A True Best Friend
A hero of last fall's destructive brushfires in San Bernardino was 5-year-old Duke, a miniature spaniel trained since 2000 to serve as a "co-therapist." At one evacuation center during the weeklong siege, without prompting, Duke snuggled up to a 10-year-old boy who refused to talk after losing his cat and home. Slowly, the boy began telling Duke his story.
Duke's owner, Dr. Lois Abrams, a Los Alamitos psychiatrist uses her dog as a tool to work with kids who have been exposed to trauma. She was soon able to take the boy to the proper people for assistance.
Abrams and Duke, who volunteer with a group that offers emotional support during disasters, were honored in April by the O.C. Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Abrams is a member of Westminster's Temple Beth David.
O.C. Honors Israel
Nearly 3,000 people attended the community Israel celebration in May. The turnout earned an estimated $2,500 profit, said Mali Leitner, of Villa Park, who organized the event for O.C.'s Jewish Federation. Her goal was seed money for next year's affair.
Nearly 100 booths were filled by Jewish merchants of goods and ideas, a stronger than anticipated show of community cooperation and vitality.
Francie Rosen created a festive mood on stage with a balloon arch.
Leitner's volunteers were helped by the Young Judea youth group and Tzofim, the local chapter of the Israeli scouts.
Landau Bon Voyage
Nearly 300 people packed a farewell party also on June 6 to give a heartfelt send off to Rabbi Joel Landau and his wife, Johni, leaving Irvine's Beth Jacob Congregation for Israel after 11 years.
Reuben Kershaw will celebrate his 90th birthday July 11 with a family reunion party at Mission Viejo's city library. Kershaw was president of the foundation that was instrumental in replacing the cramped county branch facility with the modern, spacious one that opened in 1997. The gardens at the library are named in his honor.
Stuart P. Jasper of Mission Viejo received the prestigious Harmon G. Scoville award from the O.C. Bar Association on May 14. The award is presented annually to honor a local member of the bar whose career exemplifies the highest standards of the legal profession and who has significantly contributed to the group. Jasper, who has a business litigation practice in Irvine, is president of the local chapter of the American Inns of Court. Its monthly programs help lawyers become more effective advocates with a keener ethical awareness.
Jasper's son, Todd, graduated in June from Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School in Irvine and plans to attend George Washington University in the fall.
Mert Isaacman, 57, of Irvine, the top lawn bowling player in the country for the last two years, was named to a five-man U.S. team that will compete July 23-Aug. 8 in Ayr, Scotland, for the lawn bowling world championship.
Held every four years and coinciding with the Olympics in Athens, the tournament draws competitors from 40 countries. Teams are selected based on cumulative scores of 21-point games over four years. Last November, Isaacman won a silver medal in the singles division of an international tournament in Brisbane, New Zealand. The year before in Australia -- where 600,000 players play the sport and spectators scream like their at a Lakers game -- Isaacman became the first American medal winner in singles, considered the premier event. Just 20,000 players compete in the United States.
Isaacman, a real estate developer, is one of Beth Jacob Congregation's many South African expatriates. He took up the sport seriously in 1986 after an embarrassing beginning. His introduction had come 10 years earlier in a bet over a game with his late father, who spotted him a 15-point lead.
"I never scored a point," he admitted, and also lost the $100 bet. =
The fifth- and sixth-grade teams from Rancho Santa Margarita's Morasha Jewish Day School earned first place finishes when they competed in the "National Current Events League" in May.
The competition consists of four "meets" where classes independently take tests that cover an array of topics in the news over the previous two months. Results are tabulated after the fourth test and overall winners announced.
Morasha's fifth-graders went up against 115 schools, outscoring their nearest competitor by 10 points. The sixth-graders had a bigger field of 139 competitors, outscoring the nearest rival by 47 points. Student Ben Cohen was the only individual who received a perfect score; classmates Dillon Katz, Lauren Shapiro and Ari Mor were also top scorers.