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February 15, 2007

Briefs: Sheriff wants to prosecute YULA girls after soccer brawl; Graffiti targets Jews in Beverlywood

http://www.jewishjournal.com/community_briefs/article/briefs_sheriff_wants_to_prosecute_yula_girls_after_soccer_brawl_graffiti_ta

Sheriff wants to prosecute Yeshiva Girls soccer players for brawling after lost game

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is planning to ask the district attorney to prosecute a YULA student and the girls soccer team coach.

The request stems from a brawl that occurred on Feb. 5 after the Yeshiva University Girls High School of Los Angeles lost to Avalon High in a girls' soccer game on Catalina Island, according to Avalon Mayor Robert Kennedy.

A team member and spectator from Avalon High are also being referred to the DA's office, said Kennedy, who conferred with Avalon Sheriff's station commander Lt. Pat Hunter.

According to YULA principal Rabbi Yosef Furman, as the YULA girls were leaving the field, student spectators from Avalon attacked the girls, knocking one in the head, putting another in a headlock and pulling her hair and punching her in the stomach Furman called the possible actions against the YULA player and coach "complete nonsense." He said the assaults against the YULA girls, which were unprovoked. "We have witnesses who say that our students acted appropriately and our coach acted professionally."

No one was seriously injured in the melee, and no accounts of racial or religious taunting have been confirmed.

Both sides agree that the game got ugly and physical, with the crowd of about 100 spectators riling the Avalon team for even more aggressive play.

Mayor Kennedy, who was not at the game, says his understanding is that both teams engaged in name-calling and rough play, but YULA counters that the taunting was one-sided.

After the post-game fracas, the YULA team sequestered itself in the visitors' locker room with the help of Avalon school officials, and called the sheriff's department. Officers arrived and escorted the team to the ferry landing, where sheriffs spent several hours interviewing team members, chaperones and YULA Coach Kat Gude, before the team traveled back to the mainland.

Five Avalon students were disciplined after the event, according to a spokesman for the Long Beach Unified School District. One ninth-grade team member was suspended for pushing and shoving; two 12th-grade girls, who were spectators at the event, were suspended for fighting; and an eighth-grade boy and a tenth-grade boy were barred from attending future soccer games.

YULA has canceled all further games with Avalon teams. In addition, YULA circulated a letter asking parents to send a message to Avalon that such conduct is reprehensible. It included phone numbers for city officials.

"The city of Avalon will more likely take action if they get the message that there could be negative repercussions to future tourism," the letter stated.

Kennedy has received more than 30 phone calls -- on his cell phone -- from irate YULA parents. He said he is offended and upset by YULA's sweeping condemnation of the city, especially before an investigation has been completed.

"The worst part of this whole thing is it takes two to tango -- there are always two sides to a story. But it seems that the visiting team's parents have already tried and convicted the Avalon kids that were involved," the mayor said.

-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

Graffiti targets Jews in Beverlywood

Children and their parents walking to the West L.A. Castle Heights Elementary School on Tuesday morning saw a BMW spray-painted with the word "JEW" on its side. The car was parked on Castle Heights Place, just three houses down from the school.

The vehicle's owners had learned about the damage at 2 a.m., when a neighborhood patrol officer informed them of the incident. Three other cars on nearby streets in the Beverlywood Homes Association neighborhood were reportedly also vandalized. Although his was the only vehicle to bear a reference to religion, the owner, who is Persian and asked that his name not be used, said another of the defaced vehicles' owners belongs to his synagogue, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel.

An officer from the Los Angeles Police Department took a report documenting the incident, and said it will be filed as a hate crime. He said the chances of catching the perpetrator were slim. Nevertheless, the officer called a supervisor, who also visited the scene.

"We take these things pretty seriously," he said.

-- Nancy Steiner, Contributing Writer

Super Sunday fundraising beats 2006 total

On Feb. 11, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' largest annual fundraiser known as Super Sunday raised $4.4 million, up from $4.2 million last year, according to Federation spokeswoman Deborah Dragon, Nearly 2,000 volunteers worked the phones at three locations, which received visits during the day from L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Controller Laura Chick, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and City Councilmember Jack Weiss.

About one-third of the money raised from the annual campaign goes for overseas allocations, with the bulk earmarked for Israel.

This year's Super Sunday took place against the backdrop of Federation turmoil. Less than one month before the event, the Federation relieved its chief fundraiser, Craig Prizant, of his job.

No reason has been given for the departure of Prizant, who had worked closely with major donors.

Federation spokeswoman Dragon said that the mega-fundraiser is but the beginning of the organization's annual campaign.

"The community still has great needs," she said.

-- Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

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