Jewish Journal

Community Briefs

by Jewish Journal Staff

Posted on Feb. 7, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Harman Visits Holy Land

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Redondo Beach), ranking member of the House Terrorism and Homeland Security subcommittee, returned recently from the Middle East, where the subcommittee traveled for a series of meetings on counterterrorism strategy. The congressional delegation met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Syria's President Bashar al-Asad, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In a press conference following the trip, Harman discussed the importance of cooperation. "Especially important are the lessons we must learn from countries such as Israel that have proven to be innovators in counterterrorism technology and airport security," she said. She also discussed the benefits to all countries of combined "efforts to eradicate terrorist cells -- not only Al Qaeda, but also such groups as Hamas and Hezbollah." -- Mike Levy, Staff Writer

The Ties That Bind

Sinai Temple was one of 176 registered congregations to participate in the Second Annual World Wide Wrap on Jan. 27. Organized by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs, Inc., Conservative men's clubs around the world bound themselves to their fellow brothers while fulfilling their obligation to lay tefillin.

The event began in Kohn Chapel with one-on-one wrapping instruction. "Men who haven't worn tefillin in 50 years put it on again," said Sidney Katz, past International President of The Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs. Following wrapping, men and women of various ages davened, along with 18 other participating synagogues in the region.

Following the service, congregants gathered in Barad Hall for a viewing of "The Ties That Bind," a 20-minute video produced by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs and Mark Rothman of Ness Productions. Distributed to nearly every Conservative congregation across the world, the video offers tefillin instruction, while explaining the spiritual significance of the tradition.

While the main purpose of the event was "to acquaint people with traditional Jewish prayer," said Rabbi David Wolpe, the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs began the World Wide Wrap as a fundraiser to subsidize the price of tefillin for those who cannot afford the average $250-$1,000 cost. However, Sinai's main initiative was education. "Fewer and fewer people put on tefillin and teach their children to do so," Wolpe said. -- Rachel Brand, Contributing Writer

Orchestra's New Tune

Wanting a youth orchestra that would resonate with the whole city of Los Angeles, and a place where Jewish children would not have to practice music on Shabbat, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony applied for a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation, to start a youth orchestra.

Now, three years later, the Stephen S. Wise Youth Orchestra, which is affiliated with its namesake's temple, is proving itself to be unique among the more than 60 youth orchestras in California, both for its commitment to Jewish music and its diverse musicians. From Malibu to Culver City, 80 youngsters -- both Jewish and non-Jewish, from 49 different private and public schools -- have joined the orchestra, making it a kaleidoscope of youth from all over the city.

"I want to challenge the idea of what people think that youth orchestras can do," said Russell Steinberg, the 42-year-old musical director of the orchestra. As part of the challenge, the orchestra will be premiering a symphony on Feb. 10 composed by Steinberg, titled "Who is a Jew?" The symphony was composed as a distillation of a lecture that Steinberg heard on the same topic at the University of Judaism.

"The lecture answered so many of my own questions and struggles of what it meant to be a Jew," Steinberg said. "So I wanted to use music to communicate emotionally what Judaism means. It was a very ambitious undertaking, and I think I had to be a little bit nuts to do it, but that is what makes it exciting."

For More information, see 7 Days in the Arts, p.27. -- Gaby Wenig, Contributing Writer

Tax Help for Immigrants

Last February, Alex Panin and his mother came to Los Angeles while his wife and infant child remained in the former Soviet Union. With assistance from The Jewish Federation's Refugee Resettlement program and Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles, Panin successfully found a job, and expects his family's arrival in the coming months.

Next week, Panin joins 100 emigrants from Iran, the former Soviet Union, and other transplanted communities to learn how to file their first tax returns in The Jewish Federation's Second Annual New Immigrant Tax Return Preparation Night. Most of the refugees participating have family incomes under $10,000.

Approximately 30 accountants and translators will volunteer their time to guide recently arrived immigrants through the intricacies of the filing process. This event also offers services from other Federation beneficiary agencies, including Beit T'Shuvah and Jewish Family Service's Family Violence Program. Services include cash assistance and support for medical, housing, employment and acculturation needs.

New Immigrant Tax Return Preparation Night takes place on Feb. 12 from 6-9 p.m. at 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. The cost is free to new immigrants, but reservations are required. For more information call (323) 761-8339. -- Staff Report

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