Jewish Journal

Rachel Heller

  • Keeping the Los Angeles coast clear

    September 18, 2013 | 12:37 pm

    When it came time to choose a charity project for his September 2014 bar mitzvah, Ben Moody knew he wanted to support a cause close to his heart. “We’re always on our boat and at the beach, and we love the water,” Moody, 12, said of his Westlake Village family. He counts surfing...

  • Weeklong event explores Judaism and wellness

    April 18, 2013 | 1:56 pm

    When Rabbi Laura Geller learned that her father had Alzheimer’s disease, she struggled with the news. He was only in his 70s, after all, and it was painful for her to watch the man who had raised her — who she said had been “important and powerful and wonderful” in her life — lose...

  • Running for life: 52 marathons in 52 weeks

    February 27, 2013 | 8:56 am

    Of all Julie Weiss’ memories of her father, his larger-than-life personality stands out most: Maurice Weiss was a drummer — a regular on the radio by age 5 — a bandleader, a stock broker, and a tennis and racquetball player who took up acting at the ripe age of 70. 


  • Al Ashley: Strengthening day schools

    January 3, 2013 | 11:00 am

    When Al Ashley first began peeking inside Los Angeles’ Jewish day schools to review their business practices, it was partly for personal reasons: He wanted to make sure his three children would get a sound education.

    “I thought, hopefully, it would be a benefit to our children,...

  • Joe Sherwood: Honoring good police work

    November 20, 2012 | 5:06 pm

    It started with the morning paper. Every day, when Joe Sherwood read the news, he was struck by an imbalance he saw in law-enforcement reporting. 

    “Anytime there was a bad cop, it would be front-page news,” recalled Sherwood, 95. “They never talked about all the good police work...

  • Holy harvest

    October 11, 2012 | 10:27 am

    It’s a Tuesday evening, and Rabbi Craig Wyckoff is turning the compost in a wire bin next to rows of kale, tomato and cucumber plants on the grounds of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City (UUCSC). 

    When he’s finished, he leans his pitchfork against a shed. But...

  • The big reveal: How design makes rehab more serene

    July 5, 2012 | 11:16 am

    Room 9500 is the bottom rung at Beit T’Shuvah, the first stop for male addicts newly arrived from prison, the hospital or the streets. Six rookies at a time inhabit this snug dormitory as they adjust to life in rehab. For years, 9500 marked a dark and dreary start toward recovery...

  • Giving as a fountain of youth

    May 23, 2012 | 10:27 am

    Al Azus has found his fountain of youth, and he’s not keeping it a secret. In fact, the 92-year-old philanthropist recently published a memoir whose title all but gives his formula away: “Live Longer by Giving.”

    Azus has donated time, energy and millions of dollars from his...

  • Raising the bar brings zest, creativity to rite of passage

    April 25, 2012 | 11:05 am

    At his recent bar mitzvah, Noah Genco-Kamin managed to tell one of the most well-known stories in the Jewish canon — that of the Israelites wandering in the desert after the Exodus — in a way that no one present had heard it told before: from the perspective of a cow.

    Wearing a...

  • Shorter summer challenges camps

    January 26, 2012 | 1:41 pm

    “Early-start” is finally starting.

    After delaying implementation of a new, earlier school calendar last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will begin classes three weeks sooner this fall for the majority of students.

    Caught in the middle are local summer...

  • At 95, Kip’s Toyland owner ready for more fun and games

    December 22, 2011 | 11:25 am

    On a chilly Monday morning in late November, the sunlit patio outside Kip’s Toyland in the original Farmers Market was awash in anticipation. Reporters and city officials milled about, and passers-by with cameras hovered among the tables and chairs. A birthday surprise was in store...

  • The big tent:  Jews, Muslims, Christians celebrate spirituality in a shared sacred space

    December 21, 2011 | 11:22 am

    Whirling Dervishes, an elaborate feast and a lecture by a prominent Muslim scholar – Musallah Tauhid’s joyous celebration of its move to a new home in 2008 heralded good times ahead for the Sufi Muslim worship group. As a friendly gesture, the group invited its new neighbors for...

  • JCA Shalom Color Wars for adults who are kids at heart

    October 19, 2011 | 4:40 pm

    Each summer, thousands of gleeful children at Jewish summer camps everywhere split into color-coded teams and compete against their peers in water balloon tosses, three-legged races, baton runs and the inevitable sing-off.

    But why should they have all the fun?

    Grown children who...

  • Tal Sheyn

    September 16, 2011 | 5:24 pm

    Tal Sheyn likes to say she built her fashion career “from Z to A.”

