A Torah scroll that twice survived extinction was ushered to its new home in the Lainer Beit Mirdash of Milken Community High School on October 19.
In 1969, a group of college students staged a protest at the premiere gathering of the organized Jewish community, demanding more say and more attention to issues that mattered to them. The demonstrations and vocal disruptions at the Boston General Assembly lead to the formation of the North American Jewish Students Appeal, which was funded by federations until 1995.
Ever since then, students have been a part of the GA, which this year is taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center Nov. 12-15.
Some kids aren't cut out for academic rigor. Leaving them in a mismatched environment often leads them toward self-destructive paths to failure
Rosh Hashanah resolutions.
Five years ago, Leibovic was approached by the prodigal son of a prominent Orthodox family for help and inspiration. Soon, their one-on-one Torah study grew into a larger group, made up mostly of recent alumni of Neve Zion, the yeshiva outside Jerusalem where Leibovic had formative experiences as a teen and young adult.
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.
A group of 25 campers from Ramah of California's pilot summer in 1955 returned to camp this summer to kick off a yearlong celebration of Ramah's 50 years on the West Coast. The camp officially opened in 1956.
Back then, there were 62 campers and 24 staff members. Tuition for the 10 days was set at $56.16 -- with scholarships available. Today, there are 1,275 campers at the Ojai location, just down the road from the original campsite and a four-week session costs $3,120.
Rabbi Jacob Pressman, director of the camp that first summer, and assistant director Miriam Wise were among the delegates this summer. Rabbi Daniel Greyber, current director, presented the two with an award of recognition for their service.
The alumni toured the camp and then spent the evening in a singalong with current campers. Young campers and alumni alike were touched and amazed to hear that they knew the same camp songs, some of them authored by the adult guests.
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.
When the Reform movement published its new "Mishkan T'filah" last November, the prayer book looked comfortably familiar to Reform rabbinic students in Los Angeles. It was clear to them that a homemade siddur they had created for their own use had influenced the first official prayer book published by the Union for Reform Judaism since 1975.
Once again, the L.A. branch of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) had made its mark on the Reform movement. The new, official prayer book, like the homemade siddur, includes traditional prayers in Hebrew, as well as new alternative readings and meditations -- changes in keeping with Reform's adoption of more traditional practices.
Skip Aldrich signals a student to turn down the lights and flips on the projector. An image of a gaunt concentration camp inmate hunched over a workbench evokes a collective gasp from the 10th-grade world history class at John C. Fremont High School in South Los Angeles.
Letters to the Editor.
Report card season is meant as judgment day for kids, but in many cases it is the parents who come under scrutiny -- most notably by the kids themselves.
How a parent reacts can bring a kid's self-esteem up or knock it down, can encourage them to put forth more effort or to become complacent and can send strong messages about priorities, values and dealing with being judged.
Keeping its commitment to promoting "homemade Judaism," The Shalom Hartmann Institute has published "A Day Apart, Shabbat at Home" ($24.95), a step-by-step guidebook containing everything from helpful hints to spiritual reflections on how to make Shabbat meaningful.
A fast-moving fire destroyed Glatt Mart on Pico Boulevard late Monday night, laying waste to aisles of groceries and causing the roof of the building to collapse.
One firefighter injured his foot fighting the blaze, but no one was in the building when the fire broke out.
The Fire Department is still investigating the cause and has not yet assigned a dollar amount to the damage.
Here's a marketing nightmare: You have your biggest and most captive audience of the year, and rather than dangling the kind of well-packaged, enticing tidbits that might draw people back for more, you offer up several hours worth of weighty and complex theological ideas wrapped in obscure ritual.
Welcome to the High Holidays, where twice-a-year attendees get their primary one-on-one time with Judaism, meeting up with a God and a tradition that don't necessarily reflect what goes on behind the main sanctuary doors the rest of the year.
For years, Min Kantrowitz resisted the pull. Sure, the books on her nightstand were more likely to be a reference guide to the Talmud rather than the latest best-seller. But a rabbi?
The woman who brought to the Shabbat table dishes such as sweet pea kreplach and honey-and-pecan-crusted chicken with apricot chutney is tampering with tradition again, just in time for Passover.
