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Up Front

September 2, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Teen Artist�(tm)s Fairy Tale Comes True

Laguna Hills resident and artist, Alina Eydel, is etching a name for herself within the international art community with her imagery of fairy tale princesses, imaginary cat worlds and detailed costume designs. The 14-year-old�(tm)s work fetches an average of $1,500 apiece at galleries and art shows around the country.

"The paintings are visions of my own glamorized fantasies and self-indulgence," Eydel said. "I put my own glimmer and shimmer into my ideas through my art. I really like details."

Artists like Michael Parkes and Fernando Botero are current inspirations for Eydel. Her art is more directly influenced by architecture, people close to her and her animal friends, especially her cats.

"I have been through three stages of influence since I started painting seriously at age 7," Eydel said. "Fairy tale worlds, me and my cat friends, and now embroidered costume design using beads and fabrics on canvas."

Eydel is a Russian Jew who came to the United States with her parents, Igor, a graphic designer, and Svetlana, an interior designer, when she was 2. By age 4, her talent was evident to her parents, who both studied art in St. Petersburg. Their daughter sketched and doodled while watching them at work.

"Alina sold her first paintings at age 9," her father said. "A woman from the Los Angeles area found her Web site and e-mailed us to buy one of the paintings. She ended up buying 10 of Alina�(tm)s paintings for $2,000."

Her mother entered her daughter�(tm)s work in a Beverly Hills art show in 1999. The city�(tm)s mayor purchased one of her paintings, which he hung in his office.

Alina now sells an average of five paintings at each gallery exhibit or art show, recently selling one work for $11,000. Her paintings have been purchased by buyers from as far away as Japan.

For more information on Alina�(tm)s paintings, visit www.alinafineart.com. – Stefanee Freedman, Contributing Writer

Elcott Calls for Study of Jewish O.C.

Intrigued by the recent accomplishments of Orange County�(tm)s Jewish community, the relative youth of its leaders, and the unusual absence of enmity between local denominations, Shalom Elcott started work in the top post of the county�(tm)s most prominent Jewish fundraising organization last month.

Elcott, 44, who most recently worked as a philanthropy adviser in Los Angeles to private family foundations, brings with him a coveted Rolodex of contacts among big-league Jewish philanthropists. He served as the go-to guy who engineered major projects in Israel for the late Ted Arison, founder of Carnival Cruise Line. As president of Arison�(tm)s Tel Aviv foundation, Elcott in 2001 helped establish a group of the world�(tm)s 10 largest family foundations to share ideas on wielding philanthropy more effectively.

Although board members of the O.C. Jewish Federation demanded Elcott predict how much he could improve over last year�(tm)s $2.2 million campaign, his answer was a surprising one.

He asked for a year�(tm)s forbearance to conduct the first serious demographic study of the county�(tm)s Jewish community, a costly endeavor. "It�(tm)s something that will help all of us in targeting and branding our product," said Elcott, who has developed marketing campaigns for other nonprofits.

A study will likely reveal distinct demographic pockets whose needs and interests should be canvassed, Elcott said. "I�(tm)d like to take a year to get the information, filter it and figure out how to use it," he said.

Partnering with Israel and combating campus anti-Semitism, though, are issues already in Elcott�(tm)s game plan.

The completion in under four years of the $70 million Samueli Jewish campus in Irvine gives Elcott little breathing room. Stephen H. Hoffman, the retiring president of United Jewish Communities told him last month, "people are going to watch what Orange County does."

"There can�(tm)t be any excuses," Elcott said. "It�(tm)s a test and challenge to the community to go out and build something great."

Elcott�(tm)s partner is Dr. Marc Miller, who succeeded Lou Weiss as president in June after serving for two years as the Federation�(tm)s campaign chairman. Miller said he and Elcott share a common community vision.

