Linda Sanders needed some old Yiddish music to cheer up a 98-year-old woman she visited regularly, and she knew just where to find the obscure recordings — at the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, in The Jewish Federation building on Wilshire Boulevard.
LimmudLA is hoping that about 800 Southern Californians will sign up to attend the second annual weekendlong event, scheduled to take place Feb. 13-16 at the Costa Mesa Hilton
From painted-clay preschool classics to sterling silver family heirlooms, the eight bright lights of the chanukiyah have a unique and artful way of revealing our values, holding our histories and telling our stories.
Amid the cascade of bad economic news of the past few months, five Jewish high schools in Los Angeles received some good news last week.
" , , , Forces that have been impatient with the pace of reform feel that they have won a victory, because they were never entirely sold on Superintendent Brewer, although he vigorously defends his record . . ."
Funnye, 56, has dedicated his life to chiseling away at the conventional, but increasingly inaccurate, conception of who is a Jew.
When Lorin Fife converted to Judaism some 30 years ago, his experience with the Orthodox rabbis who presided over his year of study and conversion ceremony was one of warmth and acceptance.
Capers Funnye has a lot in common with his cousin-in-law, Barack Obama: They have both shattered longstanding barriers and are both committed to reaching across traditional divides.
The Diller Tikkun Olam Award is presented annually to five 13- to 19-year-old Californians who have exhibited passion and leadership in tikkun olam, improving the world.
Now that the election is over and campaign exaggerations can give way to reality, in schools, and everywhere else, people are making efforts to put things back into perspective. While a lot of healing may still be needed before that sort of unity can move beyond a Saturday night at the beach, one uniting factor all agree on is that this election brought a new level of political awareness and passion across party lines and across ages.
Seeking to accentuate Jewish traditions that place a premium on ethical integrity, Los Angeles Orthodox rabbis are encouraging local businesses to sign up for a new seal of certification that ensures employers are treating workers fairly and humanely
Imagine LA coordinators work with facility case managers and faith partners to determine the family's needs and set up a plan for independent living.
"You hear so much from autism organizations about what a horrible disease this is and how the parents have been robbed of their children, yada, yada, yada, and I suppose on a certain level that is true," Jacob told me, typing the words on a special keyboard that allows him to fully express his ideas. "But I refuse to live the rest of my life believing I am a defective human being. I have gifts and talents and challenges just like everyone else, and I have the same desire for connection and a need to be treated with dignity and respect."
Are Hebrew-language charter schools the answer to the tuition crisis, or a threat to both Jewish education and American values?
Jenny Meyer was feeling guilty, and she was willing to use that guilt to get what she wanted -- a free trip to Israel for her parents
Birthright's success in awakening a connection to Jewish heritage and Israel is unprecedented in American Jewish life. The number of alumni continues to multiply and their enthusiasm is infusing new energy into American Jewry
For some, it is a spiritual moment of human dignity finally resting upon everyone. For others, it is a sign that society is being sucked into an eddy of moral dissolution.
New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) awarded eight Holocaust survivors honorary high school diplomas last Wednesday night, symbolically handing them back a part of their adolescence that had been stolen by the war
More than 1,400 people marched up Vanowen Street and across Victory Boulevard in West Hills last Sunday to raise funds and awareness about the genocide in Darfur. The second annual three-mile Walk for Darfur raised more than $35,000 for Jewish World Watch's work in refugee support, political advocacy and education.
Earlier this spring, David Weiner, a 32-year-old social studies curriculum publisher from Los Angeles, went on an unlikely pairing of back-to-back missions to Israel.
A new group of Orthodox day school principals and pulpit rabbis on Los Angeles' Westside began meeting a few months ago to work through issues that overlap the classroom and the synagogue.
But even Robin Tyler, a well-seasoned activist -- she was one of the first openly gay comics, and she organized marches on Washington in 1979 and 2000 -- is glad to have a new ally: 100 rabbis who support Jews for Marriage Equality, an organization advocating for same-sex civil marriage.
Faye Levy doesn't look like anyone who's ever had a problem with her weight. The prolific cookbook author stands at 4-foot-10, and weighs about 100 pounds.
But somewhere in the mid-1980s, just as she was working on "Chocolate Sensations" and "Dessert Sensations," she realized that testing those recipes, on top of six years at cooking school in Paris -- and following every enticing smell into street markets and cafes -- had added a lot of weight to her tiny frame.
While within the general population about 5 percent of cancers can be attributed to a hereditary syndrome, in the Jewish community, that number is closer to 30 percent. The good news is that knowledge about how the mutation causes cancer is opening scientific doors to more effective, targeted treatment for those already diagnosed. And people who have the genetic mutation can take preventative measures to drastically reduce their breast and ovarian cancer risk.
The Illions Supreme Carousel, which twirled riders for decades at the L.A. County Fairgrounds in Pomona, is one of the most elaborate wooden carousels carved at the beginning of the last century by Marcus Charles Illions and his group of Jewish immigrant craftsmen. If the current owner, a private collector, can't find a buyer for the carousel -- a city, museum or amusement park -- the historic specimen of Jewish Americana could end up broken apart or shipped to Dubai, where the amusement park industry is flourishing and the weak dollar makes American cast-offs a bargain.
"You hear about tragedies in Israel, but it hits so close to home because this is us next year. Next year we're going to yeshiva," said Chaim Gamzo, a 17-year-old senior. "These guys had their whole lives ahead of them -- like me. I hope to go to yeshiva, to go to college, to have a normal successful life, but they didn't have the opportunity to do that."
In the early 1980s, when Dina and her husband Michael were applying to Los Angeles Jewish high schools, there was only one choice -- YULA (then known as Yeshiva University of Los Angeles). The Los Angeles Jewish community has expanded and matured since then, and its high school scene now offers nuanced choices with differences in overall philosophy, academic approach, religious level and social atmosphere.Because of that range, a steadily growing number of families with teens are opting for Jewish immersion.
The calligraphy on the coffee-colored parchment is crisp and clear, with delicately ascending crowns adorning the Hebrew letters. But rather than being unfurled on a bima and read by a proud bar mitzvah boy, this water-stained fragment of a Torah scroll from Turkey -- thought to be about 300 years old -- is spread out on a drafting table in the backyard studio of Sam and Debbie Gliksman. The Gliksmans have recently launched Spiritual Artifacts, a business that preserves, frames and sells fragments from decommissioned Torah scrolls.
LimmudLA -- by the numbers.
Diary of activities at LimmudLA.
After months of contentious back and forth over the scheduling of the statewide high school debate tournament on the first night of Passover, Jewish leaders and tournament organizers have reached a half-hearted detente that will not change the date but will ensure such a scheduling snafu will not happen again.
Morah Malka will understand.
She'll get that I am focusing on Alan Rosen because he was my teacher and not because she and the other recipients of the 18th annual Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Awards are any less worthy of notice than Alan, who also received the award last month.
In real life, Leo Goldberg doesn't dance and sing.
But at Camp Gilboa, where he's spent summers for the past 9 years, Leo Goldberg dances. And he sings. A lot -- and loudly.
A growing number of nonprofits are looking toward raffles with huge prizes -- generally a house, or a cash alternative -- as a way to bring in large sums of money. A sold-out home raffle would bring in more than $1 million for a nonprofit.
Over the last several years, in anticipation of the voyage's 60th anniversary, survivors of the Exodus have been asked to share their stories in an effort to solidify Exodus' place in history, before all that is left are the fictionalized and romanticized versions of the 1958 Leon Uris novel or the 1960 Otto Preminger film (and even those are already being forgotten). Among the recent projects are "Exodus 1947," a 1997 documentary film by Venice resident Elizabeth Rodgers, and a new release of journalist Ruth Gruber's account of the voyage, "Exodus 1947: The Ship that Launched a Nation" (October 2007, Union Square Press).
If the group of Gen Y-ers -- also known as Millenials or NextGens or iGens -- who gathered for a Jewish leadership conference in Santa Monica last week are any indication, it seems that parents who did everything to build their children's resumes and self esteem may have been on to something. This handpicked group of Jewish leaders in their 20s and early 30s have the self-confidence to think -- to actually believe -- that if the old people would just make some room for them, or maybe get out of the way altogether, they could fix this mess of a world. They are committed to social justice; they are willing to get their hands dirty; they have great ideas, time to volunteer, and they have the arrogance, self-centeredness and technological savvy to bring their ideas to fruition. The question is how to channel all that into the Jewish community.
Discussion of the pro and cons of school trips.
Milken Community High School students joined the space race this week when two seniors won the first-ever X PRIZE competition for high schoolers. On Sunday, Michael Hakimi and Talia Nour-Omid took home the first Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award for their concept of developing bio-monitoring sunglasses to keep space travelers healthy during civilian spaceflight.
Limmud was founded 25 years ago in England, where each December more than 2,000 people gather for a five-day conference. In the last six or seven years, the Limmud model has spread around the world, with conferences in Russia, France, Canada, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Australia and New York.The goal of LimmudLA, slated for Febrary during President's Day Weekend at the Costa Mesa Hilton, is to bring together the broad spectrum of Los Angeles Jewry to experience the richness of Judaism through intense days packed with the arts, shared meals and conversations, and a quirky and diverse offering of text studies, lectures and workshops. At Limmud, all the teachers are participants, and many of the participants are teachers, so everyone learns from each other.
The annual California high school debate tournament traditionally attracts more than 800 contestants to its weekend-long event, many of them Jewish and all of them students who have worked long and hard to prepare for the intense competition.
Ari Greenspan and his colleague, Ari Zivotofsky, a neuroscientist at Bar-Ilan University, have an ongoing project to document all manner of etrog, the Aramaic word for citron, traditions from pockets of time and place in the Jewish world
What is it that allowed this family to stay whole and renew the life in themselves when fate, or God, or a violent man, dealt them unimaginable grief? In this season of renewal and introspection, of fate and faith, what can others facing obstacles of any degree learn from this family's remarkable ability to transcend the unthinkable?
While Yair, 8-year-old Ezra and 5-year-old Neima usually jump at the chance to help in the kitchen, just peeling carrots or washing parsley can get boring. They want real jobs, and especially during the cooking-intensive weeks of the High Holy Days, giving them more challenging tasks is a good way to hold their interest in all things culinary.
Kadima Hebrew Academy is hoping to raise funds through one of the latest tools -- a million-dollar home raffle. Kadima is selling 18,000 tickets at $150 each to give away a furnished and landscaped five-bedroom, four-bathroom, newly constructed home in West Hills.
A growing number of synagogues around Los Angeles and throughout the country are upending the time-honored idea of Sunday school.
Locust -- dried, fried and certified -- was the last item on the menu at The Prime Grill in Beverly Hills last Sunday night, where the Orthodox Union hosted its first Los Angeles "Halachic Adventure," a gastronomic, anthropological and academic safari through the traditions of kosher animals. The 15-course meal at The Prime Grill was the highlight of a three-day conference for lay people and kashrut experts on the latest in the ancient traditions of what observant Jews consider divinely sanctioned food.
As part of her participation in the Community Youth Foundation -- a program of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles where teens allocate $10,000 in grants -- Teller and her friends visited Shane's Inspiration, a West L.A. playground for the disabled.
Today? We're litigious and safety conscious and have all sorts of rules and techniques so kids don't get hurt emotionally or physically ... and the camp prank still reigns supreme.
To 8-year-old Ezra, the pre-opening event at the new Noah's Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center is a novel and memorable play experience, with all the sorts of things kids love -- noisy cranks and pulleys to operate, to play with and to discover. While fun is high on the list of goals for the fanciful and compelling world of Noah's Ark, opening to the public on June 26, curators believe a couple hours aboard the ark can also help kids and the grownups they bring learn about the importance of collaboration and the effect your actions can have on your world -- all with the underlying epic theme of how to weather a storm and find safe harbor.
The Jewish Journal talked to four students who shatter the Jewish college-obsessed stereotype.
What can you get for 31 cents? It turns out a whole lot more than a bargain scoop of ice cream.
Jewish law considers mental illness as serious and real as physical illness, says Rabbi Elliot Dorff, professor of philosophy and co-chair of the bio-ethics department at the American Jewish University (formerly University of Judaism), with an accompanying obligation of treatment.
The counter-intuitiveness of teaching children about the Holocaust is a harsh truth for parents of the new millennium, who believe in organic parenting, in going with the child's flow. But, of course, there isn't anything natural about the Holocaust, and so how we pass it on to the next generation can't be natural.
The University of Judaism (UJ) and Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), two Southern California institutions that for the last 60 years have educated and inspired Jews of all ages and affiliations -- and that have both at times struggled through financial and leadership troubles -- this week will announce that they have merged into one entity, to be known as the American Jewish University.
We've been sitting at Starbucks over iced drinks for 20 minutes, and the subject of the University of Judaism (UJ) has yet to be brought up. We're schmoozing, Robert Wexler and I, and he asks a lot of questions about me -- where my grandparents are from, where I went to college, where my kids go to school. We talk about how parenting today is so different from how it was when we were each growing up, and we weigh the pros and cons of teens being tethered to their parents by the flip of a cell phone.
About 95 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die within five years, the highest mortality rate of any cancer.
For many years, at-risk behavior and drug use among yeshiva high school students has been an open secret, but only in recent years have kids and their families had anywhere to turn.
"What this is really about is two institutions pulling themselves together and saying what is the best thing to do for our communities, and let's erase superficial differences and see if we can build something that is far better than what we can do by ourselves," said Barbara Gereboff, Kadima's head of school.
"I want to recognize and celebrate a person whose intelligence, whose leadership, whose commitment and compassion have made a profound difference in our community, a person who has positively impacted thousands of young people's lives," said Lowell Milken, chairman of the Milken Family Foundation, which gave the naming gift and maintains close ties to the high school.
Perhaps it was the civilian, Karnit Goldwasser, who said it most clearly: "There are so many powerful and important people gathered together here. Together, we must raise up our voices."
Adam is pushing the strings of his tzitzit through a small hole on the side of his desk.
A Torah scroll that twice survived extinction was ushered to its new home in the Lainer Beit Mirdash of Milken Community High School on October 19.
In 1969, a group of college students staged a protest at the premiere gathering of the organized Jewish community, demanding more say and more attention to issues that mattered to them. The demonstrations and vocal disruptions at the Boston General Assembly lead to the formation of the North American Jewish Students Appeal, which was funded by federations until 1995.
Ever since then, students have been a part of the GA, which this year is taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center Nov. 12-15.
In just three weeks, more than 3,000 leaders of the international Jewish community, including the prime minister of Israel, are coming to Los Angeles. This season's best-kept secret among L.A. Jews seems to be that the 75th annual General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities is being held in Los Angeles -- the first time in 26 years this city will host one of the largest annual gatherings of Jews in North America.
Some kids aren't cut out for academic rigor. Leaving them in a mismatched environment often leads them toward self-destructive paths to failure
Rosh Hashanah resolutions.
At what age should kids should sit in the main sanctuary? That's a question that synagogues grapple with yearly, as they shuffle an everchanging set of services.
When attorney Shep Rosenman attended the interdenominational, interdisciplinary, cultural/experiential/academic Limmud conference in New York, what surprised him most was how much he was able to step out of his comfort zone.
Living with the trauma and sorrow of losing a brother or sister in the Israel Defense Forces has scarred all of the 30 12- and 13-year-olds who spent 10 days at Camp Ramah in Ojai earlier this month. The Legacy/Moreshet program, sponsored by Friends of the IDF (FIDF), gave kids who lost a sibling or parent in combat a bar or bat mitzvah present that allowed them to have an American-style summer blast -- if not to forget, then at least to enjoy a respite from the sadness that follows them at home.
"Our images of Jewish camping are formed by people who are heavy Jewish campers, but there are lots of people who are light Jewish campers and campers at non-Jewish camps, and this study accessed their views on Jewish camping," Steven M. Cohen, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion sociologist who authored the study, told The Jewish Journal. "I think we learned that there are diverse incentives and obstacles to participation in Jewish camping."
Waiters could barely navigate their way through the schmoozing, kvelling crowd packed into Sephardic Temple for the Bureau of Jewish Education's (BJE) June dinner honoring its executive director, Gil Graff.
Like most camps, Hess Kramer, has a staff of Israelis who work as counselors and educators. This summer, 1,400 Israelis, most of them between the ages of 19 and 22, are staffing 200 Jewish day and sleep-away camps, according the Jewish Agency, which coordinates the stays.
Over the years, people have often asked me whether I've ever thought about working at a "real newspaper." The idea, I guess, is if I'm good enough why wouldn't I want to move up to the mainstream press? But for me that would be more of a move out than a move up.
Miriam Prum-Hess, an experienced and admired Federation executive, took on a new role working on behalf of day schools last year, an effort to increase the level of professionalism and efficiency in all nonacademic areas. She has become the central address for day schools looking for expertise on operational issues -- fundraising strategies, legal advice, business decisions, purchasing, and human resources.
