L.A. Jews Meet "Adopted" Israeli Family
In February 2001, a Palestinian bus driver ran over a group of soldiers at a bus stop, and caused severe injuries to Monique Evans, 19. She still walks with crutches, but has largely recovered due to the support the family received from Jews outside of Israel.
"The feeling that we are not alone and that there are people who care about us, has helped us immensely," Monique's mother, Sharon Evans, wrote on the Web site of Adopt a Family, a charity she started after her daughter's injury.
Forty people from some 25 different L.A. communities gathered at the Bel Air home of Edna Kahen on Oct. 26 for an update on the Adopt a Family program, Evans' Israeli-based charity, run through the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund, that enables synagogues around the world to connect with some 200 families of victims. Each community "adopts" a family -- they raise funds that go directly to help that family with medical and other expenses, and they establish a relationship with the family by sending them cards on special occasions, calling them on a regular basis and being there to help them through hard times.
At the Oct. 26 event, which was organized by Rick Fishbein from the Steven S. Wise Temple, representatives from the different communities from Pico-Robertson to Agoura Hills to South Bay to the Valley, shared ideas for fundraising and discussed the ways that adopting families goes beyond fundraising. Evans encouraged people to visit the victims in Israel.
Fishbein, the L.A. contact person for Adopt A Family, who was instrumental in his community adopting two families of terror victims, said that he would love it if more communities were involved in adopting families.
"I think there is a certain segment of the population who can really respond to this, and who can use it as a learning experience to learn about Israel," he said. "But hopefully this will end. I don't want this to become some big organization, I want to know that in two to three years this is over with and we can move on to other stuff. But I want to be able to explain to my son that in this period, this is what we did."
For more information on adopting a family, visit www.walk4israel.org . -- Gaby Wenig, Contributing Writer
Israeli Teens Visit L.A.
Three Israeli teens are currently visiting Los Angeles for a two-week period to speak at local high schools and synagogues about life in Israel. The teens, who will be staying with local host families, are part of the Israeli Conservative movement's NOAM (an acronym for No'ar Masorti) Shlichonim program, which is funded by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Jewish Agency.
"I want to show the people I meet here that Israel is not a battlefield, said Nadav Mark, a 16-year-old from Jerusalem. "It's a place where normal people live and have normal lives."
Neta Eini and Sigal Ragol, agree that it is important for Jewish American teens to feel a strong bond with Israel.
"That connection is so important," said Ragol, 17. "And if the American kids can't visit Israel, we should keep coming to them so that they'll have the connection."
The Israeli teens will learn something from the Americans as well.
"In Los Angeles the Shlichonim are exposed to the fact that Conservative Judaism is so big and so legitimate here versus what they see in Israel," said Sophie Fellman, the USY Israel shlicha and emissary of the Jewish Agency Pacific West Region.
For nearly five years, NOAM, United Synagogue Youth's (USY) sister movement in Israel, has sent teens to visit their USY counterparts in Los Angeles and share their culture and life experiences.
The Shlichonim will be in Los Angeles through Nov. 17 and will visit Valley Beth Shalom, Kehillat Ma'arav and Ner Tamid, among other shuls and schools. For a complete schedule and more information, please call Sophie Fellman at (818) 943-3496. -- Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer
Group Organizes Persian Mission to Israel
The Persian Jewish community is currently organizing a Dec. 22-Jan 2 yearend mission to Israel.
Together We Go will offer a group for students, one for young professionals and a third for families or seniors, will include visits with government officials and victims of terror, and is jointly sponsored by the Council of Iranian-American Jewish Organizations, Hadassah, the Iranian-American Jewish Federation, Khaneh Javanan Yahood, Ohel Rahel, Payvand, Persian Jews United, SIAMAK, S.E.C., Nessah 2000 Youth Group and Nessah Synagogue.
The mission is open to everyone, both Persians and non-Persians, said the programs creator, Dr. Nathan Newman, 33.
"When you talk to people in Israel, they feel that we only give money and they need more than that," Newman said. "The purpose of this trip is not just to give to Israel, but to be in Israel."
Together We Go will hold an informational meeting on its mission to Israel on Nov. 10, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Nessah Synagogue, 142 S. Rexford Dr., Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 588-2626 or send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org . -- Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer