Raising a child with developmental disabilities has often been compared to an “unplanned journey,” taking you to places you never imagined you would go. After our son, Danny, was diagnosed with global developmental delays at the age of 13 months, I found myself learning a whole new vocabulary, meeting with many medical professionals and special-education teachers and aides.
Of the 400 Jewish community members who traveled to Israel on a week-long trip in late October to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, many had already visited the country dozens of times, although some had never set foot on Israeli soil.
Perhaps no single party outside the Israeli government is as vital to Ethiopian aliyah as the American Jews committed to help paying for it. So this month, when the United Jewish Communities (UJC) brought a group of 100 people from America's wealthiest Jewish communities, including Los Angeles, to the straw-and-mud huts of one of the poorest countries on earth, it was a signal to the Israeli government that American Jewry is serious about its own role in bringing Ethiopians to Israel.
We volunteered with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), a nonprofit organization devoted to ending poverty by furthering sustainable development and promoting international human rights.
If someone had turned on the radio in Mulukuku, Nicaragua, on May 28, 2005, they would have heard "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem. There is no Jewish community in this village of 7,000. In fact, there is not normally even a single Jew. But for one week at the end of May, there were 14 of us.
Our group was in the most impoverished region of Nicaragua as part of a joint project between The Jewish Federation and American Jewish World Service. The goal: to help alleviate poverty, hunger and disease among all the people of the world. It was an imperative that I took very seriously, and one that compelled me to step out of my Los Angeles life of privilege and material comfort into a world where those two terms are largely devoid of meaning.
Keep passing. Keep passing." It's 6 a.m. on a Monday morning in March, and students from Milken Community High School, wearing hairnets, plastic aprons and gloves, are dishing out hot cereal, sugar, applesauce, milk and a muffin assembly-line style onto blue trays.
Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was the most important American religious event of the past year. For Christians, its effects were quite positive, as viewers already committed to belief in Jesus were roused to renew their faith through the heartrending story of the Crucifixion. For America's Jewish community, the effects of the film can also be positive, if we draw the right retrospective lessons not from the movie itself but from the controversy that still surrounds it.
Nandor Markovic was lying in the gutter, awaiting death. He had already seen his best friend shot in the head, but Markovic could not take another step on the German-led march in 1945.
I'm fond of saying my identity as a Jew formed well before my identity as a Democrat. And I have always believed that a significant part of my mission and role in Congress is to weigh in and provide leadership on issues of critical concern to the Jewish community here and in Israel.
To a great extent, these issues are obvious -- the U.S.-Israel relationship, combating anti-Semitism, fighting off erosion in First Amendment protections of religious exercise, scraping for resources and laws that maximize the ability of Jews living under tyranny to immigrate to Israel or the United States and ensuring the social safety net doesn't forget Jews in trouble.
There's a framed glass poster that hangs on the wall of Assaf Ramon's Houston bedroom wall. While the image of the smiling astronaut in the orange jumpsuit is famous, the Hebrew words inscribed at the bottom of the poster are not
While most of the images of Israel presented to the American public are of military conflict, a recent mission to Israel sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which included City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, City Council President Alex Padilla, Cesar Chavez Foundation President Andres Irlando and myself, revealed something very different. We saw a multiethnic democracy full of citizens, with jaw-dropping stories of survival, demonstrating incredible resilience.
Halfway around the world, we encountered a small nation confronting many of the same challenges we face in Los Angeles and returned convinced that increased contact between Los Angeles and Israel can facilitate the solution of many complex problems at home.
Rachel Firestone and Michel Grosz, both juniors at Milken Community High School, were among the 26 teenagers across North America to receive 2003 Bronfman Youth Fellowships that entitled them to spend five weeks in Israel this summer.
It was Sunday afternoon, July 6, 2003, and I was approaching the end of a successful three-week mission to Israel dedicated to responding to a new wave of missionary activity.
Here's what you miss when you go on an organized mission to Israel: You miss the closed-top market in Rosh Ayin, where sellers out-shout
each other over megaphones, "Underwear, girls' underwear, three for 10 shekels."
Bob S. insists that his mother back in Virginia made the best chicken soup ever, but he's willing to admit the homemade version delivered to his Van Nuys apartment is a close second.
The delivery is part of the mission of Project Chicken Soup, an all-volunteer group that cooks, packages and personally delivers kosher meals twice a month to patients living with HIV and AIDS. It might be a chicken breast or a casserole, along with the soup, salad, fruit, dessert or even a protein drink.
In between the prayers at the Pinto Shul in the Pico-Robertson area, people who only speak English might feel a little lost.
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.
We love to hate them, those journalists who wield so much power and never quite get the facts right.
Call it a mission with a mission."It was the most amazing trip," Dr. Charles Pollick told The Journal. "I've been to Israel many times, but they really rolled out the red carpet for us."
This High Holy Day season, the congregation at Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue has something to sing about, to the lively and devoted Marcelo Gindlin.
On my first day as editor-in-chief of a heavily financed Bay Area Internet startup whose mission -- its mostly female staff of trendy 20-somethings recited like a mantra -- was to "empower" young women, I realized I had a big problem.
