April 24, 2008
Briefs: Governator opens new Saban Free Clinic, Weisenthal Center pressures Swiss on Iran deal
The Los Angeles Free Clinic was renamed the Saban Free Clinic this week in honor of Cheryl and Haim Saban, who last month pledged a $10 million gift to the health care facility that treated Cheryl Saban some 25 years ago, when she was a divorced mother of two.
"This is what I call a match made in heaven," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the ceremonial unveiling Monday. "When you team up a great clinic like this with the extraordinary generosity and vision of Cheryl and Haim Saban, how can the people of California do anything else but win?"
The Free Clinic operates four facilities that handle 100,000 patient visits a year, providing physician services, disease testing, prescription filling and nutritional counseling. Co-CEO Abbe Land has said the Sabans' unrestricted gift probably will be used to supplement decreased government funding.
Haim Saban is chair and CEO of Saban Capital Group and chair of Univision Communications; Cheryl Saban is the author of several books on parenting, marriage and child advocacy and founder of the nonprofit 50 Ways to Save Our Children.
"Our greatest wish is that this gift will create further awareness among the community and will drive additional contributions to support the long-term success of the clinic in providing health services to the uninsured in Los Angeles," Haim Saban said.
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer
Wiesenthal Center Urges Swiss to Cancel $18 Billion Gas Deal With Iranians
The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged the Swiss government to cancel its $18 billion gas deal with Iran.
"This ill-conceived and ill-timed deal, signed in the presence of the Swiss foreign minister, bolsters the Iranian regime and weakens the international community's efforts to use economic sanctions to force Iran to stop its nuclearization program," said a statement by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the L.A.-based Wiesenthal Center and Leo Adler of the Canadian-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. The two released the statement following their meeting last week with Swiss State Secretary Michael Ambuhl in Bern, the Swedish capital.
"Further, press reports indicate that the bulk of the Iranian gas is destined for Italy and not, as was asserted, a way for Switzerland to lessen its reliance on Russian gas. So the question remains as to whose strategic and national interests are being served," the statement said.
During their meeting with Ambuhl, Cooper and Adler also urged Switzerland to oppose the anti-Israel resolutions frequently approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.
"Since the council's inception, it has passed 20 resolutions -- 19 against Israel and one on Burma -- but nothing on the genocide in Darfur or the current crisis in Tibet,'' Cooper and Adler noted.
â??- Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Chabad Hosts 'Sober Seder' -- With Twists
Chabad offered a "Sober Seder" last Sunday that was traditional -- with a couple of twists. For one, grape juice was used instead of wine. For another, every few minutes, someone shared his or her struggles with addiction.
During the service, a burly, middle-age man told the 100 participants: "I'm an alcoholic and drug addict." As a result of his addictions, he said, he ended up "living in a cardboard box and pushing a shopping cart around. For food, sometimes I'd pull stuff out of garbage bins." He now has his life back as a result of Chabad's recovery program.
British-born Rabbi Mendel Cohen, 25, presided with an infectious energy, sense of fun and occasional moments of joyful dancing. Throughout, Cohen reminded the crowd -- many of whom were graduates of Chabad's residential addiction program -- that recovery can be thought of as leaving Egypt.
One woman stood up to agree. Sobriety, she said, has released her from enslavement. A man in his mid-40s said the seder was "always a time to get drunk, from the age of 12. Chabad taught me how to live. I have freedom now, but inside I also have pain from my past, so I work through it every day."
"Once I saw Judaism as the enemy," he said. "Now I see it as my path to recovery."
-- Roberto Loiederman, Contributing Writer
UC Irvine Muslim Group Co-Sponsoring Talk by Strong Critic of Israeli Policy
Norman Finkelstein will speak at the UC Irvine student center on May 7 in an appearance co-sponsored by the Muslim Student Union. The former DePaul University professor is a vigorous critic of Israeli policy and author of "The Holocaust Industry" and "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict."
UC Irvine has been at the center of controversy over what some Jewish students allege to be repeated instances of harassment and anti-Semitic speech, which the university has refused to condemn. Other students say the situation at UC Irvine is now dramatically improved and that the administration has been responsive to Jewish concerns.