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Community Briefs

August 23, 2001 | 8:00 pm

Local Teacher's Brother Survives Sbarro's Blast

Last week was particularly bad for local Milken Community High School teacher Etel Guy, whose brother was injured in the Aug. 9 Sbarro suicide bombing that killed 15 Jews.

A day before he was set to begin service in the Golani unit of the Israeli Defense Force, Shmulik-Chai Guy, 19, was strolling in the center of Jerusalem when the impact of the blast sent him flying in the air. He broke four ribs and was hit by glass and metal shrapnel.

"He wanted to get up and help people and he fainted," said Etel Guy, 29, who described to The Journal the ordeal her parents and three other siblings, all in Israel, have been going through. Shmulik-Chai Guy, who is currently at Hadassah Ein-Karem hospital, was relatively fortunate. He is conscious and recuperating, and his sister reported that doctors attribute his stabilizing condition to his upbeat personality.

"They asked him what he wanted for lunch," she said, "and Shmuley joked, 'Sbarro pizza.'" -- Michael Aushenker

Forty Years of Hillel

More than 300 Harkham Hillel alumni enthusiastically greeted each other at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy's 40th reunion, which took place on Aug. 19.

As dean Rabbi Menachem Gottesman took the podium at the school auditorium to address his former students, he learned that some things never change. "We'll have plenty of time for talking later, and I don't want to name names because I love you all -- and I do remember names," he quipped.

The chattering audience was comprised of alumni from 1961-2001, at the first official reunion organized by the school, now the largest Orthodox day school in Los Angeles.

"We thought it would be a nice way to bring everyone back together, especially in light of what's going on in Israel," said Lulu Fensten (class of 1970), reunion chair and active parent and alumnus.

"What Hillel stands for is what Israel needs, which is unity," said Leiba Gottesman, whose idea it was to organize the reunion. "It's special in that it caters to every child and welcomes all Jewish children."

The challenge in organizing the event was tracking more than 2,000 alumni -- many of whom have moved across the United States and abroad. The reunion paid tribute to the 40 years of leadership of Gottesman, who first took post at Harkham Hillel as educational director in 1961, and his wife, Leiba. The event also commemorated the recent passing of alumnus, Shoshana (Haymen) Greenbaum, a victim of the Aug. 9 Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem. -- Orit Arfa

JVS Scholarship Helps Students

This year, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) will distribute $275,000 in scholarships to 130 qualifying students. Seventy-nine of the grants, which range from $500 to $5,000, were awarded by the JVS Jewish Community Scholarship Fund, while 51 came via private donors, according to Jeanie Gaynor, who oversees the scholarship program.

Local recipients of the grants include Nadia Shpachenko, Joshua Fine and Omri and Edo Berger.

Shpachenko, who is pursuing her doctorate in music at USC, was raised by her single mother, an émigré from the Soviet Union who scrubbed floors in Israel to make ends meet. Bernard Axelrad, one of the Foundation's four trustees, was so taken with Shpachenko that he will be assisting her financially until she completes her formal studies.

As of September, Fine, who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Reserves, will be a first-year law student at Notre Dame University. His grant money will be used for his $31,500-per-year tuition.

For three years, JVS has been assisting Omri Berger with his undergraduate work. Berger, who starts UCLA Medical School in September, is the son of Israelis who operate a small-women's accessories business in the San Fernando Valley. A grant will also help Omri Berger's older brother, Edo, who is pursuing his doctorate in astrophysics at Cal Tech.

For more information on JVS Jewish Community Scholarship, call (323) 761-8888 ext. 8868. -- Michael Aushenker

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