When newer, color versions supplanted the 1923 Union Haggadah Revised, Tamar Soloff's brother and father hoarded enough copies of the original to ensure that their extended families would have a supply of their own.
t's not that Jeanne Weiner wanted Aunt Leonie's Indian Tree dishes for herself. She hadn't used the hand-painted china in five years -- since just before her husband died -- and last Passover she was on the verge of giving the entire service for 31 to her daughter Joelle Keene, who had taken charge of the family seder.
But when it came to actually giving up the china, she balked. And even though this year she is making the transfer, these dishes -- more than the Thanksgiving dishes or all the furniture she gave to her daughters -- call up a wave of emotion and tears.
All-inclusive Passover hotel programs cost anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 per person and take place all over the country -- from ski resorts in Utah to the legendary scene in Miami. Most have one thing in common: Lots and lots of good food.
How did Israelite religion develop and evolve in its earliest years? What influences led to the centralization of power during the First Temple period? And how did changing perceptions of God fit into all of this?
"Don't Get 'Mad,' Get Kosher. Kosher Meat Is Safe," reads an enormous red-and-yellow banner hanging in front of Santa Monica Glatt Market on Santa Monica Boulevard near Sawtelle Boulevard.
Well, maybe not completely safe, but certainly safer from mad cow disease.
There was a time when a half-moon K on a carton of cottage cheese didn't mean much to someone who kept strictly kosher. Conventional wisdom held that the heksher (the kosher symbol) was not all that reliable.
Today, things are changing at Kosher Overseers (KO), which supervises about 1,000 companies worldwide and has its bulging K on more than 1 million products.
Rabbi Leder's ten Money commandments
Excerpt from "More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life Without Losing Your Soul," by Steven Z. Leder
A few years ago, I was called to see an extremely famous and wealthy movie director. He was a friend of a friend, and he was in the hospital. We were strangers, this dying old man and I. Entering his room, I noticed amid the monitors, tubes, and fluorescent lights of the sterile ICU, there was only one solitary breath of humanity tacked up on the wall -- one small black-and-white photograph, some sixty years old, of a young couple in their twenties holding hands on a park bench.
There was a time when Adlai Wertman measured his success in dollars -- how much he made for the company, how much the company paid him, how well he spent the money.
Twelve Jews died in Ethiopia this summer -- two of famine, 10 of mostly treatable medical conditions -- and Dick Giesberg wants to know what it says about the Zionist imperative when the Israeli government refuses to expedite the immigration of a suffering Jewish community.
Kess Hadane wears a deep blue velvet cape richly embroidered with gold and a white turban. But under the cape is the conventional white shirt and dark pants, and that might be more indicative of Kess Hadane's ardently assimiliationist philosophy.
When Simone Gold walked into Shalom Time at Borders Books in Westwood, the first thing she noticed was that she was not dressed quite as conservatively as many others in the audience, who wore long skirts and sleeves.
But her 2-year-old son was enjoying the Jewish songs, dances and shtick, and the endeavor seemed so sincere, she stayed, and even hung around to schmooze afterward.
For most of the last hour in this bomb shelter-cum-multipurpose youth room in Ashdod, Israel, Avivit Sabat has been sitting quietly, her long arms and legs folded protectively across her body. Her hair, pulled tight in a low bun, highlights her delicately defined 17-year-old beauty.
Once or twice she twists around to smile or whisper to someone, or she nods at a particularly biting truth as told by her friends, all of them Ethiopian Jewish teenagers who founded and run an advocacy group.
The moon doesn't usually make me cry. I've been struck by the amber beauty of a harvest moon low on the horizon or by the tantilizing grace of a silver sliver dangling high in the sky.
The rabbi of a small, embattled congregation is charging that anti-Semites and self-hating Jews are using zoning laws to get Orthodox Jews out of Hancock Park as an epic eight-year legal battle heads back to court.
Rabbi Rachmiel Steinberg and his family were finishing their Shavuot meal last Friday afternoon when a loud drone drew their attention to the window. His son, Levi Yitzchak, screamed, "Tati, that airplane is going into the building." They heard a thunderous crash and then saw plumes of heavy black smoke billowing skyward.
The night before he died, 78-year-old Tibor Reis stayed up until 2 a.m. studying Torah. When he awoke early the next morning, he went to the mikvah (ritual bath) and then to pray at Young Israel of Los Angeles, where he had been a member for more than 30 years.
When Rabbi Mark Diamond asked seven Westside rabbis last summer to nominate emerging lay leaders for the Board of Rabbis' new Synagogue Leadership Institute (SLI), many of the rabbis countered with another request. Rather than potential leaders, they wanted to send current leaders -- presidents, executive board members and committee chairs.
