This fall, we again put out our call for nominations for our annual list of mensches, and you responded with your usual outpouring of suggestions of amazing people. We face this enormous response only to wonder, once more, how do you choose between a 13-year-old who rallied his entire school to help victims in the Congo and a Holocaust survivor who spends 800 hours a year volunteering at the Simon Wiesenthal Center? (And those are just two who made the cut.)
Southern California’s Iranian Jewish community has long been divided over a host of social and religious issues, often discouraging hopes among the elders for community continuity. Eman Esmailzadeh, a 27-year-old engineer and community activist, is one of a small number of young people who are now focused on reuniting this immigrant community, in part by encouraging teenagers to identify with their Judaism.
When Judi Kaufman was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1997, she was told she had five years left to live.
By nature, Eli Fitlovitz prefers to stay in the background. The kibbutz-raised Israeli, who came to Los Angeles in 1982, has wise eyes, an endearing smile and a quiet confidence. A commercial real estate broker, he and his wife are now raising three teenagers. What finally forced Fitlovitz out of his life-long safety zone were his kids, and not in the way most teens make their parents uncomfortable.
As a child, Lauri Burns thought God was punishing her for something horrible she had done in a past life. How else could she explain the years of beatings by her father that began when she was just 5 years old, or the mental abuse that left her suicidal by her bat mitzvah and led her to drug addiction and prostitution on the streets of Santa Ana?
David Taylor doesn’t see the point in getting emotional about the evils across the globe.
Gabriella Axelrad, a luminous 13-year-old with a striking smile, had been on the final stretch of a family bike ride in Grand Teton National Park when a white van appeared out of nowhere and knocked the last breath out of her lithe dancer’s body.
“Is everybody happy today?” Shana Passman cheerfully asked a table of Holocaust survivors eating lunch at Hollywood Temple Beth El at the annual Chanukah party of Café Europa, a social club for Holocaust Survivors run by the Jewish Family Service (JFS).
In 2008, Adam Irving, a filmmaker and photographer, left his doctoral program in media studies at the University of Texas to make the transition from theory to practice. He landed in Hollywood with the dream of making films, but soon after his arrival found himself feeling unfulfilled by the vanity within the entertainment industry.
When Melissa Marantz Nealy died in 2005, her close-knit family was devastated. At 28, Nealy had been diagnosed only a year earlier with a neurodegenerative muscular disorder.
" . . . We do not discriminate between Jews and Arabs when violence is directed against innocents; we mourn the loss of life on both sides . . . "
"It is hard to convey the special sense of respect, dignity and approbation that can be conveyed by calling someone 'a real mensch,'" writes Leo Rosten in "The Joys of Yiddish."
The Yiddish word infuses the basic German denotation -- "person" -- with an almost indefinable connotation. A mensch is a person who is upright, honorable, decent, as Rosten writes, a person to admire and emulate.
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Joyce Rabinowitz, 76, is a volunteer Braille transcriber. She takes the printed word and, using a special computer program called Braille 2000, transforms it letter by letter into a prescribed set of dots that she saves to disk and gives to the Braille Institute. Each disk, with the help of an embossing machine, is used to produce a book written in raised dot text that a blind person can read with his or her fingers.
To its detractors, Los Angeles seems very much like a modern-day Sodom or Gomorrah -- besotting civilization with a trash culture of celebrity murder trials, reality TV and movies that trade on violence and superficiality.
This week's cover story celebrates not make-believe angels, but real live ones.