The big wheels of the American PR industry are finally spinning on behalf of Israel.
Although Shelley Ventura-Cohen had been to France several times before as a tourist with an interest in French culture,this visit -- on an American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) mission to counteract French anti-Semitism -- was unique.
Call it a shopping trip. Lou and Trudy Kestenbaum came to Israel last month on a Jewish National Fund (JNF) mission to spend money, as well as to follow up on how the money they've already spent in the Jewish state is doing.
A few weeks ago, Gil Amir contemplated the status of a trip because of violence in his country of destination.
Hot on the heels of the Jewish Community Center closings, YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles announced in late June that it would close the saunas and steam rooms in seven of the eight centers that still had them. (The Hollywood-Wilshire Y will leave its sauna open on a 90-day trial basis with increased monitoring.) The announcement sparked anger and protest from YMCA members who have used the facilities for years.
The long-term forecast predicts a very hot autumn on American college campuses, as Israel advocates challenge a well-organized, well-financed anti-Israel campaign by pro-Palestinian activists.
Five months ago, Beatrice Ballageure was struggling to make ends meet as a single, 47-year-old Jewish woman living in the capital city of an economically depressed Argentina. She had lost her job several months earlier, but she owned her own apartment and had enough money in the bank to afford basic expenses. She had friends with jobs, and she knew she could rely on her family if real trouble ever came. Then the bottom fell out of Argentina's economy.
"We are one," "One people" and the like are the perennial slogans of Jewish federation fundraising.
Let's not kid ourselves: Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) has been hurting for a long, long time.
On a brisk night in early January, hundreds of American Jews from throughout the United States, still jet-lagged from their arrival in Israel that morning, are filing into a large airplane hangar at Hatzor, an isolated air force base near Ashkelon.
I had been living vicariously for three months. First there were the attacks on the High Holy Days, the desecration of Joseph's Tomb. A few days later, Israeli hikers were stranded under fire for hours near Schem-Nablus. The Internet had brought the daily conflict straight to my office: bus bombs, daily shootings in Jerusalem, assault on holy sites. I felt that I could no longer sit so far away in comfortable California, feeling secure and well-protected. I felt that I must go to Israel and share the fate of my brothers and sisters who were, and still are, facing one of the greatest challenges of the past 50 years.
Maybe something positive will come out of the current crisis in Israel after all. Perhaps the arrival of many groups from communities all over the world will help further the understanding between Israelis and Diaspora Jews and lead to greater cooperation.
Earlier this week, 160 people from Los Angeles -- including Jewish Federation President John Fishel and the Board of Rabbis' Mark Diamond -- were among 900 who traveled to Israel as part of a United Jewish Communities-sponsored solidarity mission.
I was fortunate to be among a small group of United Jewish Fund (UJF) campaign leaders who visited St. Petersburg, Russia and Vilnius, Lithuania to witness the work that is being done in both communities by the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).
It is a familiar sight. On each flight to Israel, in the back of the plane, a minyan gathers for services.
My daughter flew home for Thanksgiving with two college friends in tow. At the dinner table, the conversation revolved around computers and the antics of the Stanford Band. At some point in the course of that whirlwind four-day visit, Hilary informed me that, though she's been diligently studying Hebrew since she started college, a Junior Year Abroad at Hebrew University is no longer part of her plans. It's not that she's changed her mind about someday returning to Israel, where she spent an amazing summer two years ago. But she's convinced that, given the stringent requirements of the high-tech major she seems to have settled on, even a semester in Jerusalem would derail her progress toward her degree.
"I know your relatives all think you're crazy, but we're gladyou're here," our tour guide, Zvi Lev-Ran, said as 36 tired Angelenospiled onto a bus after a 13-hour flight aboard a chartered El Al747-400 from Los Angeles. We were part of the largest mission eversponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. More thanhalf of the 430 participants were first-timers, including myself.Having been born almost exactly one year after the birth of Israel,in 1948, it seemed fitting that I participate in this mission, whichwas timed to coincide with festivities launching the Jewish state'sgolden anniversary celebration.
The Federation had received only four cancellations -- a total of seven people who decided not to go because of the twin blasts -- according to Evy Lutin, mission co-chair. More than 350 people are signed up for the 10-day mission, which celebrates the kickoff of Israel's 50th-anniversary year. About 500 people are expected to make the trip.
My neighbors completed an around-the-world trip. It was their dream, the trip of a lifetime. When we gathered to welcome them home, they eagerly described the journey's highlights -- the Sheraton in Bangkok, the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing, a Clint Eastwood film in a Calcutta theater, Budweiser in Holland and Kellogg's Corn Flakes in Great Britain.
A mission to Israel that's billed as the largest ever in the history of the Los Angeles Jewish community is scheduled to take place between Nov. 1 and 10 of this year. About 500 Southern Californians are expected to participate in the Golden Anniversary Community Mission, which is being coordinated by the Jewish Federation Council in commemoration of the Jewish state's first 50 years.