Two boys from Boy Scout Troop 613 based at Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village were feted this month at a court of honor for having achieved the Boy Scouts of America's highest rank. Josh Bregman, 18, and Yehuda Jawary, 17, are the first in the troop to advance through the seven ranks of scouting to reach Eagle Scout, which less than 2 percent of scouts achieve.
"The journey has been long and demanding, and rewarding. Josh and Yehuda have learned to navigate the bumps along the road, and have learned to be leaders," said scoutmaster Yakov Greiff, himself an Eagle Scout and son of an Eagle Scout (and father of a Wolf Scout).
Bregman joined the scouts when Greiff formed the troop more than four years ago, and Jawary joined soon after. The two have participated in camping and service projects, and have taught skills to many of the younger troop members. To advance to Eagle, the two had to plan and execute an activity to service the community.
Bregman, a graduate of Valley Torah High School in North Hollywood who is studying in Jerusalem this year, organized his school's over-stuffed "Geniza Garage," where old prayer books and other sacred texts had accumulated over many years (since texts that contain God's name may not be unceremoniously discarded). He organized packing and sorting parties and escorted more than 100 boxes to a cemetery where the texts were buried.
Jawary, now a senior at Valley Torah who plans to spend next year in Israel, marshaled a crew of volunteers to organize Shaarey Zedek's Library, which had been in storage for six years since the Orthodox congregation renovated its building.
For more information on Troop 613, call Yakov Greiff at (818) 762-8404.
Camp for Grown-Ups
It's no secret that most parents would love to trade places with their kids and go to sleep away camp, where s'mores, hikes and campfires under glittering summer skies beckon.
B'nai B'rith Camp, on a lakeside campus on the Oregon coast, is letting moms and dads in for a Family Camp Weekend, May 20-22.
"We feel it's a priority that we provide experiences in which families are supported as they make deeper connections with one another and with other families," said Michelle Koplan, camp director.
Of course, for those parents whose secret desires don't go beyond wanting to get the kids out of the house for a few weeks, B'nai B'rith still has openings in its kids-only sleepaway camp for second- through 11th-graders.
For more information, call (503) 452-3444 or visit www.bbcamp.org.
Our Way Essay Contest
Our Way, the Orthodox Union's organization for the deaf and hard of hearing, is sponsoring an essay contest on the topic of "A mentor who changed my life." The contest, open to fourth through 12-graders who are deaf or hard of hearing, is sponsored by Eitan and Deborah Fiorino in memory of Adele Markwitz, a speech pathologist and audiologist who taught the Fiorinos' hearing-impaired daughter.
First-place winners will receive a $200 United States Savings Bond. Second place winners will receive their choice of Artscroll Books worth $50. Essays of 50 to 250 words are due May 27, and will be judged in junior (fourth to eighth grade) and senior (ninth to 12th grade) divisions.
Fax entries to (212) 613-0796 or mail them to Our Way/NJCD Essay Contest, 11 Broadway 13th floor, New York, N.Y., 10004. To obtain an application or for more information, contact Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind at (212) 613-8234 or e-mail OurWay@ou.org.
Kinder Koreh L.A.
Koreh L.A., the literacy program co-sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, is taking the program down a few notches -- from elementary school to preschool. Now, volunteers are being trained to teach pre-reading skills to 3- to 5-year-olds in Head Start programs. Koreh L.A., in its fifth year, has trained 3,000 volunteers to work with kids in 75 elementary schools. Principals and teachers attest that the program positively impacts not only reading ability, but class participation and self esteem as well.
Pre-K Koreh L.A. is cosponsored by LACOE/Head Start and the Angell Foundation. A three-hour training workshop is required for volunteers, who can choose a convenient school and schedule for tutoring. The next training is May 15.
For information call (323) 761-8375, go to www.korehla.org or e-mail email@example.com.
Two Hebrew schools faced off in a Brachos Bee last month, dueling each other by coming up with the right blessings over foods, special occurrences and rituals. Students at the Chabad of Sherman Oaks Hebrew School narrowly beat out the kids at Chabad of Mt. Olympus Hebrew Schools. What teachers were most pleased about was that throughout the competition, the 10-14-year-olds got 85 percent of the answers correct.
For more information go to www.chabadmtolympus.com or www.chabadshermanoaks.com.
Shoshanim, a magazine for Jewish teenage girls, is celebrating its fifth year in publication with a newly designed Web site, new features and an upgraded layout. Based in Los Angeles, the magazine geared for Orthodox teenagers has 5,000 subscribers. It is the Bais Yaakov girl's answer to Seventeen Magazine, with advice columns on things like good baby-sitting techniques and "Ask Rebbetzin Rochel." Along with columns on arts and crafts, a Jewish law corner, and personality profiles of pious people, the magazine gives readers a chance to have their own short stories, poetry, and art published.
