Who knew that 20 teenagers from Los Angeles could help make a difference in the world?
The occasion was not a party, but rather a "Taste of Limmud," a precursor to something called LimmudLA. The Presidents' Day weekend conference will be volunteer-led, and organizers expect it to bring together hundreds of local Jews of all denominations for three days of conversation and learning.
The fifth annual Oseh Shalom-Sanea al-Salam Peacemakers Camp is an outgrowth of the Bay Area's many Jewish-Palestinian dialogue groups founded by Len and Libby Traubman of San Mateo. It was held Oct. 5-8, this year with an emphasis on youth and those already working in numerous peace and coexistence organizations. Groups like Combatants for Peace sent representatives, as did the village Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, which consists of equal numbers of Arabs and Jews.
"I was born and raised in the West Bank," said Fadil Bayyari. "I've been in the U.S. for 36 years and northwest Arkansas for 27.... I respect other peoples' ways of life, other peoples' religion."
People say they don't really know me. That's what the last guy I dated said.
Korean Americans and Jews gathered at Wilshire Boulevard Temple to dialogue about mutual understanding and to discuss conditions in the formerly Jewish Wilshire Center district, which is now home to the largest Korean population outside of Seoul.
Jews are no different. Whether male or female, young or old, Ashkenazic or Sephardic, rich or poor, left-wing or right-wing, religious or secular, SUV-driving or Prius-driving, loud or quiet, screenwriter or grant writer, somehow, no matter how good you feel in our own skin, and how much you enjoy your own company, none of us wants to be alone.
If you are willing to inflict physical pain upon yourself as a service to your god, why not treat others to the same spiritual experience? Paradoxically, they will be killed or harmed because of your love for them.
My grandfather is my best friend. I have spent every Sunday with him since I was born -- going to restaurants, talking for hours and going to festivals. I could literally feel his unconditional love for me. When I was 5, he dropped me off on my first day at summer camp. I was terrified to be away from my family. The counselor called him and he rushed over to pick me up. He let me know that it was OK to feel afraid, and he took me to a restaurant and bought me gifts. He assured me that he would always be there for me. I quickly learned to love camp, but more importantly, my grandfather taught me to love and trust myself.
Generally taught once a year, with 10 to 20 girls enrolled per class, the program affords mothers and daughters special time together. It also introduces the girls to peers from other schools, allowing them to view bat mitzvah as a more universal experience.
Reconnecting long-lost family often begins with a relative's random comment during a holiday gathering as generations gather around a dinner table.
For non-Jewish partners, even with the best good will, the seder experience can be strange and unfamiliar. Jewish family members prioritize coming together at this time of year.
As a kid growing up in Philadelphia, Edward Schwarzschild did a stint as a Kosher Boy Scout and hated it.
"Carrying two sets of dishes into the wilderness was a real turn-off for me," he said.
Now 40, Schwarzschild hails from a venerable tradition of writers who have mined their formative Jewish experiences for literary purposes. This makes sense, considering that his first novel, "Responsible Men" (Algonquin) due out April 8, revolves around a Jewish family in Philadelphia faced with the challenge of understanding their past and improving their present.
It's a lot more than Kenn Phillips could have bargained for when he accepted this gig as principal. Lucky for him, he doesn't have to come back tomorrow.
That's because Phillips isn't the real principal, but merely principal for a day. Phillips is among more than 200 professionals who arranged to shadow principals as part of a Los Angeles Unified School District effort to create alliances between businesses and schools.
Tu b'Shevat, the 15th day of the month of Shevat, marks the birthday of the trees.
n this week's portion, Lech Lecha, we learn about a fight between the shepherds of Abraham and his nephew, Lot. There was plenty of space for everyone, but they weren't getting along so it seemed too crowded. Our rabbis teach us that when two people get along, they can be happy together sharing even the smallest of spaces, but when they don't, the whole world can seem too small.
Who is Marion Pritchard and why would a Jewish girl choose to share her special day with a non-Jew more than six times her age?
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.
"Why go to war?" Dr. Aryeh Cohen, chair of rabbinic studies at the University of Judaism, asks a group of teenagers at Milken Community High School.
Here's the scenario: I travel for work almost 20 days a month. It's lonely out there on the road, one long Bob Seger song. Dating is almost impossible, but I've met a guy who seems to fit the suit.
What kind of Jew are you? Reform? Conservative? Orthodox? Secular? Cultural? Reconstructionist? With whom do you identify? With whom do you disagree? What kind of Jew is so different that you would have nothing to share?
As we approach the new millennium, we often discuss the unity of the Jewish people, seeking those aspects of Jewish life that will hold our diverse communal elements together after the year 2000. Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchek has referred to our Jewish covenant as including our shared history, shared suffering, shared responsibility and shared action.