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Jewish Journal

Teen power, distinguished student,  defenders of free speech

by Norma Zager

May 31, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Teen Line listeners with honoree Anjelica Houston. Photo by Thomas Neerken

Teen Line listeners with honoree Anjelica Houston. Photo by Thomas Neerken

Power of teens

The power of kids helping kids has long been a tool used by Teen Line to aid teenagers in their struggles to break free from abuse and reach their potential.

Knowing the value of confronting problems head-on, the kids at this peer crisis hot line associated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center provide a helpful ear for those who have nowhere to turn and need someone who understands and can guide them through a difficult time.

At its recent 20th annual "Food for Thought" luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Teen Line honored Anjelica Huston with its VOICE Award and Louis Gossett Jr. with its 2007 Humanitarian Award for their interest in helping young people.

Both Huston and Gossett have been longtime supporters of Teen Line and spoke glowingly about the group's achievements.

The "Most Valued Listener Award" was presented to Sophie Scheidlinger and Adam Friedman for their dedication and exceptional work on Teenline.

Guests at the event bid on the silent auction items and mingled before hearing teens speak at the luncheon about their personal experiences. It was heartwarming to see how much these young people cared about making a difference and helping someone in need.

The subject for the event, "Behind Closed Doors," featured a former Teen Line listener who confronted the longtime abuse of a mentor and helped bring him to justice. It was rewarding to see the pride displayed by the teens that participate in the hot line and attempt to change their fellow teens lives for the better.

The teen-to-teen hot line and community outreach program have nearly 10,000 calling the hot line each year and more than 30,000 attending outreach programs in schools and community groups, as well as receiving Teen Line's Youth Yellow Pages.

The toll-free (within California) telephone hot line, 800-TLC-TEEN is active every night from 6 to 10 p.m. For more information, call the Teen Line offices at (310) 423-3401 or visit http://www.teenlineonline.org.

A degree of honor

Dr. David H. Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion conferred the doctor of Jewish communal service, honoris causa, on Sheryl Goldman at a graduation ceremony at its Los Angeles campus May 14.

Goldman, honored for 25 years of distinguished service to the Jewish people, has been the executive director at Temple Beth Am since 1995 and active in both national and local professional organizations.

She earned the coveted fellow in synagogue administration from the North American Association of Synagogue Executives (NAASE) and is a member of the NAASE executive board and also serves as vice president for Southern California's Professional Association of Temple Administrators.

She is married to Seth Goldman, a computer scientist, and they have three children: Rina, 10; Ayelet, 7; and Sammy, 5.

Defender of free speech

It was an enlightening afternoon recently at the Aphrodisiac restaurant, when PEN USA, in association with WordTheatre, held a benefit brunch featuring celebrity performances of excerpts from banned books and honored legendary actor, humanitarian and author Kirk Douglas for defending freedom of expression.

Douglas spoke emotionally and proudly about how he'd had the opportunity to break the notorious Hollywood blacklist. Now a part of Hollywood history, he recalled when in 1958, as star-producer of "Spartacus" he allowed blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo to be credited under his real name for the screenplay.

Recalling how after the studio insisted Trumbo use an assumed name, Douglas went home and called his dog by the wrong name.

"The dog looked at me like who are you talking to," Douglas said. "I realized if a dog hated to be called by another name, why should a man allow another man's name on his work."

Douglas put his foot down with the studio and thereby broke the blacklist, something for which he admits great pride. Douglas told the audience that if someone is not allowed free speech, they cannot write what they truly mean.

Legendary writer and humorist Larry Gelbart hosted the event opening by noting that writers are people always hoping for an interruption. He presented the award to Douglas, who has written nine books, including his newest, "Let's Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving, and Learning."

Following brunch, an impressive lineup of celebrity participants, including Lou Diamond Phillips, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Evan Handler, Robert Wuhl, Gary Dourdan, Radha Mitchell, Catherine Dent and Sarah Clarke read from award-winning and celebrated banned works of literature.

Among the excerpts featured were Richard Wright's "Native Son," Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima," Nadine Gordimer's "July's People" and Elif Shafak's "The Bastard of Istanbul."

Distinguished student

Michael Rosenzweig-Bock recently received the Bureau of Jewish Education Distinguished Student award in Arakhim for his winning essay and exemplification of Jewish values in writing about what connects him to the Jewish community.

The award to middle school and high school students of the Jewish day and religious schools honors a student who exemplifies Jewish values and demonstrates outstanding traits of character in his or her interpersonal relations, as well as engagement with Jewish ritual practice.



(From left)Sarah Clarke, Evan Handler, Kirk Douglas, Lucy Brown, Larry Gelbart, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Lou Diamond Phillips
(From left) are Sarah Clarke, Evan Handler, Kirk Douglas, Lucy Brown, Larry Gelbart, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Lou Diamond Phillips at event honoring Douglas

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