When Donna Levine told her mother she had converted, the response was that she would burn in hell. A friend encouraged Levine to join Jews for Jesus. She had to explain to this friend that, unfortunately, that wouldn’t work.
When Linda Volpert Gross took on chairing the board at Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), it seemed that she would have a simple tenure. The institute had just hired Rabbi Isaac Jeret as president, someone they hoped could lead BBI into a bright new future.
Anyone who cares about the future of Jewish life in Los Angeles eventually explodes in frustration over the community's inability to tap its own enormous wealth.
The University of Judaism (UJ) and Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), two Southern California institutions that for the last 60 years have educated and inspired Jews of all ages and affiliations -- and that have both at times struggled through financial and leadership troubles -- this week will announce that they have merged into one entity, to be known as the American Jewish University.
We've been sitting at Starbucks over iced drinks for 20 minutes, and the subject of the University of Judaism (UJ) has yet to be brought up. We're schmoozing, Robert Wexler and I, and he asks a lot of questions about me -- where my grandparents are from, where I went to college, where my kids go to school. We talk about how parenting today is so different from how it was when we were each growing up, and we weigh the pros and cons of teens being tethered to their parents by the flip of a cell phone.
In a showbiz career that has spanned nearly six decades, Israeli American actor Mike Burstyn has played everyone from Al Jolson and Tevye to Nathan Detroit and P.T. Barnum.
In person Barak is somehow both more and less imposing than he seems from afar.
An exhibit commemorating the American and Canadian volunteers who had fought in Israel's War of Independence in 1947-1949 and manned the "illegal" Aliyah Bet ships carrying refugees to the Jewish state.
When Susanne Shier first heard about the mikvah, the ritual immersion bath that's part of the conversion process, she was a bit leery.
"I got nervous about it," she told The Journal before her immersion in March.
Out on stage at Universal Studios' Gibson Amphitheatre, in front of a sold-out crowd of some 6,000 people, the two pundits and authors went at it. First, event organizer Dr. Gady Levy introduced himself as the event's "ringmaster," preparing the audience for the circus that was to follow. He urged civility from the crowd. "Free speech only works when you can hear it," said Levy, to what were apparently many deaf ears.
Five brief pieces, on the following: Shalhevet School's recent winning streak, Camp Ramah's new solar panels, a five-day summer workshop that shows teachers how to use studying the holocaust to teach morality, an opportunity to serve abroad as part of the "Jewish Peace Corps," and a recent Prejudice Awareness Summit at the University of Judaism.
A lively, heartfelt tribute to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin brought more than 400 people to the University of Judaism to mark the 10th year since an assassin took his life.
When California voters passed a $3 billion stem cell research initiative, they not only opened the door to medical advances but also to a collaboration with scientists from Israel, which is an established leader in the field.
To seed that partnership, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center recently hosted a two-day symposium that attracted more than 300 physicians, scientists, bioethicists and entrepreneurs.
This debate on whether to destroy the houses in the Gaza settlements before disengaging is part of a series of discussions among younger scholars sponsored by the Center for Israel Studies of the University of Judaism.
For playwright Miriam Hoffman, Yiddish is hardly a dying language. "It just doesn't want to die," said Hoffman, who will teach Yiddish at the Dec. 14-20 intensive language/culture immersion courses at UCLA and the University of Judaism.
"Yiddish was always a problem since its birth," said Hoffman, who writes children's books on the subject, lectures at Columbia University and writes for the Yiddish-language newspaper, Forvertz. "It had to compete with the sacred language, which is Hebrew. Yiddish carried [Zionism] on its back for 1,000 years."
And the verdict is: not guilty, by a razor-thin margin. An audience of more than 400 people had a chance to flex their "Law & Order" muscles while serving as the jury in the mock trial of Abraham -- that's right, our founding forefather -- held at the University of Judaism (UJ) Nov. 24.
At the sold-out event in the Gindi auditorium, Abraham was tried for the attempted murder of his son, Issac. The case was based on the Akedah, in the book of Genesis, otherwise known as the binding of Isaac, in which Abraham takes his son to a mountain and prepares to sacrifice him, only to be stopped by an angel.
Gady Levy, the dean of continuing education at the University of Judaism, faces a question familiar to Broadway and Hollywood producers.
David Kosak, a 35-year-old rabbinical student from the University of Judaism, was lunching with classmates at Hebrew University's Frank Sinatra cafeteria on Wednesday when the bomber struck.
Don't get Howard Rosenberg started on the snobs who dismiss sitcoms as trash.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times TV critic thinks they're an American art form, which is why he's hosting "The Serious Side of Laughter," a panel discussion about television comedy Feb. 17 at the University of Judaism. The panelists -- responsible for some of the biggest yuks on the tube -- include Sam Simon of the groundbreaking animated series "The Simpsons," Judd Apatow of the quirky college romp "Undeclared," Phil Rosenthal of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and Larry Wilmore of "The Bernie Mac Show."
In the middle of 1944, nearly 1,000 Jewish refugees were plucked from war-torn Europe and transported to the United States, where they spent the next 18 months interned at a former Army post in Oswego, N.Y.
In 1981, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a 150-page book, published with little fanfare, that changed the lives of the more than 4 million people who read it and made its title, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," part of the vernacular.
Right after Pesach last year, Ziony Zevit got a string of phone calls in Jerusalem, where he was on sabbatical from his position as a professor of biblical literature and Semitic languages at the University of Judaism (UJ).
It was early June, and the clock was ticking ominously for composer William Goldstein.
As the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (ZSRS) at the University of Judaism (UJ) in Los Angeles completes its fifth year, it marks not only a transition within Conservative Judaism but the emergence of Los Angeles as a center for Jewish intellectual life. While it used to be that the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in New York City was the one center for training Conservative Rabbis (with the University of Judaism as an appendix established in 1947), the development of the ZSRS reflects a maturation of the UJ as its own entity, much like a younger sibling emerging from the shadows of an accomplished older child.
Meseret Rubin started learning modern Hebrew for the sake of her family.
Sculptress Harriet Zeitlin and painter Pat Berger share a lot in common. Friends for many decades, both artists have worked for more than 50 years, have had extensive teaching experience, were active in organizations championing artists' rights in the 1970s, lost their husbands in the 1990s. They even own terriers (Pilot and Dori, respectively).
My parents were Elderhostel students this week at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and I shared Friday night services with them in the Conservative tradition of my youth.
Scenes from Lishma, a joint project of Camp Ramah and the University of Judaism's Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, in which young adults engage in a six-week program of serious spiritual practice and text study.
Last year, as summer approached, Julie Pelc was moving towards a master's degree in education, with plans to go on to rabbinical school. Andrew Weitz was serving as the northeast field representative of the United Jewish Communities, working with Jewish student leaders on outreach and social action projects. Jonathan Dorff was finishing up his first year of medical school. All three of these young Jewish adults found themselves faced with the luxury of a free summer, what Dorff calls, "my last summer off ever." All chose to take part in Lishma, the six-week egalitarian yeshiva-study program newly inaugurated by Camp Ramah in California.
Two recent conferences held in the Jewish community -- one on autism, the other on a wide scope of disabilities -- demonstrated the difficulties of reconciling research and reality when it comes to helping individuals with special needs.
Pressman is in a reflective mood as he approaches his 80th birthday, which will be celebrated this weekend with a music/variety show in the Gindi Auditorium at the University of Judaism. Pressman will perform with family and friends who work in show business.
The nightmares have plagued Dr. Sigi Ziering since the Holocaust.