The prolific, versatile English writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) once said of the Valley, "One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak." Actually, he wasn't talking about the Valley per se, and from our proverbial peak, we see great things coming from the Valley all of the time. Below are some recent items with a Valley connection.
Fern Bloom of Chatsworth contacted The Circuit to commend The Journal on recent travel articles focused on visits to Israel, which she said "reignited the flame we needed to go. We had to be there for ourselves and see firsthand, ASAP!"
Bloom, with her family, visited Israel in early March, when they had a fantastic time schmoozing at the cafes, sipping coffee and snacking on falafels. But she was disappointed by the dearth of Jewish American tourists during their visit.
"We kept meeting Toronto Jews in our travels. We met busloads of Baptist missionaries from Texas and Georgia on their Easter pilgrimage. The vacancy rate in the hotels were 70 percent."
Evoking the wise words of Rabbi Hillel, Bloom closed her letter this way: "If not now, then when; and if not for us, then who? Think of your pride. Send your teens on tours, and you pick up and go too. Reignite your sense of belonging. Israel needs us, and we need them."
Field of Teams
Emek Hebrew Academy celebrated its 13th year of Sunday Jewish Little League at Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Park. Rabbi Pesach Wachsman, Torah Studies principal at the Orthodox yeshiva, enlisted a few Emek dads to organize the Emek Sports Club, including Dr. Bob Kahn-Rose, who was a driving force behind the league and their first commissioner. The goal was to engage young Jewish students in a good game of ball and to teach them Torah values at the same time. The league now consists of 18 teams of more than 200 boys. Emek also started a girls' league.
"I would like to think that we offer not only a viable option for observant families," said current commissioner Bob Blinder, "but with only one game per week, our families aren't spending five days per week at the ball field like other leagues. Yet, I would match our top nine guys with any all-star team this city can offer."
Emek Little League plays on Sundays, March-June, with players, age 5 to 13, categorized into four divisions: Farm, Minors, Majors, and Girls.
"While I am proud of our growth over the last five years," Blinder told The Circuit, "I believe our biggest accomplishment is the way the ballpark has brought observant and nonobservant families together to find they have much more in common than just baseball."
'G' is for 'Gratitude'
Seventh-grade students at Heschel Day School West in Agoura paid a class visit to the Danish Embassy in Los Angeles after studying Denmark's altruistic role in saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust. The students created a copper plaque inscribed with the words "Am Israel Chai" (The People of Israel Live), which they presented with a gift basket to Danish Consul General Martin Kofod.
"It is important to teach that even during one of the darkest times in world history, there were also examples of the best in mankind," said Rivka Ben-Daniel, Heschel's head of Judaic studies.
A Valley-able Ally
Rabbi Harold Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino presented Allyn and Jeffrey Levine with the University of Judaism's Award of Merit, in recognition of their contributions to the community. Rabbi Bradley Artson, the Ziegler School dean, and the honorees' daughters, Francine and Lauren Levine, led the "Birkat Hamazon," and David Kaminerplayed keyboard at this tribute breakfast.
Rabbi David Vorspan of Congregation Shir Ami in Canoga Park was among the 51 Conservative rabbis throughout North America receiving honorary doctorates awarded by Jewish Theological Seminary at its 2001 Convocation in New York.
Wandering the Dessert
Showtime Networks Inc. President of Programming Jerry Offsay, and his wife, Pam, will host their annual Dessert Party. Originally held at the Offsay's home, the Dessert Party, which will benefit L.A. Family Housing's Valley Shelter for the Homeless, has grown exponentially over the years, as indicated by the fundraiser's New York Street address on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. Since 1983, L.A. Family Housing, a nonprofit organization founded in the San Fernando Valley by an interfaith coalition, has assisted more than 46,000 homeless and low-income locals. Over two decades, the agency has flourished from a humble 40 beds in an old motel to 22 facilities representing eight regions citywide. L.A. Family Housing employs a staff of 110 employees and more than 1,000 volunteers. For more information, call (310) 234-5334.
Where there's an entertainment industry, there's life in the fast lane, right? Well, the lanes were whizzing and pins were flying at this year's annual Matzah Bowl event, thrown by the Entertainment Division of Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Once again, Studio City's Sportsman Lodge was Matzah Bowl central, and, as in previous years, people had a ball (a bowling ball, to be exact).
There was plenty of mirth to go around (in addition to the pizza and candy). In a phenomenal display of one-upmanship, Beverly Hills-based jewelry designer Lily Rachel Kaufman kept racking up high scores with her between-the-legs baby-roll bowling strategy, handily beating her opponents. Meanwhile, Kaufman's brother, Danny Moshe, could be overheard with his friends sharing the joys of swimming in his pool after a long day's work. Other young professionals in attendance: writer Louis J. Zivot ("Big Bad Beetleborgs") and Shoah Visual History Foundation's Project Manager Bonnie Samotin.
Bowling a perfect 300 executing this year's Matzah Bowl were members of the Entertainment Division's Steering Committee, including Steve Price, Betsy Braun, Jeffrey Freedman, Jason Berk, Matthew Weinberg, Aaron Weinberg, Gloria Torbati, Sidney Sherman, Hillary Bibicoff, Brian Sokol, Dina Hellerstein, Lisa Stolper Edley, Joshua Sostrin, and The Federation's Karen Sternfeld.