Table of Contents Features
nEWS & pOLITICS
4. Reflection, Repentance & Renewal
20. CSP in the Summer
5. Welcome to Jewish Orange County
21. Dead Sea Scrolls Come to California
6. Locals Represent at Maccabi Games
22. Local Man Found Guilty for Supporting ISIS
oRANGE cOUNTY 8. Return and Renewal 9. Faces of the Future
23. Travel Warning Issued 24. Building Bridges
lIFE & rELIGION
10. To a Sweet Year
28. Have a Happy, Sweet New Year
12. Celebrating 15 Years
29. The Fireman, A Parable
14. Seasonal Mitzvah
30. Make Repentance Real
15. Educating the Whole Child
32. A Lesson on Tzedakah
16. New Website, New Artists, New Year
33. Yom Kippur - Thou Shall Not Eat... Right?
17. Living Jewishly
34. Kaddish vs Yizkor
18. Engagement and Ingagement
35. High Holidays Calendar
Opinion 38. As U.S. Robustly Debates Iran Deal, Western Europe Exhibits ‘Fatigue’
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Kosher OC Magazine PO Box 7054 Newport Beach, CA 92658 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.kosheroc.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/kosheroc Twitter: @kosheroc YouTube: www.youtube.com/kosheroc Issuu: www.issuu.com/kosheroc
Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Welcoming the High Holy Days
Reflection, Repentance & Renewal Apples and honey, round challah and pomegranates. White clothing, tablecloths and Torah mantles. The distinct sounds of the shofar and the harmony of the choir. The High Holy Days are coming, replete with sights, sounds, scents and tastes that create and evoke memories. The symbols establish the mood, and then we â€“ in partnership with our Creator and each other â€“ take it many steps further. Our tradition demands it, our soul requires it and we embrace it. This is a time of year to reflect on the past, analyze what we could have done differently and resolve to make things better in the future. At the same time, we are living in the moment, totally engaged in the meaning of the service and the rituals. It is a time to be fully awake and aware, a time to understand who we are and why we are here and a time to feel connected to all who are engaged in the same process. In short, it is a time to get to the core of our Judaism. Jewish people are lucky to get a chance to recharge spiritually and start over. It gives us a sense of having the gift of understanding right from wrong, the ability to improve the human condition and the power to put our focus where it needs to be. Make the most of it. Think about how you can change yourself. Think about how you can improve your relationships with family, friends, colleagues and even casual acquaintances. Consider the ways you can connect on a higher level with your congregation and your community. Work on ways to be closer to God. Lâ€™shanah tovah from Kosher OC! May you and yours be inscribed for a good, sweet and fulfilling year! Ilene Schneider
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Welcome to Jewish Orange County Kosher OC Magazine is here to give the Orange County Jewish community news when it happens, here and around the world. We combine the best of modern media and dedicated journalism to give you timely and interesting stories about the movers and shakers of the community and the great events they hold. We also talk about Jewish trends and trendmakers in Israel and throughout the globe with interesting ideas about celebrating holidays and celebrating each other. Join us for a window into the world of Judaism, and let us have your insight and input. It is our pleasure to serve this wonderful community. Zach Miller
Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Locals Represent at Maccabi Games OC locals make strong showing at European and U.S. Maccabi Games By Sara Gold
Samantha Cohen, program director at Orange County’s Merage Jewish Community Center, is a native Brit and competed in tennis for Team Britain at the Maccabi Games.
On August 1, 1936, Adolf Hitler emceed the opening day of the Summer Olympics at the Berlin Stadium. A few weeks ago, that same stadium erupted with applause for the 2,300 Jewish athletes competing in the European Maccabi Games on July 27 through August 5. The European Maccabi Games, held every four years, bring together Jewish youth and adult athletes from across the globe to compete in about 20 different sports, ranging from football and basketball to fencing and table tennis. This summer, the Team USA athletes hailing from Orange County included Catie Chase, Sydney Telson and Sami Feinstein (women’s soccer); Alyssa Rudin (youth girls’ tennis); and Ilan Ezra and Kai Weissberger (youth boys’ basketball). “I gained from Maccabi a sense of community in realizing that Jewish athletes, no matter where they are from, are a family,” said Rudin, an 18-year-old varsity tennis player at University High School. “It amazed me how easily we all connected despite differences in language, culture and sport.” 6
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Chase, who coaches soccer at Sage Hill High School, remembers the thrill of walking into the Olympic Park during the opening ceremonies, holding a banner proclaiming “We are still here.”
The week after competing in the Berlin games, Cohen served as director of the Orange County delegation for the annual U.S. Maccabi Games and ArtsFest.
“My grandparents were Holocaust survivors, so being able to walk in that stadium holding that banner made me beyond proud,” said Chase, 29. Samantha Cohen, program director at Orange County’s Merage Jewish Community Center, is a native Brit and competed in tennis for Team Britain at the Maccabi Games. Cohen, 31, said that this summer’s Maccabi Games were the most meaningful of the 23 European and JCC Maccabi Games she has competed in since she was a teen. “Going back to Berlin, to the Olympic Park that the Nazis built and singing the Hatikvah at the opening ceremony alongside thousands of Jews from across the globe was epic,” she said. “Together we made history – it was the most meaningful Jewish experience of my life so far.” U.S. Teen Maccabi Games and ArtsFest
More than 80 Orange County teens ages 13 to 17 participated in the Maccabi Games and ArtsFest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from August 9 to 14. “It was an incredible week, and Team OC represented our community with pride and spirit both on and off the field of play,” Cohen said. “It was so rewarding to see 81 OC Jewish teens join over 1,500 counterparts from across the globe at this incredible celebration of Jewish culture, community, Israel and Jewish peoplehood. It promises hope for our Jewish future.” The OC teens earned a total of 14
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medals in sports such as swimming, dance and tennis, in addition to several Midot, or spirit, awards. “I was impressed by the high skill level of the players, and it felt great to be in such an inclusive social atmosphere with Jewish athletes from around the world,” said 13-year-old Evan Stein, a Corona del Mar Middle School student who competed in basketball in his first-ever Maccabi Games. Alexis Abelove, a Beckman High School varsity soccer player, returned to the Maccabi Games for her fourth year. “Every year, the most memorable part is during the opening ceremonies when they play the Hatikvah with 10,000 people in the stands, all singing along,” said Abelove, 16. “Knowing everyone supports Israel and is there for the same reason is surreal. It gives me chills every time.”
Join us for
High Holy Days Check us out beforehand Friday, Sept. 4, at 5pm ● eat appetizers ● meet friendly people ● peruse a showcase of our community ● join us for 6pm Kabbalat Service
Return and Renewal Community shares excitement as Temple Beth Sholom comes home By Ilene Schneider
It was a true Shechechiyanu moment, a time to feel blessed about a joyous occasion. Temple Beth Sholom, Orange County’s first Jewish congregation, was moving back into its home after more than a year. The fire, the wandering and the stress were memories that gave way to pure joy on Sunday, August 30, as clergy, congregants and hundreds of members of the community celebrated the homecoming. “Return and Renewal: The Journey Back to Temple Beth Sholom” began with a Hakafah (Torah processional) around the building. Each Torah scroll was accompanied by a chuppah created by the Camp Sholom children. There was a participatory service with
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responsive readings with congregants and leaders of the community. Temple Beth Sholom’s adult and youth choirs, as well as local cantors, provided music. The day culminated with the affixing of a mezuzah and a reception. Because of its history, location and size, Temple Beth Sholom has hosted a variety of programs for the community since 1943. The community responded with a warm welcome to congregants in Temple Beth Sholom’s time of need. The sense of gratitude was palpable, the participation in the rededication was for everyone and the celebration was everyone’s simcha. “We reached out to the community, and they all said, ‘Let us help,’” said
Rabbi Heidi Cohen. Local synagogues shared space and resources, and the nearby Church of the Latter Day Saints provided a temporary venue for services, just as Temple Beth Sholom had done for that congregation as it was building its home fifty years ago. Rabbi Cohen recognized all of the community leaders, as well as staff members and lay leaders of the congregation, especially members of the maintenance staff, Octavio Montanez and Fabian Raygoza, who “made sure the Torah scrolls were safe. Now they’re home, and we’re home. How wonderful it is to be back on the property.” These first responders, along with the clergy, placed the Torah scrolls back into the Ark.
Faces of the Future Dynamic young leader spearheads resurgence of Hadassah Group By Ilene Schneider
Event co-chair Michele Shugarman called the response “gratifying and overwhelming.” The other cochair, Soni Sanberg, added, “It truly does take a village. We never missed a service or a serving of Mitzvah meals,” the congregation’s weekly dinner for homeless people.
Nicole Levy-Gray, one of the newest Hadassah members in Long BeachOrange County, is featured as the August New Member of the Month on National Hadassah’s website.
Originally from Philadelphia, LevyGray lives in Long Beach with her husband, two sons and two dogs. She loves to dance, shop, relax on the beach, socialize and travel to new places Levy-Gray says, “I believe strongly in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). I am always doing mitzvahs and teaching my boys to do the same. I believe we can all do something small and if we all join together it will turn into something much bigger.”
“The past 18 months weren’t easy,” Rabbi Cohen summarized. “It took a lot of creativity and a lot of you. We managed to find sacred moments and sacred spaces outside of our zone, but it’s great to be home.” Photos by Marc Ponseggi, Ponseggi Photography
order to support its efforts and educate women about the important work in which it is involved.
Levy-Gray is a dynamic new young leader helping to bring the Kesher group back to life. She is helping to coordinate the efforts of its first meeting, a wine and cheese event featuring Michelle Conwisar, who will share her personal story and educate the attendees about Hadassah. The event already has close to 20 reservations and many women who are excited to become involved. Levy-Gray has also been and will continue to be instrumental in reaching out to not-yet younger members in the greater Long Beach area and connecting them with Hadassah in Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
To a Sweet Year Ellia Kassoff has revived childhood memories with kosher candies and cookies By Robin Silver-Zwiren
Ellia Kassoff makes every year sweet, scrumptious and truly sensational. Growing up Ellia was able to fulfill every child’s fantasy by having a candy store within easy reach. His Uncle, Ed Leaf, and father owned Leaf Brand which made popular items like Whoppers, Jolly Ranchers and Milk Duds. The company, which was founded in the 1920s, was sold to Hershey’s in 1996. At this time it was the fourth largest candy producer in North America. Nevertheless, Hershey’s chose not to continue making some of the popular items. Skip forward a few years — and several owners — and Ellia decided to remake family history and many of our own memories as well. Ellia is reviving our past — not only original Leaf Products but other manufacturers as well. Products that have not been seen on grocery shelves or movie theater counters for decades have been revived. Our fondest childhood memories can now be tasted by our children and hopefully grandchildren. Take extra pride in knowing that Ellia Kassoff, a Newport Beach resident, is the one remaking some of your fondest memories. When you are standing in front of a cookie or candy aisle, make sure to choose the products that are very much a part of our (Jewish) community. Ellia has been so sure that consumers would be thinking the same way that 10
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he was willing to take on a giant like Macy’s. Heritage Brands, Macy’s own product line, may be creating teddy bears and t-shirts but not the edible products that Kassoff’s Strategic Marks LLC has been producing. Macy’s claims that it will be using the brand name more in the future. Although some items were put online in 2011, that is several years after Ellia began to apply for permission to use certain trademarks. The case was scheduled to go to trial this past spring, but once Kassoff added a few more brand applications the trial has been delayed until early in 2016.
Macy’s claims that the Marshall Fields name, another one of the many department stores no longer occupying space in malls across America, is in fact in use. However the landmark site in downtown Chicago is now a Macy’s. Even the engraved “Marshall Fields” stone near the front of the building does not mean the
name is still in use. No more than heritage sites found worldwide. Since Macy’s is not in fact producing these products, then at least Ellia Kassoff is near to pick up the pieces. Ellia grew up keeping kosher, so he could not necessarily try out everything his friends may have. However, being kosher means so much to him that every product he makes is under Orthodox supervision. That in itself led to some early challenges that may have made another businessman raise his hands in the air and proclaim “who cares if it is kosher”?! Not Ellia who stuck to his guns, persevered and now has products that I certainly look forward to tasting once again. What a good idea for a New Year’s resolution! A really sweet, tasty New Year! One item that is a real “blast to the past” is Astro Pops. These rocket shape lollipops, which were designed to look like a NASA rocket, were especially popular during the 1960s space program. Memories of sucking on the long, rainbow-colored treats was a real thrill. Okay, it also gave kids the opportunity to stick out their tongues and ask “what color is mine,” with impunity. Astro Pops are the only Strategic Marks product being made outside the United States, and that is because the machine parts for this irregular shaped
product were scrapped. Thankfully, Ellia found a distributor in China able to re-create the machine. The flavors and dyes are all made in the USA though. The Buddhist vegetarian owner makes other products as well but had been using a more regular red dye. Ellia told her how that product derived its color from crickets, so needless to say, besides being grossed out, she has since switched to the kosher accepted dye. Her other product was also Halal, but that level supervision does not examine every ingredient as closely as Orthodox supervision. This is a big relief to kosher consumers like me. Hydrox cookies were introduced to American kids years before the popular Oreos. The major difference then was that Hydrox was not only kosher but pareve — and free of trans fats. Oreos are now kosher as well but still not Hydrox. Although the package says they are dairy, that is because of the plant they are made in, but they are in fact dairy-free. Hydrox, which comes out in a few days, will also be dairy free, but since another line of cookies is made at the same plant, the package will have the familiar OU-D symbol. Shabbat dinner may not be followed by a glass of milk with Hydrox cookies, but grab a glass of soy milk and enjoy.
His products are made by several distributors, and the more product names he buys the more “middlemen” he will have filling his contact list. Ellia said, ” it is not so difficult going kosher so I don’t know why more people don’t do it.” This kosher consumer is glad he feels that way.
Mondelez, which makes Oreo cookies, recently built a massive multi-million dollar plant in Mexico. That means that 100 years of being a Chicago institution is mostly kaput — along with 600 jobs. Meanwhile, except for Astro-Pops because no US factory could produce the item, all Strategic Marks treats are made in the USA. Ellia Kassoff made a point to “tweet” this news to Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, who now says he “will never eat another Oreo cookie.” Mondelez admits that a main reason for moving a lot of production to Mexico is because it is cheaper there. Ellia does not care if he makes a few cents less but does care how many job opportunities he can give others. Maybe this is because he was once a “head hunter” but more probably because he is a real mentsch. For Trump it also means he can bring Ellia’s products home to his kosher grandchildren.
David Klein, the original creative mind behind Jelly Belly, is now part of Ellia’s amazing team. David’s “Beyond Gourmet” Jelly Beans product line introduces new exotic flavors. Add the chocolate line, and the word “ambrosia” certainly comes to mind. Thank you, Ellia, and your Strategic Marks team for bringing back the nostalgia of my childhood. Those moments sitting on the front steps of my childhood home, with my siblings, calling out to our neighborhood friends who were doing exactly the same — safe, suburban living and the taste of Astro Pops, Hydrox Cookies and so much more. “The feeling you get of bringing back something that is not just for you, but for tons of other people is awesome,” Ellia Kassoff concluded. For more information, visit www. leafbrands.com
Ellia is not strictly Orthodox but has principles not too many people do. Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Celebrating 15 Years Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program celebrates 15th anniversary By Martin Brower
sought to create a unique program in the United States – to bring to Orange County world-renowned Jewish scholars to “educate Jews and to celebrate Judaism.”
