Over the years, b'nai mitzvah students have been encouraged more and more to select a cause, organization or project that they can support by donating community service hours, a portion of their gift money or both.
Applying to college was not this complicated 25(ish) years ago. I think I took a PSAT. I know I took the SAT. I took it one time. I did relatively well. I got into UCLA. But times have changed. If I packaged up my high school transcripts and SAT score today, UCLA probably would laugh my application right out of the admissions building.
Jewish life in the South Bay has been flourishing.
According the Jewish Federation/South Bay Council, the area is one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in California. From Westchester to San Pedro, the Jewish population has increased dramatically to an estimated 40,000, and there are numerous indicators that this trend will continue.
Robin Franko, director of the South Bay Council and a lifelong South Bay resident, says that the numbers speak volumes about the thriving community.
I am a big fan of camp. Every summer from 1973 on, I packed my trunk and headed to Malibu. Camp Hess Kramer shaped my teen years and reinforced my Jewish identity. It was my second home from age 12 to 22, and to this day, whenever I catch a whiff of pancakes frying in hot oil on a griddle, I close my eyes and return to camp. My life revolved around those precious summer months. If somebody offered me a job at camp today, I'd roll up my sleeping bag and hop on the bus.
At Congregation Ner Tamid, most members can trace their ancestors back to Eastern Europe and the late 1800s. Few are aware that 1654 was one of the most significant years in Jewish history -- the year that 23 Jews fled the Portuguese Inquisition when they boarded the St. Charles bound for North America.
It was supposed to have been a happy day. Strangely enough, it was.