Nine students from Los Angeles Unified School District schools each received a $2,000 scholarship from the Association of Jewish Educators (AJE), a group of Jewish teachers and administrators at Los Angeles public schools.
At a May 18 brunch, the group handed out six scholarships to high-performing Jewish students who were involved in the Jewish community.
The winners were: Zara Atanelov, Taft High School; Max Cecil, Cleveland High; Lili Pariser, Cleveland High; Arielle Turner, Narbonne High; Michaela Sola, Hamilton High Music Academy; and Lauren Zalman, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies.
In addition, the AJE has teamed up with its counterparts in the black, Latino and Asian communities to award Human Relations Multi-Cultural Awards to deserving students. Those scholarships, also for $2,000, went to Briana Ford, Carson High School; Alma Martinez, King Drew Medical Magnet; and Djamilia Niazalieva, Hollywood High.
More than 300 people attended the annual brunch, including LAUSD board member Julie Korenstein.
"I applaud these high school seniors for their commitment to their Jewish heritage and maintaining excellent grades," Korenstein said. "Being active in your community is just as important as maintaining good grades."
Since its inception, the scholarship program has provided more than $250,000 in scholarships.
For more information on the Association of Jewish Educators, contact Stu Bernstein at (310) 459-0022 or e-mail email@example.com.
-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor
State Accredits Jewish Teacher Training
After six years of training soon-to-be-teachers, the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has earned the ability to grant state teaching credentials.
Instead of going through the 13-month teacher training program and then having to apply for a California teaching credential, attendees of Day School Leadership through Teaching (DeLeT), a program of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR, can earn credentials in multiple subject areas for grades K-8.
The program helps teachers-in-training learn how to implement best practices in classrooms throughout North America. Partnered with Brandeis University in Boston, HUC-JIR's DeLeT program recruits educators with a zest for learning for a yearlong fellowship that includes a mentored internship at a Jewish day school in Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay Area.
During DeLeT training, teachers learn current methods and how to incorporate Jewish values and ideas into general studies.
This is the first time any Jewish institution in California has been authorized to give state accreditation, said Michael Zeldin, director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education.
"We want to create a new kind of teacher who will be mindful of general and Judaic studies, who can incorporate and infuse all subjects of teaching. It takes a unique teacher to help students explore their Jewish self-identity, and it doesn't matter if he or she is a math, science or language teacher -- it's all integrated," said Rivka Ben-Daniel, the program's education director.
For more information on the DeLeT program visit http://www.huc.edu.
-- Celia Soudry, Contributing Writer
Van Nuys High Valedictorian
Van Nuys High School named Cherise Meyerson its valedictorian. The top student in her graduating class of 503 students, Meyerson -- who had a record of perfect attendance over her 12 years in school -- is president of Van Nuys' Jewish Student Union, a weekly club with Jewish events and discussion topics. She is also president of the school's National Honor Society chapter, captain of the Science Bowl team and the highest individual scorer in Van Nuys history in the Academic Decathlon competition. Meyerson will attend UCLA in the fall as a Regents Scholar.
New Millions for Day Schools
The Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE), a beneficiary of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, helped Jewish day schools bring in more than $3 million this year from new donors and foundations.
The Jewish Funders Network challenged schools to find new donors of $25,000 or more through its MATCH grant program. The Network, backed by the AVI CHAI Foundation and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, matched new-donor money 50 cents to the dollar.
Fourteen Jewish schools earned those matching funds this year, bringing in a total of more than $1.3 million. Four years ago, the first time the grant was offered, only two area schools qualified. With the help of Miriam Prum-Hess, heading up the BJE's new department for day school operations, schools received training and guidance in finding grants and nurturing new donors.
That approach also paid off with the Department of Homeland Security, which awarded close to $2 million to 14 Los Angeles Jewish schools in 2007. The funds pay for security infrastructure, such as cameras or fences. The BJE conducted joint training sessions with The Federation, and a total of 23 Jewish institutions received Homeland Security grants.
For additional information, visit http://www.bjela.org/.
