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Jewish Journal

Briefs: Loyola hosts Jewish Studies conference, Jews at UC Irvine say they are safe

April 3, 2008 | 6:00 pm

Prof. Holli Levitsky

Prof. Holli Levitsky

Loyola Hosts Jewish Studies Conference

The Western states conference of the Association of Jewish Studies will be held April 6-7 at -- Loyola Marymount University (LMU), a Jesuit institution.

The particular venue says a good deal about the evolution of Jewish studies from an ethnic specialty to a broad academic discipline integral to any self-respecting university.

Actually, Loyola Marymount University vied with the American Jewish University (formerly University of Judaism) for hosting honors, and won out.

Professor Holli Levitsky, director of Jewish studies at LMU, pointed out that her university will initiate a minor study program in her field this fall, offering courses ranging from Introduction to the Hebrew Bible to Near Eastern archaeology.

The conference, which is open to interested persons without charge, will consist of 20 plenary and specialized sessions, workshops, and an evening of music and entertainment.

Sunday's program on April 6 opens with a discussion on Christian-Jewish relations, and includes sessions on topics as varied as Jewish holidays in comic strips, the impact of Jewish artists Sigmund Romberg and Stanley Kubrick, and an analysis of "The Debate over American Support of Israel" by U.S. State Department historian Adam Howard.

A tribute luncheon will honor the scholarly work of UCLA professor Arnold Band. The evening program includes a performance by the Shtetl Menschen and a concert of klezmer music.

The subsequent keynote event will present an interfaith conversation, "Collars and Kippot," with Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, national director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, and Monsignor Royale Vadakin, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

On Monday, April 7, scholars will discuss "Literature and Jewish Identity," while a session on "Home and Hearth" will focus on Iranian Jewish women and a talk titled "Bodies, Food & (tsk, tsk) Sex." The meeting will conclude with a panel discussion on "Israel at 60," moderated by The Journal's Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman.

An exhibit of paintings, "Panim el Panim" (Face to Face) by Evelyn Stettin, described as a "Visual Midrash," will be open throughout the meeting. (See article, Page 39.)

Co-sponsors of the conference are American Jewish University, UCLA, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, American Jewish Committee, Chapman University, Cal State Long Beach and CSUN.

LMU is located in the Marina del Rey-Westchester area and all events are in University Hall. For information, phone (310) 338-2806, or e-mail nnguye15@lmu.edu.

-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Jerusalem Fountain Piano Suite to Premiere at Cathedral

A tourist to Los Angeles looking for the Jewish Family Fountain will find it in a rather unlikely place -- in the plaza of the landmark Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Alternately known as the Jerusalem Fountain, it will be celebrated in the world premiere of the piano suite "Water From a Stone," by Michael Isaacson, on Saturday evening, April 5, in the main cathedral sanctuary.

Noted pianist Andrea Anderson, who asked Isaacson to compose the suite, will also perform works by Mozart, Debussy and Copland. Rounding out the program is Prokofiev's Flute Sonata, with flautist Zachary Valenzuela.

The fountain, described by Cathedral sources as "probably the first-ever Jewish contribution to a Christian cathedral," was built through a $2.5 million grant from the Skirball Foundation and an anonymous Jewish family.

Their purpose was "to acknowledge the long-standing and cordial relationship between the Jewish and Roman Catholic communities in Southern California."

The biblical inscription on the rose and gold limestone from an ancient quarry outside Jerusalem reads, in Hebrew and English, "The world stands on three pillars - Torah, Worship and Good Deeds."

Isaacson said that he tried to express "the interdependent duality of the immovable [stone] and the ever-changing [water]" through a musical combination of biblical themes, Hebrew prayers and early Israeli folk songs.

The suite's three movements are titled "Moses Striking the Rock," "Dew of Morning" and "Fountain of Deliverance."

Isaacson is the founding music director of the Israel Pops Orchestra, has created more than 500 Jewish and secular compositions, and has been the arranger and conductor of music for numerous feature films and television series.

Anderson is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation grant and has performed at Carnegie Hall and other concert halls in the United States, China, Sweden, Finland and Lithuania.

The concert will start at 8 p.m. on April 5 at the Cathedral, 555 W. Temple St. Admission is free, but a $10 donation is suggested. Secure parking is $5. For information, call (213) 680-5200.

-- TT

Saving America from the SAVE Act

Standing up for immigrant and employer rights, the American Jewish Committee (AJ Committee) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, along with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, voiced opposition to the SAVE (Secure America with Verification and Enforcement) Act during a press conference and subsequent vote at L.A. City Hall on March 26.

The SAVE Act, sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), is a new immigration enforcement bill intended to help secure America's borders. Title two of the SAVE Act requires all U.S. employers to go through a mandatory work authorization verification system using an "E-Verify" program that would check the legal status of all employees.

During the press conference on the bill, however, AJCommittee representatives outlined some of the act's flaws.

"Over 10 million workers would be identified incorrectly. This Act does not address the real issues of border security," said Seth Brysk, director of the AJCommittee's Los Angeles Chapter.

Following the press conference, the L.A. City Council voted against implementation of the bill. AJCommittee hopes that members of Congress will look to their constituents and take into account this opposing stance. Brooke Menschel, AJCommittee's assistant legislative director, said that if the bill goes through it would undermine local law enforcement and create unrest and distrust within local communities.

"The database is riddled with errors," Menschel said. AJCommittee "has strived to protect those who come to this country to escape persecution. We need to also secure homeland security and ensure that the gateway to America isn't just an open door. We need to work to find a delicate balance, and this bill does no such thing."

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