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Jewish Journal

Alpert JCC hosts community forum on CSLUB prof, ADL-hosted trip to D.C. unites diverse teens

June 19, 2008 | 2:32 pm

Alpert JCC Hosts Community Forum on Controversial Cal State Professor

Cal State Long Beach is quieter these days, with most students gone for the summer, but discussion of the writings of professor Kevin MacDonald has not died down.

In response, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Long Beach/West Orange County Jewish Federation and the Jewish studies program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) will host a community forum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, at the Alpert Jewish Community Center. The goal, said Jeffrey Blutinger, co-director of the Jewish studies program, is to increase pressure on the university to condemn MacDonald's writings without infringing on his academic freedom.

MacDonald, who has taught psychology at CSULB since 1985 and received tenure in 1994, is best known for his three-volume commentary on Judaism, which he considers not a religion but a "group evolutionary strategy." The series, known as "The Culture of Critique," has been likened to "Mein Kampf" and "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

His academic career had proceeded without much notice, even when he testified on behalf of Holocaust-denier David Irving, until this year, when criticism from colleagues began mounting. The CSULB history and anthropology departments and the Jewish studies program each issued statements denouncing MacDonald's writings as "professionally irresponsible and morally untenable"; faculty in the psychology department opted to disassociate from his work because of its popularity with extremists like David Duke.

MacDonald's opinions and the effort to distance the university from its infamous academic were detailed in The Journal last month; two weeks later, the ADL's national office published an extensive report, which will be distributed at the forum.

"He is probably the foremost anti-Semitic intellectual of his time," said Kevin O'Grady, ADL's Long Beach director, "and his writing is both anti-Semitic and racist and championed by the white supremacist, neo-Nazi movement, and we think it is important people know he is spreading these ideas."

-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer

ADL-Hosted Trip to Washington, D.C., Unites Diverse Teens

For 10 years, the Anti Defamation League's (ADL) National Youth Leadership program has offered high school students free educational trips to the nation's capitol. This year, 100 teens from across the United States, including 10 from Los Angeles -- courtesy of the Grosfeld family -- will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other landmarks from Nov. 16-19.

In preparation for the trip, where students will learn about the Holocaust and ways to fight prejudice, participants will engage in six meetings facilitated by ADL's Dream Dialogue program on topics such as racism and stereotyping.

"This year will be particularly special," said Marisa Romo, assistant project director for A World of Difference Institute. "It's not only Israel's anniversary, but will fall right after the presidential election. Washington, D.C., will be a very interesting place to be."

The trip culminates with a ceremony highlighting the importance of youths' roles in bringing lessons they learned from their experiences back home to their own communities and schools.

"The students will also explore the consequences of unchecked hate, probe their own attitudes and discuss prejudice and hate in their own lives," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director.

The deadline to apply is July 8. For more information, contact Marisa Romo at (310) 446-8000, or e-mail mromo@adl.org.

-- Celia Soudry, Contributing Writer

Hike-a-Thon Raises $50,000 for Aleinu's Child Safety Institute

Aleinu Family Services had their first annual Hike-a-Thon on June 1 at Kenneth Hahn state park to raise funds for their Child Safety Institute, which recently launched a "Safety Kid" program. The concept for "Safety Kid" was first inspired by cases of abuse locally.

"There were some child abuse problems, and it was decided that we need to be more proactive, rather than being reactive," said Nettie Lerner, the director of the Child Safety Institute. "The program was developed so that we could educate the children with the model of the schools, parents and children working together."

The institute consists of three instrumental parts: A parent-education program run by Lerner, teaching parents their role in ensuring that their children remain safe; training the school staff to become safe-school certified through a seminar run by psychologist Debbie Fox, a Child Safety Institute member ; and the "Safety Kid" presentations -- annual developmentally appropriate sessions for children from preschool through eighth grade. Originally funded by the Gindi Family, the recipient organizations now pay for the services offered to them by Aleinu's Child Safety Institute.

The Hike-a-Thon provided a day of fun for kids and adults, with a range of activities and safety presentations including those by Hatzolah and the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments. Hikes for all different levels of enthusiasts were available, with all the money "going to help continue [to] allow the program to flourish," said Wendy Finn, one of the founders of the "Safety Kid" project.

The event raised more than $50,000 for the organization.

-- Jina Davidovich, Contributing Writer

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