Families are feeling the squeeze of the upward crawl of day school tuition over the last several years, which has brought the average tuition for elementary and middle school to about $12,600 and for high school to as much as $20,000. Those numbers are about 30 percent above what a year of schooling cost four years ago and nearly double 10 years ago.
New Jew opened in 2002 at the Milken campus of The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance, with 40 students in the ninth grade and Dr. Bruce Powell, veteran founder of successful Jewish high schools, at the helm. This year, 47 students who took the chance and dove head first into a new venture are graduating. The school was a risk that paid off.
A gang-related drive-by shooting in the heart of the Pico-Robertson neighborhood late Sunday night left members of the Jewish community rattled and shocked.
Gafni was appointed to the Wisdom Chair at Stephen S. Wise two years ago -- despite anecdotal allegations that he had a history of sexual misconduct. The temple's senior rabbi this week issued a short statement denouncing Gafni.
Smoldering tensions between the Orthodox community and other Hancock Park residents, many of them also Jewish, are heating up anew, as a battle over neighborhood architecture has divided along lines of religious affiliation.
Lingering clouds huddle at the eastern edge of Los Angeles' clear blue skyline, casting a dusty shadow over the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains. Follow one of those meandering white trails down the mountain, and you'll find yourself at Weizmann Jewish Community Day School in the eastern foothills of Pasadena, where 38 students and 11 staff members occupy a stronghold of Jewish education in an area of Southern California not known for its overall Jewishness.
Members of Temple Beth Am's Library Minyan voted on March 15 to allow a gay couple to receive a special blessing on Shabbat in anticipation of the couple's commitment ceremony, marking the first time the Westside Conservative congregation has officially addressed how to handle a gay lifecycle event.
Five brief pieces, on the following: Shalhevet School's recent winning streak, Camp Ramah's new solar panels, a five-day summer workshop that shows teachers how to use studying the holocaust to teach morality, an opportunity to serve abroad as part of the "Jewish Peace Corps," and a recent Prejudice Awareness Summit at the University of Judaism.
Today, contentious issues and tough questions persist. Aside from continuing enmity over the election, residents are battling in court over the construction of a synagogue on a busy residential street. And an Orthodox school and its neighbors are testing just how far they can push each other.
Yavneh moved into the Tudor estate, which formerly housed the Whittier Law School, in 1999. The school has about 400 students in preschool through eighth grade, and insists it has worked hard to foster a good relationship with neighbors. But things have soured in the last few years, as Yavneh tests the strict limitations of its conditional-use permit.
Etz Chaim, for its part, is arguing that the settlement is valid, that it did not violate the settlement and, that, in any case, federal law exempts it from zoning regulations.
In "Kids in the Kitchen," best-selling author Fishbein has translated into kids lingo her formula for great cook books: interesting recipes that tweak the traditional, with points for presentation and originality. The full-color photos and cutesy thematics in this book are as bright as her others (her "Kosher by Design Entertains" is known universally as "The Pink Book"), with a few more smiley faces.
A recent gift of $15 million to the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md., one of the largest day schools in the U.S., will help pay for the school's daily operation, extremely rare among large gifts, which more commonly go toward endowments or capital expansion.
Jewish Family Service is recruiting teens to volunteer as presenters in its new teen-dating violence prevention program, The Hula Project (Healthy Unions Los Angeles).
Every summer, 2,000 teenagers from around the globe attend the world's largest international Jewish summer camp, The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation JDC International Jewish Summer Camp in Szarvas, Hungary.
Middle school classes are invited to view "Scream the Truth at the World," an exhibit of artifacts from Jewish Polish life before World War II, at the University of Judaism's (UJ) Platt Gallery through May 7.
With day school tuition at $11,000-$18,000 per child, per year putting the crunch on many families, the Orthodox Union (OU) has launched a tuition initiative to address both long-term and short-term solutions to what could become a crisis in Jewish education.
A private girls' school in Hancock Park has defused accusations of anti-Israel bias in the wake of an English teacher's speech on the Mideast at an all-school assembly.
Five years ago, Leibovic was approached by the prodigal son of a prominent Orthodox family for help and inspiration. Soon, their one-on-one Torah study grew into a larger group, made up mostly of recent alumni of Neve Zion, the yeshiva outside Jerusalem where Leibovic had formative experiences as a teen and young adult.
