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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

November 13, 2003 | 7:00 pm

Grant Me This

Mayor James Hahn and 5th District City Councilman Jack Weiss recently presented $50,000 in grants from the City of Los Angeles' Public Arts Development Fee Program to The Jewish Federation's Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership and Zimmer Children's Museum for cultural programs involving public and private school students in Weiss' district. Part of the funding will go to a Los Angeles Jewish Symphony education program that will bring together Jewish and Latino students from the district to explore common themes and history in Sephardic culture through music.

David: Guilty or Not?

"She came to him and he lay with her," (Samuel 11:4) are the words that spurred the age-old Jewish tradition of debate about King David's affair with a very-married Bathsheba -- and his subsequent planning of her husband's death.

At an entertaining mock trial, The People vs. King David, at the University of Judaism on Sunday, Nov. 9, 500 community members came out to study the text of the biblical character and then decide his guilt or innocence on the charges of murder and adultery. The program served to engage the community in learning and discuss the very important issue of leadership and responsibility.

In courtroom style, esteemed legal scholars, Laurie Levenson (prosecution) and Erwin Chemerinsky (defense), presented their opposing cases to the jury audience with Judge Joseph Wapner (of "People's Court" fame) presiding. The jury found our leader guilty of murder and not guilty of adultery.

"Some people in the community question whether it is appropriate to do a trial like this, that somehow we are trivializing his [King David's] name. It is anything but that.... It's an innovative program that gets hundreds of people to think about a really important issue," Levenson said.

The program concluded with a panel discussion with former Rep. Mel Levine; renowned journalist and author Connie Bruck; the Rev. Gregory Coiro of St. Francis High School; and Rabbi Allen Freehling, executive director of Human Relations Commission (Los Angeles), about the responsibility of leaders in positions of power.

With the overall success and demand for the program, Gady Levy, vice president of continuing education and organizer of the event, expects to do it again next year. -- Leora Alhadeff, Contributing Writer

Fun With Fonzie

It's always nice to see the folks from "Happy Days" share the happiness with other people, which is what happened when Henry Winkler -- aka "the Fonz" -- celebrated the opening the newly stocked Selma Avenue Elementary School library by reading to the schoolchildren from his book, "I Got a D in Salami."

The celebration kicked off the fifth year of The Jewish Federation's KOREH L.A. program, the largest public elementary school reading partner program in Los Angeles. This year KOREH L.A. welcomed Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. as the first major corporate sponsor of its new public school book initiative.

Medal for Tolerance

UNESCO has not always been on the best terms with the United States and Israel, but all was praise and mutual admiration when the international organization's director-general, Koichiro Matsuura, recently bestowed a specially struck medal on the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) to mark its 10th anniversary.

In return, the Japanese diplomat left with a gift from the City of Los Angeles, bestowed by City Councilman Jack Weiss, as well as a Dodger shirt and cap, presented by fellow baseball fan Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's associate dean.

MOT's work "inspires all of us, may our relations long continue," Matsuura told host Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and an audience of foreign diplomats and civic leaders.

Matsuura told The Journal that UNESCO was "particularly concerned with anti-Semitism," adding, "It will not wither away of its own accord. We need preventive action, especially through education." -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Solidarity SukkaH

Israelis who lost family members to Palestinian terrorism unveiled quilted tapestries that they created to memorialize their loved ones. The Solidarity Sukkah, which contains 160 memorial panels, was dedicated at the Koby Mandel Foundation in Jerusalem.

Veterans' Vitality

The Oct. 26 Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans' (FIDV) Beit Halochem Dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire featured special entertainment -- the Hora Galgalim -- the dance done by disabled veterans confined to wheelchairs. The imported-from-Israel dancers showed that their disability had no bearing on the grace of their movements and their sense of style and flourish. Comedy writer Larry Miller chaired the sold-out event, which honored Wyland, the world's premier marine life artists, and Jules Haimowitz, vice-chairman of Dick Clark Productions. There was also a special tribute made to Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.

Beit Halochem helps veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces, and offers them rehabilitative services so that they can get on with their lives. They cater to the special needs of the severely disabled, including the blind, the burned, paraplegics and amputees.

Dora Kadisha, a Jewish Journal board member and the national vice president of the FIDV, told that crowd that she and her husband, Neil, would match any donation given at the evening -- dollar for dollar -- up to $100,000.

But the most inspiring moment of the evening came when one of the disabled dancers shared her personal philosophy with the crowd.

"In spite of everything," she said. "Life is so very beautiful."

Welcoming Weiss

Scoring a Circuit hat trick, City Councilman Jack Weiss visited the sixth-grade class at Yavneh Hebrew Academy recently, where he spoke about the lessons of Sept. 11 and how these lessons must not be reserved exclusively for the anniversary but for all days of the year.

Weiss discussed some of the issues of Sept. 11, and students shared their concerns and feelings about what happened.

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