At the same time Southland Jewish Olympians like Jason Lezak and Dara Torres medaled in Beijing, the next generation of local athletes was preparing to compete in events of their own.
Being a parent is a heroic act. Being a parent of a teenager sometimes makes us feel less than heroic. Indeed, we, as parents, often become an embarrassment. Congratulations to those of us parents who "embarrass" our kids in a manner that shows how much we love them.
Why are children deaf to the advice parents offer, and why does it take so many years before we understand the true value of our parent's wisdom?
As part of Sulam Summer Service Corps, the teens, who come from Jewish day schools and public schools throughout Los Angeles, have been spending their days with local kids who attend the center's day camp. The emphasis for the day camp's elementary school kids is on sports, teamwork and friendship; for the mentors, on giving back.
When I finally got behind the wheel of a car myself, conceit and self-importance set in. If ever I saw someone with that familiar awe-struck gape staring at my car during one of my innumerable driving lessons, I would think, with a shameful amount of pride, "I am cooler than you because I am operating a motor vehicle right now."
Ginz was a Czech Jew, born in 1928, who died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz at the age of 16. His diary had been lost for 60 years but resurfaced in 2003.
Author Gail Anthony Greenberg attributes the change to a societal trend empowering kids to make their own decisions. "These days, we give children more latitude," she added. As a result, many rabbis, administrators, parents and even bar mitzvah party vendors take preventative measures to quell chatty, restless or precocious preteen guests from being disruptive at bar mitzvah ceremonies and receptions.
The incidence of psychological problems in teens has been increasing at an alarming rate over the last decade, recent research suggests, especially in a specific -- and some say surprising -- segment of the population. Nationwide studies of teens from upper-middle-class, well-educated families show they have some of the highest rates of substance abuse, anxiety disorders, depression and psychosomatic complaints of any group of adolescents.
Many college-bound high school graduates are packing up their inflatable sofas and plan to stay abreast Middle East news using wireless laptops. But some of their peers will get a real-time glimpse of current events as they prepare for a year of study in Israel.
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.
Let's face it. Many people go to synagogue on the High Holidays because they have to. A feeling of poorly understood and unappreciated obligation can pervade this time of year. But it doesn't have to. You can put yourself or your children in the spirit and in the know with help from this by-no-means-comprehensive list of titles that elucidate the prayers and customs of the holiday.
I'm an extreme person," activist-filmmaker Keren Yedaya said.
So extreme that she shot her stark anti-prostitution drama, "Or," without ever moving the camera, enhancing the claustrophobic milieu. The film revolves around Or (Dana Ivgy), a teenager whose struggle to survive echoes the Dardenne Brothers' "Rosetta."
Normally, a parent might agonize over her teen's decision to defer her freshman year of college. But when my 18-year-old daughter Lauren left recently on a flight to Israel -- deferring her first year at college for yet a second time -- I was thrilled.
Knowing little about Judaism, 11 Russian immigrant families in the Los Angeles area began meeting in 1991, holding Shabbat dinners together and learning Jewish teachings from their children, many of whom were enrolled in Jewish day schools.
This summer, Jacqueline Berlin, 7, will leave her mom, dad
and younger sister to enter the world of overnight camp for the first time.
"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.
Jill Sherman's high school years are anything but carefree. Last year an older classmate, who talked openly about his anti-Semitic attitudes, tried to ignite her clothes with a self-described "Jew burner." Physically, Sherman was unhurt by the attack with a cigarette lighter.
Each November, Valley Beth Shalom holds a meeting at which its youth director urges parents to send their teenagers on a summer trip to Israel. In 1999, more than 100 families attended. This past November, there were only eight. The low turnout appears to reflect parental anxiety over safety issues in the Middle East. Lisa Kaplan, who heads The Jewish Federation's Israel Experience Program office, explains that "in times of peace, the students make the decision. In difficult times, the parents make the decision."
Skate Roc 'n Jam, an event held Nov. 5 at the Hollywood Los Feliz JCC, drew about 100 skateboarding enthusiasts who tried their luck on newly built ramps and rails borrowed from Oasis in Hollywood; listened to music by the group Custom; talked shop with DV8, a skateboarding shop in Eagle Rock; and basically allowed one and all a place to jam.
Joe [incredulous]: Jewish superheroes?
Sammy: What, they're all Jewish, superheroes. Superman, you don't think he's Jewish? Coming from the old country, changing his name like that. Clark Kent, only a Jew would pick up a name like that for himself.
Two teenage boys were arrested Sun., Sept. 24, in connection with the ransacking of classrooms and painting of swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of the West Valley Hebrew Academy in Woodland Hills.
Only so much can be written about a Jewish girl from the Bronx, says writer-director Amy Heckerling. Only so many scripts can begin, "Interior. Candy Store - Queens."
While the adults are talking up the "sense of permanence" and "central address," Miriam Segura has a simpler way of expressing the significance of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth's (NCSY) new building - hanging out.