The only thing worse than going to most luncheons is having to write about them -- blow-by-blows of well-meaning, well-deserved appreciations and thank yous and speeches that go on too long.
The Cohens understand desperation. Eight years ago, Nouriel's beauty supply business went under, and the family had to give up their Beverly Hills home. He hasn't had steady employment since then and has had to rely on his parents and family to get by.
In what sounds like a page out of "Star Trek," Yeshivat Yavneh in Hancock Park installed a 73-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array to generate energy that will cut both costs and the environmental impact of a traditional electric power supply.
Two new entries for Jewish studies can be found at Cal State Northridge (CSUN) and UCLA. CSUN has introduced a major in the subject this fall, and at UCLA, the Center for Jewish Studies has launched a new program on Modern Jewish Culture.
Why should I feign interest in my 9-year-old's latest obsession, a Lego "Star Wars" computer game, just as I had in his "Backyard Baseball" meshugash, where I got to know fictional kids and their batting averages and pet peeves?
Scholars-in-residence Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Steven Leder and Dr. Bruce Powell will address teaching children values and ethics at Brandeis-Bardin Institute's family weekend Nov. 19-21. Sponsored by The Jewish Journal, the weekend will explore how ethics interface with spirituality, social justice, education and consumerism. Renowned child development specialist Dr. Ian Russ will address how kids learn ethics, and an expert from Merrill Lynch will discuss saving for your children and grandchildren.
While projects like tempera-painted honey dishes and party-whistle shofars are de rigueur, preschool and elementary school teachers take seriously the idea of having the High Holiday message of personal accountability set the tone for the whole year
The goal of shaping high-quality people is especially foremost during the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Sarah Rose Isenberg had a sure-fire marketing plan and a product no one could object to.
It's hard for Gideon Daneshrad to imagine himself on the receiving end of tzedakah (charitable giving). In the 30 years since he arrived from Iran to study computer science at North Louisiana University in Monroe, Daneshrad, 56, has built himself a full life -- with four children, a lakefront home and New Orleans' only kosher restaurant.
"Just close your eyes and imagine that you wake up in the morning and you are stripped of your identity," Daneshrad says. "You are nobody. You are nothing. You have no money coming in. You don't have clothes. You don't have food. And all the people you knew are scattered around the world."
Daneshrad and his family have been in Los Angeles for more than a week, and he still finds himself imagining this is all a nightmare.
In the backlot at Universal Studios, somewhere between the lake where Jaws lurks and the courthouse square where Michael J. Fox sped back to the future, researchers in nondescript trailers are finishing up one of the most ambitious projects involving the Holocaust.
A group of 25 campers from Ramah of California's pilot summer in 1955 returned to camp this summer to kick off a yearlong celebration of Ramah's 50 years on the West Coast. The camp officially opened in 1956.
Back then, there were 62 campers and 24 staff members. Tuition for the 10 days was set at $56.16 -- with scholarships available. Today, there are 1,275 campers at the Ojai location, just down the road from the original campsite and a four-week session costs $3,120.
Rabbi Jacob Pressman, director of the camp that first summer, and assistant director Miriam Wise were among the delegates this summer. Rabbi Daniel Greyber, current director, presented the two with an award of recognition for their service.
The alumni toured the camp and then spent the evening in a singalong with current campers. Young campers and alumni alike were touched and amazed to hear that they knew the same camp songs, some of them authored by the adult guests.
Mark Worland -- six-foot-something, dressed in tight black and skinhead bald -- grabs Navid by the arm.
"Come with me!" he barks.
"No!" screams Navid, barely 5-feet tall.
Navid throws himself on his back, locks the bottom of his feet to Worland's knees, and shields his face and head from Worland's flailing fists.
"Great job," says Worland, a self-defense specialist, shaking Navid's hand and helping him up, as Navid's friends applaud.
This self-defense class is part of a repertoire of life skills that Navid and his peers are learning at Independent Living Skills, a summer program for developmentally disabled adults run by Etta Israel Center, a mid-Wilshire nonprofit for people with special needs.
As the big talkers started in, Ort reminded them about Steven, a fictional character who showed up in a scenario during their seminar on sexual ethics. Ort reminded the 20 boys what they'd said about Steven, who had boasted about his experiences and tried to push a pal into also going "all the way" with a girl.