January 17, 2019

Jewish Community Foundation Awards $200,000 to Organizations Supporting Pittsburgh Shooting Victims, Survivors

A man prays at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday’s shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles announced on Nov. 12 that they are awarding $200,000 to four organizations that provide support to the victims and survivors of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

According to a press release from the Foundation, the four organizations that will receive the grants include the Victims of Terror Fund and the Community Security Initiative – both of which are programs of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles – as well as the Anti-Defamation League and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).

“Our Board of Trustees, believing positive action is the best response to this terrible and senseless tragedy, approved these emergency grants to organizations that will provide direct aid to victims’ families, as well as to support causes working proactively to prevent such despicable and evil acts from occurring in the future,” Foundation President and CEO Marvin Schotland said in a statement. “With the sharp rise in anti-Semitism and premeditated violence, we must join together so that all Americans, regardless of religion, race or ethnicity, are safe and free to worship—fundamental principles of our society.”

Each organization will receive $50,000.

The shooter, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, singled out HIAS in his social media posts, writing right before the shooting: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

HIAS provides aid to refugees that enter the United States.

Foundation Awards $1.65 Million in Grants

Mitch Chupak, director of development at the Jaffa Institute, beams when he discusses how the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles has supported his organization since its early days as a small social services agency serving high-risk children in Jaffa. Today, the 35-year-old Jaffa Institute has expanded to 40 educational and social programs serving 6,000 children and teens in communities throughout Israel, including Bat Yam and Yehud.

On Dec. 8, the Foundation announced that the Jaffa Institute was among eight organizations to be awarded grants of up to $250,000, totaling $1.65 million, to be disbursed over three years. Chupak said the Jaffa Institute will use its $200,000 grant to expand career and educational opportunities for Ethiopian-Jewish teens at the organization’s Bet Shemesh Educational Center.

“Our overall goal is to integrate these teens into Israeli society as quickly as possible by providing them with educational opportunities and services, such as computer training and introductions to various corporations,” Chupak said.

The organization helps teens finish high school so they can enter the army like their Israeli peers, he said. Post-army, the Institute offers scholarships for university study. It also encourages students to participate in STEM-based programs in science, technology, engineering and math starting in seventh grade.

Tzohar, focused on bridging the gap between religious and secular Jews in Israel, will use its $250,000 grant to develop a new program for rabbis and to enhance an existing professional development program for community rabbis, said to Rabbi Shai Finkelstein, Tzohar’s director of rabbinic alliance and community engagement.

“Our new program will train an elite group of Modern Orthodox and Zionistic rabbis … to become prominent voices in the online world,” he said.

Other recipient programs of the annual Israel Grants for 2017 focused on Jewish identity include:

• BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change (Irgun Noar), one of the few non-Orthodox organizations to provide Israeli high school students with activities promoting Jewish identity, Jewish learning and Shabbat programs.

• HaShomer HaChadash, providing security and protection to Israel’s smaller, more vulnerable communities in the Negev and Galilee, while promoting agricultural and pioneering programs.

• Nitzanim/The Avi Chai Foundation, which will use its grant to grow from nine to 14 locations to expand on its programs to help Israeli Jews overcome their increasing sense of alienation from Judaism.

Economic development programs include the Jaffa Institute as well as:

• Educating for Excellence, which provides 150,000 children and youth in underprivileged Israeli communities with a support system to pursue greater educational and career opportunities.

• Machshava Tova, providing underprivileged populations in Israel greater access to technology and skill-building education in supportive environments.

• YEDID: The Association for Community Empowerment, promoting social justice in Israel through a national network of Citizen Rights Centers offering programs that empower Israelis to break the cycle of poverty.

“These annual Israel Grants support programs that endeavor to strengthen Jewish identity and advance economic development and self-sufficiency throughout the country,” said Elana Wien, vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles’ Center for Designed Philanthropy.

“Our goal is to integrate these teens into Israeli society as quickly as possible.” — Mitch Chupak

The Foundation “effectively makes Los Angeles a partner in everything we’re trying to accomplish,” said Noga Brenner Samia, deputy director for Irgun Noar/BINA Youth Corps. “It is important to express our gratitude for the Foundation’s help in our pushing forward in the realm of Jewish identity education.”

Eli Gur, CEO of Nitzanim, said his organization aims to help a diverse group of Israeli Jews overcome their increasing sense of feeling estranged from Judaism or ignorant of their heritage.

“Nitzanim has neither a specific ideological approach nor a limited geographic scope as we build a network of municipalities throughout Israel,” said Gur, who described “a national partnership in which all participant communities uphold and support a social, cultural and educational Jewish-Israeli agenda that is inclusive, diverse and resonant.”

New grant program will extend Jewish camp outreach

For some children, attending Jewish summer camp is a quintessential part of growing up Jewish. But not all families can find the kinds of camps that fit their children’s needs or appeal to their interests.

This month, as part of a nationwide effort to get more children, teenagers and families to attend Jewish summer camp, the nonprofit Foundation for Jewish Camp launched a $100,000 pilot grant program. 

Titled the “I Belong to Jewish Camp” initiative, the program is offering camp providers up to $25,000 each to develop new types of camps or marketing strategies that engage populations frequently left out of, or not retained by, traditional Jewish summer camps. These include children with disabilities, interfaith and multi-ethnic families, youth with a variety of perspectives on Israel, families with young children, high schoolers, emerging Jewish leaders and people from the LGBTQ community.

“We have been working for a number of years to help camps be more reflective of the diverse Jewish community of today and tomorrow, but we wanted to be a catalyst to engage even more of those who are not yet engaged in the Jewish community,” said Jeremy J. Fingerman, chief executive officer of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. “We believe camp is a wonderful, joyous way to experience Judaism and can be an important step in one’s Jewish journey.” 

Camp providers have until May 16 to apply for an “I Belong to Jewish Camp” grant. The money is for summer 2017 and can be used to support recruitment, staff training, retention and efforts that raise awareness about an organization’s programming for one or more of the targeted populations. Fingerman said if the grant program is successful, the goal is to expand it in subsequent years.

The grant program is just the latest in a string of efforts by the New York City-based Foundation for Jewish Camp to make summer camps more inclusive and to attract families that are disengaged from the Jewish community or are simply harder to reach. In the past two years, the foundation has invested at least $2.5 million in camp programs targeting specific groups of Jews such as Russian speakers, the LGBTQ population and multi-ethnic communities, Fingerman said.

As part of a strategy to reach more low-income and disengaged families, the foundation also has poured millions of dollars into its One Happy Camper program. That program offers families up to $1,000 to help pay for their child’s first Jewish summer camp experience. Around 64,000 children have attended camp over the past 10 years as a result of the program, Fingerman said.

Research indicates children who attend Jewish summer camp are more involved in the Jewish community as adults. According to a 2011 study conducted by the foundation, children who attend Jewish summer camp are almost twice as likely to attend synagogue as adults and much more likely to light Shabbat candles, donate to Jewish charities and feel emotionally attached to Israel. 

“Jewish summer experiences are the key to the Jewish future,” Fingerman said. They’re positive, they’re warm, they’re immersive, they’re spirited, so it’s a wonderful way to experience and enter into the Jewish community.”

Welcoming Jewish people of different backgrounds to summer camp is important because the Jewish community built at camp needs to be reflective of the larger Jewish community, he said.

Joel Charnick, director of Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu, applauded the “I Belong to Jewish Camp” initiative, saying it supports a trend that is unfolding across the country. Camp JCA Shalom already has efforts and programs in place to bring in the types of groups the grant initiative is targeting, including teenagers, families with young children and people with disabilities, he said.

So far, the camp’s efforts to increase diversity have resulted in greater enrollment numbers and have enriched the camp experience for all attendees, he said.

“It has made our camp healthier, stronger, and it’s also more enjoyable for our participants,” Charnick said. “I think people come to camps to meet different types of people. When you’re at home, you have your own circle of friends and your own bubble, and part of the camp experience is to meet new people.”

Charnick attended the foundation’s 2016 Leaders Assembly Conference in New Jersey earlier this month when the new initiative was announced. He said that Camp JCA Shalom likely will apply for a grant to help it expand outreach to intergenerational and interfaith families, special needs children and the LGBTQ community.

“I think we are scratching just the surface of what we can do,” he said.

Jewish groups praise security grants, despite major cuts

Jewish groups praised the Obama administration and Congress for $10 million in new homeland security grants while noting that the allocation was nearly halved from last year.

“While tough decisions were made by Congress and the Administration, we appreciate the outreach both branches of the Federal government have made leading up to today’s funding announcement, and we are grateful for, although not delighted about, the reduced allocation,” William Daroff, the Washington director of the Jewish Federations of North America, said in a statement Monday.

Last year’s allocation to non-profits was $19 million. The bulk of the grants in recent years have gone to Jewish institutions for security upgrades, including video systems and barriers.

Daroff said the cuts come at a time of heightened security threats.

“Since the inception of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in 2005, there has been ample evidence, supported in the public record, of threats, plots and attacks against ‘soft’ Jewish communal targets at home and abroad,” he said. “Today, we as a community are faced with emerging and growing security concerns emanating from Iran and through its proxy, Hezbollah, as tensions rise surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions and American-led sanctions to rein them in.”

The Orthodox Union, an umbrella group that with JFNA and Agudath Israel of America led the lobbying for the allocation, noted that the cuts come at a time of austerity.

“While the allocation of $10 million is a lower allocation than in recent years, the Department was contending with severe cuts made by Congress to its overall grants budget for the current fiscal year,” the OU said.

Jewish Community Foundation awards $1 million in grants to Israeli nonprofits

The Los Angeles Jewish Community Foundation has awarded a total of $1 million in grants to five Israel-based organizations to support programs aimed at spurring economic development in Israel, offering Jewish education for officers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and job and entrepreneurship training for Jewish- and Arab-Israeli women.

In 2010, the foundation managed $731 million in charitable assets and disbursed $52 million to organizations, most of it ($46 million) at the direction of its more than 1,000 donors. The foundation recently announced the creation of a Center for Designed Philanthropy to help donors personalize their philanthropic giving and maximize the impact of their gifts.

