Jewish Journal

Moving and shaking

by Ryan Torok

Posted on Mar. 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

Jason Ablin.  Photo courtesy of Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy

Jason Ablin. Photo courtesy of Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy

Los Angeles educator Jason Ablin has been hired as the principal of general studies at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy. Ablin, who has served as the coordinator of curriculum development at Shalhevet School and as head of Milken Community High School, replaces Jeffrey Tremblay, who stepped down to pursue opportunities as a head of school. Harkham Hillel, which runs an early-childhood education enter, an elementary school and a middle school out of its Beverly Hills campus, announced the personnel changes on March 4.

Milken Community High School has hired veteran educator Gary Weisserman as its new head of school. His hiring will be effective July 1. Weisserman currently is the chief academics officer at Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami Beach, Fla., one of the largest Jewish day schools in the country. A Jewish day school graduate, he has served as Oakland Early College’s founding head of school. The Milken school’s board of trustees appointed Weisserman to the position.

British comedian Eric Idle surprised students of Milken Community High School when he attended their performance of “Spamalot,” the Jewish day school’s annual spring musical. Idle, who wrote and composed Broadway’s “Spamalot” and appeared in the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” on which the musical was based, spoke with the Milken show’s cast and crew following their March 7 performance. The visit delighted Kelly Shepard, department chair of performing arts at Milken, who served as the show’s music director and producer, and Milken faculty member Robert Menna, who directed. Idle said, “This is the first high-school production I’ve seen — and the best so far anyway!” Performances took place at Milken’s Bel Air campus March 3-10.

“Spamalot” writer and composer Eric Idle talks with the cast and crew of Milken’s production after their performance on March 7.  Photo by Josh Tousey/JT Pro Imaging

Middle-school students Aaron Silverstein, Ezra Fax and Daniel Katzovitz of Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy were named first-prize winners of the second international Jewish Interactive Digital Homework competition, in recognition of a video they created about the ancient temple in Jerusalem. A nonprofit, Jewish Interactive runs regular competitions inviting students to send in their digital work related to Jewish topics. The Harkham students used Minecraft, an open-world computer game, to re-create the ancient temple. “Through the use of technology, their learning process became fun, engaging and, of course, relevant,” said Rabbi Zachary Swigard, a Judaic studies teacher at Harkham. Jewish Interactive announced the winners in February.

From left: Daniel Katzovitz, Ezra Fax and Aaron Silverstein. Photo by Rabbi Zachary Swigard

Santa Monica resident and Kehillat Israel congregant Karen Rappaport has been hired as Alexander Muss High School in Israel’s new director of admissions for the Los Angeles and Southern California area. Rappaport is an alumni parent of Alexander Muss, which sends high-school students to study and travel in Israel.

Rabbi Hillel Cohn, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Emanu El in San Bernardino, has been appointed to Planned Parenthood of Orange & San Bernardino Counties’ board of directors. “Rabbi Cohn brings a welcome perspective and invaluable experience as an advocate for the rights of all individuals to make their own personal health care decisions,” said Jon Dunn, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Orange & San Bernardino Counties.

Los Angeles rabbinical school Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJR,CA) received full accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges on Feb. 22. The accreditation recognizes AJR,CA’s three degree programs and lasts for five years. AJR,CA President Tamar Frankiel called the accreditation a “powerful stamp of approval.”

Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVS) has won a $150,000 grand prize after being the top earner in the 2013 JobRaising Challenge, which was organized by CrowdRise, the Skoll Foundation and The Huffington Post. For more than six weeks, JVS and more than 60 other nonprofit organizations across the country competed to raise money for their programs, using crowdsourcing Web site CrowdRise. JVS, which helps people of all faiths and backgrounds overcome barriers to employment, raised more than $254,000. The winners were announced on March 5.

YULA Boys High School spiritual/religious adviser Rabbi Pini Dunner was named the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “Ally of the Year.” The award, which recognizes educators who promote pro-Israel activism on campus, was presented to Dunner during the March 3 AIPAC Campus Awards dinner, which was part of the 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. Dunner and a delegation of 26 YULA students attended this year’s conference.

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more. Got a tip? E-mail it to ryant@jewishjournal.com

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