Light 'Em Up
It was easy to tell when Chanukah hit this year because of the preponderance of menorahs of all shapes and sizes spreading light throughout California. On Dec. 9 in Sacramento on the steps of the Capitol, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lit a menorah and danced the hora with none other than West Coast's Chabad Lubavitch irrepressible Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin. Joining them was funnyman Adam Sandler, and Chabad's long-time friend, Jon Voight.
Light 'Em Up, Again
On the same night back in Los Angeles, Chabad of Mount Olympus (CMO) held a gala event at Hollywood and Highland. The Simcha Orchestra serenaded guests, while a professional ice carver chipped away at a block of ice until a menorah emerged, ready to be lit by CMO's Rabbi Shlomo Rodal.
Light 'Em Up Part III
Chabad of Ventura hosted its own Chanukah Festival on Dec. 12 at Ventura Harbor Village, with carnival rides, hot latkes and arts and crafts. A Torch of Unity and Peace was passed through the crowd as an act of solidarity with U.S. soldiers overseas. Capt. Paul Grossgold, the commanding officer of Ventura County Naval Base, then used the torch to light the menorah.
'Tis the season to light the candles – at the White House that is. On Dec. 9, about 400 guests, including Stephen S. Wise's Rabbi Eli Herscher, Dr. Joel and Roya Geiderman, Dennis Prager, Elliot and Robin Broidy, Nathan Hochman and Mark and Christina Siegel, celebrated Chanukah with President Bush. After davening maariv, guests sang and danced to the melodic strains of a cappella band Kol Zimrah, and posed for photographs with the president and the first lady.
Kadima Comes Home
It was a miraculously sunny morning on Dec. 12 in a string of rainy Sundays, as Kadima Hebrew Academy's head of school, Barbara Gereboff, noted in her speech. The 35-year-old school's long-awaited permanent home at the Evanhaim Family Campus was dedicated around the corner from its former campus in West Hills, in front of a community showing of more than 650 people.
The Kadima choir kicked off the event and sang throughout the ceremony. Donors and volunteers were honored at the ceremony, including building and grounds officer Shawn Evenhaim and his wife, Dorit. Evenhaim was honored for finding the new campus and making a significant donation to the new facility. For their efforts Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) presented the Evenhaims with a flag from the Capitol.
"It's great day for the Jewish community of the Valley and Kadima," Sherman said. "It matches the parable of the wandering Jew, but now we have a new facility."
Members of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety were honored for their work in getting the school opened before September.
Ehud Danoch presented the school with a certificate. Councilmen Dennis P. Zine, Tony Cardenas and Greig Smith and Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick participated in the ceremony along with Jewish community leaders such as Rabbis Stewart Vogel, Abner Weiss and Richard Camras; L.A. Bureau of Jewish Education Director Gil Graff; and Carol Koransky, executive director of the Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance.
Tours of the new building were given before and after the ceremony by parent volunteers while older students helped direct traffic. Following the ceremony, a simultaneous mezuzah-hanging ceremony took place in the various classrooms of the building.
The new facility includes a computer lab with flat screen monitors, a science lab facility, a teaching kitchen, a playground, a swimming pool and a kosher cafeteria. The school currently has 185 students enrolled and caters to students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Kadima plans to add a preschool program next year. – Emily Pauker, Contributing Writer
The Romanian Consulate, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and the American Jewish Committee came together to observe Romanian Holocaust Remembrance Day at the museum's Wilshire Boulevard ORT Building locale on Oct. 28.
More than 50 people attended the event, which follows Romania's first national memorial day to remember the victims of the Holocaust, an effort spearheaded by President Ion Iliescu and first observed in Romania this year on Oct. 12. (The Romanian government originally selected Oct. 9 – the day in 1941 when Jewish deportation orders were signed – but since the day conflicted with Shabbat last year the event was moved.)
Rachel Jagoda, executive director of the L.A. Museum of the Holocaust, said that Nazi policies sent more than 270,000 Romanian and Ukranian Jews to their deaths between 1933 and 1945, and sent 25,000 Romani to Transdniestria, where perhaps half died. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, Romania is proactively wrestling with its past.
"Romania is willing to embrace its history with honesty," said Claudiu Lucaci, consul general of Romania in Los Angeles.
UCLA history professor David Myers praised the Romanian government's historic move to acknowledge its role in the Holocaust. "I'm deeply heartened by Romania's efforts to come to terms with its past," he said.
Other speakers included Western Regional AJC Director Rabbi Gary Greenbaum and Dr. Nathan Shapira, a UCLA professor emeritus and Romanian Holocaust survivor who read from "The Child Looked Under a Leaf" by fellow survivor Lupu Gutman. – Adam Wills, Associate Editor
American Technion Society-Western Region (ATS) hosted its Rel-Event at the Four Seasons Hotel on Nov. 8, drawing more than 125 people to its forum highlighting innovations coming out of the Israeli university that have relevance to our everyday lives.
Moris Eisen, Technion's head of the Institute of Catalysis Science and Technology, discussed the practical application of plastics and polymers – from creating artificial disks for the spine in back surgery to developing a recyclable tire.
The event also marked the fourth year ATS recognized science students from Milken Community High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple whose science projects took top honors. Winners of the Excellence in Science award this year include eight-graders Loren Berman, Karlie Braufman, Richard Dahan and Nathan Halimi; and ninth-graders Lisa Hurwitz and Rachel Kraus. – AW
Terrific Torath Emeth
The Orthodox Yeshiva Rav Isaacsohn Torath Emeth Academy held its annual scholarship dinner Jan. 16 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. The dinner, which honored Torath Emeth parents Henry and Lisa Manoucheri, celebrated 52 years of Torath Emeth in Los Angeles.
On Nov. 18, Lara Goulson's fifth-grade boy's class at Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Center in Sherman Oaks hosted an Intergenerational Day for the students' parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings. Each student completed an art project with his relatives, and then the boys wrote poems about their families and read them aloud.