October 9, 1997
Los Angelesare planning to give Israel a very special present for its 50thbirthday -- an ambulance.
Over the course of the school year, children fromall day schools, Reform to Orthodox, will contribute their tzedakahmoney and hold special fund-raisers in order to purchase a $50,000ambulance for the country's Magen David Adom, Israel's equivalent tothe Red Cross. "Given all the negative intra-Jewish news," said Dr.George Liebowitz, chairman of the Day School Principals Council, "wethought it would be very good to have people come together for themitzvah of pikuach nefesh," or saving souls.
Each school will organize its own fund-raisingprogram. The organizers are hoping to raise $4 from each of the 9,000Jewish day-school students and $2 from each of 12,000 Hebrew-schoolpupils.
There also will be an educational component to theefforts. A fully decked-out ambulance will make the rounds of thecampuses so that children can see where their money is going. Theambulance the students actually purchase also will be displayed tothe children before it is shipped to Israel. Accompanying the vehiclewill be a sign reading, "From the Children of Los Angeles to thePeople of Israel." Happy Birthday. -- Robert Eshman, Associate Editor
Books for South Africa>
Marilyn Woods, assistant principal at AbrahamJoshua Heschel Day School, shares curriculum information with thestaff from Hewat/Cape Town Institute of Education andTraining.
Like the abolition of slavery in this country, theend of apartheid in South Africa hasn't brought instant equality topeople long divided by class and color. This is particularly evidentin the schools in the black and colored townships, according toMarilyn Woods, assistant principal at Abraham Joshua Heschel DaySchool in Northridge. Woods recently returned from a trip to SouthAfrica, where she was a guest lecturer at the Hewat/Cape TownInstitute of Education and Training, a teaching college.
Having made extensive visits to township schools,the Heschel administrator was appalled at the conditions she found --cramped classrooms of 70 or more students, crumbling walls, brokenwindows, no heat or electricity, and blackboards on which nothingcould be written. Woods was particularly struck by the lack ofmaterials. "I visited some classes where there were three or fourbooks. The teacher writes everything on a blackboard that you canhardly write on or see."
Upon returning to Heschel, Woods rallied supportfor a book drive among elementary- and middle-school students, withthe books to be sent to the townships. In a stroke of serendipity,she had met on the plane home a man who offered free space in graincontainers that are being shipped from Decatur, Ill., to Cape Town,where the books will be warehoused before distribution. The projecthas caught fire not only at Heschel but at Moorpark High School, AdatAri El Day School and Rand McNally, which will ship some surplusmaps.
At press time, Woods was preparing to make apresentation to the Bureau of Jewish Education's Principals Council,with the aim of expanding the project to other Jewish schools. Shehopes that the initial book drive, which ends on Dec. 16, will spawnan ongoing mission to provide desperately needed materials not onlyto South African schools but to other needy students around theworld.
"This is just a pilot project," she said. "Wedon't want it to get too large immediately." -- Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer