In what sounds like a page out of "Star Trek," Yeshivat Yavneh in Hancock Park installed a 73-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array to generate energy that will cut both costs and the environmental impact of a traditional electric power supply.
"This is a very clear message we are sending to our parent body, our students and our community: That tikkun olam, repairing the world, and concern for the resources we have, is of primary importance," said Rabbi Moshe Dear, headmaster of Yavneh, an Orthodox day school with 400 students in preschool through eighth grade.
The solar energy system, activated in a ceremony Nov. 11, will cut the school's electricity bill by 25 percent, freeing up funds for educational instruction, Dear said.
The ecological impact over the system's 50-year life is also considerable: It will prevent 2,300 tons of carbon dioxide pollution; prevent 1,662 tons of coal being used to generate electricity; and stop the equivalent of 665 acres of forest from being destroyed, according to Permacity Solar, which designed and installed the system on the roof of the school's gym.
Kids Helping Kids
After students at the New Community Jewish High School in West Hills spearheaded an interschool campaign that raised $6,000 to build freshwater wells in Darfur, the high schoolers realized they had a lot to offer younger students who wanted to take part in community service. Those students, headed by New Jew senior Shira Shane, founded United Students With a Cause (USWAC).
Last month, USWAC led a training session with middle school students at Kadima Hebrew Academy, also in West Hills. The students chose Shoes That Fit, an organization that raises money for new shoes for local schoolchildren, as the target of their fundraising. The New Jew students led breakout discussion groups about poverty with the eighth graders, gave them tips about fundraising, and helped them make posters and decorations and draft letters to the parent body to promote the campaign.
Also present were a representative from Shoes That Fit, and Dan Gold, the Bureau of Jewish Education's director of service learning, who coordinates Kadima's service program.
For more information on USWAC, call Beverley Kamenir at NCJHS (www.ncjhs.org) at (818) 348-0048. For information on Kadima (www.kadimaacademy.org) call (818) 346-0849. For information on BJE's Center for Jewish Service Learning (www.bjela.org), call (323) 761-8607.
New Leader for Orthodox Youth
Rabbi Efraim (Effie) Goldberg has been appointed director of the West Coast Region of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), the Orthodox Union's youth program for junior high and high school students. Goldberg replaces Rabbi Steven Burg, who is now national director of NCSY. West Coast NCSY includes chapters from San Diego to Portland to Phoenix, holding local retreats and events as well as region-wide weekend Shabbatons. At a Shabbaton in Oxnard last month, 100 teens joined Valley NCSY for a weekend of song, prayers, lectures and discussions around the theme of "Passion," in life and in Judaism.
Chabad Launches Holocaust Course
Chabad is using its extensive network of 160 outposts worldwide to teach a new course on the Holocaust, "Beyond Never Again," created by the Jewish Learning Institute, Chabad's adult education arm.
The six-week course addresses tough questions surrounding the Holocaust: Why does God permit the suffering of the innocent? How do we respond to global suffering? What is the Jewish concept of martyrdom? What can we expect of humanity after the Holocaust?
The curriculum has been endorsed by scholars from Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
To find where the course is being offered near you, visit www.jlicentral.com.
Learning Tolerance Online
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is offering two new free, online series of lesson plans for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. One explores the myths and stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities, and the other is devoted to the life and legacy of Rosa Parks, who died last month.
"Equal Treatment, Equal Access" consists of five lesson plans: Getting to Know People With Physical Disabilities (kindergarten-second grade); Experiencing Hearing Disability Through Music (second through fourth grade); Seeing the World Through the Hands of People with a Visual Disability (fourth through sixth grade); Understanding Learning Differences (sixth through ninth grade); and History of the Disability Rights Movement (10th through 12th grade).
The Rosa Park curriculum for sixth- to 12th-graders challenges the conventional historical narrative on Parks, focusing on her dozen years as a community leader and activist well before she refused to give her seat to a white man on a bus in Alabama in 1955.
To download the lesson plans or for more information, visit www.adl.org/education.