    “I didn’t start out with a business plan or any kind of marketing strategy,” Sheyn said. “Instead, I got all these clients, and I had to very quickly figure the rest out.”

    Clearly, she succeeded —...

  • Wrap mind, and body, around Holy Days prep

    September 14, 2011 | 11:46 am

    Traditionally, the weeks leading up to the High Holy Days are a time of account settling for Jews, marked by personal reflection, repentance and prayer.

    But how about some Jewish yoga to get the ball rolling? Why not try some visualization exercises or Jewish meditation?

    About 30...

  • The shul that fits

    August 19, 2011 | 3:30 pm

    It happens most Friday nights. I close my laptop, pack stray work-related thoughts into my mental filing cabinet and begin to decompress for the weekend, when an insistent pang starts tugging at my brain. Something, I’ve long felt, is missing.

    Several months ago, I finally put my...

  • Religious schools add family programs, new apps

    August 17, 2011 | 12:04 pm

    Hebrew schools across Los Angeles are starting to look less and less like, well, Hebrew school.

    A growing number of programs now invite parents to learn alongside their children. Computer software is becoming just as crucial in class as teacher instruction. And often, lessons...

  • Kosher, allergy-free bakery brings sweet indulgence downtown

    August 9, 2011 | 4:06 pm

    The time: evening, after a delicious fleishig dinner. The place: outside the local cupcake shop. The contenders: one kosher nosher versus a towering heap of buttercream frosting. Sweet tooth, thwarted.

    At Babycakes NYC, this scene might have played out differently. The vegan, kosher...

  • Paint by soul

    July 21, 2011 | 6:38 pm

    The walls of Ora Tamir’s home are covered with color-soaked landscapes, masked faces and dystopian, dreamlike structures.

    Just don’t ask her what any of it means.

    “I don’t try to put a message in my paintings. Each piece evolves as I paint it — it just flows,” Tamir...

  • Leo Baeck’s community of elders bridges the generation gap

    May 24, 2011 | 5:30 pm

    About 40 seniors gathered in a sunny community room at Leo Baeck Temple on a Wednesday morning as Fredda Wasserman, adult program director of Our House: Grief Support Center, discussed the nuances of mourning the loss of a loved one. Many clutched tissues and dabbed at their eyes...

  • Valley and Proud: Valley Savvy

    May 20, 2011 | 12:58 pm

    If it’s happening in the San Fernando Valley, chances are Karen Young knows about it. Not only that — she’s probably already been there, chatted with the bigwigs and written up a whip-smart recap for her thousands of online readers.

    Young, a spirited connoisseur of all things...

  • Educator realizing lifelong dream to become rabbi

    May 10, 2011 | 6:13 pm

    Dvora Weisberg doesn’t think she’s had any unfair advantages over her fellow rabbinical students graduating from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) this month. Well, maybe a few.

    “I do have a considerable number of years over most of the other...

  • VBS’ beloved adult Hebrew tutor has a way with words

    April 20, 2011 | 4:51 pm

    Yossi Dresner has coached teens for their b’nai mitzvah at Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) for 40 years. He has run the adult b’nai mitzvah program for 26. As ritual director, he also conducts VBS’ morning and evening minyans and coordinates holiday services.

    Yet despite all of...

  • Police bike tour seeks funds for Israeli cyclists

    April 12, 2011 | 5:55 pm

    “We ride for those who died” — that’s the motto of the national Police Unity Tour (PUT), a grueling, three-day bicycle ride in which teams of police officers from across the United States pedal to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. The annual...

  • LAUSD schools accountable to new law

    April 5, 2011 | 6:50 pm

    Los Angeles public schools could be poised for revolution due to a controversial state law gaining momentum locally.

    The landmark “Parent Trigger” law, passed by the California government in January 2010, grants parents at failing schools the power to force their district to...

  • Grant contest will award Jewish day schools new classroom technology

    March 23, 2011 | 12:16 pm

    Jewish day schools in the Los Angeles area have until April 1 to take part in a unique contest that will award grants of up to $25,000 for cutting-edge classroom technology and programs.

    The Technology for Schools Grant Contest, open to day schools across the country, is a new...

  • Single mom by choice

    March 16, 2011 | 1:29 pm

    Thirty-two: That was the deadline, and Danit was sticking to it. That was the age, she’d decided, when she would finally heed her maternal impulse – husband or not.

    Danit (not her real name) had always known motherhood was her calling. For years, she worked at her mother’s...

  • 1,500 raise voices in song to remember Debbie Friedman

    February 15, 2011 | 6:16 pm

    As the piano struck the first notes of Debbie Friedman’s “Elohai N’Shama,” Cantor Linda Kates paused before the approximately 1,500 people gathered in the sanctuary at Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) and recalled a story about how the late singer-songwriter energized a crowd of...

  • Pearl’s passions: magnet honors slain journalist

    February 15, 2011 | 11:00 am

    Ask anyone who knew him: Daniel Pearl loved music. He joined bands in Atlanta, Paris and Mumbai, relishing the way a good melody can draw people together.

    So imagine how the slain Wall Street Journal reporter, killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, might have felt watching the...

  • Debbie Friedman honored by peers

    February 8, 2011 | 6:05 pm

    The music of Debbie Friedman energized generations of Jews across denomination lines. This weekend, a memorial concert to be held in the late singer-songwriter’s honor will attempt to do the same through a celebration of Friedman’s popular tunes.

    Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) will...

  • New Jew to relocate to larger, permanent West Hills campus

    January 27, 2011 | 2:09 pm

    “We now have a ‘makom’ — a sacred space in which to house our values,” said Bruce Powell, head of school at New Community Jewish High School, shortly after the deal was announced that New Jew may have finally found a permanent home — at the site of its first home.


  • LAUSD’s new calendar impacts camps, families

    January 25, 2011 | 6:27 pm

    This summer was going to be the one — the one when Prissi Cohen’s daughter, Tillie, would finally get to enroll with a friend in a late-summer overnight session at Camp Ramah. But now Cohen’s not so sure.

    If Tillie, 10, winds up going to a Los Angeles Unified School District...

  • Pingpong therapy brings net gains to Alzheimer’s patients

    January 25, 2011 | 6:20 pm

    Usually, Fryda Dvorak needs a cane to move around. But put her behind a pingpong table and you wouldn’t know it.

    Dvorak, 86 and living with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, returns volley after volley with her confident lob, sometimes gritting her teeth in concentration as she...

  • NCJHS to move to larger, permanent West Hills campus

    January 5, 2011 | 10:21 am

    “We now have a ‘makom’ — a sacred space in which to house our values,” said Bruce Powell, head of school at New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS), shortly after the deal was announced that NCJHS may have finally found a permanent home — at the site of its first home....

  • ‘Glee’-ful Magevet bringing sound of (Jewish) music to L.A.

    December 22, 2010 | 4:11 pm

    They might not have Kurt Hummel or Rachel Berry among their members, but Magevet, Yale University’s Jewish a cappella group, exudes plenty of “glee.”

    Round them up at a Jewish historical site and they’re liable to belt out a spirited tune. They’ve serenaded passersby on...

  • Children’s library in jeopardy

    December 15, 2010 | 10:21 am

    Dozens of children (and their parents) flocked to The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles building on a recent Sunday, drawn to a cheerful corner of the first floor where two performers led a tambourine-studded sing-along about barnyard animals.

    Kids settled onto the carpet or...

  • Diverse Daniel Pearl magnet nurtures leaders

    November 3, 2010 | 10:45 am

    Ask anyone who knew him: Daniel Pearl loved music. He joined bands in Atlanta, Paris and Mumbai, relishing the way a good melody can draw people together.

    So imagine how the slain Wall Street Journal reporter, killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, might have felt watching the...

  • Sisterhood strikes gold with adult ed

    October 27, 2010 | 10:24 am

    In a brightly lit classroom on a Wednesday morning, Rabbi Deborah Silver leads a standing-room-only crowd of pupils in an absorbing dissection of Psalm 27.

    Some 35 “students” — most silver-haired, some with canes or walkers — offer their thoughts on the rhythm of the psalm,...

  • Students and learning suffer in ‘Race’

    October 6, 2010 | 9:39 am

    When Jasmine Jafari sat down to write her college application essays this fall, she was gripped by a troubling fear.

    “What am I supposed to write? ‘Hi, I’mNo. X on your list, and there are 50,000 other applicants just like me — but here’s this quirky, charismatic story...

  • Mishkon Tephilo’s members look to shul’s future

    September 8, 2010 | 9:42 am

    In the early 1960s, when Jewish delis, kosher butchers and bakeries lined the Venice boardwalk, Temple Mishkon Tephilo was Aliza Wine’s neighborhood social hub.

    Wine and her Hebrew school friends would take drama classes and plan their Rosh Hashanah outfits together. The local...

  • Pray with your feet, end genocide

    March 23, 2010 | 5:56 pm

    As a high school freshman, Katie Hoselton decided to join an extracurricular club called “End Worldwide Genocide.” She didn’t know much about the issue at first but read up on conflicts in Eastern Europe and Africa and became a passionate activist for the cause.

    “The whole...

  • The joy of teaching

    March 23, 2010 | 2:54 pm

    After teaching for 50 years, Adina Bender is looking forward to retiring this June — sort of.

    The petite, auburn-haired woman crinkles her nose when she contemplates leaving Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) Day School, her home away from home for half a century.

    “I asked another...

  • Teens build bridges, from So Cal to Uganda

    February 24, 2010 | 2:58 pm

    Tefillah, sports, study sessions and even a dance — the four-day youth convention on Nabugoye Hill in late January was almost like a typical United Synagogue Youth (USY) convention, according to the three Southland USYers who traveled to Uganda to help run the event.

    But there...

  • The house that David built

    January 29, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    David Cygielman was a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara, a business major and the energetic president of the school’s Hillel, when he found out his father didn’t have long to live. 

    The diagnosis of terminal cancer threw Cygielman’s world into disarray. With no money for the...

  • Lindsy Seidel: A Hunger to Supply Relief

    January 6, 2010 | 1:55 am

    From the cheerful campus of Milken Community High School, Los Angeles’ Skid Row can seem worlds away. But the realities of homelessness and squalor plaguing L.A. city streets were brought home for student Lindsy Seidel last year on a “life-changing” visit.

    “What we saw was...

  • Merrill Alpert: Inspiring Youth

    January 6, 2010 | 1:45 am

    Sometimes, in the midst of Shabbat morning davening with her USYers, Merrill Alpert will fall silent for a few moments and listen to the teenagers’ voices.

    “It gives me such pride to hear their ruach [spirit] and see them wanting to take part in prayer,” Alpert said recently....

  • A Brief History of Jews in Public Schools

    November 30, 2009 | 2:01 pm

    With the many LAUSD schools having spotty reputations, and given the array of private schools to choose from, Jewish support for Los Angeles public schools in recent years has been at best tepid. But that wasn’t always the case.

    Jews in L.A. have had a long and textured...

  • Healing the World, One School at a Time

    November 25, 2009 | 12:25 pm

    When Robyn Ritter Simon first checked out Canfield Avenue Elementary School for her sons in 1995, she didn’t like what she saw.

    Test scores weren’t stellar. The school grounds needed improvement. And in the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson area of West Los Angeles, where the...

  • Jewish Home-Schooling Advocates Band Together

    September 23, 2009 | 8:27 pm

    On a typical Monday, school starts with an hour of davening for Shari Rosenman’s two children. They next spend two hours with a music teacher and work with online grammar and math curricula before unwinding with lunch and recess at a local park. Swim team practice and an art...

  • Industry Pros Point Way to Post-Addiction Creativity

    September 23, 2009 | 7:55 pm

    Some recovering addicts call it their “moment of clarity.” Others call it their “bottom.”

    For Leonard Buschel, it happened on a chilly summer evening in 1994 on his way to visit friends in Big Sur. He and his fiancée had just split up, and his nerves were frayed by...

  • Nachshon Reaches Out to Unfulfilliated

    September 16, 2009 | 7:51 pm

    In an airy Encino dining room, Cantor Judy Greenfeld instructs 12 women gathered around a lace-covered table on how to relax. Eyes closed, she tells the women to lean back in their chairs, abandon stressful thoughts and picture themselves on a pristine white beach.

    “We are at a...

  • One God or More? Ancient Texts Can Raise Questions of Practice

    September 16, 2009 | 3:29 pm

    When asked if we’re monotheists, most Jews will hardly flinch before answering, “Yes.”

    But what does monotheism really mean in the context of the Bible, American Jewish University professor Ziony Zevit asks?

    “Is it the belief-in-angels monotheism? Is a Christian still a...

  • Immersed in Hebrew, Ulpan Learners Make Great Strides

    September 16, 2009 | 2:54 pm

    As Charles Goldsmith became more active in his synagogue, he yearned to know more about the meaning of services and the sacred texts. So the retired physician, 66, decided to enroll in a Classical Hebrew course at the Whizin Center’s Hebrew ulpan.

    Before long, he also took an...

  • Performances, Classes Spark Connections and Joy

    September 16, 2009 | 2:45 pm

    Celebrated Jewish thinker Mordecai Kaplan, whose philosophy helped shape American Jewish University (AJU), once wrote that one of the most powerful ways to bond a community is through the performing arts.

    “People of the most divergent views and modes of living can discover their...

  • Up Next: Clinton, Bush Share Wexler’s Stage

    September 16, 2009 | 5:25 am

    It’s T-minus five months to one of the most high-profile headlines in the history of American Jewish University’s (AJU) annual lecture series: On Feb. 22, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are slated to share a stage at Universal’s Gibson Amphitheatre, with AJU...

  • Rabbi-Novelist Mines Ancient Treasure

    August 26, 2009 | 6:16 pm

    Of all the prophets, Jeremiah has always been the personal favorite of Rabbi Zoë Klein. So in a series of two fictional works, the prolific pulpit rabbi and fiction writer did him a favor: She gave him a lover.

    “He’s a brooder; he’s the most autobiographical of the prophets,...

  • Innovative Religious Schools Take Hold

    August 26, 2009 | 3:53 pm

    When the Silverlake Independent JCC (SIJCC) opens its new Jewish Learning Center on Sept. 22, it hopes to enroll a new kind of student along with the target crowd of grade-school children: their parents.

    The center, which will offer twice-monthly classes to kids in grades K-4, is...

  • Orthodox Students Thrive at Milken

    August 26, 2009 | 3:35 pm

    Barbara Schloss had gone to Orthodox day schools her whole life. When it came time for high school, she figured, why change?

    But the science-oriented teen soon felt dissatisfied with her choice of classes and electives, and saw her brother, Nate, doing things at Milken Community...

  • Service Honors Victims ofTel Aviv Attack

    August 11, 2009 | 7:25 pm

    In the flicker of a yahrtzeit candle, congregants and community guests rose and draped their arms around each others’ shoulders. As Cantor David Berger strummed the first chords of “Oseh Shalom,” men and women began to sway.

    “This prayer is about peace,” Berger said....

  • Advocates Offer Support for Facing Family Court

    August 11, 2009 | 6:39 pm

    After a while, Rachel (who didn’t want her last name printed) stopped calling the police. They never believed her when she told them her husband was physically abusing her — no one could see the bruises because he would hit her around her head. Afraid for her two young sons, she...

  • College Uncertainty Marks Class of 2009

    June 3, 2009 | 3:18 pm

    After getting wait-listed at her top three colleges, Liora Simozar seemed poised to go to UCLA. She had already sent in her acceptance when, out of the blue, she heard back from Harvard.

    “It was an emotional roller coaster to some extent,” said Simozar, 18, a senior at Beverly...

  • Health Care Is Broken, But How Do You Fix It?

    May 27, 2009 | 7:25 pm

    As the march toward health care reform takes place nationally, the debate over what form it should take is heating up on the local level, as well. Many California doctors believe the best plan to cover the uninsured is laid out in a bill slowly gathering momentum in the California...

  • Still Want Your Kid to Be a Doctor?

    May 27, 2009 | 7:19 pm

    Five years as a yoga instructor gave Priel Schmalbach an intuitive sense of others’ well-being and a desire to heal the medical ailments that lay beyond yoga’s reach. So the Miami native enrolled in UC Irvine’s School of Medicine as an MD/PhD student, pursuing a career as a...

  • Families Look in Own Back Yards for Summer Fun

    April 22, 2009 | 2:20 am

    Each summer, Erica Groten saves money on summer camp for her son, Ethan, by enrolling him in an exclusive program with only one opening: Camp Mom.

    Groten takes Ethan, 6, to places like the Natural History Museum and the Los Angeles Zoo, and organizes beach days with other families...

  • Widow to Appeal Ruling on Torah Scrolls Ownership

    April 16, 2009 | 2:32 am

    North Hollywood widow Rita Pauker plans to appeal a recent L.A. Superior Court decision that would bar her from reclaiming a set of Torah scrolls her late husband, Rabbi Norman Pauker, left in the care of his former colleague, Rabbi Samuel Ohana, when Pauker retired in the mid-1990s....

  • After-School Kabbalah Comes to LAUSD Campuses

    April 2, 2009 | 10:59 am

    Along with homework time, crafts and supervised games, grade school students in several Los Angeles Unified School District elementary schools this spring are getting something different at their after-school programs: spiritual awareness.

    Dozens of San Fernando Valley children are...

  • Heirlooms, Antiques Keep Shoah Testimony Alive

    April 1, 2009 | 7:59 pm

    A belt. Sheet music. A miniature 18th century Megillah scroll, its parchment worn and browned.

    People hung onto whatever they could through the Holocaust, hiding items in walls, in attics or burying them in the ground. Many gave valuable heirlooms to non-Jewish neighbors for...

  • Lisa and Alan Stern — Preserving Links to a Rich Heritage

    April 1, 2009 | 7:54 pm

    When Nazi officials confiscated the faded white Torah covering, they stamped the Reichsadler — the emblematic German eagle and swastika — onto the inner fabric. The valuable 1868 piece, stitched in Transylvania, was intended for display in the Central Jewish Museum in Prague,...

  • Eva Klein David — Clandestine Crafts That Saved Lives

    April 1, 2009 | 7:50 pm

    Working in a factory at the Reichenbach labor camp, Eva Klein David manned a soldering iron, fusing wires together to make parts for radios. The dexterous teenager was good at what she did. That, she believes, is why the Nazi soldiers didn’t kill her when she began fainting at work...

  • The Rev. John Neiman — Honoring Anne Frank’s Memory

    April 1, 2009 | 7:42 pm

    As a fifth-grade student, the Rev. John Neiman couldn’t fully grasp the significance of Anne Frank and her diary. It took a second reading and repeated trips to the library a few years later for him to form a bond with the text that would change the course of his life.


  • Rachel Arazi — What They Wore

    April 1, 2009 | 7:24 pm

    Rachel Arazi gathers the blouse in her hands and brings it to her face.

    “I wonder if it’s still possible to smell my grandmother’s scent,” she muses.

    Arazi has never washed the aged cotton blouse, even though stains discolor the ruffled yoke. Still clinging to the lace...

  • Donald and Robert Novack Reviving a Composer’s Lost Legacy

    April 1, 2009 | 4:49 pm

    The Chosal Farm seemed like a safe place to Boris Zeltzman — it was located in Vichy, France, and owned by a Christian family. In 1941, he took two ammunition boxes, and, in secret, buried more than 3,000 manuscripts penned by Russian cantor and composer David Nowakowsky.

  • Rabbis’ Ethics Initiative Evokes Cheers, Criticism

    March 11, 2009 | 7:14 pm

    Rabbis’ Ethics Initiative Evokes Cheers, Criticism


    Errol Fine, owner of Pat’s Restaurant and Catering, places the fair treatment of his employees high on his list of business priorities. In fact, he hopes soon to put a sign in the window of his popular Pico Boulevard...

  • Doctor Calms Radiation Fears With Nature Photos

    March 11, 2009 | 3:29 am

    The walls of Dr. Bernard Lewinsky’s office resemble the pages of a National Geographic calendar: sweeping lake vistas and verdant forests brush up against sculptured rock formations and sun-mottled Yosemite hills. Looking at his photographs, patients remember vacations, times when...

  • Innovative Hebrew School Evokes Student Enthusiasm

    February 25, 2009 | 7:35 pm

    Two-dozen fifth- and sixth-graders wave their hands wildly in the air. Teacher Eli Katzoff scans the classroom, but doesn’t have time to pick a student before they all speak at once. The students are role-playing a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, debating issues of...

  • Budget Shortfall Threatens Academic Decathlon

    February 25, 2009 | 7:32 pm

    It’s 11:30 a.m. on an overcast Saturday, and high school juniors Dakota Glueck and Jimmy Biblarz are sitting on their desks in a second-floor classroom, counting how many species of fruit flies they can name. Somewhere after D. melanogaster, the shaggy-haired teens get stuck on a...

  • Financial Help Available for Summer Camp Sign-Ups

    February 25, 2009 | 7:22 pm

    Growing up in Danbury, Conn., Prissi Cohen didn’t give much thought to Judaism until she started going to summer camp at age 9. Then, the eight weeks she’d spend immersed in friends, sports and Hebrew songs became a thrill she looked forward to year after year.

    “Camp was the...

  • Entertainment Fund Shuttering Hospital, Care Facilities

    February 19, 2009 | 12:04 am

    In Jill Robinson’s favorite movies, a hero always swoops in when the going gets tough. Standing with a group of protesters Feb. 11 outside the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) acute-care hospital and nursing home, the author and screenwriter from Westwood said she’s hoping...

  • As Economy Tanks, Schools Seek Survival Tactics

    January 29, 2009 | 3:19 am

    On a chilly night in early December, crowds of parents filed into the auditorium at Kadima Hebrew Academy/Kadima Heschel West Middle School, chatting and clutching cups of coffee. The atmosphere was almost festive as finance committee chair Brett Grauman stood at the podium, framed...

  • ‘GED’-ing Out Early Saves Tuition

    January 29, 2009 | 3:16 am

    Most of the kids in Jacob Schiff’s classes at Santa Monica College don’t realize he’s the youngest one there. Last semester, for instance, several students in a math class got a shock when they asked him whom he planned to vote for in the presidential election.

    “They were...

  • Questions, Dilemmas Drive Geffen-Commissioned Play

    January 22, 2009 | 6:21 pm

    When the Geffen Playhouse commissioned a new piece from Donald Margulies five years ago, the award-winning playwright bided his time.

    “It’s been my experience that one mustn’t write a play that one isn’t passionate about,” Margulies said recently by phone from New Haven,...

  • Panel discusses strategies for dealing with recession

    December 22, 2008 | 4:48 pm

    Talking investment strategy might not top everyone's agenda for a bright Sunday morning, but about 75 local residents gathered at Young Israel of Century City on Dec. 21 to do just that.

    The Pico Boulevard synagogue opened its doors to the community for a panel discussion on the...

  • Kadima cuts costs via Community Tuition Partnership

    December 11, 2008 | 12:16 am

    Kadima Hebrew Academy/Kadima Heschel West Middle School is confronting the economic crisis by reducing tuition school-wide for 2009-2010 by an average of 20 percent.

    Kadima hopes the move -- the first of its kind in the Los Angeles area -- will encourage struggling families to keep...

  • Teen politico plays in the big leagues

    December 3, 2008 | 9:40 pm

    After school, Joey Freeman doesn't have much free time. He's got homework to contend with from his classes at Milken Community High School. He's slogging through a heap of college applications. And, oh, yeah -- he's also helping to run an entertainment industry executive's campaign...
  • Photographer documents life in Darfur

    November 26, 2008 | 3:57 pm

    "When I first got to Iridimi and saw there was nothing, I asked myself: Is this really a place where a person can live?"

    So confided one Darfuri refugee to photographer Barbara Grover, who visited the Iridimi refugee camp in Chad last year to document the lives of those displaced by...

  • Dig, plant, grow, give—sharing the bounty of food

    November 19, 2008 | 12:42 am

    If there's one thing Gabe Goldman wishes more Angelenos would do next spring, it's get their hands dirty.

    The American Jewish University (AJU) professor and director of experiential education is signing up students, synagogues and anyone else with a piece of land and a green thumb...

  • Passage of Prop. 8 reveals rift between denominations

    November 12, 2008 | 11:52 pm

    Three days after California narrowly passed Proposition 8, the statewide ban on same-sex marriage, congregants of Beth Chayim Chadashim gathered in their Pico Boulevard sanctuary for a Friday night Shabbat service marked by solidarity and grief.

    "This week of all weeks we need...

  • Teen's green book for kids hits stores

    November 6, 2008 | 11:47 pm

    It's never too early to start educating kids about the environment, says Alison Hestrin Lerner -- so the Harvard-Westlake high school senior in September published a children's book, "The Green Street Kids: The Earth Warriors," targeting future "green" advocates aged four and up....

  • Counselors in demand as college applications soar

    October 31, 2008 | 6:21 pm

    High school seniors don't have it easy during this year's college application season, which is expected to be the most applied-to year on record.

    Just ask Jeremy Friedman, who is juggling 12 applications in addition to his class work and a part-time job.

    "I didn't think applying...

  • ‘Accidental Mexican’  Ilan Stavans probes cultural identity in first play

    October 10, 2008 | 1:40 am

    As an "accidental Mexican" born to an Eastern European family, author and essayist Ilan Stavans has hurdled critics to become one of the nation's foremost commentators on Latino culture. As a Mexican American, he has written widely on immigration, the clash and fusion of languages...
  • Jews by Choice bolster ties with first Israel mission

    October 10, 2008 | 12:32 am

    Misty Zollars knew she wanted to be Jewish ever since she was 13, when her best friend invited her to her first Passover seder.

    "I found the afikoman, and I knew I was going to be a Jew," said Zollars, now 28, of Sherman Oaks. "The warmth of the family tradition and the concept of...

  • The very best Tashlich custom is a toss-up

    September 25, 2008 | 2:43 am

    On paper, the Rosh Hashanah ritual of Tashlich is about doffing one's sins to start the new year with a clean slate. For Jason Mauro, 16, it's also about beach football.

    Every year since he was 8, Mauro and his friends at Temple Israel of Hollywood have marked the afternoon...

  • Rabbi Freehling’s pet project

    September 25, 2008 | 1:12 am

    Daylong synagogue attendance is rare among most Reform Jews. It's even rarer for their dogs.

    For almost 12 years, Lucy traveled each day to University Synagogue in Brentwood with her owner, Rabbi Allen I. Freehling, then the synagogue's senior rabbi. The golden retriever mix soon...

  • Cancer survivor brings art, courage to other patients

    September 18, 2008 | 1:57 am

    Judi Kaufman has trouble remembering numbers. So the two-time brain cancer survivor, who is now living with her third tumor, assigns colors to numbers to help keep them straight.

    The system is simple and intuitive: zero is white, 13 is black. Eighteen -- chai -- is red.

    "Red is the...

  • Zucky’s and SOVA—knishes and compassion

    September 18, 2008 | 12:20 am

    Hy and Zucky Altman founded the SOVA food pantry program at a vacant Santa Monica bar in 1983. On opening day, the Altmans put all the food they had on the counter -- bagels, soup, canned goods -- waiting to serve the impoverished Jewish seniors they had gotten to know in the...
  • P. S. Tikkun Olam: Veteran Jewish educator opens charter school driven by vision of a community

    August 28, 2008 | 2:16 am

    Strolling through his new charter school's rented quarters on a recent morning, Matt Albert swings open a restroom door and smiles.

    "Look," he said, gesturing toward the tiled space. "Clean bathrooms. Often, that's the scariest place in a public school."

    The citrus-hued rooms of...

  • Ohr HaTorah ends 15-year trip in a walk down Barrington to a new home [VIDEO]

    August 19, 2008 | 1:04 am

    It was a sight Mar Vista doesn't see every day -- a guitar-studded procession of more than 100 Jewish revelers marching jubilantly down South Barrington Avenue with five Torah scrolls.

    Members of Ohr HaTorah synagogue, which until this month held services at a church in West Los...

  • Picture looks bleak for mural adorning former JCC

    August 6, 2008 | 11:08 pm

    The mural was meant to be a collaboration: A public arts agency led the bid for its creation, the surrounding community approved its design and Chicago artist John Pitman Weber stayed in the homes of local residents while he and a team of volunteers painted it during the summer of...
  • Young women find it’s not their bubbe’s Hadassah

    July 9, 2008 | 11:07 pm

    When Holli Rabishaw wanted to start a family eight years ago, she traded in a high-powered career in the corporate world for the life of a yoga instructor and full-time mom.

    But she was also looking for something more. At 30, she joined Hadassah.

    "I really wanted to feel connected...

  • Getting ‘serious’ is no joke

    July 9, 2008 | 10:26 pm

    It happens so often that I'm starting to memorize the cues. On the phone with my uncle on a recent morning, my mother's body language changes suddenly: a turn toward the wall, some nervous fidgeting, an uncomfortable laugh. "No, not yet," she says, glancing in my direction. "No one...
  • The second time around, Dubin is still a mensch

    July 9, 2008 | 9:29 pm

    Before a crowd of family and friends, the bar mitzvah approached the podium in the sanctuary of Adat Ari El and began his speech: "Today, I am a man."

    Peals of laughter rose from the pews of the Valley Village synagogue. Even the bar mitzvah himself cracked a smile -- at age 83,...

  • Project Chicken Soup brings comfort by the bowl

    June 5, 2008 | 2:36 pm

    The food is superb! You can taste the love and care.

    I want to thank you for providing me with a beacon for my faith in good people.

    I do so love the joy, peace and happiness your organization brings to my life. Thank you.

    The notes are short, direct and never signed. They come from...

  • Survivors’ stories create fabric of Shoah quilt

    May 8, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    Twelve months after her concentration camp was liberated, Ann Spicer, newly married, was leaving Germany for good. It was May 21, 1946. Her husband's little brother was the first to board the train in Stuttgart that would take the makeshift family to the first ship out of Hamburg...
  • Bark mitzvah goes to dogs in unique tzedakah project

    May 8, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    In honor of their bar mitzvahs, friends Jonah Resnick, Zachary Miller and Harris Girocco wanted to do a tzedakah (charitable giving) project that wasn't all bark and no bite.

    When the boys decided to raise funds for developmentally disabled children in Israel, they made an effort to...

  • Honey, you’re home!

    April 17, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    Stop me if you've heard this one before.

    Student gets into good university. Student obtains esteemed degree. Graduate flounders in unsteady job market; must confront the dreaded possibility of moving back in with her parents, Ima and Abba, whom I dearly love -- and come college, was...

  • Fighting words

    March 7, 2008 | 5:00 pm

    "OK, OK, what do you think of this?"

    It's the fourth time he's burst into my office in the last hour. He's working on his latest short film script; I'm trying to finish a story on deadline. This is a recurring scene in our saga. Delicately, I trot out the familiar pact that has...