Jewish Journal


January 17, 2012

A Beautiful Jewish/Israeli Christmas Mitzvah


“Kol ha olam kulo -gesher tzar meod”- “All the world is a narrow bridge”

Usually I write sarcastic and controversial blogs, today however I will write my first blog of the New Year on a beautiful thing that the Jewish/Israeli community did for the mostly Latino and African American kids of East Los Angeles and Watts. This story deserves to be told and unfortunately because of a serious car accident and resulting injury I couldn’t write about it until now. This is the story of the beautiful Jewish/Israeli Community in Los Angeles that I am proud to be a part of and a story rarely told.

I am the Public Relations Director of Circle of Help Foundation, a non-profit that works with at risk needy teenagers in high schools in some of the poorest neighborhoods of LA. Many of the teenagers we work with come from broken families and have had trouble with drugs, gangs, pregnancy, etc. and our amazing counselors try to turn the lives around by showing them that there is another way.

I know it is hard to believe but many of these teenagers come from such poverty that they go without eating, don’t have enough clothes, or even a dollar in their pocket. Yes, right here in Los Angeles, we have such dire poverty and most of us have no idea.
When I heard from the counselors that these kids will probably not receive anything for Christmas from their families I decided to step in and make Christmas happen.

I organized 3 parties for about 200 teenagers, the first one at the Dorothy Johnson High School in Watts. With the blessings of the Principal Kenyatta Stiger Jr, a caring, fearless man from the neighborhood we gave these kids a party they will never forget.

I started putting out the word via Facebook and calling Israeli friends who have clothing companies for donations. One by one, Israeli friends stepped up to the plate donating thousands of dollars in clothing and merchandise for my teenagers. The Consulate General of Israel-my former employer- donated 200 backpacks that say “You have a friend in Israel” to the cause with Deputy Consul Gil Artzyeli coming to Watts to speak to these teenagers about Israel. The backpacks which were stuffed with new clothes, jewelry, CD’s, notebooks etc were given to these kids who’s happy faces said everything.

This was one a the most beautiful things that I have ever been a part of. The generosity of our community that gave thousands of dollars in merchandise to make Christmas happen for teenagers another world away in East LA and Watts will never be forgotten. In today’s society when most people care only for themselves, “our community” needs to be commended for proving the world is just a narrow bridge.

LiAmi with kids

Principal Stiger with kids

Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli talking to the school

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