Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Norma Zager

Posted on Apr. 6, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Built to Last

Team Mortorq from Beverly Hills High School won two prestigious awards recently at a robotics competition: The Entrepreneurship Award and the Autodesk Visualization Award for animation.

The Entrepreneurship Award recognizes a team which, since its inception, has developed the framework for a comprehensive business plan in order to scope, manage and obtain team objectives. The team should also display entrepreneurial enthusiasm and the vital business skills for a self-sustaining program.

The Autodesk Visualization Award for Animation recognizes excellence in student animation that clearly and creatively illustrates the spirit of the first Robotics Competition.

The Beverly Hills High team also was scheduled to compete in Las Vegas.

Sherman Speaks

Nearly 200 visitors, community leaders and members of the local Iranian Muslim media gathered at the The New JCC at Milken in West Hills March 26 to hear speakers address the growing threat of Iran's nuclear program.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Sam Kermanian, secretary general of the Iranian Jewish Federation, were panelists at the event.

Sherman, a member of the House International Relations Committee, discussed upcoming measures Congress will be taking to combat Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions.

"It is unlikely that we can stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Sherman said. "Iran is subject to economic pressure and we must use our maximum economic and diplomatic steps to slow down and stop their ability to get these weapons."

Kermanian's discussion focused on the beliefs and core goals of Iran's current regime to impose its fundamentalist Islamic ideologies on the West by use of force. Following their speeches, both speakers answered questions from the audience concerning Iran. Also in attendance was Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine. -- Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

Ain't That a Kick?

Gold and silver were the colors of the day for New JCC at Milken's Kenshokan Martial Arts Academy last month. The American Judo and Jujitsu Federation held its national convention and freestyle championships in San Ramon recently and in the youth division, Tyler Mclean came away with second place. Program instructor Gregory Poretz, who came back from a stunning upset in 2005 in last place was able to make a clean sweep of the black belt division and take the gold.

Sensei Poretz, Mclean and the rest of the Kenshokan will be training to defend their titles in 2007 in Santa Rosa.

For more information, visit www.kenshokan.com.

What a Woman!

Community volunteer Mollie "Lee" Welinsky was honored as the 47th Assembly District Woman of the Year by Assemblywoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) recently in celebration of Women's History Month. Each year, the California Assembly honors women who have demonstrated leadership and extraordinary community service within their districts. Welinsky has been involved in the 47th Assembly District community for 50 years, beginning in 1956 as a member of the Culver City Planning Commission. Welinsky was a member of the Culver City Landlord/Tenant Mediation Board and the Culver City Planning Commission. She also worked for the Santa Monica Rent Control Board for more than 10 years.

"I am proud to honor Ms. Welinsky whose tireless efforts serve as a model for community leadership and service," Bass said. "She illustrates the responsibility that each of us should commit to in order to make a difference in our community."

Welinsky has also been a driving force in the Democrats for Israel, an organization officially chartered by the California Democratic Party. As a longtime member and leader, she has spearheaded the organization in becoming prominent voice in the community.

Justice for All

Progressive Jewish Alliance's (PJA) community dinner March 19 at the Westside Jewish Community Center was a smashing success. Every expectation was exceeded with more than 320 people in attendance, and more than $100,000 in funds raised. Doug Mirell's acceptance speech for the Isaiah Award was very moving and very funny. Dick and Lois Gunther were surprised and delighted to be honored for their founding of The Jeremiah Fellowship, PJA's innovative project that trains 20-somethings to be the next generation of Jewish social justice activists.

Prayers of Healing

Temple Beth El of San Pedro held a special "Service of Healing" April 1 to join the community in prayer for the health of loved ones, whether they themselves needed healing or wanted to bring a healing presence to those in need. Rabbi Charles Briskin, the spiritual leader of Temple Beth El, describes the one-hour experiential service as an "opportunity to touch the spirit and bring healing to the soul through meaningful music, meditation and prayer."

Cantor Ilan Davidson provided the music, and Judith Sommerstein, a Jewish chaplain intern, offered lessons and stories from Jewish tradition to enable all to better cope with the struggles for health and healing.

Never Again

"Do not stand idly by -- save Darfur" was Ambassador Koby Koomson's message to the audience that filled the sanctuary at Tarzana's Temple Judea recently. The gathering sponsored by Jewish World Watch (JWW), a local project aiming to bring attention to human rights violations around the world, came on the heels of a gathering of 150 rabbis outside of the United Nations calling for international action in Darfur.

"We know the heart of the stranger, because we were the stranger," Temple Judea's Rabbi Donald Goor told the audience.

This was his congregation's first communal event focusing on Darfur, joining other local Jewish efforts for the cause.

"The media have always conveyed the message that Africa doesn't matter and reports overwhelmingly on the negative. It's a continent that has been relegated as mysterious," said Koomson, a Washington, D.C.-based business consultant and formerly Ghana's ambassador to the United States.

"We need to find common ground; what binds us rather than divides us," Michael Wissot, the event's organizer and a Temple Judea representative to the JWW Community Action and Response Committee, told The Journal. "By expanding dialogue, we will be able to shed greater light on the different sectors of commerce and create win-win opportunities."

"So many read about it and pretend it's not my problem; it's far away," Koomson told the crowd. "The world will buy a ticket to see the movie and have tears, then go back to their lives." -- Melissa Maroff, Contributing Writer


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