A citywide essay contest will offer students in first through 12th grade a chance to win prizes for themselves, their teachers and their schools, and see their winning work published in The Jewish Journal.
The contest is being held in conjunction with American Jewish University's Celebration of Jewish Books Festival, which will take place Nov. 5-11, 2007.
Students must write brief essays of no more than 450 words on the theme, "Jews are the People of the Book. What does this mean to you today?"
A panel of judges, arranged by The Journal, will select four winning entries in each grade category. The winners will receive a $250 Borders bookstore gift card, a $250 Borders card for their teachers and a $750 Borders card for their school library.
The Journal will publish the winning essays in print and at jewishjournal.com. All L.A.-area students are eligible. The deadline for entries is Oct. 17.
Visit www.jewishjournal.com for entry form and rules or call (310) 440-1246.
Scholarships Help Create New Lives
The Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) celebrated the accomplishments of the 2007-2008 JVS Scholarship Fund awardees in a ceremony at UCLA Hillel on July 12.
The recipients shared their personal stories to highlight the unique challenges the scholarships helped them overcome.
Alice Feldman was raised by a single mother with a lifelong struggle against severe depression. She moved in with her grandparents at the age of 16 and worked her way through Valley College and then UCLA, where she received her bachelor's degree in 2004. Feldman is now a second-year doctoral student at Western University of Health Sciences-College of Pharmacy.
With the help of JVS scholarships, Jonathan Franks completed his undergraduate work at UCLA. His father is disabled by chronic back pain, and his mother was supporting a family of five as a preschool teacher. Also with the help of JVS, Franks is entering his second year at the UCLA School of Medicine, where he hopes to study surgery.
Jamie Zimmerman, a three-time recipient, is completing her final year at UCLA. Zimmerman grew up in an abusive single-parent home and even endured homelessness. At 15, she was the sole supporter of her family, while achieving As in school. She eventually became independent and in her years at UCLA, became a leader of the Jewish community there and worked in Peru and Zambia on humanitarian missions. She was accepted for early admission to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
In addition to financial aid, JVS offers job search assistance to the recipients' parents, an internship program for students interested in Jewish community service and other career-focused and mentorship programs.
Jewish residents of Los Angeles who plan to attend full-time programs are eligible for the scholarships, which are entirely need based.
For information, visit http://www.jvsla.org/.
-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor
Tikkun Olam Pays Off
Two Los Angeles teens are among the five recipients of the first annual Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards. Erich Sorger, a 17-year-old Beverly Hills resident, and Shira Shane, a 19-year-old Encino native, each a won a $36,000 grant to use for college or to further implement their tikkun olam visions.
Beginning this year, up to five Jewish teens from California will be selected annually to receive a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation through the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
Sorger, a student at Beverly Hills High School, founded a program called Dollars for Dwayne, named after a homeless man he befriended. He and a group of volunteers collected items that UCLA students left on the sidewalks of Westwood at the end of the semester, including furniture, clothes and appliances, and donated them to the National Council for Jewish Women's thrift shop.
The store sells the items and donates the proceeds to charity. Sorger estimated that his items have raised about $16,700 so far.
While a student at New Community Jewish High School, Shane, who now attends Stanford University, formed Teens Against Genocide, a coalition of 25 high schools throughout Los Angeles. Led by Shane, Teens Against Genocide organized a rally and raised $10,000 that will be used to build wells and medical clinics in the Sudan.
-- Derek Schlom, Contributing Writer
Two sisters from Torrance, Abby and Sarah Sanfield, are among the winners of the first annual Orthodox Union Kosher Essay Contest.
Students in grades four through 12 nationwide were asked to write either a short fictional story featuring characters that face obstacles in their observance of kashrut or an essay about the importance of a kosher diet in their own lives.
Sarah, a fifth-grader, wrote "The Pot," a story about a young girl named Anya who obeys her mother's dying wish by taking a pot with her when she is forced to live in an orphanage, where she struggles to maintain a kosher lifestyle.
Abby, who is in the seventh grade, wrote "Kamp Kosher," about a girl who decides to follow the laws of kashrut after attending a Jewish summer camp and subsequently convinces her father to transform his restaurant into a kosher eatery.
For more information visit http://www.oukosher.org/.
Singing to Save
A group of students at New Community Jewish High School raised $4,000 at a benefit concert, "Singing to Save," on June 14 to support Jewish World Watch's mission to end the genocide in Darfur. The members of two of the school's clubs, United Students With a Cause and Club Kodesh, planned the event, which was held at the school's campus in West Hills. The concert featured performances by Eleventh Hour Ash and Todd Herzog.
For more information, go to http://www.ncjhs.org.