Arie Katz (above) founded and continues to direct Jewish adult education program, bringing world-renowned scholars to Orange County throughout the year
In 1997, when young South Africanborn, Boston bred and Princeton educated attorney Arie Katz moved to Orange County, he found what he considered a dearth of Jewish education opportunities for Orange County’s adults. Not one to sit idly by, Katz immediately went into action. He decided not to merely have another adult Jewish education program, but 12
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It took time, effort and fund raising from local private philanthropists and generous support from Jewish Federation & Family Services and the Orange County Jewish Community Foundation, but the Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program (“CSP”) was finally launched in September 2001 with an ambitious “One Month Scholar” program. CSP brings an internationally regarded scholar to Orange County for an entire month of programs. During the 30-day period, the scholar lectures and teaches typically daily – and sometimes more than once daily – at Jewish institutions and synagogues throughout Orange County. More than 3,000 Orange County residents on average attend this program each year. The first One Month Scholar was Avigdor Shinan, professor of Hebrew Literature at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The fifteenth One Month Scholar will be Dr. Sharon Keller, professor of comparative literature and language, Hofstra University, New York. Past scholars have included: Shalom Paul, Shaya Gafni, Yair Zakovitch, Reuven Kimelman,
Steven Katz, Noam Zion, Rachel Elior, Alick Isaacs, Stephen Berk, Clive Lawton, March Michael Epstein, David Solomon and Hartley Lachter. But Katz was not content with a single program — even if it was a month long. So, over the years CSP has added a week-long summer scholar institute (featuring renowned scholars such as Michael Fishbane, Saul Berman, Shalom Sabar, Yitz and Blu Greenberg and Edwin Seroussi); a pre-High Holiday event (past presenters include Lawrence Kushner, Mordecai Finley, Steven Leder, Naomi Levy, Joseph Telushkin, Yosef Kanefsky and Shawn Fields-Meyer); a series of evening events (with, among others, Zalman Schachter Shalomi, Aviva Zornberg, Harold Kushner, Irwin Kula, Wendy Wasserstein, Gershom Gorenberg, Jonathan Sarna and Shmuley Boteach); luncheon events (featuring A.B. Yehoshua, Rodger Kamenetz, David Wolpe, Marvin Tokayer and many more); a weekend adult retreat (with such teachers as Ed Feinstein, Brad Artson, Amy Jill Levine, Steven Greenberg and Ron Wolfson); an annual Shabbat Alive program (musical Shabbat evening in Bommer Canyon with musicians such as Moshav Band, Josh Nelson, Saul Kaye, Dan Nichols and Craig Taubman); a weekend family retreat
Startling evidence of what was a vibrant, thriving Jewish community in Iraq came to light in May 2003 when a U.S. Army team discovered over 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters.
Exhibit Open 9/4/2015 - 11/15/2015 Free Public Lecture “Recovering a Legacy” Friday, September 4, 2015 at 10:00 am Doris A. Hamburg, the National Archives Preservation Director who traveled to Baghdad and led the efforts to save these unique treasures, will provide a first-hand account about the National Archives’ efforts conserve and make available these materials and their historical significance. Registration: bit.do/Nixon
(past weekend scholars have included Alan Lew, Chaim and Doreen SeidlerFeller, Rami Shapiro, Moshe Waldoks and Larry Hoffman); and a number of musical events (with such performers as Neshama Carlebach and the Green Pastures Baptist Choir, Josh Nelson, Gershom Sizomu, Soul Farm, Yuval Ron Ensemble, Beit Tefilah Israeli, Nava Tehila and Six13). CSP has also hosted 20 camping trips to date (10 annual Fall Dads & Kids “In-Tents” experience and 10 annual summer family adventures) to such places as Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Valley of Fire, Anza Borrego and the Channel Islands. Never lacking in ideas, Katz organized and led a CSP trip to Israel in October 2014 and is working on Jewish study adventure trips to New York, Poland and China.
Over the past 15 years, CSP has come to the attention of scholars all over the world, and when Katz calls, they come. CSP has evolved into one of the most outstanding Jewish adult education programs in the nation, having hosted more than 500 events and close to 200 visiting scholars/ teachers since 2002. To listen to close to 200 recordings from past CSP events, visit the OCCSP podcast on I-tunes. CSP founder and still director Katz – in addition to his full-time position as an attorney for a major Orange County corporation – admits that he never anticipated how far and how fast the program he initiated 15 years ago would grow. The CSP program is open to everyone in the country, with membership starting at $180 per year. Further information can be had from CSP’s website (www.occsp.org) or by calling (949) 682-4040. Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Seasonal Mitzvah Temple Beth El sends Laura’s House kids on back-to-school shopping spree By Sara Gold
You know it’s back-to-school shopping season when retail stores dominate TV commercials, backpacks replace swim bags on the sale racks and shoppers are fighting for their lives over the store’s last pack of notebook dividers.
PIMCO donated a significant portion of the money for the event, with the rest donated by the Temple Beth El volunteers.
This yearly shopping craze, a stressful time for most parents, presented a unique mitzvah opportunity for Kim Gubner and Lainey Mitzman, both members of Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo. The women coordinated a back-toschool Childspree last month for 50 kids and teens living at Laura’s House, a local nonprofit organization that houses battered women and children. On Aug. 9, the children were greeted by 60 Temple Beth El volunteers at the Ladera Ranch Kohl’s store, where each child was given a $150 allowance to purchase school clothes and supplies. Each child was encouraged to allot $10 to $15 of the allowance for a gift to give to a relative or friend. “Being able to see the kids benefit from the money, and seeing the kids’ excitement as they picked out items they wanted, was one of the best parts,” said Gubner, of Laguna Niguel. 14
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Tilly’s donated a free backpack for 50 Laura’s House kids as part of Temple Beth El’s Childspree last month.
Gubner started Temple Beth El’s Childspree event last December, borrowing the concept from Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, where she was a Childspree volunteer for four years. Temple Beth El’s first Childspree sent about 30 kids from Orangewood Children’s Home on a shopping spree at the Ladera Ranch Kohl’s store. Last month’s event brought nearly double that number of kids to the Kohl’s. After shopping, the participants also got to tour fire and police vehicles, along with meeting local
firemen and sheriffs. Because many of the Laura’s House kids have had traumatic experiences with emergency personnel saving them from abusers, the concept behind the post-spree activities was for the kids to “learn that interactions with people in uniform don’t have to be negative experiences,” Gubner said. She and Mitzman plan to work with Temple Beth El Men’s Club and teens to organize another Childspree in December, benefiting Laura’s House or another nonprofit. “Not only are we teaching our children about tikkun olam, but we are also passing that ideal on to the children who we sponsor for the event,” said Gubner. “Allowing them and encouraging them to use part of their own money to spend on someone else teaches them kindness and generosity and is empowering for them as well.”
Educating the Whole Child New Olam Jewish Montessori director Dawn Kreisberg wants children to grow developmentally in a rich Judaic environment. By Ilene Schneider
New Olam Jewish Montessori director Dawn Kreisberg wants children to grow developmentally in a rich Judaic environment.
“Early childhood education is about building life skills by creating ‘moments’ where children are inspired by what they learn,” according to Dawn Kreisberg, the new director of Olam Jewish Montessori. Kreisberg has more than 30 years of experience in the Jewish early childhood education field, most recently eight years as early childhood education director at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, a “parent and me” through grade 8 school of 600 students in the Los Angeles area. There she oversaw curriculum development, trained teachers, developed parenting education programs, created parashah education programs, maintained academic and other requirements for NAYEC accreditation and assured a smooth transition into elementary school for her students. She also oversaw 26 preschools in Atlanta. Why did she choose Olam? Kreisberg likes the innovative nature of the school, as well as its background and educational philosophy. “I believe that Montessori is a progressive approach to educating
children,” she explained. “We allow kids to grow developmentally and make their own choices about learning, academically, emotionally and socially, plus we have the Judaic component. This is a wonderful Judaic environment that enhances and creates a program where children will grow spiritually with Torah and Jewish values.”
community while developing a natural progression to Irvine Hebrew Day School.” Kreisberg added, “We’re the pioneers, in the trenches of educating children and getting families involved in shul. It’s a real partnership where we give back and get involved and are intertwined.” Describing Montessori educators as facilitators, Kreisberg said that the children get to make choices but then spend time differentiating and spending extra time with certain projects. The children are in charge of their own learning, and the educators keep them growing at their own pace, she explained.
Dawn Kreisberg, the new director of Olam Jewish Montessori.