To understand how Rabbi Morley Feinstein has re-energized University Synagogue, just peek in on his Friday night services, which have been attracting upwards of 125 people every week.
When Steven Leder was 14, he got into some trouble with the law. Rather than send him to reform school, his parents sent him to a Reform Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin.
One Friday night 33 years ago, when Yisroel Richtberg was 12 years old, an older boy sneaked into his dorm room at his Chasidic yeshiva in Israel, pulled off Richtberg's pajama pants and raped him. The same thing happened the next Shabbat.
In his 35-year career, Rabbi Juda Mintz established a Jewish youth group in Montreal, founded a traditional congregation and a campus Hillel in Atlanta and led more than 50 missions to Israel -- all without the aid of a computer.
Rabbi Benay Lappe had been out of the closet for years. She appeared on "Oprah" and taught at a gay synagogue in New York, her colleagues and students at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles knew -- she even had a chapter included in an anthology titled "Lesbian Rabbis" (Rutgers University Press, 2001).
If you've ever been curious about "Hierarchy and Transcendence in Gersonides' Theory of Knowing" or "Mnemonic Characteristics and the Oral Transmission of Aggadic Tradition," you're about to get your chance to wade through these weighty issues with leading academics, when 1,000 members of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) descend on Los Angeles for the organization's 34th annual conference Dec. 15-17 at the Century Plaza Hotel.
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller walks out of his office at the University Religious Conference, locking the door on its matted and stained rust-colored carpet, which for years has been covered with stacks of books and journals. On his way out, he doesn't bother to glance into the musty student lounge because he knows students don't hang out there. As he emerges onto Hilgard Avenue, he lets the glass-and-steel door swing shut on the building where UCLA Hillel has been housed since the 1950s.
Two days after her radical breast cancer surgery last May, Missy Stein hit that moment where all the emotional and physical implications of her condition came crashing in on her.
But then she remembered Sari Abrams' words.
The real measure of success for Hallelu will not be whether the Universal Amphitheatre is filled to capacity on Sunday, Oct. 20, or whether the audience leaves humming the songs performed by an unprecedented gathering of Jewish musical talent for what is essentially a giant kumsitz.
Rabbi Edward Feinstein wants to make something clear: It's not about the anecdotes or the jokes or the witty stories. "The art of giving a sermon is not to say something clever. The art of giving a sermon is to say something important. It's not about entertaining," says Feinstein, rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. "I want to say something that will change the way people think and act and what they value, and bring people closer to the source of the meaning of life."
The High Holidays seem to bring out not only more Jews than any time of year, but also more innovative services. Los Angeles is blessed with a creative spiritual community, dedicated to offering everything from the very new to the very traditional -- to the most unlikely blends of the two.
Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Leonard Beerman from Los Angeles, along with six other clergy members traveling with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had just left a meeting with Yasser Arafat and were on the way to see Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the head of Hamas, when they heard about the bombing at Hebrew University.
A couple of months before her bat mitzvah last year, Atara Rush, a seventh-grader at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, attended the Israel Solidarity Rally in front of The Jewish Federation headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. Someone handed her a poster to hold up. It was from the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund (IESF), and on it were the faces of more than 100 Israelis killed in the current intifada. She spent the entire rally memorizing those faces.
The 2002 Simon Rockower Awards
If the responsibilities and exigencies of daily life allowed him to, Rabbi Rami Shapiro says he would simply disappear into his own world of silent contemplation. But given that he has a family and other responsibilities, he's found the next best thing: Metivta, A Center for Contemplative Judaism.
A couple of months before her Sept. 1 bat mitzvah, Atara Rush, a seventh-grader at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, attended the Israel Solidarity Rally in front of The Jewish Federation headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. Someone handed her a poster to hold up. It was from the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund (IESF), and on it were the faces of more than 100 Israelis killed in the current intifada. She spent the entire rally memorizing those faces.
Music for All Ages
At first glance, one might think Richard Elliott Friedman would be the last person to write a traditional Torah commentary. Friedman is, after all, one of the world's leading scholars in biblical criticism, and the man who brought the notion of the four authors of the Bible into popular parlance.
Tuesday morning prayers at the girls school of Yeshiva High School of Los Angeles (YULA) took a little longer than usual this week.