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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

June 7, 2001 | 8:00 pm

Conscious of the Jewish Image

It was a photo contest asking artists to embody the spirit of Judaism. But here's the rub -- the contest was only open to amateur artists who had never pursued photography professionally. Curated by Sacha Bodner, UCLA Hillel's Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow, the art contest awarded cash prizes to its top three winners. The contest was advertised at schools all over Southern California, including UCLA, USC, UCSD, Santa Monica College, Pierce and Valley Colleges and CSUN. According to Bodner, the response was enthusiastic: 35 contestants submitted 75 images.

Third-place winner David Lederman, 21, told The Circuit that photographing Jewish-themed still lifes for the contest made him aware that "there's a beauty even in the smallest of items," he said.

The UCLA film student used desk-lamp lighting and manipulated shutter speed to capture the flame in his winning "Havdalah" print. But it was another image, "Tefillin," that Lederman is most proud of, with its crisp helix of twisting threads.

Cecilia Michan, who took second place with "God's Light," came back from studying abroad in Jerusalem, where she took "tons" of pictures. "I never entered a contest before, but I loved taking pictures." The photo captured a beatific beam of sunlight piercing through an armada of brooding clouds, hitting the ocean surface like a heavenly stairway. The 21-year-old UCLA psychology major snapped the shot off the coast of San Diego, her hometown. The chance natural occurrence Michan photographed proved to her that "there is a God, because I don't think we would see something so beautiful if there weren't."

Top prize went to Santa Barbara's Zahava Weiss, a 26-year-old UCLA world arts and cultures graduate student. Her images included a close-up of an old Jewish woman's timeworn hands. Weiss says that working with Setti Mirus, the photo's model, was moving and meaningful -- Weiss was by Mirus' bedside when she died two weeks after the picture was taken.

Wandering the Dessert Table

Showtime Networks Inc. President of Programming Jerry Offsay and his wife, Pam, will host their annual Dessert Party on June 9. Originally held at the Offsays' 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 site on Paramount Studios' New York Street. 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 impoverished locals. For more information, call (310) 234-5334.

Let There Be Light

Alexis Light, a Concord High School 11th-grader, has been accepted into the Meitav Youth Fellowship for Reform Jewish Leadership.

Everybody Loves Raymond

Raymond Kurtzman has been named chair of the advisory board for USC's Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life. Kurtzman is a past president of the Southwest Region of the American Committee of the Weizmann Institute of Science and serves on the board of trustees of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. He also sits on Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's board of governors.

Creative Ninth-Graders, Part I

The Girls Division of Yeshiva University of Los Angeles held its sixth annual Torah Fair, where ninth-graders worked together on projects interpreting events from Jewish history.

Creative Ninth-Graders, Part II

Teachers Ruth Minster and Naomi DeCygne-Katz created a unit of study for Temple Isaiah's ninth-graders that explores prejudice, racism, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Part of that program had students create a sculpture to represent the victims of the Shoah. The piece took six weeks to complete.

Kids Helping Kids

Yehudi Weiss, 12, Gila Muskin, 13, and Elizabeth Rubin, 13, took a tikkun olam assignment seriously and visited the pediatric cancer patients at Childrens Hospital. The Yavneh Hebrew Academy seventh-graders got in touch with the hospital's Dr. Stuart Siegel, head of the Childrens Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases, and Dr. Ernest Katz. Katz then guided the girls to organize a letter-writing campaign between Yavneh and children at the hospital.

Ventura Bowl-evard

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 The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Once again, Studio City's Sportsmen Lodge was Matzah Bowl central, where 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 strategy, handily beating her opponents. Meanwhile, Kaufman's brother, Danny Moshe, could be overheard sharing the therapeutic joys of swimming in his pool after a long day's work. Writer Louis J. Zivot ("Big Bad Beetleborgs") and Shoah Visual History Foundation's project manager, Bonnie Samotin, were also in attendance.

Bowling a perfect 300 executing this year's event 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.

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