Shalom L.A., the Hebrew-language newsweekly that catered to Los Angeles' large Israeli community, ceased production last month after 19 years. The paper had been largely subsidized by its owners, Isaac and Miri Shepher, until they transferred ownership to editor Moshe Barzilai in November.
"We basically donated it to him," Miri Shepher said. "But he didn't have the money to continue. He held out for four weeks, and then that is it."
Barzilai said he is talking with a few investors about reorganizing and re-launching the weekly, which advertised a readership of 45,000 but did not provide audited circulation numbers. Barzilai declined further comment.
Shepher, who with her husband owns Encino-based Life Alert, said that every month the paper was in the red, costing her family more money than she could tabulate.
"I don't want to know either. Lots of millions," she said. "I should have donated the money to the State of Israel instead."
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer
Israeli Olympic Gymnastics Hopeful Coming to Los Angeles
Irina Risenson Corbeil
With a suitcase full of ribbons, clubs and ropes, the Israeli national rhythmic gymnastics champion is heading for Los Angeles, where she will compete in the LA Lights Tournament of Champions Jan. 24-27 in Culver City.
Hungarian-born Irina Risenzon, 19, placed seventh in the 2007 world championship in Patras, Greece, in September, making her the first Israeli to qualify for the Olympics in rhythmic gymnastics.
Rhythmic gymnastics combines acrobatics, ballet and athleticism in five events, in which gymnasts slink and scamper across the floor with hula hoops, balls, clubs, jump ropes and the most famous of the rhythmic apparatus, the ribbon stick that snakes and swirls through the air.
Rhythmic gymnasts train and stretch to develop the hand-eye coordination, grace and exceptional flexibility -- feet and head often meet -- required for the sport, which has been an Olympic event since the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.
Risenzon, from the Holon municipal team, has placed in the top 10 in world events for the past several years and is a serious contender for the title at the Beijing Olympics this summer. The Israeli team placed sixth all around in a ranking round in Beijing last month.
Risenzon has become a star in Israel, especially in her hometown of Holon, which is building a training center in her honor. A junior level gymnast from Israel will also be competing in LA Lights, the last major competition before the Olympics. Last year, Risenzon placed third all-around at LA Lights, which is hosted by the Los Angeles School of Gymnastics in Culver City.
Competitors from 14 countries, including 2004 Olympic champions and the current Russian world champions, will compete at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium, 4117 Overland Ave. The Olympic level gymnasts will compete Saturday, Jan. 26, from 4 to 8 p.m. The finals will be held Sunday, Jan. 27, from 4 to 8 p.m.
The public is invited to meet the top 10 competitors at an event at the American Girl Place at The Grove on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 3:30 to 5:50 p.m.
-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor
Iranian Jews Get First Shaliach From Israel
Los Angeles' Iranian Jewish community received its first Israeli shaliach (emissary) in November. Maccabi World Union's Nave Chupkov will work out of the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center in Tarzana for the next two years. Sponsored by Neria Yomtoubian Foundation and Eretz-SIAMAK, Chupkov's mission is to help encourage Judaism and reinforce support for Israel among young Jews in the Iranian American community, as well as the wider Jewish community.
"My goals are to build a tradition for young people to attend our events on the Jewish holidays, develop leadership skills and also encourage young professionals to attend our trips that combine fun and education," Chupkov said.
For his part, Chupkov has had some success attracting many young Iranian Jews to his events during December and has trips to Big Bear and Israel planned for the coming months.
"I am very excited about working in the Persian community, and the warmth I've received from them is incredible," Chupkov said.
Eretz-SIAMAK will host a Tu B'Shevat brunch and tree-planting event on Jan. 20. For more information, call Chupkov at (818) 342-9303.
-- Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer
Kids Invited to Develop Israel Ad Campaign
Israel's Ministry of Tourism is asking American children to help develop its latest publicity material. To help promote Israel's 60th anniversary, kids are invited to design an image for a postcard that will serve as an invitation to festivities surrounding the anniversary.
The 6-by-9 inch image can be done in a variety of media -- from crayon to collage -- and should reflect what it means for Israel to be 60 years old and why people should visit. Winners will receive a prize package of Israeli goodies and have their essays published in Babaganewz magazine and Web site. Entries must be received by Feb. 8.
For official rules and entry form, visit http://www.babaganewz.com/thebigdraw.
Graduate students in business or public administration interested in working for the Jewish community are eligible for fellowships sponsored by Professional Leaders Project (PLP), a 3-year-old organization dedicated to helping young people develop as lay professionals and lay leaders in the Jewish community. In addition to financial support, the 10 fellows will receive mentoring and access to Jewish organization.
"We expect the PLP fellows to galvanize the American Jewish community and to challenge the status quo," said Arianna Jeret, executive director of the PLP Academic Fellows program. "We are not content to merely train competent professionals; we want to develop successful leaders."
Fellowships are now available. For information, visit http://www.jewishleaders.net.
Jewish Learning Academy Expands Mommy and Me Program
The Jewish Learning Academy, a Chabad organization on Pico Boulevard, is expanding its Mommy and Me program offering music, movement, art and drama in Jewish environment. Kreative Kids, for children aged 3 month to 3 years, will hold an open house Sunday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., and classes begin Jan. 22.
For more information, visit http://www.jlaonline.org.