Irvine School Donates 6,000 Books
Students at Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School teamed up with Access Books, a nonprofit organization, to donate over 6,000 books to a new charter school, Orange County Educational Arts Academy, during a community book drive this spring.
Leighann Pennington, the sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher, facilitated the program at Tarbut V'Torah, a school in Irvine that promotes values of tikkun olam (repair the world) to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Along with donating books to the library, Tarbut V'Torah students bonded with peers who attend Orange County Educational Arts Academy, mingling, cataloging books and painting murals together.
Founded in 1999, Access Books has worked with over 100 schools and donated more than 1.2 million books to several libraries.
"This project really helped my students take on important leadership roles," Pennington said. "It was very inspiring to see the students interact with each other during the book drive. We are so proud to be a part of building the Orange County Educational Arts Academy."
For more information, visit http://www.tarbut.com/ or http://www.accessbooks.net/.
Harkham Hillel Students Win Essay Contest
Two students from Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills took home top honors in a nationwide essay contest on the theme of Israel at 60.
The Jewish Heritage annual essay contest, sponsored by Torah Atlanta and open to middle school students from sixth to eighth grade throughout the United States and Canada, promotes ideals of Jewish education and Jewish identity.
First-place winner Sammy Azair, an eighth-grader at Hillel, took home $500 for his essay, "Impossible Dream." "Even though Israel seemed like an 'impossible dream' 60 years ago, it is now a reality," Sammy declared in the winning essay.
Second-place winner Leona Fallas, also a Hillel eighth-grader, received $250 for her essay, "I Love Israel." "The tiny country that nobody thought would succeed is now leading in technological advances and exporting expensive items, insuring its financial longevity and economic growth," Leona wrote.
Hillel student Dari Kreitenberg took home an honorable mention for "Israel at 60: A Miracle Revisited."
Third-place winner was Michal Freundlich, 13, a student at Torah Day School of Atlanta.
More than 100 students from Hillel submitted essays, and each essayist was awarded a certificate from the Jewish Heritage Foundation.
To read the winning essays, visit http://www.jewishheritagecontest.com/ or http://www.hillelhebrew.org/.
Camp Offers Preview for Creative Teens
The BIMA program, Brandeis University's summer arts institute for high school students in Waltham, Mass., is offering a preview weekend of its arts camp for students grades nine to 11. BIMA trains developing artists in instrumental and vocal music, visual arts, writing and theater, while observing Shabbat and providing meals in Brandeis' kosher dining hall.
Teens can get a taste of the summer camp during the preview that will run from July 31 through Aug. 3. Attendees will get a $250 discount for the monthlong camp in the summer of 2009.
Attendees will participate in field trips throughout Boston and the Berkshire Mountains and have access to onsite facilities, such as libraries, student centers and athletic facilities. The camp connects Jewish values with the arts, deepening campers' creative imagination and spirituality.
For more information, call (781) 736-8417 or visit http://www.brandeis.edu/bima/.
L.A. Boy Participates in Leaders Conference
Traveling from his home in Los Angeles, Jack Bloom, 11, visited the nation's capital last month with sixth- and seventh-graders from around the country to attend the National Junior Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.
Nominated by his English teacher at Palms Junior High School, Jack, an avid sports fan, was selected to attend the conference because of his scholastic achievements and leadership abilities.
Jack feared the trip might be boring but was surprised to find it exciting and rewarding. The group traveled to Philadelphia to learn about the Revolutionary War, West Virginia to re-enact the Civil War and to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials.
The baseball, basketball and soccer player learned leadership traits during interactive workshops and classes, and formed bonds with other students who share his thirst for learning about U.S. history.
"It was a great experience," Jack raved. "We learned about what makes a good leader."
Jack hopes to use the valuable lessons he learned during the conference and continue to develop his leadership abilities. Jack, who attends Hebrew school at Temple Isaiah and Camp Alonim each summer, plans to have his bar mitzvah in Israel.