Visit Shoshanim at www.shoshanim.net (articles not available online) or call (800) 601-4238.
The Tribe People
Teens who want a Jewish take on some of their favorite topics such as Hollywood, relationships or music can turn to the just-launched JVibe, a successful Web site that is now printing a paper version (remember when things used to work the other way around?).
"The goal of JVibe is to make Judaism relevant and cool for the next generation," says Yossi Abramowitz, executive editor of JVibe. "With articles that speak directly to teens, such as how to handle a break-up, and topics that relate Judaism to their lives, like pushing for a Jewish Grammy award, JVibe finally gives American Jewish teens a voice of their own."
The bimonthly magazine, published by Jewish Family & Life, includes a lot of articles written by teens for teens.
The Los Angeles-based Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund of Los Angeles funded the first year of publication.
For more information go to www.jvibe.com.
Don't Stare -- Just Talk
Students at Conejo Jewish Day School had a visit from the Kids on the Block, a troupe of puppets both able and disabled who teach children to appreciate differences.
This program, endorsed by the Bureau of Jewish Education, enables students to openly discuss the differences in others and the importance of caring for others and being aware of everyone's feelings.
For more information about the Conejo Jewish Day School call Rabbi David Lamm (818) 879-8255. For information on Kids on the Block go to www.KOTB.com or call (800) 368-5437.
New News for New Jew
You may be hearing a lot more from the New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) soon. The West Hills school, which was founded three years ago, was recently awarded an Avi Chai marketing grant for recruitment and publicity.
"New Jewish high schools often begin very small, without the necessary funding to successfully market themselves," said Lauren Merken, a member of Avi Chai's board of trustees. "It is the foundation's goal to help schools like New Community Jewish High School, reach out to the community effectively."
Of course, recruitment doesn't seem to be a weak point at New Jew: It opened in 2002 with 40 kids in the ninth grade. Next year, as it welcomes its first 12th-grade class, NCJHS expects a total enrollment of 250 students.
For more information on NCJHS, call (818) 348-0048 or visit www.ncjhs.org.
And More Winners
After a rigorous application process, four Californians are among the 26 youths from across the country selected to participate in the Bronfman Youth Fellowship in Israel this summer. Rachel Cohen of Goleta, Alexander Kaplan of Pacific Palisades, Alex Schatzberg of San Rafael and Juliana Spector of Piedmont will spend five weeks traveling throughout Israel to participate in seminars and dialogues with diverse rabbis and leaders. They will also spend a week with Israeli peers who are part of a parallel program for Israelis. The program was founded by Edgar M. Bronfman and is funded by The Samuel Bronfman Foundation.
For more information, call (518) 475-7202 or visit www.bronfman.org.
For more information, contact the BJE at (323) 761-8605 or visit www.bjela.org.
Change the World
Seven students took home $500 prizes in Chapman University and the 1939 Club's sixth annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest in March. Students from 75 schools submitted essays, poetry and art on the topic of "To Change Our World: Legacy of Liberation," which invited students to tie the history of the Holocaust to a current situation of injustice. The first-prize winners in the middle school categories were Art: Monique Becker, Lakeside Middle School (Irvine); Essay: Gabriella Duva, St. Anne School (Laguna Niguel); and Poetry: Kim Ngai, Fulton Middle School (Fountain Valley).
In the high school category, two entries tied for first place in Art: Steven Vander Sluis, El Toro High School (Lake Forest) and Marisa Moonilal, Mater Dei (Santa Ana). Essay: Irina Dykhne, University High School (Los Angeles); and Poetry: Matthew Adam White, University High School (Los Angeles).
For more information on the contest or Chapman Univeristy in the City of Orange, contact (714) 997-6620.
Open Your Home
If international cooperation and understanding is best achieved through personal ties, than imagine having someone from a foreign country live in your home. Two international student exchange programs are looking for families in the L.A. area to host high school students who are studying in America for a year or a semester.
For more information contact AFS Intercultural Programs (formerly American Filed Service) at (800) 237-4630 or www.afs.org/usa; or Pacific Intercultural Exchange at (800) 631-1818.
A Lot of Loving Kindness
Caption: Los Angeles Hebrew High School, which has grown to 500 students, recently honored the extended Sass family at its annual Chesed Award celebration.
You can reach Julie Gruenbaum Fax at firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 368-1661, ext. 206.