But each year, a committee of foundation members working with staff also award so-called Legacy Grants to various nonprofit organizations. In 2010, these grants totaled $5.5 million, and included $1.2 million in grants to Israeli organizations.

This year’s largest Israel grant, a $250,000 gift to be disbursed over the next three years, will go to the Ayalim Association, which calls itself “the biggest movement for young adults in Israel.” According to the organization’s Web site, Ayalim has established 13 “student and entrepreneur villages” in the Negev and Galilee regions of Israel. The foundation’s grant will support a workshop to teach business entrepreneurship and Jewish values to Jewish students in the Negev.

Beit Morasha, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that works to promote “a vibrant and inclusive” vision of Judaism in Israel, was awarded a two-year, $220,000 grant by the foundation. The organization will use the 2011 award to run training seminars for IDF battalion officers and commanders in an effort to deepen their Jewish and Zionist identities.

The OR movement, another organization aimed at promoting economic growth in the Negev at Galilee, received a three-year, $215,000 grant from the foundation to promote and fill 13,500 jobs in those large and less densely populated regions of Israel.

The foundation also awarded a three-year, $195,000 grant to New Spirit (Ruach Hadasha, in Hebrew), to advance the organization’s mission of increasing the connection of students who study in universities in Jerusalem to the city, and a three-year, $120,000 grant to Supportive Community/Shurush/Sviva Tomehet, a nonprofit that trains and supports Israeli women entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and gives them microloans to establish new home-based businesses.

Jewish Community Foundation seeks proposals for cutting edge grants

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (JCFLA) is currently accepting proposals for its 2012 Cutting Edge Grants Initiative, which offers funding to organizations developing innovative programs that serve the Jewish community in Los Angeles.

The foundation will award grants of up to $250,000 over a three-year period to existing nonprofits launching new programs and new organizations. To be considered, organizations must be developing “untested ground-breaking programs; successful Los Angeles pilot programs ready for community-wide implementation; local adaptations of high-impact initiatives proven outside of Los Angeles or programs designed by social entrepreneurs to create new nonprofit organizations,” according to a JCFLA statement.

“What we’re looking for is a proposal that has a program that’s really unique,” said Amelia Xann, vice president of the Family Foundation Center and grant programs at JCFLA.

The deadline for proposals is Nov. 10. The process takes approximately nine months, starting when organizations apply for grants to the awarding of grants. The grants will be awarded in late 2012.

On Aug. 24, the foundation announced its 2011 Cutting Edge Grants recipients — seven organizations will receive a total of nearly $1.2 million: Moishe House Los Angeles, a program for post-college young adults in their 20s, will get $200,000 over two years to produce 200 events, such as Shabbat dinners, holiday celebrations, group learning, social justice programs and cultural events.

Beit T’Shuvah, which works with people recovering from addictions, will receive $250,000 over three years to create BTS Communications, a vocational training program for 50 interns, preparing them for careers in graphic and Web design, online advertising and social media marketing.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles will receive $185,000 over three years, to help 1,000 Jewish families in need of assistance due to economic or transitional life issues at one of four participating synagogue clusters.

Additional grants are awarded to: Builders of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles (BJE): $240,000 over three years to help Jewish students with mild or moderate special needs attend Jewish high schools. Simon Wiesenthal Center: $125,000 over two years for a multimedia educational program to address new forms of anti-Semitism on college campuses. Israel Leadership Council (ILC): $100,000 over a three-year period to help 10,000 Jewish and Israeli American Angelenos connect and volunteer through an online social volunteer network, I.L. Care. And the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, will get $100,000, over three years for training for seven faculty members from Claremont School of Theology, the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and the Islamic Center of Southern California in a new inter-religious program to ensure all students in the program get education in all of the three faiths, giving the students skills to promote dialogue and collaboration across religious boundaries.

Founded in 1954, JCFLA manages charitable assets and planned giving solutions for Los Angeles philanthropists. It provides grants in four different areas, including general community grants, Israel grants and capital grants, as well as the Cutting Edge Grants.

Mazon doling out $3 million in grants to fight hunger

Mazon said it has awarded more than $3 million in grants for 2011 to agencies dedicated to fighting hunger.

The grant recipients announced Tuesday by the Jewish nonprofit organization included about two dozen organizations from around the world, including Israel, South Africa, Ethiopia and Haiti, and several hundred from more than 40 states in America.

“Our grants help agencies rise to the challenge of feeding their hungry neighbors, and expanding access to government safety-net programs that shield families from some of the worst effects of the recession,” Mazon grants director Mia Hubbard said in a news release.

Religious and secular organizations, including Christian and Jewish charities, received grants.

The latest awards bring the total amount that Mazon has doled out in grants to more than $53 million, the release said.

Tuition grants, endowments to benefit day schools

More than half the students in Los Angeles Jewish day schools receive financial aid to pay tuition, which runs between $12,000 and $30,000 per year. And with both tuition and the number of students requiring aid expected to continue climbing, BJE: Builders of Jewish Education is partnering with local donors and national organizations both to alleviate the immediate crisis and work toward long-term solutions for lowering the cost of Jewish education.

Last week, BJE announced that Los Angeles is one of three cities to split a $3.1 million Generations grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) that will provide seven day schools with financial aid dollars and training and resources necessary for developing an endowment capable of spinning off funds in perpetuity. BJE raised $600,000 to match AVI CHAI’s contribution to secure the grant, and is now accepting applications from elementary, middle and high schools.

“If you look at what is happening in the school world, the schools and universities that are successful and able to weather the economy are those that have big endowments. So we set that as a high priority,” said Miriam Prum Hess, director of BJE’s Center for Excellence in Day School Education.

Only a few of Los Angeles’ 38 Jewish day schools have any sort of endowment, and the Generations grant joins other initiatives that in the last few years have focused on endowment.

A Jim Joseph Foundation grant totaling $12.7 million gave five Los Angeles Jewish high schools money to provide scholarships to middle-class families who earn too much to qualify for financial aid but still struggle to pay tuition. The grant came with funds to hire and train development staff, and required schools to raise their own monies for endowment.

Now completing the second year of a six-year cycle, the five high schools have raised a combined $2.3 million for their endowments.

“It’s difficult to think endowment when you need to raise money to keep the lights on,” said Larry Gill, board president of Shalhevet, where tuition for next year is $27,250. “But the reason the Jim Joseph program has been so effective is that it has really forced discipline on us. It’s sort of like a 401(k) — it forced us to put money away for the future.”

The grant also enabled Shalhevet to hire two full-time development professionals. Gill says Shalhevet is well on the way toward securing pledges of $500,000 for the endowment to meet a June 30 grant deadline.

BJE itself has secured pledges of nearly $10 million for a community fund that, starting in 2012, will add 25 cents to every dollar schools raise for endowment. The community fund, also a requirement for the Jim Joseph Foundation grant, was seeded with a $5 million matching challenge from the Simha and Sara Lainer Family Foundation. BJE has set a target of $100 million total for the community fund combined with the schools’ individual endowments, but Prum Hess says that number will have to grow to meet the community’s growing needs. More than half of the 9,500 students in BJE-affiliated schools are projected to receive financial aid next year.

To further help schools build fundraising infrastructure, BJE set up the Leadership and Fundraising Academy (LFA), an 18-month program for administrators and lay leaders, funded by a grant from Peter and Janine Lowy.

Sinai Akiba is one of the few schools in Los Angeles to have an endowment — a $7 million fund it started in the 1980s — and participation in LFA has enabled it to broaden its fundraising activities and focus its mission, according to headmaster Rabbi Larry Scheindlin.

“The thing we have learned most from the LFA process is that it is educational quality that drives the future of the school and carries the school into a virtuous cycle of enrollment and fundraising,” Scheindlin said. “It’s a terrible mistake to think that you can cut back on educational quality in order to lower tuition and thereby sustain enrollment.”

Rather, he said, Sinai Akiba has set tuition where it needs to be — $19,400 for the lower school, $21,600 for the middle school for the 2011-12 academic year — and increased its financial aid program, going from 15 percent of students a few years ago to 27 percent this year. The school has actively recruited and offered aid to families who thought they couldn’t afford a Jewish education.

Prum Hess says the presence of the LFA and the success of the Jim Joseph grant helped Los Angeles win the AVI CHAI grant, which relies on training existing development staff.

BJE raised $600,000 to qualify for the matching grant, then raised additional money to offer each of the seven schools $52,000 over three years, rather than the $25,000 prescribed by AVI CHAI. The hope is that the scholarship money, though a modest amount compared to the need, will alleviate some immediate stress and stabilize enrollment, and allow schools to develop their capacity to raise endowment funds, Prum Hess said.

In addition to the cash infusion, each school will receive five days of coaching with an experienced fundraiser and marketing materials that schools can customize. A BJE staff person, hired with the grant money, will serve as a resource to guide schools through the process of shoring up its fundraising apparatus.

The help, according to Shalhevet’s Gill, can’t come soon enough.

“If things continue in the current crescendo of cost versus money earned, in a very short amount of time the advantage of a Jewish education will be the purview of the extremely wealthy only. And that would be a disaster,” Gill said.

Congregations offering loans and grants to lure young families

They were looking to move anyway, said Stephanie Butler. And the $50,000 incentive being offered by Temple Emanu-El in Dothan, Ala., to young Jewish families willing to relocate helped tip the scales.

“We never would have looked at Dothan if not for this program,” she said.

The Reform congregation in Dothan is one of several dozen synagogues nationwide offering loans, grants and a variety of other incentives to attract young families to their communities. In addition to the loans, which are usually tied to down payments on a house and can turn into grants if the families stay long enough, most of these synagogues help newcomers to find jobs and direct them to friendly lawyers, contractors and mortgage brokers who often give them steep discounts.

Dothan’s $50,000 relocation loan, which becomes a grant after five years, is one of the most generous offers. But rural Alabama is a harder draw than, say, Southfield, Mich., where the local Young Israel congregation is offering young couples a $7,200 five-year, interest-free loan toward a down payment on a home.

Just three families have taken up Dothan’s offer, and one has since moved away. Twenty-two families have moved to Southfield, a heavily Jewish suburb of Detroit. Only five took advantage of the loan program.

