January 16, 2003
Couple Airs Mideast Views at Caltech
The Middle East conflict came to the Caltech campus in Pasadena last week, when Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf presented a talk on "Eyewitness to Occupied Palestine."
Shapiro, a Brooklyn-born Jew, and his wife, a Palestinian Arab, are founders of the International Solidarity Movement, which has garnered some headlines by interposing "international activists" to protect Palestinians against the alleged brutality and excesses of the Israeli army.
Shapiro gained a measure of fame last March, when he joined Yasser Arafat at his besieged headquarters in Ramallah and was asked to share breakfast with the Palestinian Authority leader.
The two-hour lecture-discussion proceeded in a civil and nonconfrontational style, according to Robert Tindol of the Caltech public information office, who attended as a neutral observer. The generally pro-Palestinian crowd listened to a litany of alleged Israeli brutalities inflicted on a generally peaceful Palestinian population.
Some counterbalance was provided by four members of the StandWithUs pro-Israeli grass-roots organization, according to founder and president Roz Rothstein, "We asked pointed, respectful questions ... and the Jewish students on campus were enormously grateful that we attended." Rothstein acknowledged that the two speakers gave a "very personal and effective," if one-sided, presentation.
The talk was sponsored by the Caltech Y as part of its Social Action Speakers Series. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Foundation Awards $371,000 in Grants
The Jewish Community Foundation, the largest Southern California Jewish philanthropic organization, recently announced that it had made 11 grants worth $371,000.
The grants will go toward construction and renovation projects at several Jewish community facilities, ranging from preschools to senior housing to boarding schools.
"We are committed to supporting a wide variety of building projects which strengthen the core of our local Jewish community," Foundation Chief Executive Marvin I. Schotland said in a news release.
The awards were approved in June and announced in late December. The gifts represent about one-third of the $1 million the nonprofit group earmarked last year for local charitable organizations through Foundation Legacy Grants.
Among the award recipients:
Menorah Housing Foundation, which owns and operates 13 residential buildings for low-income seniors, received $50,000 to open a 41-unit Echo Park apartment complex last October.
Aviva Family & Children's Services received $50,000 for construction and renovation of high school buildings to accommodate expanded special education services.
Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles was awarded $36,000 to help underwrite a new shelter in Van Nuys that will serve up to 75 women and 150 children annually.
B'nai David-Judea Congregation received $40,000 to upgrade an existing building.
Mesivta of Greater Los Angeles, a nonprofit Jewish boys boarding school, was awarded $25,000 toward the construction of a new building at its Calabasas location.
Grants will be paid out until 2004. -- Marc Ballon, Staff Writer
Hearing on Heschel Property Delayed
The new Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School West campus in Old Agoura may take longer than expected to come to fruition. The first public hearing, originally scheduled last month, will now be held on April 2, according to the Los Angeles County Planning Department. The hearing will focus on the 71-acre property's Environmental Impact Report (EIR). While the school plans to build on only 15-18 acres, the Old Agoura Hills Homeowners Association is concerned about the Chesboro Road location causing excess traffic, unwanted noise, the effect on wildlife and changes to the community.
Currently located near the Liberty Canyon exit of the Ventura Freeway, Heschel West serves 144 children in transitional kindergarten through fifth grade. The day school purchased the new property four years ago so it could accommodate 750 students from preschool through ninth grade.
Although the delay will extend the approval period, Rick Wentz, executive vice president of the Heschel West School Board, is not discouraged. "It's an inconvenience, but [the hearing process] can get held up for a multitude of reasons," he said. "This is just one of those times."-- Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer
Tu B'Shevat Time: Hundreds of people turned out on Jan. 12 for the Tu B'Shevat Festival at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu. The Festival included performances by the Klezmer band The Shirettes, informative booths on conservation and alternative fuel vehicles, an art contest and, of course, tree planting, above. The next community-wide Tu B'Shevat Festival will take place Sunday, Jan. 18 at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley from 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more information, call (805) 582-4450 or visit www.brandeis-bardin.org