Teens searching for meaning and direction -- and what teen isn't? -- can find some Jewish guidance at Nativ-Jewish Teen Seminars, a new nondenominational weekend workshop program affiliated with the West Valley's JCC at Milken with the goal of helping teens navigate big decisions and difficult issues in a Jewish context.
The two-and-half-day or four-day seminars are facilitated by Jackie Redner, rabbi of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services and former campus rabbi at Kadima Hebrew Academy, and by Beth Freishtat, who developed the program and who has a master's degree in clinical psychology and adolescent and family therapy.
Through discussions and activities, the groups will explore themes such as peer relationships, family conflict, spirituality, self-image, sex, love, individuality and belonging, anger, discrimination, drugs and alcohol, and hopes and dreams. The semiars take place at the Westside JCC and at the JCC at Milken. Upcoming Nativ dates are April 13-15, May 18-20, June 22-24 and July 6-8.
For more information, visit www.nativseminars.com.
Preschool Teachers Get Basic Training
Close to 1,000 preschool directors and teachers attended a day of Judaic, pedagogic, and child development workshops at the Bureau of Jewish Education's annual Bebe Feuerstein Simon Early Childhood Spring Institute last month.
Nationally renowned early Jewish educator and author Bev Bos led sessions in her field of expertise -- "Memories and Traditions," "How Children Grow" and "Creative Art, Music and Language." Forty other presenters led sessions on a range of topics.
The day also featured awards presentations. The Lainer Distinguished Educator Awards for Early Childhood Educators, which include a cash gift of $2,500, were presented to Jeri Dubin, a preschool teacher at the Adat Ari El Rose Engel Early Childhood Center; Miri Hever, a Gesher teacher at University Synagogue; and Hilary Steinberg, a 20-year veteran educator at Valley Beth Shalom Nursery School. Some 15 teachers also received The Smotrich Family Educator Awards, which recognize innovative Judaica curriculum projects.
For more information, visit www.bjela.org.
YULA Scores Diplomatic Coup
For the sixth time in the last eight years, Los Angeles' YULA yeshiva high school was named best delegation at the Yeshiva University National Model United Nations. Students from more than 40 Jewish day schools from across the United States and Canada participated in the conference, representing 46 countries and international agencies. They spent three days analyzing and developing solutions to such problems as global warming, the distribution of power within the United Nations, gender discrimination in the world community, and the international response to natural disasters.
YULA's 18-member delegation, led by senior co-captains Ari Platt and Adina Wolkenfeld, represented India, Belarus and Uruguay. The team brought home four best delegate and six honorable mention awards.
New Educational Leadership at HUC-JIR
Michael Zeldin, professor of Jewish Education a the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles, will succeed professor Sara S. Lee, who will retire after 27 years as director of HUC-JIR's Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) on June 30. Lee and Zeldin have worked together as colleagues for the past 25 years.
"The appointment of Dr. Zeldin signals that the distinguished legacy of professor Lee will be carried forward," HUC-JIR President David Ellenson said. "As a renowned scholar, gifted teacher, and passionate advocate for Jewish education, Dr. Zeldin will sustain the RHSOE as a model of integrated learning and excellence that has inspired others in the field of Jewish education."
Lee will continue to teach and guide special projects part-time as a professor emeritus. More than 275 graduates of the RHSOE lead Jewish educational programs in Reform congregations and day schools throughout North America.
For more information, visit www.huc.edu.
Two students and a professor from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology visited the Western states last month as guests of the American Technion Society.
Anat-Anna Gileles a third-year student, who studies molecular biochemistry, and Reuven Nir, who is pursuing a doctorate in medicine and conducting research on the neurological mechanism underlying pain and the processing of pain itself, toured with professor Shimon Haber, the Technion dean of students, and a member of the faculty of mechanical engineering. The students met with supporters not only to share their research, but to add a personal element to the connection between Technion and the United States.
For more information, call (323) 857-5575 or visit www.ats.org.
Free Holocaust Workshop for Teachers
Educators are invited to a free workshop that will present "Echoes and Reflections: A Multimedia Curriculum on the Holocaust," developed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Yad Vashem and USC Shoah Visual History Foundation.
The workshop, sponsored by the ADL in partnership with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, will take place at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, 6435 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 303, May 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. R.S.V.P. required by April 20, at (310) 446-8000 ext. 241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month, 30 educators from across Los Angeles participated in a five-week workshop, "The Relevance of Teaching the Holocaust in the 21st Century," co-sponsored by the ADL, the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance and the Center for Excellence on the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance. Teachers from public, private and religious schools learned the historical background of the Holocaust, as well as practical ways to introduce their students to this material.
EdJewCate, a new organization bringing Torah-observant teachers, information and programming to college students and young adults, is holding its kickoff Shabbaton weekend retreat in Los Angeles April 20-22 at the Westin LAX Hotel. Featured speakers include rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, author of "The Committed Life" and "Life is a Test"; Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Wenglin, author and presenter of "Full Contact Judaism" and Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld, author of "The Art of Amazement."
For more information visit www.edjewcate.com.
Preteens Get a Taste of the Future
Middle schoolers at Pressman Academy took part in the daylong Total Teen Expo last month. Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer was the keynote speaker, and she used a personal story, a Chasidic tale and popular music to help students understand their power to improve the world. The day's sessions included a police detective, author Dana Reinhardt, screenwriter Ed Solomon and L.A. City Council Chief of Staff David Gershwin, leading sessions on Internet safety, fitness, etiquette, nutrition and budgeting. The day ended with a poetry slam led by Eitan Kadosh and a drumming circle. For more information on Pressman, visit www.pressmanacademy.org.
Agoura Shul Sends Katrina Kids to Camp
Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills donated $8,000 of the $80,000 it took in at its annual dinner to the Foundation for Jewish Camping (FJC). The money will help send children who were victims of Hurricane Katrina to Camp Ramah Darom in Georgia. Don Stark, star of "That 70s Show" and a temple member, emceed the event, which honored FJC board member David Solomon and his wife, Debra, as well as temple members Lisa and Evan Bachner and Robin and Jim Felton.
For more information, visit www.jewishcamping.org or www.templebethhaverim.org.