Most of these relocation incentive programs began in the past several years. Some have been more successful than others, and it doesn’t seem to matter how much money they’re offering. Those who have made the move mention geographic desirability, the availability of jobs, and the attractiveness of the local Jewish community much more than they mention the money.

“The money is to show we’re excited about people coming to the community, but it’s a small part of what we do to attract families,” said Rabbi Yechiel Morris, spiritual leader of Young Israel of Southfield.

Another factor is also at play. Unlike Dothan’s Reform congregation, virtually all the others offering such incentives are Orthodox. Orthodox families moving to a new neighborhood look for homes within walking distance of the synagogue and expect to become actively involved in local Jewish life.

Jews moving to Dothan go through an extensive vetting process, including personal visits, and they sign forms pledging to join the congregation and to remain in town for at least five years.

“This is about fit,” said Robert Goldsmith, executive director of the Family Relocation Project of the Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services of Dothan. The goal of the project is to bring in 20 Jewish families by 2015 with incentive packages of up to $50,000 each. “We’re not buying Jews here with a blank check.”

Temple Emanu-El was down to 43 families when donor Larry Blumberg established the project in the fall of 2007, soon after Goldsmith and his wife, Lynne, the congregation’s new rabbi, moved to town. “We didn’t want to shut our doors, like other small congregations,” he said.

The Associated Press ran a story on the incentives program, followed by spots on the Jay Leno and Howard Stern shows. Thousands of inquiries poured in from around the world. “We had 100,000 hits in one day,” Goldsmith said. “It crashed our server.”

But few candidates have gone the distance with the program. The first family that responded, arriving in early 2009, moved away when the husband was laid off. “The recession has hurt us,” Goldsmith said.
In response, the congregation switched focus, reaching out to empty nesters through a series of ads placed in Hadassah, Moment and Reform Judaism magazines. Currently, 11 older couples are partway through the application process; one couple is expected to move in soon.

Jews willing to move to Dothan “need an adventurous spirit,” said Goldsmith. That’s less true of those who move to Oceanside, N.Y., a Long Island community with a large, active Young Israel congregation located 15 minutes from the heavily Jewish Five Towns area.

With 180 families, Young Israel of Oceanside is far from endangered. But the congregation wants to boost its number of young families, said Rabbi Jonathan Muskat.

In 2007, the synagogue rolled out a rich incentive program capped by a $30,000 interest-free loan that becomes a grant after 10 years. The first five couples that moved in that year got the full amount. The next five received $20,000, and the final cohort got $10,000. Altogether, 35 new families moved into the community, many without any financial incentive at all.

Jake and Nomi Weinberg were part of the first cohort, moving in three years ago from nearby Woodmere, N.Y. They had two children at the time; now, they have three.

The loan “was definitely a draw,” said 32-year-old Jake Weinberg. But they would have moved to Oceanside anyway, he said, adding, “No one should move just for a down payment.”

Muskat echoes that sentiment. Young Israel of Oceanside offers the incentive only to couples likely to take on leadership roles in the congregation, the rabbi said. Virtually all of the new families come from large Orthodox congregations in the Greater New York area. The real draw, Muskat said, is being part of a younger congregation where they can make a difference right away.
Weinberg agrees. “You don’t get lost in the shuffle,” he said. “There’s a tremendous opportunity to have your voice heard. It’s not like a big shul, where you have to be there years and years and donate a lot of money before you can do anything.”

In an effort to showcase communities for families seeking to relocate, the Orthodox Union sponsored its first Emerging Communities Conference in New York in 2008. Fourteen congregations set up booths at that first conference. Thirty-five have registered for the third conference on March 22, including shuls from cities as large as Phoenix and Las Vegas, and as small as Chesterfield, Mo. and Norfolk, Va.

“It sows the seeds,” said Frank Buchweitz, national director of community services for the OU. “People don’t even know there are Jewish communities outside the New York area.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Josh Elberg and his wife, Naomi Preminger, 27, moved from Montreal to Southfield, Mich., after meeting Young Israel members Monica and Ari Fischman at the 2009 OU conference.
“We spoke to them; we felt them out,” said Monica Fischman. More important, said Elberg, the Fischmans followed up.

“We found some very nice communities at the conference – Houston, Dallas, Denver, Memphis, St. Louis,” said Elberg. “I followed up with all of them, but the only ones who followed up consistently with us were from Southfield.”

That personal connection, not the $7,200 relocation loan, was what clinched the deal, he added. Last summer, the Fischmans hosted Elberg for a Shabbaton. They had a barbecue and introduced him to people, and Monica Fischman found the couple a house on the same street where her parents live.

Elberg is already living in Southfield, and his wife will follow with their three children after Passover.

“The loan made life easier,” Elberg said, “but if they hadn’t offered it, we wouldn’t have cared.”

As more and more congregations get into the incentives game, some poaching is bound to occur, particularly in the shul-heavy towns of northern New Jersey and the New York area.

Newsday recently ran a story on Dan and Atara Marzouk, who moved to Plainview, N.Y., last October, taking advantage of a $25,000 interest-free loan offered by the local Young Israel congregation.

But the Marzouks were moving away from Linden, N.J., where their home synagogue, Congregation Anshe Chesed, is also offering an incentive program to new families.

Rabbi Joshua Hess of Anshe Chesed doesn’t consider it poaching. He said that 15 young families have moved to Linden, and all have taken advantage of either the buyer’s or the renter’s incentive offer. Dan Marzouk had a two-and-a-half-hour daily commute to his job in Long Island, and even Hess told him the family needed to move. “It wasn’t sustainable,” the rabbi said.

Meanwhile, Anshe Chesed has only 17 younger families among its 115 member units, and the congregation is running out of funding for its incentive program.

“Once we have a critical mass, we won’t need it anymore,” Hess said. “The hope is that young couples will want to be here.”

Briefs: Olympic-Pico traffic plans on hold; Pearl lecturer says Israel is not surrounded by hostile

The Olympic-West, Pico-East Traffic Initiative has been delayed for three weeks, until March 29

The postponement follows the filing of two lawsuits aimed at stopping the plan. Neither the Los Angeles mayor’s office nor the city attorney’s office, which announced the delay, would comment as to whether it came in response to the legal actions. The Greater West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce filed suit Feb. 28, alleging the mayor’s plan to proceed with the initiative despite the fact that the City’s Department of Transportation recommended further study, is in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act, a law requiring an environmental impact report if there is “reasonable possibility that the activity will have a significant effect,” according to the Chamber of Commerce press release. The Westwood South of Santa Monica Boulevard Homeowners Association also filed suit.

“We’re very concerned that we have to use the justice system to do what’s right and what’s legal,” Judy Bowen, of the South Carthay Neighborhood Association, said at a press conference on Feb. 28. Bowen opposes the three-tiered plan, which would limit parking on Pico and Olympic boulevards during rush hour, because she feels it would increase traffic on smaller streets in the neighborhood and affect businesses and the environment.

“Until air quality is considered and environmental tests are done, I want the city to be realistic about traffic: Traffic doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it happens because of bad planning,” she said.

The mayor’s office would not comment on the delay, saying only that the plan is set to go into effect on March 29.

“The mayor and the councilman have committed all along to work with the communities and businesses to make appropriate modifications as necessary,” said Matt Szabo, a spokesman from the mayor’s office.

Meanwhile, some changes have been made to the original plan. Instead of continuing to La Brea Avenue, the plan extends from Centinela Avenue to Fairfax Avenue. Peak-hour parking restrictions — the part of the plan that has raised the most objections among local business owners fearing it would hurt commerce — have been scaled back. Peak-hour parking will be permitted between Gateway Boulevard and Centinela Avenue on the north side of Pico Boulevard, and in the afternoon on the north side of Pico between San Vicente and La Cienega boulevards.

Over the next three weeks, a “dialogue” may take place between the parties, Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the City Attorney said.

“We were only forced to file suit based on the mayor’s decision on Feb. 14,” said Brandon Silverman, of Pico-Olympic Solutions, a group involved in the lawsuits, referring to the mayor’s decision to proceed with the plan. Silverman hopes the community’s concerns will be heard. “This has always been about doing the right thing.”

— Amy Klein, Religion Editor

Jewish Community Foundation Increases Grant-Giving

Increasing its General Community grants by 67 percent from last year, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles announced last week that it has awarded $200,000 in grants to 18 local organizations. The recipients’ missions range from combating gang violence to training math and science teachers to helping homeless parents obtain jobs.

“The Foundation has had a longstanding tradition of seeding and sustaining Los Angeles-area organizations in the community at large,” said Marvin I. Schotland, president and CEO. “It’s an essential part of our mandate because we believe that tikkun olam — repairing the world — means strengthening and supporting the vitality of our entire community, including the Jewish community and the community at large.”

The two largest grants, $25,000 each, went to the American Red Cross’ Major Disaster Readiness program to develop a catastrophic relief plan for the L.A. area and to The Advancement Project for a new program called the Alliance of Mothers of Murdered Children, which aims to curb gang violence.

“After 30 years of law enforcement’s ‘war on gangs,’ L.A. has six times as many gangs and twice as many gang members,” said Connie Rice, co-director of the Advancement Project. “It’s time for a campaign to rescue our children. The Alliance of Mothers of Murdered Children is the moral backbone of the movement to end the gang violence epidemic in Los Angeles.”

Other recipients of grants ranging from $5,000 to $12,500 included Heal the Bay’s Key to the Sea educational program; Beyond Shelter for an employment-support program; the PTA of Pomelo Drive Elementary for expansion of the ballroom dance program at the West Hills school; and Zeitgeist Community Center for an after-school program for low-income and minority children in the Crenshaw area.

For more information about grants from The Foundation, call (323) 761-8705, e-mail grants@jewishfoundationla.org, or visit http://www.jewishfoundationla.org.

— Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer

David Brooks Bucks Labels at Annual Pearl Lecture

Pundit David Brooks was considered the house liberal when he wrote for the conservative Weekly Standard, and is now tagged as the house conservative for the liberal New York Times.

Whatever the label, the UCLA audience listening last week to Brooks delivering the annual Daniel Pearl lecture, which honors the young American journalist killed by Islamic extremists, could agree that Brooks is a very funny guy.

He is also Jewish, he quickly announced, was Pearl’s colleague at the Wall Street Journal, and his children attend a Jewish day school.

The talk was not notable for its broad theme or penetrating analysis, but yielded an assortment of rapid-fire observations well worth repeating.

On his interviews with political leaders: George W. Bush has tremendous self-confidence and is smarter than he comes across on television.

Hillary Clinton is well regarded by her peers and respected as a professional by her fellow senators, but it’s hard to get behind her thought processes.

Barack Obama looks at problem solutions from the bottom up. He is very perceptive, can read your mind and can summarize your arguments better than you can.

Show Gaza Sympathies to the Other

The disengagement from Gaza has exposed raw emotions and wrenching scenes of families being uprooted from their homes of decades.

Many in the Jewish community, while believing that the disengagement was necessary and even overdue, have felt the pain of the settlers. Some have even found a measure of truth in the settler slogan that “a Jew does not expel a Jew.”

We all empathize with those who have had to leave their homes, especially the children born and raised in the settlements of Gaza. But their pain — and our hand-wringing over it — must be placed in perspective. The settlers were given months of notice that the elected government of the State of Israel planned to remove them from Gaza — a decision supported by a solid majority of Israeli citizens. They were offered attractive compensation packages of up to $400,000. In addition, we cannot forget that they were living on land that most of the world, including the United States, regarded as illegally occupied.

Our sympathy then must be tempered, especially when the settlers and their supporters have the temerity to compare their plight to that of Jewish victims of Nazism. The government of Israel and the entire Jewish world have treated the Gaza settlers with a degree of respect and generosity that few groups of protesters have ever received, in Israel or elsewhere. Why don’t we conjure up the same sympathy for the Israeli soldiers who demonstrated tremendous restraint in the face of taunts and threats from recalcitrant settlers who refused warnings to vacate?

And why we don’t conjure up the same sympathy for the 1.5 million people, including every third child, who live below the poverty line in Israel, good and decent folks in Jerusalem and Yerucham, Be’er Shevah and Bat Yam, who struggle to make ends meet and never receive anything remotely resembling $400,000 government grants? For far too long, settlers have received lush government benefits to support a high standard of living while the underprivileged in Israel’s cities and developments towns have gone hungry. Why does their fate escape our attention?

And while we empathize with the small number of Jews uprooted from their homes in Gaza, do we ever dare to consider the fate of Arab citizens of Israel? Do we ever think of the Palestinians whose houses are demolished without reason in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem? Even more unlikely, do we allow ourselves to think of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were dispossessed during and after the 1948 War?

It is not just that they left their homes and were not permitted back. Nor is it that hundreds of their villages were destroyed and millions of dunams of their land expropriated in the State’s first years. It is that almost every trace of their previous existence has been erased from the Israeli national landscape — from road-signs, maps, and other place-markers.

These claims are deeply discomfiting to us, but we cannot dismiss them as mendacious anti-Zionist propaganda. (One need only consult the exacting and painful account of former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meron Benvenisti in “Sacred Landscape.”)

The point of this self-reckoning is not to insist on the repatriation of the 1948 refugees nor to delegitimate the State of Israel. The right of Jews to national self-determination in their homeland is clearly established in international law; likewise, the right of Jews to a peaceful and secure existence cannot be subject to debate. But still we must ask, in the best tradition of Jewish asking: Why does the fate of the Other escape our attention? Why do we turn off our well-tuned humanitarian sensors when it comes to Arabs (or underprivileged Israeli Jews, for that matter)?

Why are we so selective in our compassion, caring only for our own, and even then, only a precious few among us?

As we approach the New Year in the spirit of teshuvah, we should certainly recall the settlers who have lost their homes. But we should also recall the teaching of the late French Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, who devoted much of his career to exploring the ethical responsibilities toward the Other. Levinas taught that the face-to-face meeting with the Other is an essential ethical act of humanization. We may never come to know the Other fully, but the encounter reminds us that we do not dwell alone in our own autonomous universe. Rather, we must share the world with all of God’s creatures, including and especially those who are foreign to us.

Some may see Levinas’ teaching as naive and weak-kneed universalism in a world of hardened tribalism. But we can also choose to see it as the very essence of our Jewish identity, resonant with the biblical injunction to “love thy neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18) no less than with the modern value of tolerance that we hold so precious. If we do follow this alternative path, then perhaps we will come to see that the circle of misfortune and dispossession extends far beyond Neve Dekalim.

David N. Myers is a professor of Jewish history at UCLA.


Religion Briefs: All Are Welcome

Religion. Within the parameters of Judaism it can mean many things.

From the usual labels we use to cover the gamut of observance — Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist — there are whole worlds in between: Orthodox can be affiliated with Chasidic, black hat, Chabad, Aish HaTorah, Carlebach or Young Israel, to name just a few. Conservative can be Conservadox, Egalitarian, JTS, Sabbath observant, drive only to shul, etc. Reform can mean once-a-year High Holiday Jews or the “New Reform Observant Jew,” who is observant but far from Orthodox (“Reform Reforms,” Jewish Journal, May 20).

A person’s origins also come into play, whether it’s Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Israeli, Persian, Russian, Iraqi, Dutch, German and all the places in the Diaspora the Jews traveled to in thousands of years of exile, where they picked up new traditions and customs and made them part of their heritage, much as we do in America today.

I, for one, am from Eastern European origins — primarily Polish, although my last name is Hungarian (which means that only some of our rooms had chandeliers). I grew up in New York “Modern Orthodox.” (We were so modern we used cars and telephones and faxes and radios.) But I’m not sure the Modern Orthodoxy I grew up with even exists today, just as the Modern Orthodoxy my parents grew up with in the 1950s had faded by the time I was born.

This is the beauty of the Jewish religion. It is forever changing, yet always true to its essence. In the book of Leviticus, God tells the children of Israel, “You should keep My statutes and My laws, which if a man obeys, he shall live through them [v’chai bahem].”

“We shall live through them” is the challenge of the Jewish religion: How do we integrate the holy, the spiritual, the communal with the daily?

As The Jewish Journal’s new religion editor, I will be covering the communal and spiritual life of Los Angeles’ Jewish community, beginning with this monthly column, “Acts of Faith” — because in the end, faith is what keeps all of us Jews, of all denominations, together.

Please send all materials related to synagogues, spiritual movements, holiday-related articles to amy@jewishjournal.com.

Synagogue Surf’s Up!

Dolphins of Malibu get to enjoy Shabbat Services, too, as the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue has taken Friday night services to Zuma Beach, home of surfers and boogie boarders in Malibu.

Rabbi Judith HaLevy and Argentine Cantor Marcelo Gindlin have led these services for the past three years. And guess what? The dolphins have come to 11 out of 12 of the services, said Rabbi Judith, as she prefers to be called.

“They missed one Shabbos, which any congregant can miss,” she told The Journal. “I think it means they are Jewish dolphins, or clearly they hear the sound of people praying or they have some kind of resonance — it’s uncanny.”

The Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, a member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, has been in Malibu for the last 25 years. More than 100 people usually attend the summer beach services, coming from the valleys, Topanga and South Bay just in time to watch the sun begin its descent. People sit in a circle for the prayers and singing, which is followed by candle-lighting, story time for the children and Kiddush.

“I often ask people to just stand and listen to the sound of the waves for the ‘Shema,'” Rabbi Judith said, “because the power of listening is really important, which is something we all rarely do.”

The next beach services take place Aug. 19, and Sept. 9 and 16 at 7 p.m. at Westward Beach in Malibu (across from the Sunset Restaurant). Bring a pillow, blanket, sweatshirt and beach chairs.

For more information call Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue: (310) 456-2178 or surf to www.mjcs.org.

A New Life

Jewish Life, a glossy color monthly magazine serving the Torah-observant community in Los Angeles, published its first issue this month. Jewish Life will include in-depth features on Orthodoxy in Los Angeles, a calendar of events, a full-color social circuit section, divrei Torah and opinion columns. With a circulation of 10,000, the monthly magazine is distributed free at 250 locations in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, including synagogues, kosher restaurants and stores.

“Jewish Life doesn’t replace coverage of the Orthodox community in our other publications, it enhances it,” said Kimber Sax, COO of nonprofit Los Angeles Jewish Publications, Inc., which also publishes The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Family of Conejo, Simi and West Valley and Jewish Family of Orange County.

The next issue of Jewish Life will be a back-to-school education-related issue, followed by a magazine dedicated to the High Holidays, Jewish Life Editor Emuna Braverman said.

“I hope that the magazine will become an important resource for Orthodox community events and information,” said Braverman, a mother of nine who lives in the Pico-Robertson area.

Braverman, who holds both a law and psychology degree, started the educational program for Aish HaTorah in Los Angeles 22 years ago with her husband, Rabbi Nachum Braverman, and they both still work for the international organization. Braverman also teaches gourmet kosher cooking classes and is working on a kosher cookbook.

Rabbis from around the city serve on the advisory board of Jewish Life, including Moises Benzaquen, Gershon Bess, Asher Brander, Moshe Cohen, Daniel Korobkin, Yaakov Krause, Baruch Kupfer, Elazar Muskin, Yosef Shusterman, Avrohom Stuhlberger, Yitzchok Summers, Sholom Tendler, Yakov Vann, Steven Weil and David Zargari.

For more information, contact Emuna Braverman at emunab@jewishlifela.com.

Synagogue Subsidies

The Orthodox Union (OU) is accepting applications for its new Synagogue Grants Program, which will provide up to $20,000 apiece to five OU-affiliated shuls across North America to develop innovative programming.

The grants program will support a variety of activities, including leadership development, membership, fundraising, strategic planning, education, communal outreach, social service, youth programs and multimedia technologies. Activities may include discussion series, conferences, symposia, public forums and hands-on learning experiences that impact the lives of congregants.

Preference will be given to programs replicable in other synagogues and communities so that OU shuls can assist one another, said OU President, Stephen J. Savitsky. At least one of the grants will be reserved for smaller Jewish communities, as part of an emphasis to encourage Orthodox life outside of large cities, he said.

Applications are due by Sept. 26, 2005, for programs beginning in January. For more information, contact Frank Buchweitz, OU director of special projects, at (212) 613-8188, or frank@ou.org.


Wilshire Boulevard Gambles on Future

On any given day, Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus in West Los Angeles is a hub of activity. Built seven years ago for $30 million, the campus attracted new members like a magnet. They came flocking to enroll their children in day school or religious school or attend the many other activities the campus offered.

Now it wants to repeat its success in a part of town that is far less congruous with Jewish life than the Westside: Koreatown. The temple is planning on spending $30 million to revamp its Wilshire Boulevard property and to turn it into a major Mid-City Jewish destination.

Although 70 percent of Los Angeles Jews currently live on the Westside and in the Valley, the Wilshire Boulevard board is banking on the fact that high housing costs and a lower tolerance for long commutes will cause a west-to-east demographic shift.

“Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood Hills, Glendale, Pasadena — not only are they more affordable places to live, but they are fabulously interesting places to live,” said Rabbi Steven Leder, Wilshire Boulevard’s senior rabbi, who is spearheading the renovations. He said the Koreatown temple is located in the “newly revitalized Soho of Los Angeles,” referring to the trendy New York City neighborhood.

The proposed renovations come at a crucial point for the temple. The Edgar Magnin Sanctuary, which turns 75 this month (see sidebar), needs serious repair. While the sanctuary hosts two bar mitzvahs a week during its Saturday morning services, which draw about 500 people, the Friday night turnout is generally small and the majority of those attendees live east of La Cienega Boulevard. Most Wilshire Boulevard programs, such as day school, most religious school classes, adult classes and psychological support groups, are at the Irmas Campus.

It is the Irmas Campus that increased Wilshire Boulevard’s membership by 700 families, and two-thirds of the temple’s 2,500 families are affliated with the Irmas Campus. While the Magnin facility has 40 classrooms, during the week they are rented out to a charter school and not used for Jewish studies.

“We either needed to restore [the Edgar Magnin Sanctuary] and contemporize its space for usage or let it go,” Leder said. “And I would be ashamed of myself if it was let go on my watch.”

In 2001, the temple received a Preserve Los Angeles grant from the Getty Foundation to draw up a plan to rehabilitate and maintain the Wilshire Boulevard property, which is a landmark building. The study found that there was significant deterioration of the stone and concrete decorative elements on the building’s exterior and there was efflorescence (a discoloration) of the plaster on the dome inside the sanctuary. The study also found that the building’s electrical, lighting, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems were old and worn out.

In addition, the board had some complaints of its own. While the sanctuary was built to accommodate 2,000 people, the social hall only holds 200, which means that congregants needed to go elsewhere for their parties. There is also no air conditioning, which can make packed High Holiday services, with 6,000 people attending, very uncomfortable.

The plan estimated that it would cost Wilshire Boulevard close to $5 million to restore the sanctuary to its former glory, but the board has grander visions. It is planning to building a large social hall with an industrial kitchen, parenting center, nursery school, rooftop garden and youth lounge.

The board also wants to renovate the current auditorium so that it can become a center for cultural programming in Los Angeles, akin to the 92nd Street Y in New York, and to landscape the gardens and create a perimeter wall to give the facility a campus feel.

The estimated cost of all the renovations is $30 million, and Wilshire Boulevard is currently soliciting funds and negotiating naming rights with some members.

But who will come to the Wilshire synagogue? Leder and Steven Breuer, the temple’s executive director, are reluctant to admit that the motive behind the renovations is to attract new members, saying that they are spending $30 million to serve the existing 1,000 families that affiliate with the Magnin facility.

Los Angeles demographers think that Wilshire Boulevard is ahead of the curve.

“I think that [Wilshire Boulevard] is very astute, and what is going to happen is that they are going to anchor a Jewish community there,” said Pini Herman, principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research.

He said that the Westside can’t handle the density of the population, noting “When the alternatives are a $1.5 million tear-down on the Westside or a $300,000 [house] in that area, which is only a 10-minute drive from Wilshire and Fairfax, and you have reasonable Jewish services, it’s going to become a lot more attractive.”

Herman doesn’t think the new Wilshire Boulevard, which could take two years to renovate, is going to detract from the Westside, “but it will give some alternatives to Jews who like to be urban pioneers but who also want to live among Jews.”

Young people and empty nesters may be returning to inner-city properties, said Steven Windmueller, director of the School for Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, “because they reject the commute, and they want the convenience of what downtown L.A. and mid-Wilshire and Los Feliz offers.”

With the closing of the Jewish Community Center in Los Feliz and the downgrading of services at the Westside Jewish Community Center, Windmueller said that Wilshire Boulevard can “fill an important community niche.”

Still, the question remains that when the renovations are completed, will people come or will they continue to attend synagogues on the Westside?

“It is a gamble, but Los Angeles cannot sprawl forever,” Breuer said. “The city is having an internal renaissance, and this [renovation] is a commitment to the future. We trust that there will be people to come. If you build it, they will come. That is the vision at least.”

Wilshire Boulevard Temple will “Celebrate the Life of a Building and the Building of a Life,” with a Mandy Patinkin concert on Nov. 21 at the Magnin Sanctuary, 3663 Wilshire Blvd. The event will commemorate the sanctuary’s 75th birthday and Steven Breuer’s five decades of service to the temple. For more information call (213) 388-2401 ext. 521, or visit www.wilshireboulevardtemple.org.

Community Briefs

Mazon Pledges Funds to Sudan

Two Jewish groups have joined forces to try to save the lives of sickly, starving Sudanese refugees fleeing from government-sanctioned brutality.

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger and the Jewish Coalition for Sudan Relief have pledged $25,000 apiece to provide emergency medical care, food and nutritional information to displaced refugees living in camps in Chad and in the western Darfur region of Sudan.

Rabbi Lee Bycel, a Mazon board member and former president of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, will serve as emissary for the two Jewish groups. Bycel plans to spend Yom Kippur in Chad to bring attention to the plight of the nearly 200,000 Sudanese refuges have fled there over the past 18 months.

“On this fast day of ours, I will fast with people who do not fast by choice, who may never ‘break the fast,'” Bycel said in a statement. The rabbi himself said he personally wants to raise $75,000 for relief efforts, in addition to the Mazon and Jewish Coalition money.

The Bush administration recently declared that Sudanese troops and militias had committed genocide against non-Arab villagers in Darfur. The United Nations estimates that 50,000 blacks have died and 1.2 million made homeless by government attacks on Darfur villagers since a rebellion broke out there in early 2003.

Mazon has contributed more than $31 million since 1986 to anti-hunger organizations, and to advocacy groups working to aid needy families and at-risk children around the world.

Donations for Sudanese refugees can be sent to Mazon, 1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 260, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Checks should be made payable to Mazon. — Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

VBS’ Feinstein Takes Over as SeniorRabbi

If Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) gave its rabbis titles, like assistant or associate or senior — which it doesn’t — Rabbi Harold Schulweis would likely have been called senior rabbi for the last 35 years, since he set the direction and the vision for the Conservative congregation in Encino

Now that Schulweis, 79, has passed those responsibilities on to Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Feinstein would, in theory, get the addendum of “senior.”

“If two people like each other and appreciate each other, there are no questions about who is No. 1 and who is No. 1. That is silly kind of talk,” Schulweis said.

At the same time, the reality of there being one person at the helm is not something the shul ignores. Schulweis felt the time was right to let Feinstein, who is widely beloved and admired by the congregation, take that step up. He will be officially installed this spring.

“The policy, the directions and the projects will be in his hands, and he will have the first vote,” Schulweis said. “He is 51, and I am in relatively good health, and there is no reason for him to not have the challenges and joys of being senior rabbi.”

Schulweis says he will continue with all of the same duties, and that his interaction with congregants will not change. He is not retiring, nor is he taking on the title of emeritus.

Feinstein, who has been with VBS for 11 years, looks forward to shifting the relationship with his mentor and his congregants.

“Rabbi Schulweis has given me a congregation and a community with learning at its center, and I will protect and preserve and enhance that,” Feinstein said. “We will also be working harder this year on prayer, on social action and on community building.”

The congregation, the board and the other rabbis are all excited about the change, since it provided a way to keep both Feinstein and Schulweis as integral parts of the community.

Feinstein himself has no illusions about what the change means.

“I’m going to get a lot older a lot faster,” he quipped. — Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Religion Editor

Kushner to Pen Spielberg Munich Pic

Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) is writing a new screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s film on the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics, focusing on the hunt for the Black September terrorists who took the Israeli team hostage.

Production of the film has been postponed to June 2005 from an earlier scheduled start of June 2004.

Marvin Levy, Spielberg’s spokesman, denied a New York Post report that the postponement was based on fears that Muslim extremists might target the locations to be used in the movie. He also denied that “Vengeance” had been chosen as the film’s title.

Instead, the delay is mainly due to Spielberg’s dissatisfaction with the first draft of the script, submitted by Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”).

The only cast member announced so far is Australian actor Eric Bana (“Troy,” “Hulk”). Spielberg had also hoped to cast Ben Kingsley, with whom he collaborated in “Schindler’s List,” but Kingsley will be unavailable at the new starting date.

The tragedy of the Munich Olympics, in which the terrorists easily infiltrated the Olympic Village, resulted in the death of 11 Israeli athletes. Two were killed immediately by the terrorists, and nine died in a bungled attempt by German police to free the remaining hostages.

Spielberg has said that his Jewish heritage took on a new dimension while making “Schindler’s List.” The Shoah Foundation, which he established 11 years ago, has since videotaped the testimonies of 52,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses.

The documentary “One Day in September,” on the Munich Olympics, won an Oscar in 2000 for Swiss producer Arthur Cohn. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Outreach Service Offers Alternative

With many Jews feeling dissatisfied over the cost of High Holiday tickets and unfulfilled by holiday services, the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) is offering free or low-cost explanatory “Beginners Services” nationwide — and the Southland is no exception. In a recent NJOP poll, more than 50 percent of respondents said that High Holiday services are either too long, boring, repetitive or not relevant. Moneywise, nearly 70 percent felt that the cost of High Holiday tickets was either too high, unwarranted, a turnoff or should be reconsidered.

