Jewish Journal

JSU Gets Gindi Support

by Danielle Berrin

Posted on Apr. 9, 2009 at 1:02 am

Sarah Pretsky jumps to raise money for Jewish World Watch.

Sarah Pretsky jumps to raise money for Jewish World Watch.

JSU Gets Gindi Support
The Jewish Student Union renamed its national program for high school students the Jack E. and Rachel Gindi JSU this month, in honor of the Gindis’ support of the 7-year-old group.

Founded in 2002 in Los Angeles with two clubs, JSU now serves 220 public and independent high schools across the country, reaching 8,000 teens annually.

JSU clubs meet during lunchtime in schools, offering free lunch and a Jewish topic for discussion or a guest speaker. Advisers organize the clubs, which are governed by student boards of leadership, and provide a venue for otherwise unaffiliated Jewish students to learn about Judaism and get to know other Jewish students.

At a mid-March brunch honoring the Gindis in their son and daughter-in-law’s Beverly Hills home, students gave testimony to how JSU has affected their lives.

Westlake High School JSU president Rachel Bitter told the gathering that JSU has given her a safe community where she can express her Judaism and opinions without fear of judgment — a haven from the high-school stress of trying to fit in.

Aaron Eslamboly, student president of Santa Monica High School’s JSU, described how he had attended Sinai-Akiba during elementary school but drifted away from Judaism when he transferred to a public middle school. Since joining JSU as a freshman, he has been able to reconnect to his Judaism and develop his Jewish identity.

In addition to the on-campus clubs, JSU sponsors weeknight Latte and Learning, and also takes teens on trips to New York, Washington, D.C., and Israel through its Footprints program. JSU regularly teams up with other Jewish organizations and youth groups to help students find further outlets for Jewish expression.

Also present to honor the Gindis at last month’s brunch was Rabbi Effie Goldberg, West Coast director of JSU, and Rabbi Steven Burg, dean of JSU and national director of NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth), an Orthodox outreach group. JSU, which itself is non-denominational, is affiliated with NCSY.

The Gindis’ grandson-in-law, Aaron Inlender, and son Alan Gindi spoke of the family’s strong commitment to Jewish education and outreach.

For more information about Jewish Student Union, visit www.jsu.org.
— Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Senior Writer

Jump-4-Darfur Puts Kids on the Cause
Eighty children, from age 3 to their teens, put a little skip in their step to raise $8,000 for Darfur. The second annual Jump-4-Darfur event, a fundraiser by children and for children, took place at Temple Beth Am on March 15 and will benefit Jewish World Watch, the human rights organization that helps people suffering through genocidal conflict. Each child raises money on their own and promises to “jump” on behalf of their sponsors. This year, 28,000 jumps were tallied in half an hour, and participants took turns writing postcards to President Obama urging him to end the conflict in the Sudan. The idea for Jump-4-Darfur was inspired by current fifth-grader Michelle Hirschorn, whose parents Lilia and Gary Hirschorn helped coordinate the event.

High-Tech From Israel to L.A.
More than 20 people attended a March 22 American Technion Society brunch to listen to updates from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel’s leading science and technology university and home to the country’s Nobel Prize winners in science.

Dr. Stavit Allon-Shalev, a lecturer in medical genetics at Technion’s medical school and director of the genetics unit at Ha’Emek Medical Center, discussed her research pertaining to genetic disorders within Arab communities and familial ties in diseases such as cancer, heart disease and congenital deafness.

Ron Peleg, a doctoral candidate in technology and science education, described his research on the uses of theatrical tools in science education. He is a scientific adviser to Havayeda Teva, a chain of children’s science centers located mainly in underprivileged areas in Israel.

Anat Hoida, an undergraduate in industrial engineering and management, talked about the opportunity at Technion to gain on-site experience in business processes and systems analysis. While in the IDF, Hoida was responsible for the education of behavioral standards and moral values of hundreds of soldiers in her unit.

For more information about American Technion Society, visit www.ats.org.
— Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Senior Writer

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