washington, D.C., to speak with Valley constituents about the war on terrorism. On Monday, Oct. 22, Sherman stopped by Milken High School of Stephen Wise Temple for a special morning assembly of the school’s 11th- and 12th-graders. After a short speech in which he emphasized America’s commitment to Israel, Sherman took questions from the high school audience, many of them about security concerns here at home. Sherman assured the students that terrorist attacks in the United States are still a highly uncommon danger. “If you’re worried about your personal safety,” Sherman told the teens, “buckle your seat belts.” — Mike Levy, Staff Writer

Kol Ami Includes All

As many other synagogues, Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood held special memorial services on the Friday following Sept. 11, to mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks.

The difference at Kol Ami, whose membership is largely gay and lesbian, was that Christians also came for solace and support. When Rabbi Denise L. Eger recited the “Kaddish,” she included the names of Ron Gamboa and Daniel Brandhorst, a non-Jewish gay couple, and their young son David.

The three had been vacationing at Cape Cod and boarded American Airlines Flight 11 in Boston, which the hijackers crashed into the World Trade Center.

Grieving relatives of Gamboa and Brandhorst participated in the service.

The two men had belonged to the Pop Luck Club, made up of gay fathers, where they had made many Jewish friends. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Ramah Honors Millers

Camp Ramah will honor Judy and Lou Miller at its annual dinner on Thursday, Nov. 29 at Sinai Temple. Proceeds from the dinner, co-chaired by Adrian Miller, Caryn Miller Katz and Sheila Spiwak, will build a new bakery and expand the Ramah dining facility.

The Millers have been longtime supporters of Camp Ramah since 1975. Lou Miller, the immediate past chairman of the board of Camp Ramah in California and current member of its executive committee, also serves as a representative on the National Ramah Commission. Judy Miller, a former board member of Camp Ramah where she served as dinner chair for several events, is currently an active participant on the Ramah Scholarship Committee. Judy and Lou Miller are also founding members of the Ramah Regents, Ramah’s most distinguished collection of donors, which began in the 1970s.

Along with their work with Camp Ramah, the Millers are dedicated community leaders and have worked tirelessly on behalf of Jewish education. They are involved in the University of Judaism, Los Angeles Hebrew High School, the Anti-Defamation League, Brandeis-Bardin Institute, the Masorti Foundation/Schechter Institute, the Sheba Medical Center, Shalhevet High School and Milken Community High School. The Millers are active members of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles.

For more information regarding the event, please call Tamara Melzer Levenson, business director for Camp Ramah at (310) 476-8571. — Staff Report

Community Briefs


Rabbi Tendler Honored

The Los Angeles Friends of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim invites the community to participate in honoring Rabbi and Mrs. Aron Tendler at the annual reception on behalf of the yeshiva on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 9:45 p.m. at the home of Rabbi George and Dr. Lisa Lintz, 5145 Bellaire Ave., Valley Village.

Tendler became senior rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Valley Village last July, having served in the capacity of rabbi, assistant principal and principal of YULA for 20 years. He has also worked as a marriage/family/crisis counselor. Tendler serves on the executive board of the Rabbinical Council of California, where he is chairman of the Vaad Hakashrus, and is responsible for the formation and upkeep of the eruv that serves the Valley.

Esther Tendler, a respected speech pathologist, is no less devoted to the community. She has served as the president of the Mikva Society for the last 15 years, and she is known for her involvement in a multitude of chesed activities. — Staff Report

CAJE Increases Funding

For 16 years, the Coalition for the Advancement for Jewish Education (CAJE), has awarded grants to fund innovations in programming. These grants have been modest, drawing from a total funding pool of about $2,000. Now CAJE, a national body serving Jewish educators from across the denominational spectrum, has decided to think big. Its board has voted to increase its grant funding by 900 percent. As a result, individual members can now receive up to $10,000 to turn their bright ideas into reality.

While significantly increasing the size of its grants, CAJE is also striving to maintain a simple set of application requirements. Mark Charendoff, CAJE board member and chairman of the grants committee, sees the new policy as benefiting educators, especially those from underserved communities, who are short on professional grant-writing skills. In Charendoff’s words, “CAJE is the only agency in a position to cut through the process and put money directly into the hands of educators with creative ideas.”