New Jew Plans Summer Session
New Community Jewish High School in West Hills is offering an educational summer session open to all high school students from June 16 through July 18. Classes will include history, math, science, visual and performing arts, world languages and writing courses. For more information, contact Eric Sloate at (818) 348-0048, or visit http://www.ncjhs.org/. -- CS
Fourth-Grader Raises $10,000 for Darfur
Pressman Academy fourth-grader Michelle Hirschhorn raised more than $10,000 for Jewish World Watch and the children of Darfur. The 10-year-old organized "Jump-4-Darfur," at Temple Beth Am on March 24. During the fundraiser, more than 60 children were sponsored to jump rope in order to raise money to buy backpacks for children in Darfur.
Kids and parents jumped more than 19,100 times in about 45 minutes.
After learning about the situation in Darfur at Camp Ramah last summer, Michelle became motivated to educate other children and young adults. With help from her parents, Gary and Lilia, she exceeded her initial goal of raising $3,600.
"We are so blessed here in America. I knew I wanted to do something to help the children in Darfur," Michelle said.
Big Sunday Brings Big Smiles to Sick Kids
Hundreds of Sinai Temple members and community volunteers delivered care packages and compassionate messages to sick children for Chai Lifeline's "Bundles of Happiness" project on May 4, part of Los Angeles' Big Sunday effort.
Putting together colorful backpacks filled with toys, gifts, games and craft kits donated by companies across the nation, members of all ages united to cheer up hospitalized and homebound children.
The community service project was one of many that occurred throughout the city during Big Sunday, Los Angeles' annual weekend of community service. More than 50,000 people participated in Big Sunday projects.
Volunteers from Chai Lifeline's West Coast Sohacheski Family Center delivered backpacks and handmade cards decorated by children. "Over the past three years, Chai Lifeline has delivered more than 1,000 backpacks to children, and each one has elicited smiles and happy responses," said Randi Grossman, Chai Lifeline director.
The organization provides emotional, social and financial support to help families cope with life-threatening pediatric illnesses.
For information, call (877) 374-6331, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.chailifeline.org/locations.php.
L.A. Group Awards Graduate Fellowships
The Professional Leaders Project (PLP), a Los Angeles-based organization that educates and connects Jewish lay and professional leaders in their 20s and 30s, awarded five graduate fellowships in business and public administration. PLP will fully fund their graduate programs and offer mentorship and career guidance in exchange for a three-year commitment to serve the Jewish community."PLP has a strong personal interest in seeing these fellows succeed," said Rhoda A. Weisman, the group's director and founder.
Fellow Jason Benkendorf of St. Louis will attend Johns Hopkins University. He is a regional director of the Curriculum Initiative, a nonprofit that develops Jewish student life at secular private schools.
Liba Bayer, director of outreach and public advocacy of Human Rights Watch in New York, will attend New York University's Wagner Program, earning a master's degree in public administration in nonprofit management.
Phillip Brodsky will pursue an MBA and a master's in Jewish professional leadership in the Brandeis Heller-Hornstein Program. He is founder of WateringHoleTorah.blogspot.com, an online community for 20-something Jews to explore their personal connection to Judaism.
Shelley Rood, still undecided between two programs, currently works in Washington, D.C., as a legislative assistant to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
Marcie Yoselevsky, currently at New York University in the dual master's degree program in nonprofit management and Judaic studies, was a Jewish Campus Service Corps program associate at Duke University Hillel in Durham, N.C.
For more information, visit http://www.jewishleaders.net/web/guest/home.
Teens Sought for Israel Media Program
Northern California is the latest locale to sign on to Write on for Israel, a two-year program aimed at teaching 25 high school juniors about Israel through writing, filmmaking, public speaking and new media.
The program, sponsored by BlueStarPR, the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. and the AVI CHAI Foundation, includes seven daylong seminars taught by educators and journalists. The sessions, which feature appearances by Israeli officials, college students and public relations executives, encompass topics such as the history of Israel, modern Jewish history and facts and myths of the current conflict.
In the program's second year, teens take a 10-day summer trip to Israel.
Deadline for applications is Sept. 28. To apply, visit http://www.bluestarpr.com, e-mail email@example.com or call, (415) 543-6300.