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August 24 , 2012

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Tearing Down Walls & Building New Ones

Words have power. They can create and build. But they can also devastate and damage.

The Moral Costs of Jewish Day School


The key to solving the financial dilemma is to address the moral problem.

Rabbi Dr. Jerry Lob

Rabbi Aryeh Klapper

THE COMMUNITY LINKS is published biweekly and is distributed free to the Jewish Community of Southern California. THE COMMUNITY LINKS accepts no responsibility for typographical errors or reliability of Kashrus of any advertisers. All submissions become the property of THE COMMUNITY LINKS and may be shortened and/or edited for length and clarity. Articles published in THE COMMUNITY LINKS express the views of the individual writers and may not necessarily represent the views of THE COMMUNITY LINKS. No artwork or any part of the magazine may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without the written permission of the publisher.


Color War A Parting Shot

The red need not obliterate the yellow, nor the green wipe away the violet. The goal is for all of us to work together to make the world beautiful. Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz


CRIC Community Meeting


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Tearing Down Walls & Building New Ones By Rabbi Dr. Jerry Lob


om Kippur is in the air. Just a little more time before we hear that haunting melody of Kol Nidrei, a prayer that involves the annulment of vows, ushering in this holiest of days. I once heard from a beloved teacher, that we begin Yom Kippur this way, expressing our understanding of the power of words because of the integral role prayer plays on this day. We will spend a good part of the next 25 hours using prayer to ask G-d for forgiveness, together with all the other requests we make of Him, regarding our hopes and dreams for ourselves and loved ones in the coming year. To pour out our heart to Hashem, we first need to acknowledge, by declaring Kol Nidrei, we recognize that we were not always careful enough with our speech, in fact, we often misused the power of words. Words matter, a vow creates reality, it has substance, and Halachic ramifications. The words we use affect others in profound ways. For example, in the way we talk to our children: “It’s so good to see you.” “I’ve missed you.” “I love you.” “We’re so proud of you.” Words which gently build a child’s budding 10

confidence, words that nourish her soul, conveying the sentiments that she’s understood, accepted, and loved. Yes, words have power. They can create and build. But they can also devastate and damage. Words that cut, slicing through a fragile soul, such as: “You’re so lazy.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “All you give me is aggravation.” When said by a parent these are words which can haunt a person throughout his life. Our words can build walls, walls that separate us from the people we care about, that separate us from others in our community, and can even separate us from Hashem. In Jewish thought we are told that this happens every time one sins. Each sin forms a brick in a wall, so to speak, a barrier, which divides us from each other, from Hashem, and from our very selves. And yet, just as our actions and words build words, they can also break them down. The force of a sincere apology, the dynamic of genuine repentance, can make the barriers August 24, 2012 • 323-965-1544 •

disintegrate. Regarding our relationship with others, this does not necessarily occur right away, but over time, with the right words and attitude, demonstrating real regret, it usually will happen. “I’m really sorry, what I said to you is not true. I feel terrible about it,” goes a long way to repairing a relationship. “Please forgive me, I was wrong,” are words that are capable of initiating the healing process. Regarding our relationship with Hashem, our Torah promises that T’shuva breaks through all barriers. In June of 1987 President Reagan challenged President Gorbachev at Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall. This wall separated East Berlin from West Berlin, communism from democracy and the wall was the symbol of the Cold War that existed then between the Soviet Union and the democratic world. Mr. Reagan turned to Mr. Gorbachev, gestured to the wall, and shouted what would be recorded in history as the words that officially ended the Cold War: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” I have this imagery in my head. Hashem stands right beside us in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, and especially on Yom Kippur itself, and whispers to each of us: “Tear down


this wall, the wall that separates us and gets in the way of our closeness.” Hashem asks us to come home, feel the redemption of T’shuva, and jump into His arms, the arms of a loving father who wants nothing more than to hold us and comfort us. So, Yom Kippur is a time of using words to reduce pain, to bring healing, to reconnect with all those from whom we’ve grown distant, family, friends, community, the Jewish people, and Hashem. Piercing the barriers, tearing down walls. And then, we spend the next four days building new walls, not walls of division but rather walls of connection. The walls of a Succah, walls that don’t separate and isolate, but rather the opposite, walls that frame a family, make a home, in which we sit with our families, friends, and community. We sit there too, with our nation, the entire nation of Israel, past, present, and future, and most importantly, we sit in the Succah feeling the embrace of the Presence of Hashem’s Shechinah. Dr. Lob is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Chicago, working with adults, adolescents, and families, for many years. He lectures and writes extensively on topics relating to psychology, relationships, parenting, education, and Jewish thought.