Programs which have just received the larger-sized CAJE grants include “Becoming a Mensch,” a Virginia-based effort to train leaders for Jewish parent-teen workshops, and “Machaneh JCH,” a camping experience through which Brooklyn’s Russian émigrés can learn more about their Jewish roots. Next year’s applications will be available in January, with an April 2002 deadline. More information is available through CAJE at (212) 268-4210 or by browsing www.caje.org.

— Beverly Gray, Education Editor

Foundation Grants Announced

Jewish Community Foundation (JCF), the charitable gift-planning agency in partnership with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, has distributed a total of $617,000 to a wide variety of programs in Jewish Los Angeles that cross all denominational lines. The breakdown is as follows:

– $426,340 in New and Innovative Grants awarded to 16 recipients. Recipients include:

– American Jewish Committee’s Latino-Jewish Institute, to develop relations between the Latino and Jewish communities.

– Cal State University’s master’s degree in education with emphasis in Jewish education, Holocaust education and Hebrew language instruction; child abuse, substance abuse and healing connection programs at Jewish Family Service.

– Lomed L.A., a reading, math and Hebrew tutoring program for students with special-learning needs, through the Bureau of Jewish Education.

– $100,690 in Synagogue Grants awarded to 11 temples. Recipients include:

– Kehillat Ma’arav’s international Jewish customs cultural programming.

– A martial arts/Jewish studies program at Temple Beth Haverim.

– Or Emet’s Shabbat Torah Teaching Service

– The Santa Clarita Biannual Jewish Festival

– $59,819 in General Community Grants awarded to agencies.

– $30,000 in Discretionary Grants to be awarded as needed during the year.

The Foundation has also awarded $62,500, part of a two-year grant to support the 16-year-old Wexner Heritage Program, to help deepen the involvement of leaders in the Jewish community .

For more information about the Jewish CommunityFoundation, call (323) 761-8700 or visit www.jewishfoundationla.org.

Michael Aushenker,Staff Writer

Mideast Briefs


Jewish relief agencies and the government of Israel are mobilizing to send rescue missions and humanitarian aid to Turkey, in the wake of a devastating earthquake that, at press time, may have claimed more than 4,000 lives.

The Israel Defense Force sent a 200-member rescue team to Turkey to help dig through the rubble for survivors.

Israel is planning to send three planes of emergency aid and personnel to help victims of Tuesday’s powerful earthquake. Among those expected to travel to Turkey were members of the IDF disaster unit, which specializes in locating and extracting survivors from collapsed structures. Israeli President Ezer Weizman phoned Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to express his condolences.

The American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in conjunction with the United Jewish Communities (UJC) is accepting donations for earthquake relief. Donations will be used for non-sectarian earthquake relief. (Those who want their donations used solely for Turkey’s Jewish community should note this on the memo line of their check and on the envelope).

No Turkish Jews appear to have been killed or injured in the disaster, and none of the country’s Jewish institutions has been damaged, said Leon Levy, president of the New York-based American Sephardi Federation.

“Most of the damage was not where Jews normally live,” said Levy, who is of Turkish descent and in frequent contact with the Jewish community there. Later reports, however, indicated some damage to Jewish community buildings in Istanbul, including synagogues.

Ten Israeli tourists vacationing in the Turkish hills are still missing after the quake.

Sallai Meridor, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, was quoted in the daily Ha’aretz as saying that while none of Turkey’s 23,000 Jews was hurt in the quake, many are hesitant to return to their homes in Istanbul for fear of more houses collapsing.

In recent years, Turkey — a short plane ride from Tel Aviv and a strategic ally of Israel — has become a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

Donations can be sent to the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, 5700 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 2702; Los Angeles, CA 90036 and earmarked for Turkish Earthquake Relief. They will be immediately forwarded to the JDC.

Barak to Congress: Cool It

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has explicitly asked members of Congress to stop trying to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We do not want to give the Palestinians any pretext for delaying the peace talks or postponing them,” Barak told Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., and Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., on Wednesday in Jerusalem, according to sources who were briefed on the meeting. Barak specifically asked the lawmakers to wait at least six months before taking up any new initiatives on the embassy.

Barak’s move to stop congressional initiatives on Jerusalem could slow the rush of candidates who have staked out positions on the issue in recent weeks.

Last week, Republican front-runner Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former Sen. Bill Bradley, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, both expressed support for moving the embassy. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has launched an all-but-announced Senate bid from New York, has also endorsed the move. — Matthew Dorf, JTA