Elcott was selected by a search committee headed by board member Mel Lipson. He had the luxury of a long search as retiring executive, Bunnie Mauldin, announced her planned departure last fall. Even as Lipson was narrowing his list, though, the competition over candidates intensified with similar job openings in higher-profile communities such as San Francisco, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

Elcott and his wife, Robin, intend to relocate to the area with their 9-year-old son. – Andrea Adelson, Contributing Editor

Mothers Bridge Generation Gap

Joan Kaye knows from personal experience that during adolescence relationships between parents and daughters can turn frosty. Only at 16 did her own daughter "suddenly turn into a human being," said Kaye, the director of the Bureau of Jewish Education.

To counter a teen culture that celebrates risky behavior, this month the bureau begins a program that celebrates girls�(tm) transition into womanhood, but with a Jewish spin. "It�(tm)s a Girl Thing," is a yearlong pilot program for mothers and sixth-grade girls to deconstruct contemporary cultural norms while connecting to their own religious identity. By drawing on the traditional Rosh Chodesh celebrations of the new moon, instructor Leslie Dixon will lead monthly discussions on subjects such as friends, body image and sexuality, weaving in examples of Jewish heroines and Jewish rituals.

"We�(tm)re training young women that this is part of their history and identity," said Dixon, of Laguna Hills, who has developed and taught innovative sex-education classes for families.

The experience can be transformative between parent and child, she said. "The bridge is lessened; something starts to shift."

"If you get mothers and daughters communicating before adolescence, you have a good shot at continuing communication through high school," explained Kaye, who faced surprising difficulty raising funds to underwrite the well-regarded program, introduced in 50 cities over the last two years.

"It�(tm)s not something people think is a major issue," she said.

Among those convinced is Julie A. Lobel, a Newport Coast mother of five, including fifth-grade daughter, Jamie. She helped underwrite the program, as did the O.C. Community Foundation and Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women�(tm)s and Gender Studies.

Lobel observed her daughter�(tm)s riveted focus during a free-for-all discussion on sexuality led by Dixon, who worked as a school nurse at Tarbut V�(tm)Torah Community Day School.

"In that room without telephone and TV, alone with your daughter without any interruptions, it�(tm)s a challenge in itself," Lobel said. Her hope is that girls grasp the spiritual side of growing into young adults.

"Some kids have the connection; you can�(tm)t force it," she said. "We�(tm)re giving that gift to them, the path to tap into it."

"It�(tm)s a Girl Thing" open house is Sept. 19, 2-4 p.m. at Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo. A $100 fee pays for the entire year. For more information, call (949) 435-3450.

Teeing Off for Tarbut V�(tm)Torah

Jill and Mark Stein, parents of an athletic senior enrolled at Tarbut V�(tm) Torah Community Day School, sympathize with parents besieged by unceasing monetary demands of their teenagers. Their own daughter, Ashley, obsessively attempts to pack three sports into every season, each generating a $190 athletic fee at the school.

To help defray the $70,000 budget of the school�(tm)s athletic department, the Steins organized a golf tournament, held the last two years at Tustin Ranch. This year, in the hope of luring golfers who covet access to one of the county�(tm)s private courses, the Oct. 4 Tarbut V�(tm)Torah third annual Golf tournament is shifting venues to the Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club. "This allows the general public an opportunity to play on a course they don�(tm)t normally get to," said Jill Stein, herself a novice golfer.

Stein hopes for 140 golfers at the noon start, broken into foursomes around the club�(tm)s north course. Dinner and awards begin by 6 p.m.

"Generally golfers like to take it seriously and walk away with something," she said. Trophies will be awarded in seven categories.

Profits only accrue through sponsorships, which Stein is still seeking.

Last year�(tm)s event raised $37,000. That, combined with student fees from upper graders that play in the 11 sports offered, leaves a shortfall of less than $4,000, coach Patrick Roberts said. He is hoping tournament proceeds this year will make the department entirely self-supporting.

The $220 cost per player includes two kosher meals and greens fees. $500 for tee sponsors; $100 for cart sponsors, and $800 for those who register as a foursome. For more information, call Doris Jacobson, (949) 509-9500, ext. 3007.

Hands-On High Holidays

"Once in a lifetime, you�(tm)re asked to do something like this," said Heidi Kahn, of Irvine, an award-winning religious school teacher known for incorporating touch, taste and smell into her lesson plans.

Given free rein to devise a new program for preschoolers and their parents or grandparents, Kahn is bubbling with hands-on ideas to reanimate "freeze-dried Judaica." The two-hour Congregation Eilat-a-Fun class begins Sept. 12 and is open to the entire community. It will be held Sunday afternoons once a month through June at Mission Viejo�(tm)s Congregation Eilat.

"I�(tm)m allowed to let my imagination go crazy," said Kahn, who teaches at Eilat and Irvine�(tm)s University Synagogue. "Oh, it�(tm)s so delicious. I can�(tm)t wait to do this."

While the typical religious school curriculum for the High Holidays might involve making round challahs and shofars, Kahn strives for even more innovative ways to present Jewish holidays. She is certain to fascinate preschoolers. Their jaded parents will be a tougher audience, she predicted

For example, Kahn�(tm)s Yom Kippur concept calls for a revised version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" where the main character must make an apology. The Rosh Hashanah curriculum includes a beekeeper with a sealed hive and the extraction of its contents.

"It�(tm)s going to be fabulous," she promised. Eilat sponsored the class to harness Kahn�(tm)s creativity and to give young families a memorable Jewish experience at low cost, said Neal J. Linson, a synagogue board member.

"She is a jewel to the local community that has an imagination and love for Judaism that is visceral," Linson said, describing Kahn as "10 pounds of sugar in a 5-pound sack."

The class will be held 3-5 p.m. 2081 Hidalgo, Mission Viejo. $18 per family, per session. R.S.V.P. to (949) 854-4402 or heidikahn@cox.net.

Hebrew No Longer a Foreign Concept

Orange County students can now go off-campus for school credits, thanks to a new language program offered at the Mission Viejo Chabad Center and Huntington Beach�(tm)s Hebrew Academy. Up to 10 foreign language credits, enough to satisfy annual state requirements for high school students, can be earned by those who enroll.

"The program provides an excellent opportunity for our teenage students to satisfy their foreign language needs while receiving a meaningful Jewish education," said Hebrew Chai director, Rabbi Shmuel Marcus, of Cypress. "This program also offers college-style sessions along with electives and retreats."

The course will include Hebrew reading and writing, modern and conversational Hebrew, biblical text study, prayer, electives, Shabbatons and trips. Hebrew Chai will run in three semester sessions, offering students two elective choices each semester. By enrolling in the off-campus language course, students can add an on-campus elective to their schedule.

"Students can choose a variety of topics that include kosher cooking, why stars like Madonna study kabbalah, secrets of the Talmud and many more exciting topics," said Mission Viejo Chabad Director Bassie Marcus. "We want to create a social scene for the students while they are learning a new language outside their schools."

The 10-credit course meets Sunday mornings and Tuesdays, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The program is able to issue credits through the Hebrew Academy, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). A staff member will monitor the program according to WASC�(tm)s standards and issue student transcripts, as the school does for transferring students.

Hebrew Chai will begin classes in both locations Sept. 12 and will accept later registering students, though for less credits. Enrollment is limited to 45 students. Two other instructors will joining Marcus in teaching; Hadas Zaetz, a California state accredited teacher from Israel, and Orange Coast College Hebrew professor, Rabbi Benzi Saydman.

"This program is nondenominational and open to any students that want to earn extra credit off campus," Marcus said. With Mission Viejo as a model, other Chabad centers are considering similar for-credit courses, he said.

For more information on Hebrew Chai, contact Bassie or Rabbi Marcus at (949) 770-1270, or e-mail hebrewschool@cjc.occoxmail.com. – SF

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