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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

Gaby Wenig

February 12, 2004 | 7:00 pm

El Salvador Salvation

Seven Los Angeles rabbinical students went to El Salvador last month to examine how liberation theology could be incorporated in the mission of tikkun olam, or repairing the world.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion rabbinical students Anne Brenner, Mark Miller, Ryan Bauer and Justus Baird, together with University of Judaism (UJ) rabbinical students Risa Weinstein, Andy Sugarman and Laurie Matzkin spent one week in El Salvador working on agricultural projects with Catholic campesinos (rural farmers), who were former refugees of El Salvador's bloody revolution. They also participated in the sustainable agriculture programs of La Coordinadora, the American Jewish World Service's (AJWS) project partner in the southeast portion of the country.

The delegation studied Jewish texts with Dr. Leonard Fein. Participants also studied with members of their host community and Jose "Chencho" Alas, a former priest and founder-director of the Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America. Alas presented his Theology of Peace Workshop to the group.

The AJWS received funds from private donors to send the rabbinical students to El Salvador. It believes the trip is essential to train and educate future leaders of the Jewish community to be informed and engaged global citizens.

On Feb. 4, the UJ students hosted a lunch-and-learn event for the rabbinical students and faculty of both seminaries, at which they discussed the trip.

Arresting Awards

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored two law-enforcement units and four individuals with the Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate during a Jan. 20 ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center. The Sherwood prize is an annual award recognizing law-enforcement officers, units, agencies or programs for acts outside the normal scope of duties that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to combating bigotry and stereotyping.

The individual honorees were Scott Millington, deputy in charge, hate crimes unit, Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office; Sgt. Donald Mueller, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, West Hollywood Station; Stacy Ratner, senior deputy district attorney, Ventura County; and Guninder Singh, Sheriff's Department.

The unit honorees were: the Ontario Police Department's Nazi Low-Rider Task Force and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department community liaison unit.

Amanda Susskind, the ADL's Pacific Southwest Region director, spoke about the importance of supporting her organization's fight against hate crimes. The guest speaker was John Miller, bureau chief and commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Critical Incident Management Bureau. He spoke about terrorism today.

Quake Relief

Jews have lived in Iran for 2,700 years, but never in the city of Bam, recently the target of a devastating earthquake that killed or injured half of Bam's 80,000 inhabitants. But the fact that no Jews lived there didn't stop the Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF) and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles from remembering their duty to humanity. On Jan. 20, Federation Chair Harriet Hochman and President John Fishel presented a $5,000 check to IAJF President Dr. Shokrollah Baravarian as part of $50,000 in earthquake relief funds that the community raised to help the victims.

Fishel told The Journal that as soon as he heard that the IAJF was raising money to send to the earthquake victims, The Federation decided to step in and help, too.

"We think it is important from a humanitarian perspective to help people living in Bam," he said. -- Mojdeh Sionit, Contributing Writer

Salute to Shimon

The Israel-Christian Nexus honored retired Israeli general and Nexus promoter Shimon Erem on his 82nd birthday. The Jan. 26 Bel Air dessert reception, hosted by Janet Levy and Michael Ross, saw attendees being asked to contribute a total of $82,000 to Nexus, "$1,000 for each year of his life," said Avi Davis, a writer and senior fellow at the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.

President Bush sent written birthday greetings for Erem and his wife, Danielle. The 60 Jewish and Christian attendees included Erem's old Israeli friend Ari Baran, plus Ella and Si Frumkin, Sandi Kantor, Aviva and Yochai Schneider, Lilli Artenstein, Barbara Gagel, Morrie Avidan, Esther Kandel and StandWithUs Executive Director Roz Rothstein. -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

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