February 20, 2020

The Circuit

JCC Open for Business

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent his greetings, as did Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). So did more than 600 other well-wishers, eager for an eyeful of the county’s spacious Jewish Community Center at an Aug. 15 opening. Local leaders described the facility as a model for the country. MaryAnn Malkoff, the JCC’s retiring chair, said such a center appeals to “Jews on the edge,” who migrate into a better-connected Jewish community.

Since beginning its membership drive in spring, 1,100 members have joined, said Dan Bernstein, the JCC chief executive, which didn’t include 60 more who signed up that day.

O.C.’s Maccabi Medals

In the week preceding the Athens Olympics, about 60 Orange County youth competed in the slightly smaller but equally spirited Jewish version of the games. They returned with six medals, new friends and a joint mitzvah experience at the 17th Maccabi games, held around the country in places Columbus, Ohio, and Rockville, Md

The 15- to 16-year-old boys’ basketball team earned gold and the girls’ under 16 volleyball team won silver. In individual medals, Daniel Desatnick won gold in tennis doubles; in golf, Graham Waks and Daniel Shapiro won gold and silver, respectively.

The surprise gold medal went to the girls under-14 soccer squad, that arrived in Columbus short a player. Nicole Shane was sidelined with a knee injury, but proved the loudest spectator, yelling coaching directions in an ankle-to-hip cast. The OC roster was filled out with a Dayton player.

“Not only was [it] competitive, but it was very social, and it was an outstanding opportunity to make friendships and meet people from all over the globe.”

The youths stayed with host families and were accompanied by staff from the O.C. Jewish Community Center, including assistant director Julie Rubin and Abby Pezzner, who headed the Washington delegation.

A Bite Out of Life A Long, Strange Trip

Another unusual summer trip was that by professor Benjamin Hubbard, chair of Cal State Fullerton’s comparative religions department. After hosting 15 Muslim scholars here last spring, Hubbard turned the tables, visiting them in India and Bangladesh. The exchange was partly funded by the U.S. State Department and the University of Louisville.

“They have strange ideas about Jews,” he said, surprised at the lingering conspiracy theory that Jews had advance warning to flee the Sept. 11 attacks. Hubbard offered a 3,000-victim list with many Jewish names.

“That was a low point,” he said, adding that his hosts were better informed on other issues, such as U.S. policy in Iraq. “Hopefully, it created a little goodwill,” he said.

Baby Love

Nancy Linder, cantor of Westminster’s Temple Beth David, was showered with baby gifts last month by the temple sisterhood. Linder and her husband, Charles, parents to 4-year-old Nathan, are expecting all-boy triplets.

The event was organized by congregants Roberta English and Cathy Katz.

Around the County

Steven Berman joined Anaheim’s Temple Beth Emet as choir director.

Bill Klein, a retired entrepreneur and Orange County resident since 1989, succeeds Fred Forster as president of Heritage Pointe. Klein’s mother, Shirley, is a resident of the Mission Viejo assisted-living facility.

Rabbi Allen Krause was recognized on his 20th anniversary as Temple Beth El’s spiritual leader during the last sabbath service of summer.

Garratt Nada, of Newport Beach’s Temple Bat Yahm, was the recipient of the 2004 Maurice Sherman Award, a $250 cash prize and $200 religious-school donation given annually to an outstanding confirmation student.

Surf’s Up

Those oh-so-serious Jewish scholars in July took on another humbling pursuit, donning wetsuits for surfing lessons at Huntington Beach’s Bolsa Chica State Park. Helping the Community Scholar Program-novices hang ten were veteran surfers Corky Carrol and Rabbi Nachum Shifren, of Los Angeles, who offers “kosher surf camps.”

Before demonstrating his board technique, Shifrin described his life as an assimilated Jew looking for the world’s best breaks, and his vocational transformation to “the surfing rabbi” after a trip to Israel. He said he experiences Judaism in nature.

Those interested in joining another surf adventure should call the CSP at (949) 682-4040.

New Year, New Leaders

The Pacific Community of Secular Humanistic Jews, which meets in members homes and holds religious school at the Jewish Community Center, installed candidates for two-year leadership positions at a beach house garden party in June. Elected were Phyllis Jacobs, president; Leslie Zwick, vice president; Alice Selfridge, secretary; Karen Knecht, treasurer; Shirley Spiegel and Marsha Harman, co-chairs of programs; Felix Kopstein, publicity; and Jerry Zwick, hospitality.

The Winner Is…

The winners in the annual O.C. Community Scholar Program (CSP) raffle fundraiser on Aug. 12 were Miki and Steve Sholkoff, of Temple Bat Yahm; Larry and Linda Seidman, of University Synagogue; and Amir and Sharon Horovitz, of Congregation B’nai Israel. The winners help select future visiting scholars. Raffle proceeds pushed CSP fundraising to nearly $50,000.