Murray Koppelman saw women pushed onto the back of a bus in Tehran and had a nightmare about Israel’s future.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has received its largest gift ever — a $20 million bequest from Geri Brawerman to create a scholarship and fellowship program for needy Jewish college students from Los Angeles. Brawerman is a Westwood resident who, along with her late husband, Richard, has long been a major force in funding educational initiatives.
Two alumni families of Heschel Day School in Northridge gave major gifts to establish endowments at the school in honor of its 40th anniversary, one for $1 million, the other $100,000. Both families wish to remain anonymous.
The city of Marseille, France, has given a bronze fountain to the city of Jerusalem as a show of friendship. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday thanked Marseille Mayor Jean Claude Gaudin for his gift of the "Fontaine Longchamp," which stands more than 11 feet high. The fountain, which is on its way to Israel, is an exact replica of the famous fountain on Marseille's Boulevard Longchamp.
Three Jewish teenagers were attacked in the same Paris district where another Jewish teen was beaten severely in June.
The latest pledge consists of a $20 million contribution for 2009 and $10 million for 2010, said Michael Bohnen, president of the Adelson Foundation, in a news release Tuesday announcing the gift.
I know now the bar mitzvah ceremony didn't instantly make me a man, but if I am one today, after 10 years, its because of the lessons I learned throughout the entire experience.
It's hard for Gideon Daneshrad to imagine himself on the receiving end of tzedakah (charitable giving). In the 30 years since he arrived from Iran to study computer science at North Louisiana University in Monroe, Daneshrad, 56, has built himself a full life -- with four children, a lakefront home and New Orleans' only kosher restaurant.
"Just close your eyes and imagine that you wake up in the morning and you are stripped of your identity," Daneshrad says. "You are nobody. You are nothing. You have no money coming in. You don't have clothes. You don't have food. And all the people you knew are scattered around the world."
Daneshrad and his family have been in Los Angeles for more than a week, and he still finds himself imagining this is all a nightmare.
In a few weeks I'll turn 33 and, sadly, I realize I'm long past being anything "for my age." I'm no longer cute for my age, talented for my age, a good reader for my age. All qualifications and special considerations have long passed. There's nothing I can get away with now because, "After all, your honor, he's only 33."
Gifts for Grads That Will Make the Grade
Inch by Inch, Row by Row! This week's Torah portion, Tazria, means: "If a woman gives birth," but it can also mean "plant." And so, being the beginning of spring, that is exactly what it is time to do!
Every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a group of eight mothers and grandmothers meets at Lani's Needlepoint in Studio City. There, under Lani Silver's expert guidance -- one diagonal, tied-down or decorative stitch at a time --they have cumulatively needlepointed more than 20 tallit bags.
The contrast was just too much. On one channel, I watched as tens of thousands of people struggled to survive the devastating impact of the tsunami that left more than 250,000 dead and countless others injured and homeless, and on another channel, presenters at last month's Golden Globe Awards leaving the ceremonies with their "travel-themed" gift baskets worth $37,890 each.
When it's time to celebrate Chanukah, nobody should be left out of the fun. We've scoured the holiday gift scene to find the perfect presents for Mom, Dad and the whole family.
It is a job that demands a great deal of patience with parents as well as kids. Everything depends on: a) the cranial size of the student, and b) the size of the bribes offered by the parents to the kid.
I don't know how many Jewish psychics there are in Great Neck, N.Y., but Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is easy to spot in the lunchtime crowd at Bruce's, a restaurant and bakery in the heart of the Long Island town.
I saw a simple loaf cake wrapped nice and tight on the kitchen counter. My sister gladly parted with a thick portion, as she said she couldn't afford to keep eating it. With one taste, I understood.
The index-card box is one of the most important items in your home and is referred to each time an affair is coming up -- as well as when you need a gift for that person's party.
A kosher menorah can be fashioned out of any material, so why not get creative?
Christmas '95 I received the most ironic of gifts -- Rabbi Morris N. Kertzer's "What Is a Jew?" The book was given to me by a friend, who originally bought it as a gag gift for her boyfriend. He had Jews in his family somewhere but apparently wasn't too proud of his Hebrew roots. He rejected the book and it became mine.
"What Is a Jew?" spoke to me. This characteristically Jewish way of questioning stood out in weekly Sunday school at church, where a large leap of faith was required. I don't remember exactly what my Sunday school teachers said to me, but phrases like "Don't question," "That's the way it is" and "Jesus died for our sins" were the answers I remember receiving to my most deepest questions on faith.
The Chanukah effort is one of the first outcomes of Morasha's involvement with a three-year national research project of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.
"All Jewish stories have a deeper meaning," reflected Judy Aronson, a graduate of Brandeis University and Harvard Divinity School. "It's the community that makes the latkes, the people that create the celebration. If nobody had contributed anything, all they'd have was an iron nail. Because everybody cooperated, they not only had a feast, they had peace of mind forever more."
Legend tells us that Judah and the strapping young Maccabees faced the mighty Syrian army and defeated it against all obstacles.
I had to buy a present for my sister recently. Shopping for women, if you don't happen to actually be a woman yourself, is a nightmare.
I've noticed that when men go shopping for clothes, there is a sense of purposefulness about it. We're going to the store to buy something, some specific thing in response to a specific need. A shirt. I need a shirt. We march in, try something on. If it fits, we buy it and march back out. No squealing, no cooing, no fanfare. We take care of our needs. There is a sense of accomplishment. We live from shirt to shirt.
Chatter Matters is the kind of present one person gets and the whole family benefits from.
Looking to buy something kind of demented this Chanukah? Faithful Journal readers may recall Up Front's dish on the Punching Rabbi Puppet earlier this year.
Debbie Simmons earns her living as a CPA in Brentwood. But evenings, weekends and every other spare minute during the holidays and many other free moments during the year find Simmons shopping for bargain toys and wrapping paper, scanning the shelves or standing in checkout lines at Toys 'R' Us, Target, the 99 Cents Only store and Party World. She's buying Power Rangers and Barbie dolls a dozen at a time and picking up donated wrapping paper 50 rolls at a clip.
Sites of Passage
Passover in Israel is a blockbuster week when the country acts not only Israeli, but overwhelmingly Jewish as well. The air turns electric far in advance. Supermarkets are jammed, ringing up the highest sales all year. Matzahs are sold in packages the size of small suitcases, with people buying more than they could ever possibly need. Thirty million dollars are expected in wine sales alone.
Rabbi Avrohom Czapnik, director of the Jewish Learning Exchange and assistant principal at Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn-Toras Emes, says the unity and friendship that results when we exchange gifts is a theme central to the Purim story.
I have just emerged from a four-day conversational jag with an old friend who was visiting me from New York.
When Steven Spielberg and his three sisters were growing up in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Spielbergs celebrated Chanukah like any other Jewish family -- well, almost.
Abraham Joshua Heschel said that he prayed for one thing: the giftof wonder. He prayed for astonishment, for the capacity to besurprised. As he wrote, "I try not to be stale. I try to remain young. I have one talent, and that is the capacity to be tremendously surprised at life and at ideas. This is to me the supreme Chassidic imperative."
Honoring Thy Mother.