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Briefs: Muslim Congressman joins anti-Semitism panel; Kol tov at Kol Tikvah; Married rabbi and canto

August 23, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

The only Muslim member of Congress has joined its anti-Semitism task force, founded earlier this summer by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"I am honored to join the Congressional Anti-Semitism Task Force because it embodies the ideals and principles that have guided and shaped my life," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

Congressional task forces, which conduct informational hearings, have no legislative role. The anti-Semitism task force is co-chaired by Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Ron Klein (D-Fla.)

-- Jewish Telegraphic Agency

SUV -- Not Terrorists -- Caused Hole at Kol Tikvah

A large hole in the sanctuary wall of Temple Kol Tikvah was not the result of a terrorist attack, as some members of the Woodland Hills congregation feared after the damage appeared last Thursday night.

It occurred when an SUV jumped the curb while heading east on Ventura Boulevard and careened into the northeast corner of the Reform synagogue sanctuary at 6:50 p.m. on Aug. 23.

"Our choir practice was starting at 7 p.m., but no one was in the sanctuary at the time," Rabbi Jan Offel said.

The driver was taken to the hospital with unconfirmed injuries; the passenger exhibited minor wounds, was treated on scene and released.

Kol Tikvah is now working with Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zine's office to mitigate speeding on that portion of Ventura Boulevard (between De Soto Avenue and Winnetka Avenue), which has a posted limit of 40 mph.

Services will be held during the next few weeks, starting Friday night at 7 p.m., in the temple's social hall. Offel expects the sanctuary to be repaired in time for High Holy Days, when Congregation Shir Ami meets there.

"We're just really thankful that no one was killed or badly injured and that our insurance will be able to take care of things so that the sanctuary will look better than it was before," Offel said.

-- Brad A. Greenberg, Staff Writer

Israeli Children Heal at Camp Ramah

Nearly 100 Israeli children who have lost parents or siblings in the Israeli army spent two weeks at Camp Ramah this summer through Moreshet, a program piloted last year by the local chapter of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Last summer, 30 kids spent time at Camp Ramah in Ojai, and this summer 48 kids came to Ojai, and another 50 spent time at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

The program offers bar/bat mitzvah-aged kids from bereaved families a respite from the trauma at home by giving them a trip to remember. The California group bonded with their American peers at Ramah, and took a few days off from camp to go to Universal Studios, the Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade and Hollywood.

"These children and their families have paid the ultimate price for Eretz Yisrael," said Marci Spitzer, Moreshet chair.

More than $400,000 was donated to support the program, including large donations from Nessah Synagogue of Beverly Hills and the Lodzer Organization, as well as single sponsorships from bar or bat mitzvah kids. Cheryl and Haim Saban fully sponsored the group in the Berkshires.

Spitzer says that more than 100 kids from bereaved military families have already approached FIDF about participating next year.

For more information, call (310) 305-4063, or visit http://www.fidf.org or http://www.ramah.org.

-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

Schools Plan Kindergarten Fair

A kindergarten fair will introduce families to more than 40 private elementary schools in the Los Angeles area. Several Jewish schools will be among those represented: Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School, Brawerman Elementary School of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Emanuel Academy of Beverly Hills, Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am, Sinai Akiba Academy and Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School.

The fair will be held Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 6:30 -- 8:30 p.m. at Oakwood School, 11230 Moorpark St., North Hollywood.

For more information, call (818) 752-4444.

-- Derek Schlom, Contributing Writer

Federation Funds Increase Shul Safety

While Jews flock en masse to the gates of prayer during the High Holy Days, security personnel will be guarding the physical gates to many area synagogues. On Aug. 14, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles announced it will disburse $150,000 in grants to small synagogues (those with up to 250 member families) in order to help them ensure the safety of their congregants.

For more information on applying for a grant, call The Federation's Planning and Allocations Department at (323) 761-8320.

-- Danielle Berrin, Contributing Writer

Husband and Wife to Be Installed as Rabbi and Cantor

It's rare that a synagogue needs both a rabbi and cantor at the same time. It's even more rare that two people who share the same bed would fill the two positions.

Enter Ira Rosenfeld and his wife, Beth Wasserman Rosenfeld, who on Friday night will be installed as rabbi and cantor, respectively, at Congregation Beth Shalom of Santa Clarita Valley.

"We have a good chemistry," Ira said. "It's like in the 'Rocky' movie when Paulie asks Rocky why he likes his sister. 'I don't know. We fill in gaps.' I'm a little more of the improv person, and she's a little more organized."

Before their calling to ministry, both dreamed of being entertainers. He tried his hand at acting; she at singing. They have served in Jewish ministry and education for the past 10 and 15 years, and they started their new jobs July 1 at the Conservative synagogue, which has about 220 families.

-- BG

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