November 19, 2019

Milken JCC hires new director; Heschel West receives award

Milken JCC Hires New Executive Director, Finalizes Strategic Plan for Improvements

Paul Frishman, a 22-year veteran of the Jewish Community Center movement, has been tapped as the new executive director of The New JCC at Milken. He officially began Sept. 2.

Frishman, 45, spent the last four and a half years as chief operating officer of the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale, Ariz., and 18 years at the Dave & Mary Alper JCC in Miami.

His selection represents a solid commitment to rebuilding Milken JCC, said Steve Rheuban, the center’s board chair.

In spring 2007, as the center was facing a $250,000 deficit, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles closed the Olympic-sized pool, causing almost one-third of its members to abandon the JCC. Despite these challenges, the center’s leaders voted down a one-time $350,000 allocation offered by The Federation that would have required giving up its historic right to be the major tenant on the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills.

The organization now has finalized a new business plan, as well as a strategic plan to create a state-of-the-art fitness center, with the goal of reopening the pool and shower facilities. It is working with the JCC Development Corp., successor to JCC parent organization, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, to finance reopening of the pool. Once that happens, Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg is on board to bring back his swim school.

Additionally, representatives of the JCC and The Federation have been meeting to work out an agreement by December detailing occupancy and responsibility issues.

“It’s not us vs. them. We are a community, and the JCC is part of the community,” said Richard Sandler, Federation vice chair and one of the negotiators.

Meanwhile, more than 80 2- to 4-year-olds are enrolled in the JCC preschool, and 200 to 250 seniors daily attend classes, play cards or work out at the center. “This is their home,” Frishman said.

He wants to increase membership, currently hovering around 500 families, as well as sports, educational and cultural activities, including specialized programming for the Russian and Israeli communities. In addition, he wants to make facility improvements.

“I look at this with wide-open eyes and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm,” he said.

— Jane Ulman, Contributing Editor

College Credit, Teacher Training Now Available for Arab-Israeli Conflict Course

Beginning this fall, high school juniors and seniors who complete The David Project’s course on the Arab-Israeli conflict can receive freshman-level college credit for the class. Teacher training on the high school curriculum is tentatively planned for Nov. 2-4 in Los Angeles.

“The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Educating Ourselves, Educating Others” teaches the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict by promoting historical accuracy, critical thinking, discussion, moral decision making and activism.

The curriculum has been offered for the past two years through the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College, a transdenominational Jewish college in Melrose Park, Pa. With support from the Avi Chai Foundation, the course has been adopted by 100 schools in the United States and Canada, including YULA High School in Los Angeles. More than 3,500 students complete the class each year.

The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership, a nonprofit educational organization, has partnered with The Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles to offer the Teacher Training Institute, tentatively scheduled for November. Registration for the three-day seminar would be $150 (includes lodging and two meals per day); a commuter option would also be available.

For more information, visit Questions about the teacher training institute can be addressed to Na’ama Levitz Applbaum at

— Anita K. Kantrowitz, Contributing Writer

Heschel West Receives Blue Ribbon Award

The U.S. Department of Education has given Heschel West Day School the National Blue Ribbon Award, a prestigious prize given to the “top 10 percent of schools nationally, based upon academic achievement.”

The Agoura school is the first Jewish school in the Conejo and San Fernando valleys to be awarded the prize. Heschel West attributes the award to its commitment to the education of the whole child.

“Often, parents come to us believing they have to choose between schools that provide children with rigorous academics and those that build strong values,” said Tami Weiser, Heschel West’s head of school. “This Blue Ribbon Award is validation of what we knew all along at Heschel West — families can come to us and find everything they are seeking at one school.”

The community Jewish school will celebrate its Blue Ribbon Award at Mitzvah Day on Sunday, Nov. 2. The event will call attention to illiteracy in other communities and collect books, toys and funds for underprivileged students and schools.

For more information, call (818) 707-2365.

— Lilly Fowler, Contributing Writer

Shalhevet Student Participates in Genesis College Program at Brandeis University

While other high school students spent this past summer in camp or working, Penina Smith was away at college.

The Shalhevet senior was one of 62 rising juniors and seniors chosen to attend Genesis, a four-week residential program at Brandeis University offering first-year college-level courses integrating the arts, Jewish studies, humanities, social action and community building.

Participants from 21 states, Canada, Israel, Spain and Russia attended team-taught workshops and seminars that were both test and grade free. The students, representing the spectrum of Jewish life from Modern Orthodox to secular, also created different Shabbat programs weekly and worked on various community service projects.

Smith took a world religions course and a creative writing workshop titled, “The Lie That Tells a Truth.” Other courses included “Journalism, Judaism and Ethics,” “Israel” and “Judaism and Justice.” In addition, workshops included mixed media, music and digital photography.

Founded in 1997 with support from Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, Genesis accepts applications on a rolling basis.

For more information, visit