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The Moral Costs of Jewish Day School By Rabbi Aryeh Klapper

There is a lot of hand-wringing these days about whether the rising costs of Jewish day schools are sustainable. The discussion has been about money: How can we get more? How can we spend less? These questions miss the point: The largest costs of high day school tuition are not financial but moral, and the key to solving the financial dilemma is to address the moral problem. What are the moral costs? Imagine that someone proposes a new Jewish practice that would have these consequences: A. Parents take second jobs, or work longer hours, that deprive them of almost all weekday contact with their children and leave them too exhausted to make Shabbat meaningful. B. Almost half of households are transformed, for years, from community contributors to charity recipients. C. Children aspiring to intellectual, creative, or service work, such as teaching (especially Torah) or other helping professions, are told that these are not options because they will not produce enough money to sustain a committed Jewish lifestyle. 14

D. For economic reasons, families choose to have fewer children. We would consider such a practice stunningly irresponsible. Yet these are real-life consequences of current day school tuition, even as the community seems committed to making day school education a requirement of serious Jewish child-rearing. How can we live with these consequences? Furthermore, parents receiving day school financial aid have no guarantee, and often no idea, of how they will be affected by tuition hikes or whether the school will take account of a job loss, a new baby, a car's breakdown-or, on the other hand, a gift from a parent or extra income from a second job. They cannot make future plans; they are chronically dependent on other people's decisions. They are deprived of economic dignity. Indeed, financial aid applications require families to state their expenses in often-humiliating detail. They know a committee will sit in judgment of their priorities. A family that eats pasta all month so it can go to a movie risks an aid cut because it spends on entertainment. A family that uses an inheritance to visit yet-unseen relatives in Israel risks a cut because it August 24, 2012 â&#x20AC;˘ 323-965-1544 â&#x20AC;˘

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The price of poverty is often loss of privacy. This is an evil, which we should minimize. But the current system maximizes intrusions on privacy by forcing people who make five times the median income to apply for charity. Because the maximum tuition is unaffordable even for many families earning over $200,000 per year, they are forced into a financial aid system that requires complete financial disclosure.

No system is without drawbacks, but the proposed system's moral advantages are significant.

The system also undermines the schools' Jewish effectiveness. If our children lack Jewish passion, doesn't that bespeak parental exhaustion? If they are materialistic, isn't this related to their being told that their career paths are limited because they are poor? When they show signs of being "at risk," doesn't this reflect lessened parental involvement? How can children internalize the core Jewish value of human dignity and the spiritual value of financial independence when their schools make them dependent? Should we therefore undo our commitment-admittedly unprecedented in Jewish history, and inconceivable in a less wealthy community-to broad-based day school education? This is not necessary. We can address the moral issues and, in doing so, the financial issues as well. The Solomon Schechter School of Greater Boston has proposed a version of a model with great potential. In very simplified form, here is how it might work: Tuition is set as either a fixed percentage of income-say, 15 percent, with small adjustments for the number of children in the school or a relatively high set amount per student, which highincome families can use if they wish to pay a lower percentage of their income. Families unable to pay even the 15 percent could, as now, apply for financial aid. This model corrects many of the current system's moral deficiencies: It makes the tuition-setting process transparent and predictable. It moves many middle-class families off the rolls of those receiving financial aid. It defines day school education as a public good to be communally supported instead of an individual good, privately purchased. It makes clear that the rich, even when they pay the maximum tuition, are assessed a lower percentage of their income than the middle class. There are, of course, gaps and imperfections. The new system does not (yet) address families with children in multiple schools or questions of what costs should and should not be included in tuition. It also excludes, consciously, family assets. Yes, this exclusion could allow families to "cheat" by hiding their true financial capacity; but counting all assets would provide a disincentive to saving-and, equally important, would have critical implications for privacy and August 24, 2012 â&#x20AC;˘ 323-965-1544 â&#x20AC;˘

Still, let's be practical: The model will and should be required to pass the budget test. It should provide our schools with revenues at least equal to those of the present system. In fact, the new model would meet or exceed the test, if only because the percentage of income required as tuition can be set so as to produce approximately the revenues that schools receive now. But the new system would have further budget advantages. Under the current system, schools operate under deeply flawed ideas about their revenues and their communities' financial capacities. They have arbitrary "financial aid budgets" for what they consider tuition "subsidies"; they turn down students when these budgets are "spent" and they can no longer "afford" to take students paying less than full tuition. In fact, however, any student who pays a significant portion of gross family income will be contributing significantly more than the marginal cost of his or her education. In rejecting such students, schools forego revenues and profits. Moreover, notes Dan Perla of the AviChai Foundation, if a school sets tuition as a percentage of income during a recession, when costs rise faster than wages, it will realize rising revenues from the same percentage of income when times improve. In addition, it is wholly reasonable to expect that the new system would change behavior. Families who do not consider day school under the current system, because of uncertainties or privacy concerns, may well consider it when they know how tuition payments will relate to their income and are required to submit only the first page of their income tax returns. Families with many children will be more likely to send them to day schools; indeed, such families may grow larger over time. Wealthier and even middle-class families, who will no longer see their tuition payments as subsidizing their neighbors, may be more likely to donate. Families without children in the schools may also be more willing to donate if day school costs are presented as a communal obligation, not a commodity for purchase. This new model requires elaboration and customization, but it can redirect the community's conversation and efforts toward a model of day school financing that is both financially and morally sustainable. Rabbi Aryeh Klapper is Dean of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership, the intellectual catalyst of Modern Orthodoxy's "Taking Responsibility for Torah," and teaches Rabbinic Literature at Gann Academy, a pluralistic Jewish high school in Waltham, Massachusetts. 15

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Color War – A Parting Shot The Observant Jew -By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz

As the summer draws to a close and many camps come to an end, I wanted to revisit the topic of Color War. I’m not sure of the exact origin of this practice in camps, but the idea of colors in battle harks back to the time when armies used flags (referred to as “colors”) to help maintain formation and identify fellow soldiers in the dust and smoke of battle. The colors were a source of pride for the soldiers and helped them maintain confidence. Color is a remarkable thing. Despite its somewhat less than positive connotations, the rainbow captures our imaginations and makes people stare in awe. Fruits, vegetables, cakes and cookies all draw us in with vibrant color. Have you noticed there are very few gray foods? (I’m not counting the camp oatmeal when I was nine… I don’t know if they really intended for it to be gray.) We marvel at sunsets; at azure blue waters and blazing red fireballs as the evening begins. We are taken aback at brushstrokes on canvas, the colors all combining to make a masterpiece. Yes, color is important, but there’s another factor at work. What made me think of this topic was a sign I saw for a camp Color War. It said, “Red Team is Achdus (Unity.)” I thought that strange. If you’re the red team, then the blue team is separate. Where’s the achdus? If you’re drawing battle lines based on different colors, that’s disunity! My first thought was that red and blue (the most common Color War teams) together make purple. In many cultures, purple is the color of royalty. It comes from taking two opposing colors – red and blue – like our setting sun and the ocean, and combining them. When you do that, you acquire not only a mastery over them, but a majesty you didn’t have before. I figured that when Red and Blue finally stop fighting and come together, that purplish hue is a unity that reflects the Kingship of HaShem. (Maybe that’s why many camps have a banquet after Color War.)

the achdus is most apparent, and perhaps that is why it is precisely the rainbow that G-d uses to remind us of His promise never to destroy the world. In the times of Noach, people stole from each other. They didn’t recognize the roles that each man or woman was intended to play. The world was chaotic, and HaShem destroyed it with a flood. As a sign of His promise not to destroy the world with a flood, He placed His bow in the sky. The ultimate “weapon” of goodness in this world is the unity displayed in the rainbow. The red need not obliterate the yellow, nor the green wipe away the violet. The goal is for all of us to work together to make the world beautiful. Perhaps that is why Color War has become a staple in schools and camps. From a young age, it reminds us that we each have our roles, and that we each have tremendous abilities and strengths. At the same time, it also reminds us that so do the other people around us. Let’s say goodbye to the Summer and hello to Elul with this thought in our minds and hearts. Let’s take this lesson with us to the Yemei HaDin and go united to coronate our King, using each of our individual abilities and strengths as part of a united front which will make the world stop and stare in awe and wonder.

Jonathan Gewirtz is a frequent contributor to these pages whose mission is to inspire and make people think. If you are inspired, act on it! Find a way to make this world a better place for yourself and those you share it with.

One way Rabbi Gewirtz does this is by publishing a weekly Dvar Torah in English called the Migdal Ohr, now in its fourteenth year. My next thought was that though combining them can be nice, Subscribe for free by e-mailing and true achdus is when each color comes together while maintaining writing subscribe in the Subject line. its individuality. This is the beauty inherent in a rainbow, when white light is diffused and we can see its component parts. This beauty comes from recognizing the reds, yellows, and blues, along with their mingled shades, and seeing all of them work together and bend in unison to the task at hand. That’s where 24

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Touro College Los Angeles Touro College Los Angeles, the only WASC accredited Orthodox Jewish college on the west coast, celebrated its 6th annual commencement ceremony on Monday, June 25 2012. Opening remarks were made by CE0-Provost, Dr. Bernard Luskin and the Keynote speaker featured Dr. Mark Hasten, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Touro College and University System. Awards were presented by Dean Esther Lowy to Miriam Brummer as Valedictorian and Rochel Miriam Pollak as Salutatorian. In addition, the two Spirit of Touro awards were presented to Avraham Saada and Leah Mizrahi. With over 130 attendees, TCLA acknowledged the growth of both the entire Touro system as well as the Los Angeles Campus. Among TCLA’s own graduates, students are headed to such prestigious universities as Columbia, USC, and Pepperdine while others have already secured full time jobs in their fields. TCLA is upholding its reputation as an institution that offers academic excellence by producing top tier students who are prepared for both graduate school and their field work. After interviewing a sample of 2012 graduates, it is clear why Touro College Los Angeles is the leading institution in Orthodox Jewish college education on the west coast. What made you decide to choose TCLA to earn your baccalaureate degree? Avi Saada: “TCLA is the only college on the West Coast that accepts my Yeshiva credits, which expedited my college career by a whole year. Additionally, TCLA’s condensed night schedule gives me the opportunity to work during the day, allowing me to simultaneously earn money and gain a real business experience in the field.” Miriam Brummer: “I decided to come to Touro Los Angeles in order to pursue my college degree in a Jewish environment, yet without compromising on academics.” Simcha Levenberg : “I chose TCLA because they gave me 48 total credits for my years of yeshiva study. This arrangement made it possible for me to graduate with a BA in 20 months. At 33 years of age, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in a traditional four year school, because I also wanted to attend graduate school following TCLA.” Elisheva Belinow: “I chose to study in 28

TCLA because being a mother of two I needed a place where I was able to take classes that work around my busy schedule. I needed to go to a place that was understanding of my situation.” Esther Pearl Marks: “It was convenient, qualified and accredited. I got seminary credits Jewish holidays off plus an amazing education. Touro's small classes made it simple to create relationships with faculty members. This became instrumental when applying for graduate school, as these faculty members later wrote me excellent letters of recommendation.” Can you share some of your experiences studying at TCLA? A.S. “Thanks to TCLA’s convenient night schedule, I was not only able to receive a strong education in business and finance but I was also able to observe and implement the concepts I learned in class in the work field. Because the class sizes were rather small, I was able to develop personal relationships with my professors and we frequently discussed real-life business experiences, thus giving me an added advantage at work. Also, having served as Student Council President for the past year proved to be a positive experience not only to the student body but to the community at large as well. With the help of the rest of the student council, many events were implemented such as a Sukkot BBQ, Purim and Channukah parties, a Toy Drive, and Blood Drive. All of which, made our experience at TCLA both entertaining and fulfilling.” M. B. “Touro encouraged me and helped me with any "bump" in the road to getting my bachelor of arts and I was able to finish my degree in three years. Touro's small class sizes allowed me to forge relationships with my professors which came in handy when I needed advice for things like graduate schools and internship programs” S. L. “The school was extremely accommodating about most aspects of my education. When classes weren't offered, the staff and faculty provided options for me to be able to take the courses through directed study, which helped me keep to my schedule. The faculty/student ratio made