It's been a month of extremes for the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) on the West Coast. As the Orthodox youth group basks in the joy of moving into its own building, it is also reeling from the shock of a scandal involving an East Coast regional director allegedly abusing teens.
Elliot Maltz had a Bar Mitzvah two years ago, but he says his Hebrew school experience was "really boring" and "discouraged me from future practice."
3:45 a.m. I am walking down a very dark, silent alleyway in Oakwood, a two-square-mile, mostly low-income community in Venice, behind police officer Robert Eisenhart. A 16-year-old boy, a member of the Venice Shoreline Crips gang, has been shot in the shoulder and in the middle of his back by a member of the same gang. Eisenhart is looking for the shooter, who may be at a party in a nearby darkened house. The silence is almost surreal. I am afraid of what may appear, or explode, out of the darkness. We arrived at the scene minutes before, and I see the boy wheeled out on the stretcher and placed in the ambulance as his brother, his sister and other gang members watch without overt emotion, in dazed silence. I am surprised at the dewy youth of the gang members, and by their glazed faces and darting eyes. The scene has the hopeless, listless feel of the ghetto: some lawns with piled-up rusted machinery, nails, weeds, tubs, broken bicycles, old porcelain, busted mattress springs. An old mattress is stuffed into the window of one house to keep out the cold and prying strangers.
In this era of school violence and body piercing, teenagers, never the most applauded demographic segment of our society, have been getting some amazingly bad press. To hear the media tell it, adolescents who aren't destroying themselves or others are just too lazy and apathetic to be bothered.And if Jewish teens aren't filling up juvie hall, they're not filling up the synagogues, either. After Bar and Bat Mitzvah, we're led to believe, you never see them again. Why would Jewish kids hang out at shul when they can be cruising around in their parents' Beemers, downloading porn from the Internet, turning their brains into Swiss cheese with drugs?
A bubbie standing in front of the colorful mural on the Workman's Circle building in West Los Angeles. Shopkeepers on Fairfax Avenue. The Tel Aviv skyline lit by a thousand cars on a freeway at night. These are just a few of the images on display at the Finegood Art Gallery as part of a an exhibit of 100 photos taken by teenagers in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.
Dr. Jerry Bobrow remembers it well. The year was 1990. The place: The Palace, in the Auburn Hills district of Detroit.
There in the bleachers, among 16,000 people at the Maccabi Games, is Bobrow and his youngest son, Jonathan.
Cult filmmaker Sarah Jacobson can one-up any L.A. Jewish reader who felt like an outcast in high school.
The fresh-faced teenager looks like the girl next door until she displays her swastika tattoo in an episode of "The Teen Files," which continues this week on UPN. "I think the Holocaust was a good thing," she says, serenely. "[Hitler] probably should have done more."
Contemporary Holocaust literature for young adults seems to favor a theme: transport unaware teenagers to German-occupied Europe and, together with the characters, the readers will emerge as more sensitive, aware young adults.
This is by way of being an advance notice, a leg up, if you will.
At the start of the upcoming school year, the Jewish Federation will embark on a new venture, Koreh L.A., the Los Angeles Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Its staff is busy (today) setting in place a cadre of volunteers who will work with third-graders in Los Angeles' public schools. The goal is simple: try to help improve reading ability -- literacy is the formal phrase -- by concentrating one-on-one with individual schoolchildren. That's one volunteer assigned to work with one specific child one hour each week for the duration of the school year. Its virtue to me is that this is direct, purposive and personal; and, not to be underestimated, it is also modest in scope.
Art may soothe the savage beast, as the saying goes, but can it get through to teen-agers?
My name is Sarah -- actually, it used to be Sarah, but that was before I went to Israel and experienced the best summer of my life. A summer that changed me forever.
There are more than 30,000 Jewish teen-agers in Los Angeles -- how do we engage them?
My father has always revered Joe Louis. Asurprising hero, perhaps, for a man born and raised in far-awayHungary. Not the hero one might expect of a Jewish cantor, whose workall his life has been singing liturgy in synagogues. Yet, among themost vivid memories I have from my childhood in Hungary and Israel,through my teen-age years in the United States, are the stories myfather told of Joe Louis.
At 16, I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that my daily outfit of choice was a drab army jumpsuit I bought at a thrift store. It zipped up to my chin, and that almost wasn't far enough forme.
It's time that the American Jewish community wascalled to account. One of its number is languishing in the jaws ofthe criminal justice system, suffering for a mistake -- a gravemistake, admittedly -- to which the system has responded far, far outof proportion to the deed.
It's a hot summer day and 16 teen-agers are walking through YadVashem in Jerusalem with a handful of adults. The scene is acommonplace one until you look a little closer and listen morecarefully. Half of the group is speaking softly in Arabic amongthemselves and they come from villages with names like Julis and KfarYassif. The Arab and Druze teens in the group, as well as the Jewishones, are wearing long white T-shirts displaying the name of theGhetto Fighters' House and the word "guide" printed in large blockletters across the back.