Kreisberg believes that Olam Jewish Montessori takes a “whole child approach to learning” that is “holistic, experiential and about the children.” She said that the program “”creates a sense of purpose and connection between what Hashem gives us and what we can give back to the
“Parashah projects are focused on the process, instead of the project,” she said. “When the students learn about Rosh Hashanah, we bring in a beekeeper and someone from the Shofar Factory to give them an experiential sense of the holiday. We also want to keep everybody – parents, teachers and students – involved in the process.” For more info, call (949) 786-5230 ext. 201 or visit olamjewishmontessori.com
Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
New Website, New Artists, New Year The Golden Dreidle Gears up for the Holidays By Ilene Schneider
The High Holy Days are rapidly approaching, and that means there are so many reasons to check out the Golden Dreidle, Orange County’s onestop source for Judaica, Jewish ritual items, Jewish books, ketubot, chuppah rentals and other wedding essentials. First and foremost, the Golden Dreidle has a brand-new, well-organized, easy-to-use website with hundreds of new products. Whether you need a house gift for those nice people who are hosting Rosh Hashanah dinner, a beautiful new tallit for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a groom’s glass to break at your wedding or a new book or toy for your grandchild, you can find it at the Golden Dreidle. When you look at the beautiful, colorful displays and check out the latest in books and gadgets, chances are that you will leave the store with more than you planned. Currently, the Golden Dreidle is working with many new artists. For instance, Joy Stember has created attractive candlesticks that will hold the broken wedding glass shards from the groom’s glass at your wedding. On the sides, textured in Hebrew, are the words, “Ani L Dodi V Dodi Li,” “I Am My Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine.” These will become family heirlooms to be passed down to future generations. The candlesticks are made from pewter, and the center tube from acrylic. They come with two sets of interchangeable inserts. One fits Shabbat candles, and another fits 16
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standard tapered candles. These are designed to assemble as soon as you purchase the set, so no long waiting for the shards to be filled. Another new artist in the Golden Dreidle’s collection is Melanie Dankowicz, who, among other things, has created a whimsical, stylish bowl for apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah or for dip or condiments year-round. The glass bowl is suspended above the tabletop by the lasercut stainless steel apple, which rests elegantly on three ball feet. Filled with blooming flowers, a pomegranate-shaped tray by Melanie Dankowicz is especially designed to serve apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, and is also a versatile serving piece for use year-round. Lasercut from stainless steel, it has a brushed finish and rests on stainless
ball feet. A glass bowl sits within a specially-designed space in the blooming flower motif. This year the Golden Dreidle has expanded its selection of Rosh Hashanah sets, from the ever-popular, modern look of Gary Rosenthal to the colorful designs of Israeli Yair Emanuel to the elegant Quest designs in enamel and Swarovski crystals inlaid in pewter, on a glass dish. “Also, for the past 20 plus years, we are the main distributor of premium Lulav and Etrog sets to most Orange County congregations and individuals,” said Shahrokh Ghodsi, who along with his wife, Julie, owns and operates the Golden Dreidle. For more information, visit store at 2626 Dupont Dr. #40 Irvine, CA 92612; (949) 955-0900; goldendreidle.com
Living Jewishly Shir Ha-Ma’alot Offers Lifelong Learning Opportunities By Rabbi Leah Lewis
September is a busy month. Each year, during this month there are new beginnings. In the synagogue world alone, religious school begins and so does the New Year, and we are mindful of the new opportunities to get involved. Each year the synagogue teems with activity and anticipation of what the New Year will bring. Shir Ha-Ma’a lot’s all-new religious school program, which is designed to make the most of this living, breathing, vibrant Jewish youth community, will leave everyone involved feeling the joy of Jewish life. We will dance Jewishly, singe Jewishly, cook Jewishly, create Jewishly, speak Jewishly, pray Jewishly, and through it all, we will learn Jewishly. What happens then? According to researcher Stephen Cohen, “The answer to the question of ‘how do we keep our kids Jewish’ is not so mysterious. Strong Jewish homes, supplemented by intensive Jewish educational and socializing experiences, are the key.” Religious school is a sacred partnership with the families in the congregation. Its relationship to the congregation is like that of a limb to the rest of the body. As Cohen says, we must consider how we can “live Jewishly” in every space and in every time. Here are the highlights of some of the new Shir Ha-Ma’a lot to do just that:
Single- session religious school combining the intellectual experience of instruction with the multi-sensory experience of enculturation, offering the enhanced understanding of sacred texts, traditions and language and a lasting desire to lead a Jewish life Monthly tot Shabbat services in which young worshippers get to dance with the Torah, sing and pray in a fun and interactive way, highlighting themes of the Mussar tradition to help us be our best selves: caring for others, being humble and telling the truth Monthly family Shabbat services in which each grade level leads two services, teaching and inspiring families while engaging in special family and worship time Annual congregational family retreat, a weekend of participating in a living Jewish community, getting to know other families and feeling the peace of Shabbat along the beach in beautiful Malibu Congregational trip to Israel, a chance to join other congregational families on a spiritual and fun journey to our people’s ancient homeland In this New Year, I hope we can all consider new ways to love Jewishly and inspire our children to do the same. Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Engagement and Ingagement Temple Bat Yahm connects congregants to Judaism and each other By Ilene Schneider
Temple Bat Yahm is living up to its motto, “strength of tradition, warmth of community,” while applying Ron Wolfson’s principles from Relational Judaism, according to Rabbi Gersh Zylberman, who has been there for five of the Newport Beach congregation’s 40 years. Rabbi Zylberman believes that the clergy, including himself, Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz, Rabbi Emeritus Mark Miller and Cantor Jonathan Grant, complement each other. The congregation has a strategic vision, and it involves engaging the populations that are hardest to reach while “ingaging” others. “There is a buzz around the youth programming,” Rabbi Zylberman
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said. The new youth director, Melinda Weiss, has youth groups going from 2nd through 12th grade, a youth board and a large delegation of 12 teens going to the NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth) convention. The post-B’nai Mitzvah program, a challenge for many congregations, is thriving. Instead of 10th grade Confirmation, the program will culminate in 12th grade. JLENS (Jewish Leadership Engagement NFTY Social Action), designed to be a teen’s view of the world through Jewish eyes, combines Temple Bat Yam youth engagement and clergy connection with the local, regional and national social and social action programming of the Reform movement’s National Federation of
Temple Youth (NFTY). The JLENS program for 8th to 10th graders offers a variety of learning and social experiences, including Teen Tuesdays with the clergy and Weiss, teacher assistant training on Sundays, NFTY weekend experiences, youth group events and social action programs. Every other month teens meet for a gender-separate Jewish identity session. In 11th and 12th grades, Temple Bat Yahm teens will join the teens from five other Orange County congregations in the “Knowledge for College” program. “Synagogues are working together as a holy community,” Weiss said, and teens are learning about Jewish life on campus,
America’s relationship to Israel and other hot topics of interest to teens. They will hear about Jewish social life on campus, policy issues related to Israel, Israel advocacy programs and more. JLENS is a logical extension of JCAL (Jewish Center for Arts and Learning), Temple Bat Yahm’s education program for younger students. The program combines a traditional Reform Jewish education with interactive and experiential learning activities, including performing arts, media arts, art and cooking and JCAL outdoors. There will also be three festivals in the religious school – a green fest for Tu B’Shvat, plus Chanukah and Purim festivals, according to Temple Bar Yahm’s education director, Barry Koff.
club and the “Distinguished Speaker Series.” In October the distinguished speaker is scholar and talk show host Dennis Prager. He will come back to Temple Bat Yahm on October 18 to “share his always compelling, lively, engaging and entertaining discussion,” according to a bulletin article by the congregation president, Scott Seigel. “Temple Bat Yahm is at the forefront of what a modern congregation looks like, and it’s really special,” Hoffman concluded.
