The scroll was rescued from Eastern Europe by Shlomo Bardin, founder of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley. In October 2005, the scroll survived a brush fire that struck Brandeis. Over the past year, faculty, parents, staff, alumni and every current student participated in restoring the scroll by sponsoring and penning letters on the parchment, under the guidance of scribe Neal Yerman.
At the dedication ceremony, Rabbi Gordon Bernat-Kunin, Milken Upper School rabbinic director, passed the Torah along a line made up of upper and middle School students, faculty, administration and clergy. "Our Torah of Milken is integrated and pluralistic, connecting Jewish learning and values to the wisdom of the broader world -- to science and literature, history and technology, arts and basketball," Rabbi Bernat-Kunin told the audience of more than 800 made up of students and faculty. "It is a Torah of passionate machloket, spirited dispute, bearing at least 70 faces, if not more." The ceremony included three aliyot: one for Stephen S. Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Eli Herscher and education director Metuka Benjamin; one for parents and temple leadership; and a final one for the school's department chairs. Three students -- Maytal Orevi, Judy Reynolds and Marci Blattner -- read from the Torah during the aliyot.
For more information visit www.wisela.org.
Grants for Growth
Eight Southern California day schools received grants from the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) to aid in capacity building, increasing enrollment and striving for excellence.
Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge, Beth Hillel Day School in Valley Village, Kadima Hebrew Academy in West Hills and Orange County's Morasha Jewish Day School and Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School received School Improvement Journey challenge grants. In the first year of the two-year grant, the schools will undergo institutional assessment by a national firm, followed by expert coaching to build a business plan from the assessment. The second year helps schools begin implementing plan.
"Receipt of the grant means several things to Kadima," explained Dr. Barbara Gereboff, Kadima's head of school. "That we will have the benefit of a national cadre of experts to guide our planning for the future; that our entire Kadima community will have the chance to really pause and reflect over a two-year period about our future direction, and that we will be given the tools needed to move our school to higher levels of excellence."
The Jewish Community School of the Desert in Palm Desert and Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino both received Pipeline Grants that provide the schools with coaches to help increase recruitment and enrollment from early childhood programs into elementary grades. The Southern California Yeshiva High School in La Jolla, a two-year-old boys' high school, received a New Schools Grant for operational expenses and to fund a coach to work with the board and head of school on mutually agreed upon priorities.
For more information visit www.peje.org.
Acting Classes ...
The Jewish Children's Theater is offering Sunday acting and drama classes at the Westside Jewish Community Center, starting this month, for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The classes are taught by Deena Freeman Brandes, who played April Rush on TV's "Too Close for Comfort."
Freeman Brandes teaches through acting exercises, theater games, improvisation and a commercial workshop. Over the summer one of her students shot his first TV commercial, and several were cast in plays and student films. For information call (310) 556-8022 or (310) 497-0437 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
... And the Production
The Kol Neshama Performing Arts Conservatory for girls will premiere the first episode in its Camp B'nos Yisrael DVD series at a benefit reception on Nov. 6 at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance. Founded seven years ago by television and theater director Robin Garbose, Kol Neshama offers Orthodox girls an opportunity for artistic expression in a traditional yet professional setting.
This past summer about a dozen girls filmed "Inner Nature Hike" at Topanga State Park as a follow up to last year's pilot of "Together as One," a Wizard of Oz-esque saga at Camp Bnos Yisrael.
The benefit, open to women only, will honor Kol Neshama teacher and actress Judy Winegard, a former Broadway performer.
For more information, visit www.kolneshama.org or call (310) 659-2342.
Ignorant No More
This month, tenth graders at New Jewish Community High School (NCJHS) became the first Jewish day school class to participate in an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) workshop, "Confronting Anti-Semitism."
"The ADL program had a strong impact on me and my friends, because we were still talking about it after we left the classroom. We couldn't believe that things like Holocaust denial and questioning the right of Israel to exist still happens in our world," said 10th grader Molly Williams.
The first part of the program explores the roots and history of anti-Semitism through to what anti-Semitism looks like in the post-Holocaust era. A follow-up workshop deals with how to face the anti-Semitism of today.
"The class made me realize that a huge cause of anti-Semitism is ignorance, and the easiest way to combat it is through education," said 10th grader Simone Zimmerman.
Along with the NCJHS students, 40 Israeli students were there through the Federation's Tel Aviv- Los Angeles partnership.
For more information, visit www.adl.org or call (310) 446-8000.