Since 1990, the NJOP has offered free or low-cost High Holiday Beginners Services that are open to Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance. Billed as the “High Holiday service for those who aren’t so high on the holidays,” many of these alternative services include abundant explanations, opportunities to ask questions, easy-to-learn melodies and numerous English readings.

“If we want people with little or no synagogue experience to be inspired by the holidays, we have to offer meaningful encounters that are inviting, uplifting, non-judgmental, and even fun,” says Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, founder and director of the New York-based NJOP. “I am proud to say that NJOP’s Beginners Services have had a tremendous impact on tens of thousands of Jews, strengthening their connections to Judaism and Jewish life.”For more information, contact Aish HaTorah at (310) 278-8672, ext. 703; The Westwood Kehilla at (310) 441-5289; Calabasas Shul at (818) 591-7485; or visit www.njop.org. — Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Contributing Writer

Jewish Community FoundationAwardees

The Jewish Community Foundation awarded last month grants totaling nearly $453,000 to support innovative programming at 16 Jewish organizations.

“We want to encourage nonprofit agencies to develop cutting-edge projects,” Foundation Chief Executive Marvin I. Schotland said in a release.

Among grant recipients:

Congress Weighs Nonprofit Security

These days, U.S. airports, federal buildings and transportation hubs are protected by surveillance and armed guards. But what about everything else? What about the cash-strapped nonprofits like temples, schools and community centers whose ethnicity or religious affiliation might make them a potential target?

Some federal legislators have expressed concern that these so-called "soft targets" are going to need extra protection.

The High Risk Nonprofit Security Enhancement Act of 2004 currently before Congress would allocate $100 million in grants and up to $250 million in government-guaranteed loans for security improvements to nonprofit organizations in 2005, with similar amounts in 2006 and 2007, along with $50 million in grants to law enforcement.

The $350 million in assistance to nonprofits would pay for security firms to install better infrastructure, such as concrete barriers, metal detectors and video cameras, and to provide expert training for the nonprofits’ staff on operating the equipment.

"Any time [the nation goes] to Orange Alert, we hear estimates that in large urban areas like Los Angeles it can cost law enforcement up to a million dollars [per] day to comply with the additional security requirements," said Julia Massimino, spokeswoman for Rep. Howard Berman (D-North Hollywood), one of the local co-sponsors of the House bill. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) is also a co-sponsor.

With law enforcement unable to simultaneously patrol all possible threat sites, the hope is that nonprofits would be able to better defend themselves by using the funds for technological improvements.

The pool of nonprofits that would be eligible for the funds is anticipated to be quite large. It would ultimately be determined by the Homeland Security secretary.

The bill pointedly does not provide funds for nonprofits to purchase any improvement that "would … [be] reasonably necessary due to nonterrorist threats." However, making that distinction could prove complicated in some cases.

Threats or prior violence directed against an organization by terrorists would be a factor in a decision on eligibility, as would having high "symbolic value" as a target or other information that the secretary would choose to accept.

"It is subjective," said Robyn Judelson, United Jewish Communities public affairs director, one of the most ardent supporters of the bill. "It will be up to the secretary of Homeland Security to determine how far to draw the net. As times change, what may be a high risk today may not be the case in a few months or [vice versa]. We wanted the funds to be there for the secretary to make that decision."

"Nonprofits protect our health [and the] social, religious and educational services provided to Americans, and we have to do what we can to protect them in a different way than is set up in for-profit [organizations] or airplanes," Judelson said of the special needs facing nonprofits.

Because of the U.S. economic problems of the past few years, grants and donations for nonprofits have been steadily drying up, making extra expenditures on security difficult.

David Rosenberg, a local security consultant with The Centurion Group, a subsidiary of Centurion Security Inc., noted that over half of his clients are nonprofit organizations conceivably at risk from international terrorism.

"Anything that’s happening globally affects us on a local level," Rosenberg explained. "There was the firebombing of a Jewish day school in Montreal recently, [and] that immediately affected our local clients, and we will step up our security."

He noted, however, that the biggest spike in demand for security services among Los Angeles-area nonprofits came after the North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting in August 1999, rather than after Sept. 11.

"You have to be prepared for anything from an earthquake to a terrorist attack, because there’s no way of knowing," Rosenberg said. "I personally am more concerned about domestic terrorism than international terrorism."

While home-grown violence may be far more common than international attacks, the bill before Congress is not designed to combat it. The security enhancements the bill would provide, however, may nevertheless do so as an unintended consequence.

Perhaps a more fundamental gap in the legislation is a lack of money specifically earmarked for salaries of hired guards who are not existing employees of a nonprofit organization.

"I’m a big advocate of using video cameras, but who’s watching the screen? Everybody who works in a synagogue, for example, is responsible for security, but you [still] want at least one specialist at the location who can respond to whatever emergency arises," Rosenberg said of the limitations of training a nonprofit’s existing staff.

"[For example,] who’s going to operate the metal detectors? And if you find a weapon on somebody, who’s going to ensure that that person doesn’t get inside the structure? I can’t imagine somebody who’s a security professional saying all you need is environmental changes — that’s a wild thought," Rosenberg said.

There is wide agreement, however, that nonprofits do need more protection than they currently have, and infrastructure enhancements are one step in that direction.

The House bill making its way through the Judiciary Committee has 21 co-sponsors. The identical Senate version has eight co-sponsors in the Governmental Affairs Committee. Little overt opposition to the bill has materialized.

"Everybody’s having a difficult time financially, and that just trickles down to nonprofits," Rosenberg said. "Donations are down, but many synagogues have had to add additional security."

"We’re at a point now where it could be dangerous to practice your religion," he said. "It may be dangerous to give your children a Jewish education. So in order to exercise those freedoms, we’re going to have to put precautions in place."

The Circuit

Chaverim Simcha

Four members of Chaverim, a social program for adults with developmental disabilities celebrated their bar/bat mitzvahs at Valley Beth Shalom. Karen Cook, Cindi Rothstein, Ron Corn and Stephen Wise didn’t have the opportunity to partake in the Jewish ritual at the traditional age of 12 or 13. Now in their 30s, the members trained under Rabbi Sara Berman and Rabbi Sharon Gladstone in preparation for the Torah reading. Directed by Dr. Amy Gross under the auspices of the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, Chaverim organizes social events from dances to Shabbat dinners.

For more information, e-mail the Chaverim at info@mychaverim.org . — Leora Alhadeff, Contributing Writer

Academic Honors

Magnanimous Los Angeles is sharing its prodigious brainpower with other less cerebrally fortunate cities. Tarzana resident David Tabari, 18, was selected to receive San Francisco State University’s most distinguished academic award for freshmen, the Presidential Scholar, which is worth some $17,000 over four years. Tabari, who comes from a family of Iranian refugees will major in molecular biology and plans to move to Israel and build a children’s hospital there.

And in Philadelphia, the American Academy for Jewish Research recently elected University of Judaism (UJ) professor Ziony Zevit to become a fellow. Zevit is the Distinguished Professor of Biblical Literature and Northwest Semitic Languages at the UJ, and is one of only four Southern California scholars to be elected to the academy, one of the oldest Jewish studies organizations in America.

Bronstein’s Breakthrough

If you have trouble recognizing faces, then perhaps a Technion student can help. Michael Bronstein and Raz Zur, two students from the Technion, one of Israel’s premier science universities, visited members of the Southern California Chapter of the American Technion Society at the Four Seasons Hotel on Sept. 7. Bronstein demonstrated his revolutionary facial-recognition software that he developed with his twin brother, Alexander.

Winn Win Situation

Betty Winn has been appointed the new head of school at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge. Winn, the former head of school at Los Encinos School in Encino will be responsible for providing educational leadership and direction at Heschel.

Mo Money, Mo Books

The Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles came into the dough recently, receiving two large grants. The first was $40,000 from the Library Services and Technology Act/California State Library, which will go toward providing Jewish cultural programs at the Los Angeles Public Library’s Roberston branch.

The Jewish Federation/Metro West Region provided the second grant of $12,000, which will go toward a program called The Right Book @ The Right Time that provides educators and librarians with knowledge of how to use literature for children and families facing troubling times.

Bat Yam Yum

The Hadassah Chapter of Bat Yam Daughters of the Sea held their second annual membership dinner on Sept. 10 at the home of Miriam Zlotolow, where special guest speaker Judy Gruen read excerpts from her latest humor book “Till We Eat Again.” The Bat Yam chapter was formed to attract residents from Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Westchester areas.

For more information, call Dorraine Gilbert at (310) 822-5250.

L.A. Law

Lawyers, judges, law professors and others involved in the legal profession converged at the St. Regis Hotel on Sept. 24 as Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was honored with the Harvey L. Silbert Torch of Learning Award at an event sponsored by the American Friends of Hebrew University (AFHU). Silbert, who passed away last year, supported Hebrew U for more than 50 years, providing scholarships and naming buildings and programs at the university.

On hand to greet the crowd were Richard Ziman, AFHU Western region chair; Peter Weil, AFHU Western region president; and Martinn Mandles, AFHU Western region vice president; Eliyahu Honig, Hebrew U’s vice president; and Dean Eyal Zamir, representing Hebrew U’s Faculty of Law.

Upon accepting the award from Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom Kozinski clerked for, Kozinski paid tribute to his parents’ love for learning and said that Kennedy taught him “that judging is a serious business, and that there is no easy solution.”

“[Kennedy taught me] that you didn’t have to be Jewish to be a mensch,” he said. “But you can’t be a good judge, and you certainly can’t be a great judge, unless you are a mensch.”

Having an IMPACT!

What do Israeli soldiers do when the fighting is over? The Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, a group that promotes the well being of Israeli soldiers, has instituted the IMPACT! Scholarships, which provide soldiers with the financial resources to pursue a college education once they have completed their service. To date, more than $3.5 million scholarship dollars have been raised in the United States.

Sgt. Maj. Tzahi Turman, a recipient of an IMPACT! scholarship spoke to prominent business leaders at the Four Seasons Hotel about how he benefited from the scholarship. Turman served in the navy, and is currently a student at the University of Haifa, where he studies law and economics.