me feel very personable with my professors. Since the class sizes were smaller there was enough time for me to ask questions during class.” E. B.“Everyone was very encouraging in helping me achieve my degree. It was also extremely helpful that the Dean and administrative members both attended school while they had young kids at home. They constantly encouraged me to continue and never give up. Having that support has helped me to get to the end.” E. P. M. “TCLA’s small classes, Jewish holidays off, great classmates and great faculty all contributed to my experience. I made friendships I expect to have for a long time among my peers, which will hopefully serve me well as I network in my field in the years to come.” Would you recommend others to attend TCLA? Why? A. S. “To all those who wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business or psychology in a Jewish, warm, and friendly environment, while working during the day and eventually complete an undergraduate education from a well reputed institution in 3 years or less… TCLA is the right place for you. A wise person once told me, ‘Knowledge is power.’ This statement has been validated for me after having graduated TCLA. I feel confident in pursuing my dreams in the work-force given the tools of knowledge I have earned at TCLA. The past 3 years were definitely not easy to say the least, but all that hard work eventually pays off as I am now ready to make a difference.” Avi Saada, president of TCLA’s men student council, is planning to continue working full time in the filed of healthcare administration. M. B. “Touro offers many programs which are geared to help students prepare in whatever field they might choose to go into through "hands-on" experience. The Touro College Crisis Helpline, of which I was one of the first members, offered me insight into the field of psychology and working with patients in crisis. The knowledge and skills that I gained under the guidance of the Helpline's leader, Dr. Lucien

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Chocron, go beyond whatever I may have gained from a textbook in a lecture hall. Touro College assists its students whenever they can, just as they have constantly assisted me throughout my journey. The dean and the rest of the faculty truly care about the needs of each pupil. I have even been encouraging my brother to switch from his university into Touro Los Angeles, so that he can finish his degree as quickly and efficiently as I have. Miriam Brummer, valedictorian of class of 2012, will be attending University of Southern California’s Master’s in Education program. S. L. “I would recommend Touro to a focused student, an orthodox student, a student who wants to stay local, and a student who likes a good parking lot…”

Simcha Levenberg will be attending Pepperdine University’s graduate school of Psychology and Education. E. P. M. “This is exactly what a working Jewish religious girl needs from her college life seminary credit, good education, Jewish holidays off, great faculty, and steady reliable hours so I could hold a full time job while being in school. Dean Lowy and other faculty are really always there for their students and they have an open door policy. Touro was exactly what I needed out of the college experience.” Esther Pearl Marks will be attending Columbia University’s Masters in Teaching program. For more information about the programs of Touro College Los Angeles, please contact Samira Miller, Director of Admissions at 323-822-9700, ext. 85155 or email

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CRIC Meets with U.S. House of Representatives, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Jewish community and organizational leaders gathered at the museum-like home of Sarita Spiwak in Century City, California to meet and hear from the Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Congreswoman Ros Lehtinen was first elected in a special election in 1989 after Congressman Claude Pepper died in office becoming the first Cuban-American female elected to Congress. During that period, Lee Atwater was the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mr. Atwater called Los Angeles County Commissioner Howard Winkler and asked him to go to Miami and introduce Ileana to the large Jewish Community. Commissioner Winkler was successful in bringing the entire Jewish leadership together within five days to support Ileana who easily won election to Congress and went on to win the next 11 elections making her the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House. As the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a key committee in shaping American foreign policy, she has written and ushered through Congress innumerable pieces of pro-Israel legislation, including bills strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance, addressing radical

Islam, preventing U.S. tax dollars from supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, and most recently, legislation that increases sanctions against Iran. The Congresswoman delivered a stimulating and lively Photo L-R: Dr. Irving Lebovics, Dr. Morry Waksberg, Sarita Spiwak, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, Stanley Treitel and Commissioner Winkler attending the Community presentation which Research & Information Center Speaker Series Brunch Event. highlighted three major issues and informed the audience Center (CRIC) a California Political about a number of pieces of tough Action Committee (PAC) and Jewish legislation that she had authored and Community Organization (JCO) which passed to combat the growing threats posed to our nation’s security, and to our hosts and sponsors influential speakers ally Israel’s very existence. Those issues and government officials. This particular are: • Iran and Syria’s pursuit of nuclear event was chaired by Dr. Irving Lebovics, weapons capabilities and sponsorship of violent Islamist groups; • the Palestinian Mr. Stanley Treitel, Dr. Morry Waksberg leadership’s dangerous dual track of & Commissioner Howard Winkler and seeking the unilateral recognition of state- generously hosted by Sarita Spiwak. hood at the UN while embracing antiFor more information on upcoming Israel extremists, and ultimately refusing to make peace with Israel; and • anti- community events send an email to: Semitic and anti-Israel efforts at the United Nations and other international or write to Community Research & Information bodies. This special event was sponsored by Community Research and Information

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Community Links Issue 214  
Community Links Issue 214  

Community Links Issue 214 August 24 Edition