December 9, 2004
Sports Program for Disabled
When Jeff Liss saw a group of developmentally challenged boys wearing kippot last year at the Third Street Promende, it gave him an idea.
Liss, a coach with the Westside division of the Special Olympics, had trained and worked with mentally and physically disabled children for almost a decade. When he stopped to talk to the Orthodox boys, he thought, why not a Special Olympics-type program for Jewish children?
With the help of the Westside Jewish Community Center, where he is renting a basketball court, Liss is launching the Special Macabees program for boys and men ages 10 to 50. The program is recruiting players now for the 10-week class, which will be held Sundays from 5:30 to 7 p.m., beginning Feb. 13.
Liss, who is designing the program to deal with both learning and physical disabilities, hopes to expand Special Macabees to include a class for girls.
"I want to make it so every observant Jew can attend," Liss said. "So while sometimes Special Olympics has male and female athletes competing and practicing together, we will at first only have males."
To sign up for the Special Macabees program or for more information, call Jay Davies at (310) 314-0343. – Wendy J. Madnick, Contributing Writer
Clinton to Receive Award
Former President Bill Clinton will be honored Feb. 17 at the Shoah Visual History Foundation's annual Ambassadors for Humanity Dinner.
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the Shoah project's founding chairman, said in a Nov. 30 statement, "President Clinton's leadership around the world in the struggle against racial, ethnic and religious bigotry accords perfectly with the Shoah Foundation's mission and makes him an ideal recipient of our annual award. He has led by example and inspired others to give of themselves to build a better future."
President Clinton has supported the foundation since it was created in 1994. He visited its offices two years ago. – David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
L.A. Episcopal Diocese Bypasses Divestment Issue
Responding to Jewish leaders' concerns, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles did not vote last weekend on divesting church funds from companies doing business with Israel, after church activists withdrew their divestment resolution before the diocese's Dec. 3-4 annual meeting at the Riverside Convention Center.
A divestment resolution "wasn't the thing to do," said Episcopal Bishop Jon Bruno, whose delegates instead approved a three-year, "companion relationship" pact with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. We're going to support all parties in the Middle East conflict."
Seeking to be "cooperative rather than adversarial," Bruno said he will make a February interfaith trip to Israel with Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis.
After Jewish outcry over the Sept. 22 worldwide call for divestment from the Episcopalian-allied Anglican Peace & Justice Network, Diamond's friendship and conversations with Bruno helped convince Episcopalian leaders to bypass local divestment calls.
Nationally, the church's Executive Council has commissioned a yearlong study of possible divestment.
The companion relationship resolution will increase L.A. ties to the Jerusalem diocese's 7,000 Anglicans in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, where its parish schools serve 5,000 Christian and Muslim children.
The Jerusalem diocese has been giving shelter to former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, released from prison last spring after serving 18 years for publicly disclosing Israeli nuclear secrets.
While the companion diocese resolution may appear to support a Jerusalem diocese allied with Palestinian leadership, its sponsor seeks a broader impact. The Rev. George Woodward III said he put forth the resolution as a moderating influence against the Middle East Task Force, which he described as a politicized, "advocacy group."
"They tend to favor, in my estimation, the Palestinian perspective," Woodward told The Journal. "That is not my personal stance. Part of my interest and concern in this resolution is to provide a balanced perspective – more amenable to the Israeli position. The companion relationship is an attempt to remove a focus from political advocacy." – DF