“The moral and financial support Jews in America provide [to] soldiers during their military service and after is a tremendous boost to our moral and our overall readiness,” Turman told the crowd. “Your caring means the world to us.”

Community Briefs

Financial Institutions Waive Fees forSurvivors

More than 100 of California’s largest financial institutions have agreed to waive wire-transfer fees charged Holocaust survivors and their families for reparation and restitution payments from abroad.

These payments, mainly from Germany, average $350 per month, and with banks up to now charging a $10-$40 handling fee per transfer, such fees can subtract up to 10 percent of the modest monthly checks.

The announcement that 108 California banks, credit unions, savings and loans and broker-dealers had pledged to eliminate the fees was made by State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who earlier had sent letters to 170 leading financial institutions requesting the voluntary waiver.

Some 140 of these institutions engaged in more than $70 billion worth of transactions with the state treasurer’s office during the last fiscal year.

Much of the impetus for the waiver campaign came from Bet Tzedek Legal Services in Los Angeles. The free legal service organization has represented close to 2,000 indigent Holocaust survivors, said Mitchell Kamin, its executive director.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 survivors live in California, the second largest such concentration in the United States, of whom some 6,000 to 8,000 receive restitution payments. Among the latter, about 40 percent live in poverty, said Kamin.

Angelides and Kamin spoke at a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 4, in San Francisco, held at the offices of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which assists more than 1,000 survivors each year.

A list of cooperating banks and other financial institutions can be found on the Web at www.treasurer.ca.gov/holocaust. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Sharsheret Head Honored for Fight Against BreastCancer

Rochelle Shoretz, founder and executive director of Sharsheret, an organization linking young Jewish women fighting breast cancer, was recently named a Yoplait Champion in the Fight Against Breast Cancer.

Yoplait will donate $1,000 to Sharsheret, and Shoretz will be recognized in the October issue of Self Magazine and at a two-day awards ceremony in New York City in September.

Since she founded Sharsheret two years ago while in chemotherapy at the age of 28, Shoretz, a former clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has received national recognition for her efforts to forge one-on-one supportive relationships between young Jewish women who have survived breast cancer and those fighting it.

The transcripts from two medical symposiums Sharsheret hosted, “How Do We Care For Our Children? Issues for Women and Men Facing Breast Cancer,” and “Breast Cancer and Fertility” are available at www.sharsheret.org.

For information on setting up a link or supporting Sharsheret, or for organizations wishing to partner with Sharsheret to raise awareness about the issues affecting young Jewish women fighting breast cancer, call (866) 474-2774. — Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Religion Editor

Israel Consul General Rotem BecomesAmbassador

Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles is no longer The Honorable Yuval Rotem. His character is as upright as ever, but from now on diplomatic protocol calls for addressing him as “Your Excellency.”

The new title goes with Rotem’s new personal rank of ambassador, an unusual distinction for an Israeli career diplomat. At any one time, no more than 20 professionals in Israel’s foreign service can carry the permanent title and, at age 43, Rotem is the youngest Israeli career ambassador in the world.

Rotem’s promotion was recommended last February by then-Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and went into effect on Sept. 1.

No citation or encomiums accompanied the upgrade. After considerable urging, Rotem allowed that “they must have reviewed my accomplishments and decided to make me an ambassador” and reluctantly acknowledged that the new rank “was a source of satisfaction.”

Among his new perks are a raise in pay and pension benefits, but Rotem sees the most immediate benefit in elevating the status and clout in Israel of the local consulate, whose territory includes Southern California, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Rotem vetoed any celebration of the promotion by his staff but noted that “my mom and dad in Israel sent me some nice flowers.”

Since assuming his present post three years ago this month, Rotem had greatly expanded the involvement and outreach of his office, not only within the Jewish community, but also among the Southwest’s diverse ethnic and religious groups. He is scheduled to leave next summer, but his next assignment is unknown.

So far, Rotem wears his new distinction lightly. When a reporter closed an interview by congratulating “your excellency,” Rotem pleaded, “Come on, get off it.” — TT

Survivor Descendant Convention to be Held in LosAngeles

“Living The Legacy: Los Angeles,” a convention gathering descendants of Shoah survivors and their families, will take place locally for the first time on Sept. 14.

The daylong event will offer symposiums and workshops dealing with survivor offspring issues, such as marrying into a descendant/survivor family, intermarriage and interfamily dialogue.

This year marks the second annual “Living the Legacy: A Gathering of Descendants of Survivors of the Shoah and their Families” convention dedicated to outreach to the Holocaust offspring community. The event is cosponsored by Jewish Family Service (JFS), The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Metro Western Region of The Jewish Federation, and The Morgan Aging with Dignity Fund of The Jewish Federation. The first “Living the Legacy” took place in Chicago in July 2002.

According to organizer Darlene Basch, “Living the Legacy 2003” will expand on the first gathering’s breadth, offering more panels, two art workshops, a returning memoir writing course, a glatt kosher lunch, and the event’s first awards ceremony.

This year’s “Legacy” will also honor Dr. Florabel Kinsler and Dr. Sarah Moskovitz, two Holocaust survivors who each worked extensively in Los Angeles with survivors and their descendants for more than 30 years.

Kinsler, a social worker and psychotherapist, founded and spearheaded the JFS Holocaust Family Project from 1981 to 1993. Kinsler pioneered the founding of the JFS group outreach to children of Holocaust survivors, forming intergenerational dialogues and survivor groups from 1976 to 1993. In 1987, Kinsler began Cafe Europa, a child Holocaust survivors support group.

Moskovitz, professor emeritus of human development and counseling in the department of educational psychology at CSUN, is the author of “Love Despite Hate: Child Survivors of the Holocaust And Their Adult Lives” and writes poetry in English and Yiddish. Earlier this year, she was awarded a grant from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., to translate Yiddish poetry in the Ringelblum Archives.

Kinsler and Moskovitz have led more than 25 groups for child survivors under the aegis of JFS, and they believe that such conventions as “Living the Legacy” provide survivors and their offspring with a necessary outlet.

“It’s the value of community,” Moskovitz said. “Any meeting where they can get together and talk, support, eat together and even fight with each other, is like extended family.”

“Living the Legacy: Los Angeles,” takes place on Sept.14, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at The Jewish Federation, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.For more information, contact Darlene Basch at (323) 937-4974 or via e-mail atdbasch@aol.com . — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Federation Gives $100,000 to Bus BombingVictims

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles transmitted $100,000 in grants to two Jerusalem hospitals treating victims of the Aug. 19 suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus, which killed 21 people.

The funds are earmarked for the pediatric unit of Hadassah Hospital, and for emergency aid and specialized equipment for Sha’arei Tzedek hospital.

“We have immediately contacted our representatives in Israel to help in any way that we can,” said Jake Farber, chairman of the Jewish Federation, “and we will do our best here in Los Angeles to support the victims devastated by this horrendous incident.”

The Federation adamantly condemned the Sept. 9 double bombings in Israel. “The continued slaughter of innocent Israelis by Palestinian terrorists must end,” Farber said. Speaking on behalf of Los Angeles Jewish community, Farber continued: “As every political, academic and right-minded individual knows, the continuing attacks on Israelis by Palestinian terrorists only makes getting back to the negotiating table that much more difficult. It is only at the negotiating table that this decades-long conflict will be resolved.”–TT

Promoting Medical Care in Israel

Even when Jews packed medical school classrooms, there were few organizations dedicated to their special concerns. Today, most schools lack active associations for Jewish students. As Carol Ghatan puts it, "The Jewish medical student gets lost sometimes."

Ghatan, both the daughter and the mother of a doctor, is also associate director of the American Physicians Fellowship for Medicine in Israel (APF). This organization, founded by three Jewish doctors in 1950, is now belatedly reaching out to Jewish medical students.

APF is sometimes called "Israel’s best-kept medical secret." Committed to advancing medical education, research and care in Israel, it gives fellowships to Israeli doctors for advanced study in North America, and sends American experts to lecture and teach in Israel. Board member Peter Glazier, son of an APF founder, estimates that over time the group has dispersed $6 million in grants, helping to ensure that Israeli medical care remains world class.

Though APF members prefer to work quietly, they’ve been positively secretive about one aspect of their mission. In close cooperation with the Israeli government, they’ve compiled a registry of American health care professionals willing to travel to Israel in case of national emergency. The APF list emerged in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, when American doctors took over for Israeli counterparts pressed into military service. The list has not been reactivated, but APF stayed on high alert during the Gulf War.

New York University medical student Justin Friedman explains why he joined APF: "I decided to become a physician to make a difference in people’s lives…. APF has benefited countless thousands of people by helping [Israeli] physicians obtain a better education, and thus, positively affecting their patients’ care. APF is something everyone should know about, but they don’t. So, I feel compelled to tell them."

The Circuit

HEEB Goes Deep

Call it the "Brooklyn Invasion."

All traces of the solemnity and sadness of Holocaust Remembrance Day were gone by nightfall when the gang from New York-based Heeb Magazine threw their first West Coast party at the Hollywood-and-Vine hotspot Deep. Palm Pictures, celebrating the DVD release of Henry Bean’s controversial 2001 film, "The Believer," co-sponsored the event.

About 50 yarmulke boys and Heeb-sters socialized over cigs and cocktails against the backdrop of the club’s trademark exotic dancers in glass displays. One table boasted Heeb stickers and tees, while pieces of Streit’s matzah could be found at every booth.

Heeb and "The Believer" may not be such strange bedfellows — both have garnered attention touting radical Jews on the fringes.

Launched in January 2002, with a grant from the San Francisco-based Joshua Venture fellowship program, Heeb — equal parts journalism and satire with a SPIN-style design and snotty, in-your-face celebration of Jewish culture — embraces a punk fanzine sensibility in its humor-laced coverage of pop culture and an idiosyncratic Jewish nexus.

Past issues have included pieces on beat poet Allen Ginsburg, filmmaker Todd Solondz and porn publisher Al Goldstein; a Neil Diamond centerfold; and tons of references to hip-hop culture. The current issue, No. 3, continues the eclectic tradition of articles played for laughs, including pieces on the world’s worst Jewish comedian and an homage to the late actress Nell Carter, who had converted to Judaism. The magazine’s slogan says it all: "We’re the kids your rabbi warned you about."

