Dollars for Access
The Jewish Community Foundation awarded a $7,500 grant to the Access Center of OPCC (formerly the Ocean Park Community Center). The money will be dedicated to maintaining the project's critical core programs to assist homeless youth, adults and families. The Access Center opened in 1963 and it is often the first port of entry for homeless individuals and families seeking services. In addition to providing emergency services such as food, clothing and shelter to approximately 275 clients daily, the center assists homeless men, women and children in developing individual plans to identify strengths and goals in order to return to a life of stability and self-sufficiency.
It is never too early to start giving tzedakah (charity) in a very adult kind of way. On Jan. 6 the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls at Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Center in Sherman Oaks presented a $30,473 check to Randi Grossman, the West Coast regional director of Chai Lifeline, a charity that provides services to families who have children with special needs. The girls raised the money by organizing parlor meetings for the women in their respective synagogues, having bake sales, tabling outside kosher markets in the Valley, holding fund-raising parties and basically asking everyone they knew for money.
"All the kids expressed how good it felt to raise the money -- they said it felt good for their neshamas [souls], knowing that they were helping to bring a smile to a sick child," said Debbie Eidlitz, the Emek teacher who oversaw the fund-raising. "A lot of the shyest kids forced themselves to go out there and raise the money, and they all felt that they grew tremendously from the experience."
School Banquet Season
On Jan. 11 Samuel A. Fryer Yeshivat Yavneh held its annual banquet at which the school honored the J. Samuel Harwit and Manya Harwit Aviv Charitable Trust for its support and dedication to Jewish education. Rabbi Yissocher Frand, a teacher at the Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore, was the guest speaker at the banquet.
Yavneh, located in Hancock Park, is one of the largest Orthodox elementary schools in the city. It aims to educate students to be firmly committed to Torah, Judaism and Israel and the principles and values that are a part of American life.
Another large Orthodox elementary school, Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills, also held its banquet recently. On Dec. 21 at the Century Plaza Hotel, supporters of Hillel gathered to honor Robert and Rosina Korda at the academy's 55th annual Scholarship Banquet. At the banquet, Hillel also honored Joel and Roslyn Linderman, who jointly received the Dor L'Dor Award, and Dr. Benjamin Rosenberg, who received the Alumni Award.
On Nov. 25 Valley Torah High School held its annual communitywide Scholarship Banquet at the Hilton Universal City and Towers. The school's dean, Rabbi Abraham Stulberger, presented awards to Eliezer Jones (Alumnus of the Year) and Eli and Sandra Eisenberger. A number of new developments were announced at the dinner, including the opening of a new girls' school, Beis Malkah V'Sara Esther later this year.
The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, a program of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, recently honored Masha Loen at the first Festival of Lights cocktail party and silent auction, which was held in December at the museum. Loen was honored on her retirement for a lifetime of dedication and service.
Forest for the Trees
The U.S.D.A. Forest Service hosted a special guest in January -- Jewish National Fund (JNF) forester Adi Naali of Israel. Naali has worked for the JNF for the past six years supervising new tree plantings and recreation areas, and taking part in forest and land-use planning teams. He was a member of the Alexander River Rehabilitation Project, which won the Australian River-Price Competition, one of the most prestigious ecological restoration competitions in the world.
As part of his visit, Naali toured Southern California and Arizona to view the devastation to the national forests caused by fires.