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Jewish Journal

Community Briefs

May 24, 2001 | 7:59 pm

Emergency Response

Like many other people waking up every day and feeling somewhat anguished by what I was reading in the paper and hearing on the news about Israel, I was looking for something concrete to do to be helpful,. says Howard Levkowitz, a partner at an investment management firm.

But unlike others with similar feelings, Levkowitz took action.

He teamed up with Steven Berger, president of the Religious Zionists of Los Angeles, and Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City, where both men are members. After considerable research, they chose to help Hatzalah of Yehuda and Shomron, a volunteer ambulance corps that answers calls that the regular ambulance service can. t respond to quickly enough.

Through appeals to about a dozen shuls, schools and organizations, the two so far have raised $75,000 to buy emergency medical kits and defibrillators for the cars of volunteer medics, who respond to emergencies around the clock, despite holding regular jobs.

With all the terrorist attacks, it. s become a lot more necessary to have something like this, because so much more medical services are needed and because the regular ambulance services aren. t able to get to the place until the army gets there,. Levkowitz said.

While the funds are all going to medics across the Green Line, Levkowitz sees this as a purely humanitarian cause, not something political.

Our thinking was that there are Jews being killed just because they are Jews, and where they live isn. t really the issue,. Levkowitz said.

For more information, call Howard Levkowitz at (310) 841-6685 or RZLA at (310) 274-6657. Donations can be sent to Israel Medical Equipment Emergency Fund, c/o YICC-GMACH, 9317 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Religion Editor

Healing Himself

Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, founder of Metivta: A Center for Contemplative Judaism, is taking his own advice. He is slowing down, taking time to care for both his neglected spiritual self and his faltering physical frame.

In the past six months, Omer-Man, who is in his mid-60s, has suffered a heart attack and a blocked major artery, and the polio he contracted in 1956 has of late taken a heavier toll, confining him to a wheelchair. Thus, his planned gradual four-year transition from being Metivta. s full-time spiritual leader to rabbi emeritus is being fast-tracked as Omer-Man takes up full-time residence in Berkeley.

My closest friends have been telling me, and for a long time I was reluctant to hear, that I have some deep spiritual work to do, to move from a hyperactive lifestyle that had become too much a mainstay of my identity,. Omer-Man wrote in the Metivta newsletter in March. . I need to enter a new stage of my life, a more reflective one, distilling and condensing my teachings, perhaps to write, to work with peers, and to become a student again.

Omer-Man will maintain a strong connection to Metivta, teaching some classes through video-conferencing, leading retreats and, perhaps, High Holiday services.

Metivta, meanwhile, has announced that Rabbi Rami Shapiro, an award-winning essayist and poet, will become Metivta. s senior rabbi.

Shapiro founded Temple Beth Or in Miami and directed the Simply Jewish Fellowship and the Sh. ma Center for Jewish Meditation.

Shapiro will assume the position in August but will be in Los Angeles this weekend. He will speak Friday night at Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades; will lead the Metivta service at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills on Shabbat morning, May 26; and will conduct the Tikkun Leil Shavuot on Sunday night at Metivta.

For more information, call Metivta at (310) 477-5370. . J.G.F.

Staying Strong

When most of the Los Angeles Jewish Community was slowly slipping westward, Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood, a traditional Conservative synagogue, hung on to its outpost on the eastern edge of Hollywood, at Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

And while most small shuls in demographically challenging areas are either closing or closed, Knesset Israel . celebrating its 75th anniversary on Shavuot next week . is more than hanging on, with about 40 or 50 worshippers each week.

The people we get are very friendly and kind, and people who come for the first time are immediately made to feel at home,. says Rabbi Robert Elias, who, along with Cantor Lee Greenberg, has been at Knesset Israel for about 15 years.

Many of the old-timers who still live in the neighborhood come every week, and Elias says there is a sprinkling of young families who come in from as close as Highland Avenue, a little to the west, and as far as Northridge, Glendale and Valencia.

The temple, at 1260 N. Vermont Ave., is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a reunion Shabbat and kiddush luncheon on Sat., June 2. Old friends and newcomers are welcome.

For more information, call (323) 665-5171 or go to www.knessetisrael.org.

J.G.F.

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