The day began like any other summer day at the North Valley Jewish Community Center — hot and heady with promise. Children lined up at the back of the site for field trips, or unpacked their gear to go swimming. Office workers answered phones and filed papers. Counselors accompanied kids to the arts and crafts room. Nothing indicated this would be anything other than a normal camp day — until a white supremacist walked into the lobby, spraying bullets and shattering the Los Angeles Jewish community’s calm.
To see Mindy Finkelstein and Joshua Stepakoff today, one might easily take them for siblings, or at least cousins. They are relaxed in each other’s presence, as only two people can be who share a common bond — even if, as in this case, that bond involves a successful escape from a gunman.
Ten years after the shooting of three children, a counselor and a receptionist by a white supremacist at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, and then his subsequent murder of a Philippines-born postal worker, the bond forged between the Jewish community and the Asian American community remains strong.
The events of Aug. 10, 1999, changed our culture. We would never again feel as carefree as before the madman walked into the JCC and opened fire. In some ways, the shooting began our preparation for what was to come two years later -- when not just our community, but our country, experienced a shattering of innocence.
When parents gather for monthly meetings of Ozreinu, a spiritual support group for families with special-needs children, the first thing they do is check in.
Roberta Weintraub used to be a technophobe. But that was before she decided to launch High Tech High, a public charter school in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that integrates technology and education.
In the midst of all of the glamour of the 47th Annual Grammy Awards, one could easily miss the hurrahs of one local cantor. But it was a proud moment for Chazzan Mike Stein of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, one of a group of musicians honored Feb. 13 with an award in the Best Children's Music category for ""cELLAbration! A Tribute to Ella Jenkins."
Under IDEA, students who require special services -- such as speech therapy, sign language interpreters or resource teachers -- must receive them by attending local public schools. Although some parents have successfully negotiated or even sued to allow their child to attend a private school and still receive financial support from their district for those services, for the most part, parents who want their child to receive a religious education must pay for additional services themselves.
Although there are no formal studies conducted as yet, it is clear that the number of Jewish families with special-needs children is growing, just as the number of cases grow nationwide.
The battle for the lucrative kosher consumer market took a strange twist last month. Shortly after the end of Passover, Jewish shoppers were shocked to find Trader Joe's markets had eliminated their selection of Empire kosher chicken, substituting instead the company's own organic, nonkosher chicken.
When Rabbi Rachel Bovitz sat down a few months ago to read the novel, "The Da Vinci Code," she was curious about the buzz surrounding the controversial best-seller. But what she wasn't prepared for was how profoundly disturbing she would find the book.
My wedding story begins with a dress. Not just any dress, but the kind that makes people's heads turn when the wearer walks into a room.
Alex Fullman has always loved to swim. He started when he was 2 years old and began swimming competitively at 6. So when representatives of American Red Magen David for Israel (ARMDI) visited his sixth-grade class at Heschel Day School to encourage students to consider making a donation as part of their bar or bat mitzvah year, Alex decided to combine his love of swimming with the needs of ARMDI. The organization provides emergency medical services throughout Israel.
Festival Chair Itzik Glazer said he was pleased by the number of people willing to come out to the festival, despite it falling on Mother's Day.
"People have told me it's the best festival yet," said his wife, Mikki Glazer.
In the hotly contested battle, each has accused the other of, among other things, lying, playing dirty and being beholden to special interests. Smith says Korenstein is tied to the unions, while Korenstein says Smith is hand-in-hand with developers.
UCLA Hillel special events coordinator Guy Kochlani was born in Tel Aviv, but he was never actively involved in supporting Israel -- until the day three years ago when a group of Palestinian students interrupted the Yom HaAtzmaut celebration on campus.
Rabbi Gary Johnson is overjoyed. There's no other way to describe it.
So you're bored to tears by the "Maxwell House Haggadah," or
the family seder this year just won't do enough to quell your addiction to
charoset. Fortunately for you, there are a number of interesting twists on the
traditional seder being hosted around town to satisfy almost every palate, from
the serious to the playful.
As the community rabbi for the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force, Rabbi Jan Offel has a wide range of responsibilities, from standing in for members of the task force when a visit from a rabbi is needed, to discussing end-of-life issues with families, to running programs for local hospitals -- helping to familiarize their staff with Jewish customs.
In "Finding Ben: A Mother's Journey Through the Maze of Asperger's," (McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 2003) author Barbara LaSalle writes about her family's struggle to help her young son overcome a baffling neurological disorder and have a "regular" existence. Misdiagnosed and maladjusted, Ben Levinson was labeled as everything from learning disabled to emotionally disturbed and was even committed to a psychiatric ward before LaSalle, a marriage and family counselor, was able to correctly diagnose him with Asperger's Syndrome (AS).
Dov Seidman is used to riding a little ahead of the curve. Back in 1998, the Los Angeles-based attorney and founder of the legal research firm Legal Research Network (LRN) decided to expand his business to include an online course in business ethics.
The Federation raised more than $4 million this year on Super Sunday, $1 million less than last year's $5 million tally. But organizers say that a new fundraising strategy this year has rendered the single-day total superficial.
Although the orange security alert may be downgraded to yellow -- an elevated threat with significant risks of terrorist attacks -- the likelihood of an impending war with Iraq and the continued North Korean nuclear standoff mean that most Jewish organizations in Los Angeles are investigating and/or implementing increases in security and taking other precautions.
At first glance, the title of Esther Jungreis' new book, "The Committed Marriage," seems a bit redundant. After all, isn't commitment
the whole point of getting married?
Once in a while, when you lose in politics, you can still win.
The Jewish community has always pushed marriage. So when it comes to divorce, it is understandable that resources in the Jewish world are
And the verdict is: not guilty, by a razor-thin margin. An audience of more than 400 people had a chance to flex their "Law & Order" muscles while serving as the jury in the mock trial of Abraham -- that's right, our founding forefather -- held at the University of Judaism (UJ) Nov. 24.
At the sold-out event in the Gindi auditorium, Abraham was tried for the attempted murder of his son, Issac. The case was based on the Akedah, in the book of Genesis, otherwise known as the binding of Isaac, in which Abraham takes his son to a mountain and prepares to sacrifice him, only to be stopped by an angel.
When kids from Sinai Temple celebrate Chanukah with the members of Temple Beth Solomon (TBS) in Tarzana on Friday night, Dec. 6, they'll notice that the service is slower and streamlined, but that the singing is performed with every bit as much gusto as a "Friday Night Live" service.
Q: What's better than a piping hot Krispy Kreme doughnut?
Turkey, potatoes and gravy, candied yams -- all the foods you love to pile on your plate come Thanksgiving.
It's break time in a sixth-grade classroom at Village Glen School in Sherman Oaks. Two boys play chess with an air of serious concentration, ign oring a small group of 12-year-olds talking and joking nearby.
The Valley will rise again, even if we have to sue: that was the vow of secessionists as the measure to breakup the City of Los Angeles went down in defeat, winning by a narrow margin in the San Fernando Valley but losing in the citywide vote.
With the spotlight on secession for the past few months, it is almost easy to forget that there are major political races involving Jewish candidates in the San Fernando Valley.
The most significant battle is the one being waged in the 27th U.S. House District. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) has been virtually invincible up until now in the 24th District. However, the district was redrawn in September, thus making him an unknown quantity to about two-thirds of his constituents and leaving an opening for challenger Robert Levy, an attorney from Woodland Hills.
In the final days before the Nov. 5 election, secession supporters are facing a tough battle. The latest public opinion poll shows Valley voters backing Measure F, which would create a separate city, by a narrow margin.
A Los Angeles Times Poll earlier this month found only 42 percent of likely Valley voters in favor of secession. However, a more recent study by Survey USA for KABC-TV found Valley cityhood supported by 58 percent of likely voters in the Valley and 40 percent citywide.
The protracted court case, which is now awaiting an environmental impact report (EIR) from the school, shows how badly a school building project can go when met with fiery opposition by the surrounding community.
As the vote on secession comes to a head in the Nov. 5 election, business groups find themselves playing a major role in swaying voters to their side.
Stop Saddam Hussein now, before it's too late. That is the message elected officials, ranging from local members of Congress to President George W. Bush, worked to get across to the Americans these past few weeks.
"We have to confront him sooner or later," Rep. Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills) told The Journal. "Even though it is risky and we are worried about all the things that could go wrong, it is less risky, less costly and less dangerous to do it now than it would be later, both for our military and for the Iraqi people."
Amanda Susskind doesn't look like she was raised in Berkeley. With her tweedy, conservative suits, paired with sweater sets and pearls, the new West Coast director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) doesn't look like she was brought up anywhere near the laid back, hippie haven.
On a recent Thursday afternoon at the New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) in West Hills, 20 students fill the biology lab to hear a guest speaker discuss cryogenics.
Flags flew at half-staff. People on the street made a stronger-than-usual effort to meet each others' eyes, acknowledging the sadness of the day.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Dr. Larry Eisenberg, president of the West Coast Region of the Orthodox Union, was in Toronto for a cousin's wedding.
This High Holiday season, leaders of Temple Ner Maarav want people to know that they are still open for business.
Some might have thought otherwise of the Encino synagogue, which was rocked by a battle that divided members between the shul's rabbi of 19 years and its more recently hired cantor.
Michael Ozair is, by many accounts, charming, charismatic and an excellent teacher.
He is also in jail.
Scrip. You can't join a synagogue or enroll your child in school without being hit up to buy it. Whether in the form of paper certificates, plastic gift cards or e-scrip online, this potent little fundraiser has become a major part of most nonprofit organizations' annual budgets.
Scrip first became popular in the late 1980s with grocery and department stores, and is now available for everything from gasoline to The Gap. Organizations buy the gift certificates in denominations like $10, $25 or $100 at a discount, either straight from the company or through a scrip broker. They then sell the scrip, charging the full face value of the certificate and making a profit of up to 25 percent, depending on the type of scrip sold.
When Brianna Ross passes by Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, she signs one word to her mother over and over again: "School, school."
Nothing could dampen their spirits.
The dearth of candidates can be partly attributed to the unusual nature of this election.
On a blazing hot Saturday in the hills of Calabasas, the streets are deserted, devoid of the usual clusters of children playing ball or teens on bikes and scooters within this gated community south of the 101 Freeway.
Jewish voters are strongly against secession, more so than any other religious group, according to the July 2 poll.
Bagels, Broza and Brentwood. Enchiladas, Enrique and East L.A. On the surface, the Jewish and Latino communities of Los Angeles don't seem to have much in common.
Looking around the room at the recent tikkun leyl Shavuot held at Shomrei Torah in West Hills, it was hard to believe this synagogue was ever doomed to failure.
It's official: on June 11, representatives of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced the appointment of Amanda Susskind as the new Pacific Southwest regional director.
"This has been a very energizing and close project between the leadership in Los Angeles and in the national office," said Ann Tourk, ADL associate director for regional operations. "We are looking forward to her [Susskind] stepping into the role."
It was the first cool night in the midst of a heat wave and Rosalie Zalis, executive director of Winnick Family Foundation and former liaison to the Jewish community for ex-Gov. Pete Wilson, was preaching to the masses.
"You should get involved with a political action committee," the longtime activist told the group of mostly women gathered in the chapel at Adat Ari El June 6. "Even if it's only sending a small amount of money to AIPAC [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee] -- they will teach you how to lobby.
"You need to be aware of what everyone who you vote for thinks about Israel. Write letters to your congressperson and to your senators, thanking them when they do something for Israel. Make phone calls, send e-mails. You don't know how important your voice is."
They appear on a postcard with the romantic look of a turn-of-the-century Victorian family, although their names are anything but Victorian. Hyman, Manya, Slava, Nathan, Clara and Berra (later Ben) Chernoy all posed for the picture around 1905, looking young and fair and without any realization that their journey from Russia to America would have such lifesaving consequences for the next generation. But they left one strange legacy, an inscription on the back of the postcard which read "When I will die, when I will be no more, when my bones in the earth will crumble, you will remember me. When all people forget me, you will remember me."
It took eight decades for one of their descendants, genealogy enthusiast Lori Miller, to get their poetic declaration translated and another 10 years to track down and spread the news to the rest of the family. Thus on Sunday, May 19, the descendants of those six Chernoy siblings gathered to honor that inscription.
On a July day in 1944, Capt. Benjamin Salomon, a dentist working as a medic in the U.S. Army, lost his life holding off enemy fire during a surprise attack on his base in Saipan. His sacrifice allowed more than 30 wounded soldiers to escape to safety, but went unrecognized in the military's records.
Fast-forward almost six decades, to Memorial Day 2002. It is the annual holiday program at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Memorial Park and Salomon, who has no surviving family or friends, is finally being honored for his service to his country, thanks to a determined group of local veterans. The veterans, like Salomon, are USC Dental School alumni, some of whom had been petitioning for a medal for Salomon since the early 1960s (see accompanying story).
Zev Yaroslavsky has served on the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) since its inception in 1998. This experience, plus eight years as a Los Angeles County supervisor representing both sides of the Santa Monica Mountains, and a councilman before that, has made him one of the best-informed authorities on Valley secession. He recently took time to share his insights with The Jewish Journal.
While the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) closes facilities around the Southland, leaders of the North Valley Jewish Community Center (NVJCC) have decided to emulate their big brother in the West Valley and try to take control of their center themselves.
Valley secession is finally on the ballot, and observers say the Jewish vote may well be a factor that tips the scale either for or against the biggest break away in U.S. history.
"We tend to constitute about 15 percent of local city voters in municipal elections," said statistician Pini Herman of Phillips & Herman Demographic Research. "Since we comprise about 5 percent of the population, that means we actually vote three times our numerical strength. It makes the Jewish community very important in the scheme of things."
As an experienced plastic surgeon, Dr. Joel Teplinsky knows how to fix a nose or perform a skin graft on a burn patient.
Imagine you are 90 years old and the world you once knew, even your own home, feels like a frightening and unfamiliar place. Sometimes you find it hard to recognize even your closest family members. You don't understand why people get angry when you wander away or when you cannot finish a sentence. You may be fit physically, but psychologically you are at a loss -- and so are your family and friends. Imagine you move to a small, lovely village. There are strangers there, but they are gentle and caring. There are places to walk, and no one gets angry if you get a little lost. They just calmly lead you back to where you need to be. When you are in the mood, there is plenty to do, but no one gets angry when you just want to sit. Best of all, your family doesn't seem so worried anymore. This scenario is the aim of the new Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center located at the Jewish Home for the Aging's Eisenberg Campus in Tarzana.
In a corner of the brightly lit dining hall of the Eisenberg Village campus at the Jewish Home for the Aging sit The Three Wise Guys. These three men -- Ellis Simon, 77; Hy "Spike" Spikell, 93, and Jules Berlinsky, 90 -- have formed a friendship so strong that they rate having their own table, No. 56, and they are not the least bit shy about telling you why they love living at the Jewish Home.
Ten years ago, during the week of April 29, 1992, the city exploded in rioting.
Ten years after the fact, it is easy to remember the terror and the loss, but more difficult for community leaders to assess just how much repair has taken place since.
The Council of Israeli Community (CIC), an organization primarily known for planning the annual Israeli Independence Day Festival in Los Angeles, is moving in new directions in the wake of the current Middle East crisis.
According to Vice President Haim Linder, the CIC (originally called the Council of Israeli Organizations) came together in 1996 as one arm of a nonprofit umbrella organization called the Promoting Israel Education and Culture Fund. The group adopted its current title and mission statement on Sept. 10, 2001.
"We got together at Valley Beth Shalom. At noon we went home, knowing we had a new organization, and then we all know what happened the next day," Linder said.
To say that Shimon Erem deserves to receive the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Council of Israeli Community (CIC) for his work on behalf of Israel seems, upon meeting him, like an understatement. This man has not just worked for but literally fought for, lobbied on behalf of and financially supported Israel for more than six decades. One would be hard-pressed to find such a devoted American-born Zionist.
Sometimes, a simple act can make an enormous impact. At this time in the history of our people, there can be no greater demonstration of solidarity with the state of Israel than to show up and be counted at this year's Israeli Independence Festival on April 21, organizers say.
"This is the biggest support for Israel happening anywhere in the world, and if we cannot show we stand with Israel, who will?" asked Yoram Gutman, executive director of this year's event. "It is critical for people to come."
Haim Linder, former festival chairman, who now heads the event's security team, agreed, saying, "It is a boost for our brothers and sisters in Israel, because they will know about the event.
It is tough to estimate current public opinion regarding Valley secession. In the two years since the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) began its investigation into the possibility of secession, the world and the people of Los Angeles have radically changed their priorities. To paraphrase Rick Blaine in "Casablanca," it doesn't take much to see that the problems of two little areas don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
Still, in interviews at locations around Los Angeles, when people had opinions about secession, it was primarily favorable.
Used to be that every once in a blue moon, a rare Republican, who happened to be Jewish, would decide to run for office in the heavily Democratic San Fernando Valley, only to be soundly defeated at the polls.
This year, Jewish Republicans hope to change all that with three candidates: Robert M. Levy, who is running against Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks); Connie Friedman, who is up against Jewish Democrat Lloyd Levine for former Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg's old seat in the 40th District, which covers most of the San Fernando Valley, and newcomer Michael J. Wissot, who will compete against Assemblywoman Fran Pavley in the heavily Democratic 41st District, which is located partially in Ventura County.
Opponents of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) East-West Transit Corridor, which was approved by the MTA in February, filed a lawsuit April 2 challenging the MTA's Environmental Impact Report (EIR), alleging that the report "understated the serious effects of the busway on Valley residents and ignored alternative transit projects that could have avoided these effects."
The controversial busway is slated to run along a 14-mile route through neighborhoods from Warner Center in Woodland Hills to the Metro Red Line subway station in North Hollywood. Supporters say it is a necessary and welcome means of improving mass transit. Opponents contend that the estimated $330 million project is too dangerous and expensive and that expanding the MTA's popular Metro Rapid Bus service would provide almost as many buses at 10 percent of the cost and with far fewer safety concerns.
Residents and staff of the Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA) gathered March 26 at Eisenberg Village on Victory Boulevard to celebrate the institution's 90th anniversary. About two dozen residents participated in blowing out the 10 candles (one for each decade and one for good luck) on the massive birthday cake.
The decorous moment was not without humor. As one bright-eyed resident in her 80s hovered nearby, a staff member asked if she wanted to move closer to watch her friends blow out the candles.
"Oh, yes," she replied. "I want to make sure they don't spit on the cake!"
For the Jewish community, like the rest of Los Angeles, the issue of Valley secession boils down to one key question: Will we be better off after secession than we are now?
If two Jews equal three opinions, what do you get when you mix five rabbis of various denominations to answer a topic as important as the origins of the Torah?
Answer: A rather heated discussion, to say the least.
During the past year, Wolpe, the spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, has been both vilified and lauded for his Passover sermon in which he questioned the truth of the Book of Exodus, as most of his congregants, indeed most of the Jewish world, had come to know it.
This is the first in a multipart series looking at the Jewish community and Valley secession. Let us know what you think about secession by taking part in our secession forum at www.jewishjournal.com/forum.
A woman in a peach-colored sweatsuit sits in a sunlit hallway at the Silverado Senior Living Center in Calabasas. Once she was a professor at a California State University campus, teaching English literature. Now, because of the effects of Alzheimer's disease, she barely has a word to share, only a bemused smile for people she thinks she recognizes.
Lay leader Marcy Howard said it was the biggest turnout she has ever seen at the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills on Super Sunday.
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.
Human rights activist Medea Benjamin held up photo after photo from her recent trip to Afghanistan, each telling a unique horror story.
Last week's landmark decision by Israel's High Court of Justice to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions as valid for citizenship purposes drew strong reactions from Los Angeles clergy and activists.
On Wednesday, the New York headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it had reached a settlement with Lehrer, whom ADL National Director Abraham Foxman fired last December in a move that shocked and angered many Angelenos.
In an assembly hall at a Burbank middle school, a Holocaust survivor answers questions from her young audience. The inquiries are thoughtful, and the children serious, some even close to tears.
In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.
Teacher Mordechai Yomtov stood sobbing in his orange prison jumpsuit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court as he pleaded guilty to two counts of committing continuous sexual abuse on a minor and one count of lewd act on a minor.
Like most of his grad student peers at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer always thought he would eventually become a pulpit rabbi, even taking an assistant rabbi position at a prominent San Fernando Valley synagogue as training for the day he would lead his own congregation.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is investigating a link between a troubled system of charter schools in California and the Muslim terrorist organization Al-Fuqra.
Eulogies:Rabbi Melvin Goldstine.
Following the recent dismissal of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Director David Lehrer, Los Angeles members continued to discuss the prospect of splitting off from the New York organization. Close to 100 people attended the meeting of the executive board of the Pacific Southwest Region of the ADL on Wednesday, Jan. 9, to discuss Lehrer's dismissal.
An announcement last week by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that it will not renew leases for its West San Fernando Valley properties will have an impact on two Jewish institutions: Kadima Hebrew Academy and the Rabbi Max D. Raiskin West Valley Hebrew Academy.
Can one Jewish Community Center (JCC) serve a population as vast as that of the San Fernando Valley?
That is the question facing Jewish communities from Burbank to Calabasas, and so far, the answer is a resounding no -- even from some of the people who launched the idea in the first place.
The firing of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Director David Lehrer has stunned and saddened a broad swath of the local Jewish community.
They're celebrating the fourth night of Chanukah at the Chai Teen and Youth Center, and, to put it mildly, this joint is jumping.
Sitting in her seat at the Max Factor Family Foundation Recreation Center of the Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA), 103-year-old Sylvia Harmatz cannot recall the first state to give women the right to vote. But, she remembers very clearly the first day she voted, in 1936. "I wasn't a citizen until I married my husband, and so I used his papers and got a ballot so I could vote for [Franklin D.] Roosevelt," she said. "I was very active in politics from that time on."
It used to be said that kabbalah should only be studied by the very old or very learned, otherwise it could inspire madness. In his book "Practical Kabbalah: A Guide to Jewish Wisdom in Everyday Life," Rabbi Laibl Wolf attempts both to dispel the mythology surrounding this ancient, mystical teaching and to demonstrate its necessity for those of us living in the modern world.
Students, faculty and staff members at CSUN were up in arms last week regarding an exhibit sponsored by the university's Muslim Student Association (MSA). The "Museum of Intolerance" exhibit, part of planned activities for the campus' Islam Awareness Week (Oct. 21-27), showed photographs of Muslims under attack in several nations including what it called Palestine, with prominent pictures of Israeli soldiers and of Palestinian Arabs throwing rocks.
Interfaith programs -- a concept which up until recently provoked a ho-hum attitude at best -- are suddenly sweeping the country as people of all faiths struggle to come to terms with events of the past five weeks.
To look at one example, Valley Beth Shalom's lecture series "One God: Many Faces," beginning this week, had already been a year in the making before the recent tragedies, but it could not have come at a more significant time, according to the synagogue's Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis.
In a rustic little corner of Chatsworth, flanked by trees and horses and dry, dusty land, sits the nerve center of the oldest interfaith program in the San Fernando Valley.
From its offices in a building owned by a United Methodist church, the Valley Interfaith Council (VIC) has, for 37 years, quietly provided an outlet for religious organizations to pool their resources and feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and support the elderly while allowing Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims an opportunity to learn tolerance by sharing mitzvot.
The High Holy Days are a time for contemplation, a time to give thanks, to repent for the wrongs of the past year and seek forgiveness from those you may have hurt and especially from God.
It's the end of the line, or rather, the beginning. Last month, the board of directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) voted 8-3 to implement the San Fernando Valley East-West Transit Corridor.
When I took the position of Valley editor back in 1998, some people questioned the need for a reporter to cover the Valley.
Jewish Journal: It has been 10 years since the East-West Transit Corridor was first proposed. Why do you think there is still so much resistance to the project, despite the fact that everyone is affected by the dismal traffic conditions in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles?
A proposed busway continued to spark fierce debate during two public hearings held in the San Fernando Valley during the last weeks of June.
Imagine a sunny Saturday afternoon. Families walking home from shul along quiet streets cross a well-worn thoroughfare, once the site of a rail system running through the neighborhood like a gentle stream, now transformed into a freeway for high-speed buses. The light changes and the families begin their journey across the street -- but not fast enough.
If anyone knows how to have fun, it's singer/songwriter Craig Taubman. Known to thousands of kids and former kids for tunes such as "Shabababat Shalom" and the "Chanukah Rap," Taubman, the musical force behind Sinai Temple's popular Friday Night Live and Adat Ari El's One Saturday Morning services, is about to bring his special brand of ruach (spirit) to the Valley Jewish community's biggest event of the year.
Families of individuals with special needs often feel a sense of helplessness and isolation from the community, as well as confusion about how to best help their loved ones. In an effort to give families the tools to cope with these issues, Etta Israel Center (EIC) will hold its second annual retreat May 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shaarey Zedek Congregation in North Hollywood
"What I fell in love with about this job is the inclusiveness, the fact that we do this for girls as well as boys, which is [unheard of] in Israeli society," Judith Edelman-Green said.
For the child whose parent has been diagnosed with cancer, each day becomes fraught with uncertainty -- will Mom or Dad be there today when I get home from school, or back in the hospital? Will Dad be too sick to come to my softball game? Why does Mom have to take that medicine that makes her feel so bad? Isn't medicine supposed to make you feel better? All kinds of questions culminate in that most sinister and heartbreaking of all queries, lurking like a spider in the corner of the child's mind: Is my Mom (or Dad) going to die?
It is a bright, sunny day at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services. In her office, medical director Dr. Susan Schmidt-Lackner is sitting on the floor with one of her young patients -- not an easy feat for a tall woman in a long skirt, but the doctor is more interested in the little boy than in her own comfort. The child's mother, seated nearby, recounts her concerns, such as how her son can't tolerate the texture of most foods and is subsisting on a diet of McDonald's Happy Meals.
Alvin Schrage knows what it means to shlep. Every weekday he gathers his three children into his Plymouth Voyager and makes the commute from their Agoura home to Emek Hebrew Academy in Sherman Oaks.
April 10 is the ultimate day at the track for the nation's second-largest school district. Never before has so much ridden on the backs of campaign horses as in the current race for positions on Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Board of Education.
The Jewish community in the West Valley and surrounding areas was rocked Feb. 5 by the murder of William and Bertha Lasky, former members of Temple Solael.
It was the kind of exchange that is perhaps all too rare in a Jewish community divided by belief, language and geography into many distinct enclaves.
In 1997, an Israel-based rabbi, Yehoshua Kohl, dreamed of returning to his native Southern California and opening a center of learning for all Jews. After obtaining initial funding of about $150,000 from local donors in the Los Angeles area, along with seed money from benefactors in New York and SÃÂ£o Paulo, Brazil, Kohl realized his dream in the fall of 1999, opening the Valley Kollel. It's been growing ever since. Although the Kollel offices and many of its classes are in donated space at Orthodox shul Shaarey Zedek in North Hollywood, the Kollel is itself unaffiliated, and courses are taught at private homes throughout the San Fernando Valley and at Cal State Northridge. There are classes somewhere every day except Shabbat -- and even on Shabbat there is a learner's service. The instructors are young and energetic, well-traveled and from a variety of backgrounds, all passionate in their love of teaching Torah. Most amazing of all, however, in this day of ever-soaring tuition and enlightenment-for-the-right-price kabbalah seminars, the Kollel's instruction is totally, completely free of charge.
The ceremony was lovely. There was music, wedding cake, a love song and plenty of sentiment to go around.
Four local synagogues have banded together to create the first West Valley Winter Kallah, an adult education lecture series taught by Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, which is expected to become an annual event.
While most outsiders equate Burbank with NBC studios, Carson and Leno, townsfolk see it as a small haven amidst the chaos of Los Angeles.
Angered by the mainstream media's portrayal of his country, Uri Ben-Zur has joined with other Los Angeles area physicians to create the nonprofit organization Spirit of Israel.
One of the wonderful things about the Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), the Jewish retreat center nestled in the mountains of Simi Valley, is the devotion it attracts from those who have stayed there.