Jewish Journal

Community Briefs

Posted on Apr. 10, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Mintz Sentenced on Porn Charge

Rabbi Juda Mintz has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for viewing child pornography on the Internet. In February 2002, Mintz, 60, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography. After numerous delays, Trenton, N.J. Judge Mary L. Cooper sentenced Mintz on April 3.

"Being sentenced to prison was and remains difficult for me," Mintz said in a telephone interview last week from Beit T'Shuvah, a 105-bed residential rehabilitation community in Los Angeles that treats people with therapy, 12-step programs and Judaic studies, where he is staying until the courts choose a correctional facility for his incarceration.

"I pray for the strength to serve my time and get on with my mission," he said.

Before the board at his Mount Freedom, N.J., synagogue discovered the child images on his computer, Mintz was a highly respected and beloved rabbi in Atlanta, where he spent most of his career. He founded and directed the Emory University Hillel for eight years, then founded a traditional synagogue where he was rabbi for 17 years. Before moving to New Jersey, he founded and ran a transdenominational, no-dues synagogue.

Mintz has been receiving treatment, teaching Judaica and counseling others at Beit T'Shuvah since entering his guilty plea. He has started a group called Recovering Rabbis Anonymous.

Mintz has worked hard, both in his recovery and in helping others, said Harriet Rossetto, Beit T'Shuvah's executive director.

Mintz said he is not cured, but hopes to live a life of joy and healthiness while remaining faithful to his 12-step recovery program.

"My hope, after I serve my time, is that I can be involved in helping others recognize and treat the disease," he said. "I'm hoping to learn from this." -- Jason Green, Atlanta Jewish Times


Big Sisters Scores First Match

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS) of Los Angeles has announced its first Big Sister-Little Sister mentoring match -- the initial brick in its newly created Jewish Big Sisters program. Big Sisters is the mentoring counterpart of the flagship Jewish Big Brothers organization, which was formed in 1915.

Volunteer Big Sister Judy Martin and her Little Sister match, Jessie, 7, make up the historic pair. Jessie's father, Bob, learned about the program through his family's participation in Our House, a bereavement program for children and families coping with loss and grief. Bob decided to enroll Jessie, who lost her mother to cancer two years ago.

Martin, a principal of the executive search firm J. Martin & Associates, is an avid community volunteer who recently held the volunteer post of vice president of Special Events for the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

"They were just matched. They haven't had an initial outing yet," said JBBBS representative Mahra Fox, who added that Big Sisters hopes to kick-start its first full year with 15 matches by the end of 2003. "It's all brand new and we're really excited."

JBBBS mentors are available for Jewish boys and girls, ages 6-18. To match a Jewish child with a Big Sister mentor, call Maggie Isaacs at (323) 761-8675, ext. 20. To volunteer as a Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister, call (323) 761-8675, ext. 30 or 31. -- Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer


L.A. Optometrist Appointed to Holocaust Task Force

Dr. Samuel Goetz has been appointed as the first member of the newly created California Task Force on Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education. The task force's assignment is to prepare a comprehensive curriculum and study program for training the state's teachers in the areas listed in its title.

Goetz, a Los Angeles optometrist, was put in a concentration camp as a 14-year-old boy in Poland and liberated three years later. His parents and most of his relatives perished in the Holocaust. A past president of the "1939" Club, he was instrumental in establishing the survivor organization's chair on Holocaust studies at UCLA. His autobiography, "I Never Saw My Face," was published recently.

Goetz was appointed by Herb J. Wesson, Jr., speaker of the state Assembly. Other appointments to the 12-member panel will be made by Gov. Gray Davis and John Burton, president pro tem of the state Senate, under the bill introduced by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood). The task force will work in tandem with the Center on Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education, now being organized on the Cal State Chico campus, under the direction of professor Sam Edelman.

"We anticipate training some 40,000 teachers of history and the social sciences, and another 40,000 teachers of language and literature studies," Edelman said. Classes in Holocaust education are mandatory in California public schools.

The training program will consist of a combination of campus workshops, online professional development courses and extensive Web site resources.

Edelman anticipates that the first training sessions will be held this summer in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.

Working with the task force and center will be the California Department of Education, Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

For additional information, write to the Center on Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education, CSU Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0502, or e-mail sedelman@csuchico.edu . -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor


Russian Jews Learn to Conduct Seder

Russian-speaking Jews have a new tool this year for conducting seders at home. The World Union of Progressive Judaism, which is affiliated with the Reform movement, has put out a Russian-language video and CD/ROM titled "How to Conduct a Seder," aimed at helping Jews from the former Soviet Union create their own meaningful, egalitarian home rituals for Passover. Viewers will see a guided seder led in Russian by rabbis and activists from the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism who discuss the symbols and ritual in detail. 

For more information or to obtain a copy of the video or the CD-ROM, contact Eugene Epshteyn at ARZA/World Union, North America at (212) 650-4280 or eepshteyn@uahc.org. The guided seder is available online at www.wupj.org . -- Staff Report


Cedars-Sinai Brings Pesach to Patients

Cedars-Sinai will help some 250 patients and their families celebrate the Exodus away from home.

Kosher kitchen manager and registered dietitian Avi Sugarman and her five-member staff, mashgiach Eliyahu Yanai and Rabbi Levi Meier, Jewish chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, will use 80 pounds of matzah and more than 1,200 matzah balls and more than 500 kosher-for-Passover meals will be served to patients and their families at Cedars-Sinai for the eight-day holiday.

But it isn't all about food.

More than 250 haggadot will be distributed, and more than 250 seder plates will be served. A videotaped seder conducted by Meier is broadcast on Cedars-Sinai's closed-circuit television channel for patients to see at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, April 16 and 17. -- Staff Report


Caterers Create Healthy Goodies for Pesach

When Los Angeles attorneys Debbie Fischl and Sandy Calin met in law school 20 years ago, they discovered they shared an affinity for cooking and baking. So they decided to open a catering company together while they continued to work as contract lawyers.

The two, who run Debbie and Sandy's catering company, recently parlayed their skills into packaged goods, creating all-natural baked goods that are also kosher for Passover and now available on supermarket shelves. Their signature product is a kosher-for-Passover homemade granola, made with matzah farfel, dried cranberries, coconut and almonds, and they are also producing kosher-for-Passover mandelbread and almond cluster cookies. The products, which are under the supervision of Rabbi Louis Goldblatt, have been welcomed in health food supermarkets such as Whole Foods, as there are no preservatives in the goods.

"The granola is really more of a snack food," Fischl said . "As opposed to most Passover foods where you have to eat it because you can't eat anything else, you want to eat this."

Fischl and Calin plan on expanding the business over the coming years to produce kosher-for-Passover granola bars and sell their products on the East Coast. -- Gaby Wenig, Contributing Writer

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