September 23, 2019

Moving and shaking: Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley, Amit Ruderman and more

Although members of the Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley were spared the destruction of the Sand fire that burned for weeks, “a lot of them had very close calls,” said Rabbi Choni Marozov, who runs the Chabad house there.

“They ran away from their homes with the flames literally 50 feet away,” he said.

On July 29, a Friday evening, locals gathered to say a special prayer “thanking HaShem for saving their homes and saving their lives,” Marozov said. The last evacuation orders had been lifted earlier that day, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The 40,000-acre Sand fire destroyed 18 homes and killed one person.  

As it burned, Marozov packed his car full of water and kosher snacks and drove around looking for a shelter to accept the supplies. After being turned down twice — as it happened, he wasn’t the only one looking to help, and pantries had already been filled — he finally found a firehouse willing to take the water and snacks. 

“I had to go from one shelter to another shelter trying to deliver my water and food and being turned away because there was just too much,” he said.

He added, “The community really, really came out.”

— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), a New York-based nonprofit, dedicates itself to supporting the soldiers who defend the Jewish state. The group has also opened its arms to the families left behind by soldiers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

In July, it brought 21 bar and bat mitzvah-age children and siblings of slain soldiers to spend 11 days at Moshava California, an overnight camp in the San Bernardino National Forest, as part of the FIDF’s Legacy program.

They were joined by two IDF commanders in the Casualty and Wounded Department as well as six counselors, each of whom has experienced the loss of a loved one.

The young people who participated in the trip had a chance to try their hands at archery, rock climbing, swimming and horseback riding at the camp in Running Springs near Big Bear Lake, according to an FIDF press release.

A week into the trip, they visited Disneyland.

“By bringing them to Los Angeles and giving them everlasting memories, we have been able to bring smiles to their faces, which truly is a priceless gift,” Miri Nash, the western region executive director of FIDF, said in the press release.

— Eitan Arom, Staff Writer

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) congregant Shana Passman was installed as chair of the board of directors of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFSLA).

Shana Passman (left), chair of the board of directors of Jewish Family Service Los Angeles, and Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller. Photo by Aaron Nardi

Passman, who previously served as vice chair of the Jewish social service organization’s board, succeeds Debby Barak, who will remain on the JFSLA board.

JFSLA’s other 2016-18 board appointments are: Tami Stapf, vice chair for resource development; Nina Tassler, vice chair of special projects; Tami Kagan-Abrams, vice chair of programs; Doreen Klee, vice chair of volunteers; David Felman, treasurer; and Janet Rifkin, secretary.

TEBH Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller served as the installing officer during the June 27 ceremony at American Jewish University.

On July 24, the Israeli short film “Underground,” about an underground street fighter, won best action/adventure film at Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival (CCI-IFF). 

Israeli filmmaker Amit Ruderman is honored at the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival. Photo courtesy of

CCI-IFF was held July 21-24 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina, as part of Comic-Con International’s 17th year.

“We came. We saw. We had fun. We won!!!!!!!” Amit Ruderman, the star, director and producer of the film, said on Facebook. Adam Robson, the film’s co-director, was also present during the award presentation.

“Underground” is Ruderman’s first film to be shown before an international audience. He has created other short films that have been broadcast on Israeli television. 

This year, CCI-IFF showcased films from the United States, Canada, France, Greece, Israel, New Zealand and Portugal, according to the Comic-Con International website.

Touro College Los Angeles (TCLA) has appointed its current director of college affairs, Rabbi David Jacobson, as its dean, according to an Aug. 2 Touro College & University System (TCUS) announcement.

Touro College Los Angeles Dean Rabbi David Jacobson. Photo courtesy of Touro College and University System

“We are pleased that Rabbi Dr. Jacobson has moved into his new role,” TCUS President Alan Kadish said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working with Rabbi Jacobson and to see his vision for TCLA come to fruition.”

In his new role, Jacobson, who succeeds interim dean Michael Hamlin — TCLA’s founding dean, Esther Lowy, died in December 2014  — will lead educational and administrative teams, advise students and oversee the budget. He expressed excitement about the new position.

“I’m honored with the opportunity to expand my role at TCLA as we step up our efforts to grow the student body and our institutional footprint in the community,” Jacobson, who received a doctorate and a master’s degree in education from UCLA and has 30 years of experience in Jewish education, said in a statement.

With branches around the world, Touro College caters to Orthodox individuals who choose not to study at secular college campuses, while also providing nonobservant individuals the opportunity to study Torah. 

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