A quartet representing Heeb’s staff, including editor-in-chief Jennifer Bleyer and publisher Joshua Neuman, spent their week in Los Angeles holed up at the Grafton Hotel on Sunset Boulevard.

Neuman, happy to be back in Los Angeles, revealed plans to throw Heeb parties in Montreal, Atlanta and Las Vegas within the coming months. The Deep party was a priority, because Los Angeles is Heeb’s second-biggest market.

"It’s Tel Aviv to New York’s Jerusalem," he quipped.

Neuman, 31, who started out reviewing music for the magazine, recently became Heeb’s publisher when the magazine’s founder, Bleyer, decided to concentrate on her editor-in-chief role.

Bleyer, dressed in jeans and a Heeb T-shirt and sporting a tan from a recent assignment in Costa Rica, made some West Coast friends at the party. The brunette journalist, who last year gained the magazine some notoriety by talking openly about her sex life on Howard Stern’s radio and cable programs, spoke about the progress of her enterprise.

"Huge amounts of people are not Jewish who have enjoyed it," she said.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation: Bleyer, who is most proud of the Heeb articles focused on social justice, has no real use for the satire.

"I’m not into a lot of the humor stuff," said Bleyer, who considers this "the sugar to make the medicine go down."

Politically, Heeb makes no bones on its far left-wing stance. It flaunts it and flouts those who can’t deal.

"We want Jews on the left to realize that there are other Jews out there just like you," Neuman said.

Bleyer considered a recent Noam Chomsky article as one of her favorites.

"For me, as an activist," she said of Heeb’s political side, "it’s more important than anything kitschy and Jewish."

Neuman pointed to the late San Francisco Jewish radical rag Davka and Los Angeles’ own Asian cult favorite Giant Robot as kindred publications from which Heeb draws the most affinity. A personal Heeb highlight for Neuman, who teaches philosophy at New York University, was researching a piece on David Deutsch, "the world’s worst Jewish comedian." Deutsch got to hang out at the New York Friar’s Club and in the Catskills, and brush funny bones with the likes of Jack Carter, Pat Cooper and Soupy Sales

"We’re edgy and shticky," Neuman said, trying to bottle up the essence of Heeb.

As Heeb works out the kinks on an upcoming book deal and issue No. 4 in September, Neuman explained why he believes the magazine continues to fluff its ever-expanding subscription base, currently at 2,500.

"I think we have a really great sense of humor. We don’t take anything too seriously," said Neuman, in a moment of seriousness.

For more information on Heeb Magazine, visit www.heebmagazine.com.

Book ‘Em, Dena!

The Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles (JCLLA) has received a philanthropic gift from The Karma Foundation. Dina Karmazin Elkins, executive director of The Karma Foundation, presented the JCLLA with a check for $2,200. The gift will be used to develop and promote the JCLLA audio book collection. Dr. Aaron Willis, JCLLA chair, said that he is "delighted that the Karma Foundation sees such value in this new JCLLA project that promotes Jewish literacy to the blind, visually impaired and L.A. commuters."

Among the titles in the JCLLA audio book collection: "Bee Season" by Myla Goldberg and "The Diary of Anne Frank."

The Karma Foundation gift comes hot on the heels of several grants for JCLLA. The American Library Association presented JCLLA with $2,500 as part of the 2003 Gale Group Financial Development Award. That award will support JCLLA’s creative project, "One People, Many Stories," a radio series for public radio. JCLLA also received an undisclosed contribution from Richard and Lois Gunther to purchase materials for the library’s community beit midrash.

For more information, call the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles at (323) 761 – 8644; www.JCLLA.org.

Air Buds

More than 300 guests gathered at the Four Seasons in West Hollywood to honor "Temple of the Air," a program created by Rabbi David Baron of Temple Shalom For The Arts designed to reach the homebound and others unable to attend synagogue on the High Holidays. Monty Hall served as master of ceremonies, and several temple members entertained, including comedian Steve Landesberg (Det. Arthur Dietrich on "Barney Miller") and musical performers Theodore Bikel and Cantor Ilysia Pierce, who sang tunes from "Fiddler on the Roof." Anita Mann and Allen Kohl and Bobbie and Bob Stern were honored at the event.

Hawaiian Seder

Attorney Laura Stein of Beverly Hills, along with her mother and legal partner Sandra Stein, recently attended a seder hosted by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle in the Governor’s Mansion in Honolulu. Lingle, who was elected in November 2002, became the first woman to govern Hawaii and the first Republican to hold the office in 40 years. The Steins have been long supporters of Lingle, dating back to her initial bid for governor in 1998.

"I’m just so proud to know her," Laura Stein said. "I think she sets the example for so many groups that are underrepresented." — Staff Report

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Community Funding

An Israel advocacy mobile unit for college campuses. A community rabbi to cover the West San Fernando Valley. A series of cultural events to forge bonds between the Jewish communities of the East Valley. These are just a few of the innovative programs to be launched by grants from The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance.

Every year for the past 10 years, members of the Valley Alliance’s planning and allocation committee have met to decide the fate of proposals for their Incentive Regional Allocation (IRA) program. This year, the committee approved 13 of 15 projects, doling out a total of $82,360. The other two projects, Temple Aliyah’s Center for Spirituality and Temple Beth Haverim’s Family Shabbat in the Park, were asked to apply for synagogue grants instead.

"The IRA program enables the Valley Alliance to have sole control over some of the campaign funds and to help agencies and synagogues, in coalition with agencies, to do new and innovative programming, over and above their usual budget allocation," said Saundra Mandel, director of planning and allocations.

Rabbi Jordan Goldson, director of Hillel at California State University Northridge (CSUN), said he is thrilled. The committee not only approved the two projects he proposed but increased one grant by $1,100.

"We came to them with the proposal for the Israel advocacy mobile unit, and they found it so interesting they actually gave us more money than we asked for," Goldson said.

The mobile unit, which is being co-sponsored by American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), will have of an intern from CSUN Hillel, along with materials, to assist Jewish students at outlying campuses, such as Moorpark College and the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, to develop Israel advocacy programs.

"We found that when we put tables up here [at CSUN], students came out of the woodwork," Goldson said. "So we wanted to take our own experience and put it to use at campuses where they don’t have these kinds of resources. We hope to be able to present Israel in a positive light, as well as dispel some other the myths surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also to encourage students to go visit Israel."

CSUN Hillel also received a grant for a second project, a kosher meal program that will include weekly hot lunches Monday through Thursday and a hot dinner one night a week. Each dinner will be preceded by a cooking class taught by Kohava Yosef, Hillel’s chef.

"The idea was to enable us to offer kosher meals to students at a comparable price to what they would pay on campus for a nonkosher meal," Goldson said. "Food is one of the best ways to get to the hearts of students.

"They’re not always interested in a lecture or a film about Israel, but if you offer a free pizza night, they’ll come. The other aspect is we do have an increasing number of observant students who go to CSUN and come to Hillel from time to time, and this will be a way to serve their needs," he said.

Another IRA grant will fund a project long a dream of Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.

"One of my charges when I came here two years ago was to revamp the chaplaincy program," Diamond said. "We’ve had rabbis visiting health-care institutions and prisons for the past 40 years.

"It’s a wonderful program, but it became clear to me we needed to reinvigorate it. We see the community rabbi as a way to bring Jews into the synagogue world and into The Federation, not to mention the mitzvah of being there for those who are ill or in nursing homes. This rabbi will touch people in powerful ways," he said.

Diamond said he envisions the community rabbi as a way of bridging the gap between synagogue members and the unaffiliated. The position will initially be part time and include both chaplaincy work with hospitals and nursing homes and work with synagogues creating bikkur cholim (visiting the sick) and other outreach programs.

The Board of Rabbis will work in conjunction with the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force to choose a candidate to serve the area west of the 405 Freeway. Diamond hopes to eventually expand the program to have community rabbis serving the East Valley and the city as well.

Cantor Ira S. Bigeleisen of Adat Ari El said he is looking forward to developing cooperative cultural programs with Temple Beth Hillel, Shaarey Zedek and other members of the East Valley Cross-Organizational Development team. The group received a grant of $5,000 to put together a series of four cultural events in the first joint programming effort by East Valley synagogues and organizations.

"The congregations on this end of the Valley are older and more used to running on our own rails," the cantor explained. "We’ve been so busy building our own communities [within the synagogue] that we haven’t worked together like people do in the West Valley or the Conejo Valley. So we decided the best way to come together was to share events."

Among the other projects approved for IRA grants were a children’s Jewish art contest and exhibition; Shabbat Across the Valley, a program for students at Pierce and Valley colleges; several programs serving teenagers, and a project to increase community awareness of domestic violence.

"At our board meeting, a number of members of the planning and allocation committee commented on the quality of the submissions this year and how pleased they were to see the breadth and the depth of them," Mandel said. "We’re happy to provide the seed money for these innovative programs."

Westside JCC May be Rescued

Of the five doomed Los Angeles area Jewish Community Centers (JCC), at least one center’s membership is not rolling over without a fight. About 100 members showed up for a Sunday morning emergency meeting Dec. 23 at the Westside JCC’s Birch Auditorium, where, in a dramatic turn of events, members raised the lion’s share of the $129,000 needed by Dec. 31 to keep most of the WJCC in operation at least until June 30. At the meeting, Paula Pearlman, Westside JCC advisory board leader, shared with the membership the fiscal breakdown of what it would take to keep the center open in the short and long term.

After Pearlman announced that a Westside family was offering a matching grant of $25,000, members at the meeting spontaneously joined in — in auction house fashion — with pledges of $1,000 apiece. By morning’s end, they had raised $94,000.

“The good news,” Pearlman announced from the lectern, “is that our organizing has kept the center open, and if we have the will, we can keep the center open in limited operation for another six months [if we can raise the remainder of the money].” Westside members still need to raise the remaining $35,000 by Dec. 31 to keep the center open in the short term, and they are asking for donations at the $1,000-$5,000 level. Interested parties can contact Pini Herman at (323) 934-8550 or via e-mail through his Web site, savethejcc.org. – Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer