Jewish Journal

Wendy J. Madnick

  • The Top 8: Comic-Con 2010

    July 29, 2010 | 5:03 am

  • The Shots That Shattered Our Calm

    August 5, 2009 | 10:32 pm

    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...

  • Survivors — Not Victims

    August 5, 2009 | 10:26 pm

    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...

  • Keeping Security a Priority

    August 5, 2009 | 10:24 pm

    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...

  • A Brutal Awakening

    June 29, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    It is a hot August day, a steamy morning among the tree-lined streets in Granada Hills. I could be looking at the trees or the friendly rows of houses, but all I see is the parents.

    About 100 or so men and women are being held back by the police line that has been set up around the...

  • Special Needs Group Fills Special Niche

    August 25, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    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.

    Before they get to the Jewish text, before they begin the formal discussion, they update each other on what's been going on...

  • A Brave New High School

    April 14, 2005 | 8:00 pm


    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. A fireball of unstoppable energy who served for 14 years on...

  • Stein Scores Grammy

    March 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    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...

  • Special-Needs Bill: Good IDEA or Not?

    January 6, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    Jewish organizations expressed disappointment over President Bush's recent signing of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), saying the bill does not go far enough to help Jewish children in private school who need extra educational support.

    Under IDEA,...

  • Support Still Lags for Special Needs

    November 11, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    What happens to a Jewish child who can't sit still for religious classes because of severe attention-deficit disorder? Or one who doesn't understand the meaning of the holidays because she has Down syndrome? What happens when your autistic son is nearing the age of 12 and hasn't...

  • Breast Cancer Tips Doctors Don’t Share

    October 14, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    My mother recently called me with a request: One of the moms at the elementary school she works at was newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Could I give her a call?

    I immediately phoned Susan, a sweet, smart lady in her early 40s. She was weighing her options about surgery and...

  • Trader Joe’s Pulls Empire Chicken

    May 6, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    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,...

  • Cracking a Controversial ‘Code’

    April 8, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    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.

    "The book was a fun read; it...

  • She Said: A Day Fit for a Family

    November 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    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.

    When my fiancé, Adam, and I got engaged last spring, my wedding dress was the last thing on my mind -- telling my kids was the first. It remained...

  • Everyone Into The Pool

    June 19, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    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...

  • Israel Fest Crowd Smaller, but Solid

    May 15, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Rides, kabobs, Mother's Day and the Los Angeles Lakers made the 15th annual Israeli Festival an interesting experience this past Sunday. The combined forces of the holiday and the NBA playoffs brought the attendance rate at the May 11 event down to about 35,000 festival-goers --...

  • Clash Over Council, School Board Seats

    May 15, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    In the North San Fernando Valley lies District 12, which has been represented by Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson for 24 years. Bernson, 72, is retiring because of term limits, and the battle for his seat has resulted in the nastiest fight in years.

    Not since "the Richards"...

  • Israel Fest Expands Celebration Borders

    May 8, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    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.

    "I couldn't believe it -- these...

  • Conejo Valley Hit by Growing Pains

    April 24, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Rabbi Gary Johnson is overjoyed. There's no other way to describe it.

    His bliss over the new home for his congregation, Temple Beth Haverim, is so obvious that he practically dances around the building as he takes a visitor on a tour of the site. Not surprising for a man who for the...

  • Seder With a Twist

    April 10, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    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...

  • The Many Hats of a Community Rabbi

    April 10, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    It's 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, and Rabbi Jan Offel has hit a snag: she forgot to bring her kippah to work. It's not surprising that Offel left home minus an essential piece of rabbinic equipment; she was up until midnight the night before, creating materials for one of her hospital...

  • ‘Finding’ Asperger’s Changed His Life

    April 3, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    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...

  • An Ethical Vision

    March 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    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.

     At the time, no one could...

  • Calm But Profitable

    February 27, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    It may not seem like much -- $26.67 in change -- but 'tweens Alex and Miles Beard proved that it's the thought that counts at The Jewish Federation's Feb. 23 Super Sunday phone-a-thon, during which 2,000 volunteers raised more than $4 million from Federation sites in Los Angeles,...

  • Be Prepared

    February 20, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    The following tips on properly preparing for unexpected emergencies have been gathered from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Web site (www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0287.xml ).

    Assemble an Emergency Kit

    A person should be...

  • Fear & Duct Tape in Los Angeles

    February 20, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    When the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory System was raised to Code Orange on Feb. 7, indicating a high risk of a terrorist attack, the anxiety level of the Jewish community in Los Angeles rose with it.

    "Our office staff was a lot more anxious that day, to say the least," said Rabbi...

  • Five Elements of a Fairy-Tale Marriage

    February 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    "The Committed Marriage" by Esther Jungreis (Harper San Francisco, $23.95).

    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?

    But what Jungreis explains is...

  • To Elected   Love

    February 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Once in a while, when you lose in politics, you can still win. Even though Michael Wissot lost his bid for a seat in the state assembly last fall, he found his beshert along the campaign trail.

    Wissot, 28, recently announced his engagement to Stephen S. Wise Temple Cantor Alison...

  • Dealing With Divorce

    February 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    The Jewish community has always pushed marriage. So when it comes to divorce, it is understandable that resources in the Jewish world are limited. It's not the sort of thing the community wants to encourage.

    Still, there is a need. The most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics...

  • Abraham Not Guilty

    December 12, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    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....

  • Listening to Needs

    November 28, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    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....

  • Time to Eat the Doughnuts

    November 28, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Q: What's better than a piping hot Krispy Kreme doughnut?

    A: A piping hot kosher Krispy Kreme doughnut -- and just in time for Chanukah, which has a holiday tradition of eating fried foods like doughnuts.

    Ever since the franchise expanded beyond its Southeast roots, Krispy Kreme...

  • A Forkful of Trouble

    November 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Turkey, potatoes and gravy, candied yams -- all the foods you love to pile on your plate come Thanksgiving. But you might want to check your blood sugar before you take another helping of mashed potatoes, because if you are one of the many American Jews at risk for diabetes, that...

  • It Takes a Village Glen

    November 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    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, ignoring a small group of 12-year-olds talking and joking nearby. A handsome boy with golden hair and freckles breaks away from the group,...

  • No Divorce

    November 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    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.

    But supporters of the breakaway effort...

  • Valley Races That Also Matter

    October 31, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    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...

  • The Final Push

    October 31, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    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...

  • The Battle Over Mesivta

    October 24, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    At a shabby, deserted golf course in an isolated area of Calabasas, a half-started construction site sits idle, and some 31 yeshiva bocherim learn Talmud at the makeshift campus of Mesivta of Greater Los Angeles.

    Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman had opened the high school with nine students in...

  • Would a Split Spell Business Relief?

    October 24, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Carol Silver supports secession. The owner of PIP Printing in Sun Valley for 21 years, Silver is running for a Valley City Council seat in the 7th District, in part because of her strong feelings about Los Angeles' failure to attract and retain companies.

    "When I opened my company, I...

  • Jewish Legislators Back Iraq Resolution

    October 17, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    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...

  • Passion for Politics

    October 10, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    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.


  • A Small School With Big Plans

    September 26, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    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. Next door, another 14 teenagers sit in a semicircle as their English teacher describes their next chapter in...

  • A Nation Says ‘Kaddish’

    September 12, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    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. Parents lingered on schoolyards well after drop-off, watching their children, perhaps thinking of the hundreds of other parents who were...

  • What We’ve Learned

    September 5, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    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. He had just dropped off his daughter, a Fordham University law student, at the airport about an hour before for her 8 a.m. flight...

  • In Cantor vs. Rabbi, Synagogue Is Victim

    August 29, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    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...

  • Charismatic Rabbi Faces Charges

    August 22, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Michael Ozair is, by many accounts, charming, charismatic and an excellent teacher.

    He is also in jail.

    The once-popular instructor at schools like Shalhevet High School on Fairfax Avenue and Sinai Akiba Academy on Wilshire Boulevard, who was an active participant in the Happy Minyan...

  • Funny Money

    August 22, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    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.


  • Something Special

    August 22, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    When Brianna Ross passes by Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, she signs one word to her mother over and over again: "School, school."

    "She just loves going there," said Adrienne Ross, Brianna's mother.

    Brianna, 9, has cerebral palsy and developmental delays; she is also a kidney...

  • Independence Day

    August 1, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Nothing could dampen their spirits. On Saturday morning, July 27, a small band of San Fernando Valley secessionists gathered at a park in Van Nuys to sign a declaration of independence from the city of Los Angeles. In the middle of the historic moment, as leaders of the secession...