The middle school girls of Emek Hebrew Academy-Teichman Family Torah Center in Sherman Oaks raised almost $35,000 (yes, that figure is correct) for Chai Lifeline, a national organization that provides support, services and programming for families with seriously ill children.
Debbie Eidlitz, Emek's campaign coordinator, announced the total at a Jan. 6 assembly where the girls erupted in jubilation when they heard that this year's donation broke last year's record.
The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls at Emek have raised more than $200,000 for Chai Lifeline in the past eight years, making Emek one of the agency's biggest supporters.
"The enthusiasm of these girls is unbelievable," said Randi Grossman, Chai Lifeline's West Coast director. "They are excited and passionate about this. They put so much into it and get so much out of it."
During November and December, 108 Emek students sold flowers to parents waiting in the carpool line and doughnuts to Sunday morning minyan-goers; staffed collection tables in front of bakeries and kosher markets; and hosted their own parlor meetings.
"I think part of the beauty of this whole project is not just the tzedakah that is raised, but it bring things out in the girls that they weren't even aware they were capable of doing," Eidlitz said.
Chai Lifeline, which opened its West Coast office five years ago, serves 200 families who have children with cancer or other catastrophic illnesses. It provides everything from help with transportation, tutors and insurance advice, to art therapy for siblings and one-day retreats for moms. Emek's donation will go in part to send kids to Camp Simcha, a summer program on the East Coast for children with catastrophic illnesses.
For more information on Chai Lifeline, call (310) 274-6331. For information on Emek Hebrew Academy-Teichman Family Torah Center, call (818) 783-3663.
Shomrei Hosts Family Fun Day
Shomrei Torah in West Hills invites preschoolers and their families to an open house on Sunday, Feb. 27, featuring art projects, face painting, cookie baking, family games and a concert by the Shirettes. The Family Fun Day will showcase Shomrei Torah's preschool, which this year is embarking on the Maalah Hebrew immersion program, in which children speak only Hebrew for several hours a day. Teachers and directors will be on hand to discuss this and other programs.
The event will take place 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., at 7353 Valley Circle Blvd. For more information, contact education director Jessica Green at (818) 346-6106, ext. 106.
Children's Lit Conference at Sinai
Aspiring and accomplished authors are invited to the second-annual Western Regional Conference on Jewish Literature for Children, Sunday, Feb. 20 at Sinai Temple in Westwood, the only such conference on the West Coast.
"There is a world of Jewish literature for children that goes beyond Chanukah and the Holocaust," said conference organizer Susan Rubin, past president of the School, Synagogue, Center Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries, which is sponsoring the event along with Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries and the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California.
The conference is open to adults who are authors, educators or interested in Jewish children's literature.
David A. Adler, author of the popular Cam Jansen mystery series and "Kids' Catalog of Jewish Holidays," will be the keynote speaker and other local and national celebrities in the field will be present as participants and presenters.
An editor from Dutton Books will be on hand to review presubmitted manuscripts.
The conference costs $75 and will be held, Sunday, Feb. 20, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd. For more information, call Susan Dubin at (818) 886-6415 or visit www.jewishlibraries.org.
Sudan Relief From L.A. High Schools
Milken Community High School made it into the congressional record last week, when Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) cited the students' efforts to raise $13,000 for Sudan relief in a speech he made to Congress about how Americans today are more active in global relief efforts than they were 60 years ago during the Holocaust.
Waxman presented the school with a copy of the congressional report during an assembly at Milken on Friday, Jan. 28 in which he and Valley Beth Shalom's (VBS) Rabbi Harold Schulweis praised the students for raising both the money and student awareness.
In just 10 days, students raised $13,000 by selling green wristbands, holding a raffle with donated prizes, selling holiday gift cards to honor faculty in lieu of a gift and placing tzedakah boxes in Jewish studies classrooms.
The money will go to the International Medical Corps to teach Sudanese refugees how to construct fresh-water wells.
Senior Sami Reznik started the Gift of Life Campaign in November after he learned about the civil war and resulting genocide in Sudan through his work with the Jewish World Watch (JWW) organization at VBS in Encino.
JWW also played a part in helping 11th-graders Shira Shane and Sarah Varley hold Sudan Awareness Week at the New Community Jewish High School in West Hills.
Astounded by the magnitude of the atrocities in Sudan, and at their own ignorance on the subject, the Sudan Awareness Committee sought to educate fellow students, by featuring guest speakers who addressed the situation in Darfur and the Jewish responsibility to act, and provide Jewish law and ethics teachers with resource material on Sudan to tie into the curriculum. The students are also selling wristbands and buttons to raise money for building fresh-water wells, distributing tzedakah boxes and looking to partner with other synagogues and organizations.
For more information on Jewish World Watch, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 788-6000. For information on Milken Community High School, call (310) 440-3500. For information on the New Community Jewish High School, call (818) 348-0048.
You can reach Julie Gruenbaum Fax at email@example.com or (213) 368-1661, ext. 206.