“Our new membership engagement coordinator, Zach Hoffman, is connecting people to each other, to the synagogue and to Jewish life,” Rabbi Zylberman said. Hoffman, who came to Temple Bat Yahm from Atlanta six months ago, explained that the congregation is taking people who are involved in the congregation and getting them more involved by means of affinity groups, house parties and other activities. As he said, “The crux of relationships is people’s stories. We’ve found that people had similar personal histories, and Temple Bat Yahm becomes part of their passion. Religious school is included, keeping both parents and kids engaged. This is an expansion on the chavurah idea for people who enjoy activities such as hiking or baseball or are in a similar circumstance. There are also themed services that are fun with a solid dose of Judaism.” He added, “The program is about inspiration, involvement and ‘ingagement.’ People are taking ownership and calling Temple Bat Yahm an important part of their lives.” Finally, there are adult education offerings that maintain a longstanding tradition at Temple Bat Yahm. They include Torah study every Shabbat, “Wednesday with the Rabbi,” book
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News & Politics
CSP in the Summer Archaeologist reveals slice of life in the Jerusalem of Herod’s time By Iene Schneider
Some people think of the Community Scholar Program (CSP) as an organization that presents a onemonth scholar at various venues and has a few other programs during the year. Actually, it seems that there are more and more engaging programs and something for everyone throughout the year. According to founder and director Arie Katz, in 15 years, CSP has presented 550 programs with 200 speakers. CSP now has 50 people in its Legacy Program, through the Jewish Community Foundation, to keep it going, and has spent $3 million on adult education. On August 10 CSP offered a multimedia overview of Jerusalem from the reign of King Herod the Great (40-4 BCE) until the city’s destruction by the Romans in 70 CE to a packed house at the Samueli Jewish Campus. With the help of archaeologist Jodi Magness, the attendees saw and heard about monuments such as Herod’s palace and the Antonia Fortress; the richly-decorated urban mansions of Jerusalem’s elite; and especially Herod’s reconstruction of the Second Temple and the Temple Mount. “Jerusalem was on top of the Judean 20
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Mountains in an inland mountain area,” explained Magness, who holds a senior endowed chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism. “The first people were there 5,000 years ago in the area that is the City of David. Then Solomon built the Temple on top of the Temple Mount, and then the population spread to the west. The modern Old City dates back to the Ottoman Empire.” Magness, an archaeologist, the first vice president of the Archaeological Institute of America and the author of 10 books, explained that Herod was a client king in 40 BCE. He was given Judea, Idumea and Samaria to rule and then expanded. Herod, who died in 4 BCE, had to struggle to win favor, Magness said. “He built Greco-Roman style cities for non-Jews,” she said. “He knew the Jews didn’t like him but tried to win their favor by rebuilding the Temple.” Jerusalem included the Temple Mount, the City of David and the Western Hill when Herod took it over from the Maccabees, according to Magness. In addition to the Temple, Herod built a palace in what is now the Armenian
Quarter of the Old City, three towers and the walls that protected the Temple. When the Israelis captured the Jewish Quarter in 1967, they rebuilt it and did excavations, Magness said. “They found the top of the Western Hill, where wealthy Jews lived for the nice breezes and nice view,” she added. “They also found multilevel buildings with mosaic floors. The Jews had a romantic décor but were Biblically observant, as evidenced by the stone vessels and baths they had to adhere to the laws of purity.” Today, one of the three towers survives, along with the Western Wall, “which is simply a wall that Herod built to enclose the Temple,” Magness said.
Dead Sea Scrolls Come to California By Kosher OC Staff
The California Science Center is hosting a limited-time exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, considered to be the most significant archaeological find of the last century. Currently, the display includes 10 recently discovered scrolls with passages from the biblical books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Job. Not only is this the only time these important artifacts have been in Los Angeles, it is also the largest Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition ever displayed outside of Israel. The California Science Center has acquired this display of more than 600 ancient
artifacts with the cooperation of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Along with the Old Testament biblical passages, the exhibition also features a three-ton stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a preserved signature that has been preserved for millennia, and ancient Roman ossuaries. Visitors can also learn about the science and technology used to date these artifacts through multimedia exhibits. Another remarkable attraction currently at the California Science Center is “Jerusalem 3D.” National
Geographic and IMAX have come together to create this remarkable film, which uses specially acquired aerial footage to give audiences the experience of soaring over the ancient city of Jerusalem. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, the inspiring film explores sites such as the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), Masada, and more. The Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition is open now until Sept. 7, 2015. Jerusalem 3D is now playing through January 2016.
L’Shanah Tovah! Wishing Everyone a Sweet New Year
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News & Politics
Local Found Guilty for Supporting ISIS Orange County man pleads guilty to providing material support to ISIL and making false statements in passport application By Kosher OC Staff
A resident of the City of Orange pleaded guilty today to federal charges of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and making a false statement in a passport application. Adam Dandach, 21, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge James V. Selna. In a plea agreement filed today in federal court, Dandach admitted that, beginning in approximately November 2013 and continuing until July 2, 2014, he attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIL with the purpose of providing material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization. He further admitted that he knew that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization that engaged in terrorist activity and terrorism. “This case demonstrates the need for continued vigilance and swift action to fight the false allure of foreign terrorist organizations that threaten the security of the United States,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As Mr. Dandach succumbed to ISIL’s online recruiting efforts, the Joint Terrorism Task Force was able to uncover his plan before he left the United States, which prevented this young man from becoming a foreign fighter. As a result of today’s guilty pleas, Mr. Dandach now faces a lengthy term in federal prison.” 22
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David Bowdich, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’S Los Angeles Field Office, stated: “Mr. Dandach acknowledged his support for the Islamic State, a terrorist organization whose members are known for the torture and murder of innocent victims. The FBI and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners are committed to disrupting the increasing trend concerning individuals who travel, or attempt to travel, from the United States to train with terrorists, and who thereby pose a potential threat of returning to commit attacks on U.S. soil.” According to court documents, on July 1, 2014, Dandach purchased a ticket to fly from Santa Ana to Istanbul. The FBI intercepted Dandach at the John Wayne International Airport the following day. Dandach told FBI special agents that his ultimate destination was Syria and that he intended to pledge allegiance to ISIL’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He explained that he wished to live under the control of ISIL and intended to undergo weapons training. Dandach also admitted that he made a false statement in a passport application, namely that he had lost his previous passport. In fact, a family member had taken Dandach’s passport from him during the previous year when he expressed an interest in traveling to Syria.
“Adam Dandach attempted to travel to Syria to provide material support to ISIL, and lied in his passport application in order to do so,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin. “One of the National Security Division’s top priorities remains stemming the flow of foreign fighters and bringing to justice those who seek to provide material support to foreign designated terrorist organizations.” Judge Selna is scheduled to sentence Dandach on January 11, 2016. At that time, the defendant will face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years for making a false statement in a passport application. The investigation in this case was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Orange County. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Celeste Corlett of the Santa Ana branch office and Trial Attorney Annamartine Salick of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Trial Attorneys Jolie Zimmerman and Kelly Harris of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are assisting in the prosecution.
Travel Warning Issued Israeli Bureau’s new travel threat assessment affects Israelis, Jews worldwide By Alina Sharon
The head of the Israeli National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau said Israeli citizens traveling abroad face the same threats from Iranian-sponsored Shi’ite terror groups that they did before the Iran nuclear deal was reached.
“We are not ISIS’ main target, but nevertheless we see them as a threat to Israeli targets,” said the CounterTerrorism Bureau. “But we cannot tell Israelis not to go to Belgium, for example, because ISIS is active in that country.”
Eitan Ben-David made the comments Monday in conjunction with the bureau’s release of travel warnings for Israelis ahead of the High Holidays. These terror warnings, while intended for Israelis, can also apply to any Jewish people traveling around the world.
The same concern exists due to “Iran’s and Hezbollah’s global terror campaign,” the bureau added.
“The Shi’ite terror campaign continues and we can’t say that because of any deal signed with Iran that the threat has diminished,” Ben-David said, the Jerusalem Post reported. In total, the bureau issued particular travel warnings for Israelis regarding 27 countries. Among those nations, six are placed under legally binding travel bans: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. In addition to warnings on countries in the Middle East, the bureau also issued advice on travel to some parts of the Western world, such as Belgium, Canada, Australia, France, and Denmark, due to concerns regarding Islamist terror attacks on targets in those areas—particularly Jewish targets.
The bureau also placed additional travel warnings for eight areas within countries. These are Southern Thailand —where there was a terror bombing in Bangkok just last week —Northern Nigeria, the Kashmir region of India, the Chechnya region in Russia, the Mindanao Island in the Philippines, the Sinai peninsula in Egypt, Eastern Senegal, and the shore region of Kenya (including Nairobi). In Africa, the bureau pointed to dangers to Israeli tourists and businessmen from terror organizations such as Somalia’s Al Shabab, Boko Haram, as well as al-Qaeda and ISIS, which are active in north Africa and the Maghreb. As many as 3,000 tourists, 60 percent of whom are Israeli, enter the Sinai Peninsula from the Taba Border Crossing every month despite local Islamic State terror activity. “We are very concerned about the fates of the Israelis in the Sinai,” said the bureau.
Other than issuing warnings to Israelis on travel to particular countries or areas, the bureau assessed the state of terror threats in general against Israelis and issued recommendations. The main threat, according to the bureau, involves the possibility of lethal attacks against or kidnappings of Israelis, in particular Israeli businessmen and former members of the Israeli government. The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah continues to blame Israel for the death of senior member Imad Fayez Mughniyeh, while Iran continues to blame Israel for the death of three nuclear scientists, both of which could contribute to possible attacks against Israelis, the bureau said. The bureau, therefore, asks traveling Israelis to maintain vigilance while traveling and to avoid traveling entirely those nations on which the bureau has placed a travel warning. Israelis staying abroad should be careful and resist any unexpected or tempting business, pleasure, or other meeting offer, particularly anything held in remote locations or after dark. Israelis should also avoid letting suspicious people into their hotel rooms. Finally, Israelis should avoid sticking to one particular travel route or frequenting the same attractions; instead, they should vary their routine in order to make themselves a less likely target, according to the bureau.
Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
News & Politics
Building Bridges Group educates people about Jewish life in pre-war Poland By Robin Silver-Zwiren
Sharon Grosfeld is certainly an amazing person to interview, as no questions were needed for her to know exactly what to say. Grosfeld is a dedicated politician who served as the Montgomery County legislative chair of the Commission for Women from 1990 to 1992. Following that intriguing part of her life, from 1994 to 2006, she was part of the Maryland House of Delegates. From 1994 to 2002, she served on the Maryland House Judiciary Committee and from 2002 to 2006, on the State Senate on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
As a tireless family law and civil 24
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rights advocate, Grosfeld won many awards over the years. In fact, in 2013 Super Lawyers Magazine named her as a “Super Lawyer.” She has worked tirelessly over the years for issues including marriage and custody, domestic abuse and neglect and persons with disabilities. She was an adjunct professor at George Washington University and served on the advisory board of the Jewish Coalition against Domestic Abuse. Her hobbies are photographing wildlife as well as religious sites. Grosfeld is currently the California regional coordinator for the FORUM for DIALOGUE, which happens to be a Polish NGO. The Forum presents a great opportunity for Jews from North America, Australia and Israel to get a firsthand look at the bridges being rebuilt between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Poland. As Grosfeld says, “The best way to end anti-Semitism is through education and dialogue, so working with teachers, the FORUM educates high school students about the preWWII Jewish life and culture of their hometowns, often former shtetls.” Grosfeld believes that this is one of the best ways she can think of to combat anti-Semitism while at the same time developing a commitment to preserving Jewish heritage. The hope is for the Polish students to become future leaders of their country and know about the richness of Jewish life in prewar Poland.
These Polish students meet with representatives from the other nations. They lead tours in their home towns as well as the death camps. They are proud to be part of this experience and, of course, thrilled to meet peers from other countries. For Sharon Grosfeld this project is very dear to her heart as her father was a Shoah survivor. He comes from Radom, which had around 35,000 Jews until September 1932 when the Wehrmacht took over the area. Shortly after the Germans destroyed the synagogue and forced Jews into labor camps, a ghetto and finally into Auschwitz and Treblinka where most perished. Imagine the emotions going through Grosfeld when one student created a very special project with her father’s help: a papier-mâche model of the Radom Synagogue. Although nothing is left of the original building, the father and daughter sorted through library archives and old books and any other documents they could find to create their masterpiece. What a way to teach the next generations about how much was lost. Grosfeld also mentioned how one student told the group how her (great) grandfather helped save Jews. We must remember how dangerous it was for anyone to protect a Jew. It meant torture and possible death. It is more common for the older generations to talk more to grandchildren and great grandchildren than their own children
who were born much closer to the terror. However, imagine if this student of the FORUM for DIALOGUE is related to the family who kept Irving and Rochelle Gelman safe? Grosfeld’s thoughts certainly mirror my own: “This restoration of memory by young Polish citizens gives honor to our Jewish ancestors and hope for the future.” Imagine if this Polish FORUM for DIALOGUE becomes one for other nations — not just to preserve the history of Jews but Armenians and other groups who have suffered because of racism. It is amazing that Poland, a country that treated our ancestors especially poorly, is the first to open its arms to us now. Now we all need to accept the warm gesture. Grosfeld met a woman who is mortgaging her home in order to create a museum in it, dedicated to the Jews who lived, and were murdered, from her village. By Orange County standards her mortgage is relatively small, but for a woman who has probably lived her entire life in a poor Polish village, it is astronomical. Imagine if we could take up a collection to help this woman build her museum, so others can learn from it for generations to come. Listening to the passion Sharon Grosfeld feels for the FORUM for DIALOGUE is probably the same as when she was advocating for her many clients and government committee obligations. Anything done to help others remember the horrors of the Nazi Regime is important. Knowing that we now have Sharon Grosfeld in Orange County and available to educate us and our children is a further blessing. Hatzlacha, Sharon, and welcome to the OC, where the weather is certainly better than Maryland and DC.
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Life & Religion
Have a Happy, Sweet New Year By Zach Miller
Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, literally meaning “head of the year,” is a time full of symbolic eating. First the not so sweet news—fish head. Because this is the head of the New Year, you want to eat from the head, and not from the stinky tail, so taking a bite from the fish head is an important custom. Although it may not sound appetizing, it’s actually a perfect dish. Besides having your meal staring back at you, the fish head is often the cheapest cut of fish—great for your pocket. Yet, there’s more, because the meat of the head is actually very tender thanks to all the fatty cartilage a.k.a. the yummy bits when cooked right. So, there’s really nothing to fear, especially when it’s steamed with some lemon and herbs… The sweeter news – everything else. Israel is the land of milk and honey, so it’s a custom to eat that ever sweet honey, traditionally by dipping sliced apple. Technically speaking, although the biblical term of “milk and honey” is real, the honey could not have come from bees. Instead, the honey is actually the syrup of dates, still popular in Iraq, Egypt, and other parts of the Middle East. Even the bread is sweet and special. 28
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Typically sweetened by honey or baked with raisins, the challah bread should now be round, and not the traditional lengthwise braid. Why change the shape? The cyclical nature of the year can now be represented by the challah—simple as that. Side note: eggs, also a spherical shape, represent the cycle of life as well, so try not to take a bite of a hardboiled egg without cutting it in half first, or else it’s a sign of mourning, death, and other taboo stuff… Fruit are also very important. First, there’s the pomegranate, which we eat to represent the nation of Israel. Because we’re sweet, tart, and a bit crunchy? Because there are seemingly endless seeds, we eat the seeds in hopes that the children of Israel be just as abundant. Moreover, to ensure that the New Year is a special time, we also eat a new fruit that we have not eaten this year so that we may say a special prayer (shehechiyanu), which also helps us appreciate the seasonal changes of the year. For dessert, don’t forget about the honey cake. Another wish for a Sweet New Year, each family has their own recipe, from simple honey and orange, to spices, and maybe even rum…
The Fireman, A Parable By Chabad.org
Many, many years ago, before there were any fire engines, and fire brigades, and electric fire alarms, and most houses were built of wood, a fire was a terrible thing. A whole town, or a good part of it, could go up in flames and smoke. And so, when fire broke out, everyone left his business or work, and rushed to help put out the fire. There used to be a watchtower that was taller than the other buildings, where a watchman kept a lookout all the time. As soon as he saw smoke or fire, he would sound the alarm. The townspeople would then form a human chain between the fire and the nearest well, and pass pails of water to each other with which to put out the fire. Once it happened that a boy from a small village came to town for the first time. He stopped at an inn, on the outskirts of the town. Suddenly he heard the sound of a trumpet. He asked the innkeeper what it meant.
himself a trumpet. When he returned to his village, he was full of excitement. He called all the villagers together. “Listen, good people,” he called out. “There is no need to be afraid of fire any more. Just watch me, and see how quickly I will put out a fire!” Saying this, he ran to the nearest hut and set fire to its straw roof. The fire began to spread very quickly. “Don’t worry!” cried the boy. “Now watch me.” The boy began to blow the trumpet with all his might, interrupting it only to catch his breath, and to say, “Wait, this will put out the fire in no time!” But the fire did not seem to care much for the music, and merely jumped from one roof to another, until the entire village was in flames.
