Craig Taubman loves to brainstorm. That's how he came up with many of his ideas for Israel's 60th anniversary -- such as the "flash mob," where 60 people will converge in a Los Angeles street (he won't say when and where), stand still for 60 seconds, then take off shirts to reveal a 60for60 Israel T-shirt, or the Faith Jam for Peace, an interfaith, multicultural jam session featuring artists from around the world scheduled for May 8.
Taubman of Craig 'n Co is heading Israel for Israel in preparation for Israel's 60th anniversary. He teamed up with Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, founder of the Jewlicious Festival, and David Abitbol, founder of Jewlicious.com, to produce "60 Bloggers for Israel."
They commissioned bloggers from around the world -- Jewish and non-Jewish, old and young -- to start posting on April 8 what Israel means to them (60bloggers.com and www.letmypeoplesing.com). Bloggers will include Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Jewish Journal columnist David Suissa and The Calendar Girls, as well as others. Titles of recent entries include, "Israel, Not a Travelogue," "What CNN Forgot to Tell Me About Israel," "Oh Israel, How Do I Love Thee?" and "What I Did on My Honeymoon, or Why I Love Israel So Much."
"A blog is a dynamic medium -- this is not some promotional department," Bookstein said. "These are people who are putting up their close-held thoughts and ideas and experiences to share with the world what Israel means to them."
Calendar Girls Dikla Kadosh and Danielle Berrin's contributions are here.
-- Amy Klein, Religion Editor
Warschaw Funds Chair in Politics at USC
Philanthropist and community activist Carmen Warschaw has pledged $3 million to fund USC's first named-chair in politics, officials announced this week.
The Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics will impress upon students the need for civic involvement in a democracy and will connect them with elected officials, candidates and their staffs. The chair, which will be filled following a national search, will also help plan courses and conferences that encourage political participation.
"This is a very propitious time to start the chair, because this is the time when we have so many people active" in politics, Carmen Warschaw said in a statement. "We want to keep them participating."
A 1939 USC graduate who currently serves as a trustee, Warschaw said her political participation, which has included serving as a Democratic delegate at every national convention since 1948, began when she was a student and member of the Young Democrats. Warschaw later became a member of the California Coastal Commission and the first female chair of the state's Fair Employment Practices Commission. The Los Angeles Times named her woman of the year in 1976.
Ten years ago, Warschaw and her husband, who died in 2001, helped found USC's Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life. They established the Carmen and Louis Warschaw Distinguished Lecture Series a year later. It has featured, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), as well as Reps. Howard Berman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavksy, among others.
"A great college needs great benefactors, and Carmen Warschaw's continuing generosity and support are an inspiration," said Howard Gillman, dean of the USC College of Letters Arts and Sciences.
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer
Rabbi Weil to Head Orthodox Union
Rabbi Steven Weil, who has led Beth Jacob for the last eight years, has officially accepted the position of executive director of the Orthodox Union (OU).
In an April 15 letter to his congregants, Weil called his decision to leave the community "bittersweet." It has nearly doubled in size since his arrival and has become the largest Orthodox synagogue on the West Coast.
"But there are untold numbers of Jews all across the map in the smaller cities who are missing out on a real connection to the richness and beauty of Jewish life because they don't have the resources, critical numbers, not tools for growth," he wrote.
The OU provides kosher certification and works to stop assimilation with the teen branch of the National Council of Synagogue Youth and on college campuses with the Jewish Learning Initiative.
"It is my dream that this position will afford me the opportunity to help these isolated shuls and schools build the kinds of programs that we have built and experience the opportunities that we have experienced," he continued.
Weil's contract expires in the summer of 2009, and he has committed to helping Beth Jacob in the transition process.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to help the Jewish people," he told The Journal.
Holocaust Survivor Stories to Highlight Heschel Yom HaShoah Program
On Yom HaShoah, Friday, May 2, Holocaust survivors will tell their harrowing stories with the help of eighth-graders at the Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge.
Twelve survivors will be honored during a ceremony at the intimate, 390-person school, featuring film clips from the student project, highlighting interviews they conducted with the survivors that were recorded by Jodi Binstock.
Enthusiastic students, who will share their reflections on the Holocaust project during the ceremony, teamed up in small groups. They asked the survivors probing questions, such as how they rebuilt their lives after the war and what life lessons they hope to pass on to their children and grandchildren.
The school facilitated the project with the support of Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that helps students learn about diverse backgrounds and examine racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane society.
"This whole experience is meaningful to me," said eighth-grader Jonathan Sanders, who interviewed survivor Edith Frankie. The survivor was 13 when she was taken from her home in Hungary and transported to Auschwitz. Jonathan said he was grateful to learn face-to-face about Frankie's experience in the concentration camps. "One thing that Edith wanted us to get out of this is not to ever hate anyone," he said.
For more information visit, http://www.facinghistory.org.
-- Celia Soudry, Contributing Writer