Jewish Journal


September 1, 2005

The Circuit


Tackling the Taboo

The leadership of the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center hosted an interactive lecture event on Aug. 7 at its Tarzana location, focused on discussing drug and alcohol abuse, frequently a taboo topic among Iranian Jewish families.

The audience of nearly 200 Iranian Jewish parents and their children listened to the event's panel of experts, including Iraj Shamsian, the founder of the Iranian Recovery Center in Westwood; Dara Abaee, an Iranian Jewish community volunteer helping drug addicts; criminal defense attorney Alaleh Kamran; and Dariush Sameyah, an Iranian Jewish L.A.P.D. sergeant.

"We have been the only Iranian Jewish organization trying to help drug addicts in our community for years to get them to rehab," said Dariush Fakheri, co-founder of Eretz-SIAMAK. "This is the first time we have gone public with this issue because this epidemic is really getting out of hand with our young people."

Recovering Iranian Jewish drug addicts also openly spoke to the crowd about the horrors of drug abuse, which in recent years has become more prevalent in the Iranian Jewish community. -- Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

State of the Valley

On Aug. 12, nearly 100 Valley community leaders and members gathered at the El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana for the Anti-Defamation League's third annual State of the State Valley Legislative Breakfast. Five members of the San Fernando Valley's delegation to the state legislature discussed issues ranging from hate crimes and bigotry to traffic and the environment. The event was hosted by Leon Lewitt and Brad Hertz, who also chaired.

Delightful Dodgers

The mood was happy and upbeat as spirited professional competition recently joined with good cheer when 100 Chai Lifeline children, parents and siblings watched the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Cincinnati Reds during the organization's annual Dodger Day.

Families gathered in a reserved section of Dodger Stadium with catering by Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausages. Following dinner, Chai Lifeline volunteers passed around goody bags, compliments of Chai Lifeline and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who also provided the evening's tickets. The Children were given the chance to reunite with fellow campers and counselors and relive happy memories.

Chai Lifeline provides emotional, social and financial support that enables families to cope with the short- and long-term repercussions of life-threatening and chronic pediatric illness. On the West Coast, the Sohacheski Family Center offers two-dozen free year-round programs and services to children, their families and communities.

For more information about becoming a Chai Lifeline volunteer or donor, or for assistance, contact the Sohacheski Family Center at (310) 274-6331.

Stand for Hadassah

Take a Stand, a newly established program at Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is capturing the attention and imagination of its young leaders and donors. At the recent convention it raised $180,000 -- in one day.

The program is designed to allow women, 45 and younger, to put their Jewish values to work. Take a Stand offers participants the opportunity to advocate on behalf of stem cell research in the United States and support the state-of-the-art Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

"We want to give young women in the Jewish community the opportunity to take action," said Shelley Sherman, national chair for Young Founders. "This is the group that is considered the sandwich generation.... By both advocating for favorable stem cell legislation in the U.S. and supporting the scientific developments at our hospitals in Israel, these women can make a difference in the lives of their relatives and friends."

Hadassah, the largest women's organization in the U.S., is the leading proponent in the Jewish community of embryonic stem cell research and funding. This past spring, in the largest advocacy effort of the organization's 92-year history, Hadassah delegations visited 50 state capitals to urge their legislators to pass favorable legislation. And, just recently, some 1,800 Hadassah delegates to Hadassah's national convention visited Congressional representatives from 37 states in Washington, DC, holding more than 150 meetings to encourage favorable stem cell legislation, among other issues of concern.

For more information about Take a Stand, call (866) 229-2395 or e-mail youngwomen@hadassah.org.


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