Mark Worland -- six-foot-something, dressed in tight black and skinhead bald -- grabs Navid by the arm.
"Come with me!" he barks.
"No!" screams Navid, barely 5-feet tall.
Navid throws himself on his back, locks the bottom of his feet to Worland's knees, and shields his face and head from Worland's flailing fists.
"Great job," says Worland, a self-defense specialist, shaking Navid's hand and helping him up, as Navid's friends applaud.
This self-defense class is part of a repertoire of life skills that Navid and his peers are learning at Independent Living Skills, a summer program for developmentally disabled adults run by Etta Israel Center, a mid-Wilshire nonprofit for people with special needs.
With many health care programs threatened because of cutbacks in government funding, Jessica Toledano and other members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' advocacy arm have redoubled their work on behalf of the elderly, immigrants and other vulnerable groups. In at least three recent instances, those efforts have paid off and saved imperiled programs from debilitating cuts or untimely demises.
Like their clients, several local Jewish agencies that serve the poor are struggling mightily.
Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) and other Jewish nonprofits have recently lost millions in government funding at a time when demand for their services has skyrocketed. That has strained their ability to care for the indigent and threatens the health of existing programs.
Bailey Silverman and Rebecca Namm are in many ways typical teenagers. The best friends like to go to the mall, hang out with pals and talk on the phone.
But come Super Sunday, Feb. 22, the two Milken Community High School juniors will undertake the very adult mission of raising money for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and its 15 beneficiary agencies, including Jewish Family Service, Jewish Vocational Service and Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters. During Super Sunday, the girls will supervise a group of high school and college students in the San Fernando Valley who will call Jews throughout the Southland to make The Federation's annual fundraising extravaganza just that much more super.