“How wonderful!” thought the village boy. “What a great idea. I will bring it to my village! They will be so excited!”
The villagers were very angry with the boy. “You fool,” they cried. “Did you think that the mere blowing of the trumpet would put the fire out? It is only the call of an alarm, to wake up the people, if they are asleep, or to pull them away from their business and work, and send them to the well to draw water and put out the fire!
The village boy went and bought
We are reminded of this story, when
“Whenever we have a fire,” the innkeeper explained to the boy, “we sound the trumpet, and the fire is quickly put out.
we think of the shofar that is sounded many times on Rosh Hashanah. Some people think like that village boy, that the sound of the shofar itself will do everything for them. They think that they may continue to “sleep,” or go about their business, there being no need to change their way of life and daily conduct; the shofar sounded in the Shul will surely bring them a Shana Tovah. But, like the trumpet in the story, the shofar is only the sound of an “alarm.” It has a message: “Wake up, you sleepers, think about your ways, return to Hashem, put out the ‘fire’ that is threatening to destroy your Jewish homes. Go to the Well, the Well of Living Waters, the Torah and mitzvos. Hurry, before it is too late!” That is why, immediately after the shofar is sounded, we exclaim: “Happy are the people who understand the meaning of the sound of the shofar; they walk in Your light, O’ Hashem.” May we all listen to the sound of the Shofar and hurry to add in our learning Torah and doing Mitzvos.
Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Life & Religion
Make Repentance Real Teshuva 101 By Robin Silver-Zwiren
The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called “The Ten Days of Repentance.” These days to do teshuva — ask for forgiveness — are truly meaningful. Throughout the year we should watch our words and be careful about doing ill unto others, but during aseret yamei teshuva, we also pray to Hashem, our G-d, in hopes that our name will be sealed in the “Good Book,” ensuring us a happy, successful year. Rabbi Yochanan, who lived in Israel during the 3rd century BCE, wrote about Divine Judgment and Inscription, so it is not as if this is a new practice. R’ Yochanan mentioned the 3 books that are opened in Heaven: one for the wicked, one for the righteous and one for all of us somewhere in between. So especially during these days, we should take the time to think, reflect and apologize. Sephardic Jews, from the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern lands begin to blow Shofar from the Rosh Chodesh month before. Although Ashkenazic Eastern European Jews do not have the same practice, it is a good one. The shofar has been used since ancient times. The story of Abraham and his son Isaac (Yitzchak) is retold: a father believes in Hashem so ardently that he is willing to 30
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sacrifice his son. Just as he raises his arm, a ram is heard while caught up in a nearby bush. The animal is freed but sacrificed, and Yitzchak lives to a ripe old age. The ram’s horn is not only a symbol but a reminder to have faith in Hashem. The shofar was also used to announce Shabbat, the New Month and war. In Israel today a shofar is no longer blown to announce the start of Shabbat. Now a siren is blasted in communities all over Israel. For me, it is a Shabbat reminder sounding on my cell phone. During Rosh Hashanah the shofar sounds 100 times, unless it is Shabbat. What better way to wake us up and remind us to use these days as best we can? We should start the New Year off right and apologize to those we have wronged. Our great sage Maimonides, Rambam, even said how the shofar wakes our soul. Another tradition is Tashlich, which is customarily done on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Even in Israel, the holiday is celebrated for two days: the last of one year and first of the next. In Biblical times the skies were watched by several people before a New Moon was declared. To make sure that no one would desecrate Rosh Hashanah,
the holiday always had two days. Although the practice is symbolic it is a time to empty pockets of any crumbs and to begin the New Year with no added burden, a clean slate. In Navi, the Book of Prophets, a verse from Micah (7:18-20) speaks of casting off sins into the depths of the sea, as well as giving truth and kindness to others. It is yet another ancient custom added to the New Year practices, just like eating apples and honey for a sweet New Year, eating round challot symbolizing the circle of life and eating pomegranates, which are said to have 613 seeds, just like the number of mitzvot. Many families do not eat sour pickles and other bitter foods on these days. On Pesach we are supposed to remember the bitterness of the lives of our ancestors as slaves in Egypt. During Rosh Hashanah, we are supposed to be thinking of all that is good and sweet. Sometimes we may not even be aware of how we may have insulted another person. It may be as minute as taking the last of the milk in the office refrigerator or taking a co-worker’s parking spot. It may be copying someone’s homework once too often or refusing to sit with someone less popular. Even if you do not remember acting in an improper manner, using this special time of the
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year to ask mechilla (forgiveness) can never be a bad thing. Being human, unlike lesser species, we have free will. Many years ago an amazing example of this was given: While walking in the forest, two divergent paths are seen. One leads to the right and, of course, the other to the left. Free will gives us all the ability to choose which path to take. Unbeknownst to us, G-d may have wanted us to take the other path. Nevertheless, we must make the best of the situation and try not to harm others on the path either. When we speak lashon ha-ra (literally, “evil speech”), the choice is also ours. When we tell a lie or curse someone, it was our choice, not Hashem putting words in our mouths. During the Yamim Noraim, High Holy Days, we are given the opportunity to ensure that our next year will be as wonderful as we hope it should be and that we will be inscribed in the Good Book.
behavior. The points are tallied up year after year. If you ruin someone’s standing in the community and years later make his life more difficult, G-d knows. Hashem is the ultimate judge. The Book of Life has yet to be sealed. As you glance over the 2014-15 calendar, don’t toss it out before thinking back on each day. Review your Facebook posts and emails and think back to whom you may have spoken ill. Now is the time to right those wrongs, repent and make the coming year as sweet as it can be. Wishing you and yours a Gmar Kitiva L’Tovah!
When asking for mechila, it is essential to mean it. Even if the person you are apologizing to does not know how you really feel about him, Hashem does. If you ask forgiveness for an indiscretion one year and a few years later harm that person again, don’t expect Hashem to give you a sticker for good Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Life & Religion
A Lesson on Tzedakah By Robin Silver-Zwiren
Tzedaka, giving charity, is an essential part of every Jewish life. As soon as our children were old enough to be given allowance, this mitzvah was a part of their education. Their first dollar meant that one half was to be put away for future use. One quarter was given to them to make an immediate purchase, or to be added to their savings, if they chose. The final quarter was put in one of our many household tzedaka boxes. The earlier they are taught these lessons, the better. Language acquisition is part of every child’s life. Just as it is easier to learn a second, or even third, language before entering elementary school, some other lessons are also easier to learn as toddlers. Learning how important it is to give charity, help those in need or make the environment safer for us all are valuable lessons. Sitting in a TVT PTSO meeting many years ago, a group of us were trying to balance our budget. We would use the prior year’s report to decide what to fund, as well as buying gifts for specific grade milestones. One 8th grade mom said that if anyone in the grade could not afford the NYDC trip, just let her know. This is a very philanthropic family, and now that years have passed it is easy to see the children understand this as 32
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well. In these “me” days, it is always refreshing to meet those who put others’ needs before their own. A Yom Kippur tzedaka drive -- whether during the evening Kol Nidre service or a pledge card found on your daytime seat -- is not uncommon. In fact these appeals have been going on for generations. Making a Yom Kippur pledge does not mean we are exempt the rest of the year, nor does it mean we are exempt from prayer or simply for being good people. If you don’t know Hebrew, you can say a prayer in another language. You can try reading the transliteration found in many Siddurim or Machzorim. You can recite your own prayers in Spanish or French or Urdu. In fact, some authorities say it is better to pray in the language you know, so you understand the words you are saying rather than not. Even if you don’t recite the exact same words as the rest of the congregation. it does not mean your words are without meaning. Giving tzedaka is much the same as there are many ways to give. Rabbi Moses Maimonides (RaMBaM), Rabbi, scholar, physician anf philosopher defined eight levels of giving tzedaka. Rambam lived during the 12th century, but his lessons and
words are just as important today. The customs of ancient Israel are very much ingrained in Rambam’s thought processes where beggars would stand by a wall, and others would throw them coins -- some more willingly than others. Sometimes the list is given in the opposite order, but for this purpose the highest level, like rungs on a ladder, is the one closest to Olam ha-Ba. When donations are given unwillingly When charity is given willingly, however, less than the donor can afford. When asked, the donor gives directly to the person who asks. When a donor gives without being asked. The recipient knows who has given charity, but the donor does not who is the one in need. Often a third party is involved in this and the following steps. The donor knows the recipient but not the other way around. Giving to someone who does not know who has donated and where the donor does not know the recipient. This could be from a communal funds or philanthropy program. The highest level is to help a person before he actually needs it. This
Yom Kippur – Thou Shall Not Eat… Right? By Zach Miller
Sure, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, and that’s what most of us remember after the hazy torture. However, it’s much, much more.
may mean giving a loan (Jews cannot charge other Jews interest), or to help finding someone employment. Giving someone “the tools of a trade” so he can learn skills needed to become independent is the highest form of charity. So whether rich or poor, we all have a requirement to fulfill the mitzvah of giving charity. Tithing, the concept of giving 1/10 of your salary to charity may be viewed as a Christian belief, but remember who came first. It is one more custom adopted by followers of one particular Jewish boy from the Galilee region! What this means is if you are a child getting allowance for the first time or a multi-millionaire, tithing is a way to live your life best. Of course the 10% is after paying day school/college tuition,
uncovered medical expenses and the Shabbat guests you host weekly. “Every person shall give what he is able according to the blessing of the Lord your G-d has given to you” (Deut. 16:17) Remember it is not for us to judge if someone gives enough or not, because that is up to Hashem. It is up to each of us to do what we can to make the world we have been blessed with better. It is up to us to teach our children right from wrong and how to treat others. Giving the young the tools for the future is a lesson in giving tzedaka and living a meaningful, Jewish life.
Known as the Day of Atonement, it is a time of reflection and forgiveness. Before asking Hashem for forgiveness, however, you must ask for forgiveness from those you have wronged, even passingly or mistakenly, because Hashem cannot do that for you, no matter how much you pray. Ironically, this holiday comes after Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, a time full of sweets. A parallel is that between the sweet joys of Mount Sinai and the victory over the pharaoh to the harsh moment when the Golden Calf was built—um, sorry Hashem? We all make mistakes; this is why we must focus on forgiveness, even giving up food to prove our resilience. Other than that, do try to eat as much meat and protein before the fast, which will give you strength for the next day, and cut down on cravings. Also, any foods or drinks with electrolytes won’t hurt either—good luck!
Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
Life & Religion
Kaddish vs Yizkor By Robin Silver-Zwiren
Kaddish. Few words bring as many tears to ones eyes as the word “Kaddish” does. Immediately we think of the date to remember a loved one — time to set aside a day in our busy lives to remember what we have lost. The “shoresh,” root of the word is the same as “kiddish,” to sanctify. As we say the prayers and light a candle, we sanctify the person who gave our lives true meaning. We acknowledge that they have left this earth, but that their soul remains with us, that they are being cared for by Hashem. Kaddish is written in Aramaic, the common language of our ancestors who lived thousands of years ago. Our other tefilot prayers are written in Hebrew, so why is this one not? Yes, other tefilot are directed to Hashem and Kaddish more to ourselves, but why is there a need to use Aramaic? What makes Kaddish different than every other prayer? Kaddish is for everyone; that is why. Men, even young boys, were given more formal education. Whether with rabbis in Arab lands or in the “cheder” of Eastern Europe, they learned to speak and read Hebrew. In fact, that is one reason why Jews controlled so much of the silk trade, even money changing and banking. Even if the person at the start of the route in Iran 34
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spoke Farsi and the person at the end spoke French, Hebrew would be the common tongue. So, in actuality, any of these men could recite Kaddish in Hebrew. Women like my mother and those before her were not given a formal Jewish education. They learned the laws of kashrut working in the kitchen alongside their mothers. They learned how to care for babies by tending to younger siblings, nephews and nieces. They learned whatever tefilot they had the time to recite orally. So having Kaddish in Aramaic was for the women and children who did not have the skills in Hebrew. My sister and I recited Kaddish for both my late mother and brother during shiva. We davened in my parents’ hallway just behind where the men were standing. I admit that not every Orthodox household would do the same. That is yet another difference between Modern Orthodox and the more stringent rulings. We continued to recite Kaddish during the mourning period and the anniversaries of their passing. Yizkor, which means “remembrance,” is said on Yom Kippur, the last day of Succot and Pesach and on Shavuot. Succot, Pesach and Shavuot are the
festivals for which our ancestors would travel to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is one to remember those we have lost and that Hashem our G-d cares for all our souls. Our ancestors brought offerings from their harvest as well as a monetary fee to give the Kohen Gadol when they visited the Temple. We no longer have the Temple, so we dedicate those days to remember the departed. The donations we give in our relatives’ names are our offerings to Hashem. Kaddish is recited in synagogue with a minyan during Maariv, Shacharit and Mincha service. Yizkor, however, can be said at home or synagogue. Please take a few moments to remember your departed loved ones as well as other Jews who died during the Inquisition, Crusades and Holocaust. Make a donation to a charity, whether it be your synagogue, school or for a community member in need.
High Holidays Calendar
Rosh Hashanah The Jewish New Year September 13-15
The Day of Atonement
The Harvest Festival
September 27-October 4
Shemini Atzeret Simchat Torah Rejoicing with the Torah October 4-6
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As U.S. Robustly Debates Iran Deal, Western Europe Exhibits ‘Fatigue’ By Alina Sharon, Sean Savage abd JNS.org
Why is the Iran deal so scary? Why does it pose not only an existential threat to Israel but a potential shift in the world order as we know it, later if not sooner? Why have there been demonstrations in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere? Take it from people all over the political spectrum – people who care deeply about Israel but who may not always agree with one another: Iran has to provide more assurances, and world powers have to impose more sanctions. According to Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, “The most significant problem with this agreement, which is discussed far too little, is that it does nothing to address, much less curb, Iran’s expansionist, anti-Israel, anti-American motivations. Every security expert will tell you that in order for your enemy to succeed, three preconditions have to exist: First, the enemy has to have the desire to attack; second, the enemy must have the capabilities to carry out the attack; finally, the enemy has to have the opportunity to attack.” “The deal needs to fix the painfully large holes in the inspection regime. It means getting Iran to accept the ‘anytime, anywhere’ principle on inspections,” said Ben Cohen, senior editor of TheTower.org and The Tower 38
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Magazine, in his weekly column for JNS.org. “It means getting absolute clarification on the existence of concealed nuclear facilities. Most importantly, it means a candid and honest account of Iran’s past nuclear activities—chiefly, the military aspects of such work.” Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, writing in The Algemeiner, said, “It is frightening that, in addition to failing to dismantle Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons; failing to end Iran’s worldwide support for terrorist attacks on Americans, Jews and others; and giving Iran sanctions relief and economic windfalls now estimated to reach $700 billion, which will drastically intensify Iran’s worldwide terror operations, the JCPOA appears to be written in such a way as to avoid imposing any real, binding, enforceable obligations on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ha’aretz’s Ari Shavit cautioned, “This means that the international community is not only enabling, but actually ensuring the establishment of a new Iranian nuclear program, which will be immeasurably more powerful and dangerous than its predecessor. In fact the Iranians are giving up an outdated, anachronistic deployment in order to build an innovative legitimate
one, with the world’s permission and authority. The (current agreement) will lead to Iran becoming in 2025 a muscular nuclear tiger ready to spring forward, with an ability to produce dozens of nuclear bombs.” From my perspective, the deal creates more loopholes than it solves. Not only is Iran getting a huge amount of money with which it can fund terrorists and a chance to build up its nuclear capabilities with no effective way to stop it, but its leaders are already saying that they have no intention of cooperating with inspections. As committed Jews, committed Americans and caring citizens of the world, we must implore Congress not to be duped by this agreement. Write letters to members of Congress, sign petitions, attend demonstrations and do anything meaningful and moral to let our government know that this deal is wrong. Previous generations watched as diplomatic naive
Kosher oc Magazine // September 2015
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