Table of Contents FEATURED 3. High Holy Days Greetings 4. Defining Israel
LOCAL 6. One People with One Heart 7. True Tikkun Olam 8. Meeting Mark Lazar
ETC 10. Remembering Shimon Peres 12. Society of Builders 13. In the Moment 16. Spellbinding Selections
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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
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High Holy Day
Greetings May this new year bring health, happiness and sweetness to you, your family and all of Israel. Your friends at Kosher OC Magazine
The Jewish Collaborative of Orange County (JCoOC) wishes the entire OC Jewish community, their families and loved ones a blessed 5777 filled with opportunities to embrace Judaism in personally meaningful ways. To learn more about how we create communities of interest to help bring the “Joy of Jewish” to more OC residents, through our own programming and the programs of our Resource Partners, please visit our website at jewishcollaborativeoc.org. Shanah Tovah u’metukah!
L’Shanah Tovah. May the coming year bring you a year of good health and happiness. Founded as the first Jewish Montessori preschool of Orange County, the Olam community has pledged to provide youth an educational environment that allows children the freedom and guidance to fall in love with learning, Judaism and friends. The community is comprised of students, educators, parents and local agencies. As a partnership, we honor the long-standing tradition of our community, while integrating 21st century education and to preserve the Montessori classroom. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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L’Shana Tova, May this New Year be filled with health, happiness, laughter and love. The Hon. Marcia Milchiker, Governing Board Member, South Orange County Community College District. email@example.com. Serving Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College, and the Advanced Technology Education Park. A first rate education for an incredible value. Our colleges are ranked # 1 in the state in transfer education, college ranking. best value, nursing, science education, forensics, sports teams, fine and performing arts, and so many more programs. I helped save our incredible Emeritus Institute!
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Defining Israel I L ENE SC H N E I D E R / CO NT R I BU T O R
hether one’s political leanings are left, right or none of the above, it is refreshing to hear two brilliant people engaging in a pointed yet polite debate about an important topic. Members of the Orange County Jewish community who heard Daniel Gordis debate Peter Beinart (“Israel, American Jews; What Matters Most?”) at Congregation B’nai Israel on Sunday, September 11, got that and much more. According to Rabbi Elie Spitz of B’nai Israel, moderator of the debate, “The goal from this exchange is greater clarity, not only as to where these two important thinkers stand, but as to the divide in our community. The goal is to better understand each other and in the end to support Israel as we see wisely.” Peter Beinart is an American columnist, journalist and political commentator who is often seen on Sunday morning national talk shows. He is associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York, a senior columnist at Haaretz and a contributor to The Atlantic and National Journal. His recent book, The Crisis of Zionism, offers deep research. 4
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Beinart, who encouraged President Barack Obama to use financial pressure to halt settlement construction, believes that right, left and center are relative. “I’m on the left as a Zionist Jew, but my Palestinian friends see me as a defender of certain kinds of Zionism. One has a right as a Jew to have concern for one’s own people and balance it with a concern for liberal democracy.” He cited “tension between a country that protects one
a Place Can Make You Cry: Dispatches from an Anxious State, was a personal account of the terrorism he and his family and friends endured. While he came to Israel as a seeker of social justice, he has experienced Palestinian hatred. In Israeli terms, he is very much in the middle of the political spectrum, but in American terms, he is right of center. The author of seven more books, Gordis heads Israel’s first liberal arts college for the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.. “Israel’s presence in some parts of the West Bank is not tenable, and in the long term, the situation is not viable,” Gordis said. “Jews across the world have a right to talk about Israel, but living in Israel allows one to see things differently.”
Beinart and Gordis debate relationship of America and Israel and Israel’s challenges. ethnic group but is also a liberal democracy that protects the equality of everyone.” He finds the treatment of people in the West Bank “problematic.” Daniel Gordis, who “made aliyah” with his family from Los Angeles eighteen years ago, had served as the founding Dean of the Ziegler Rabbinical School at American Jewish University. Several years after their arrival, the second intifada broke out, and his first book in Israel, If
According to Gordis, “Most conversations about Israel are about who’s doing Israel in or about the conflict, but Israel is a national liberation project that has succeeded as the threedimensional life of the Jewish people has defined itself.” Both men agreed that various groups in the Middle East have put the West under attack since
9/11. While Gordis worries that the US does not understand the magnitude of the attacks and the challenge to freedom here and elsewhere, Beinart believes that ISIS “is evil but logical” in its attacks of countries that have joined the US military attacks. As to the two-state solution, Beinart thinks that Palestinians largely support it but do not believe that Zionism is a good thing. He took exception to the Palestinians in the West Bank “living under separate laws” and does not want Israel to pay Jews to live there. Gordis counter-charged that Palestinians pay suicide bombers and their families. He said that 80 percent of Palestinians do not accept the Jewish state and that the Oslo agreements collapsed when terrorism skyrocketed after the treaty was signed. “If we stop building settlements, we give in, and the Palestinians give up nothing,” he explained. Both men cited challenges in the US-Israel relationship. According to Beinart, “The fundamental problem is Jewish illiteracy. Jewish parents tell their kids to care deeply about something they know nothing about. When you speak in a secular environment
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Contact (949) 786-5230 • bethjacobirvine.org in the US, you have to convince people to care about Israel.” Gordis believes that American Jews “have to move the devotion needle.” He added, “If we are too critical of Israelis, we reinforce the negatives.” While “something magical is happening in Jerusalem, something problematic is happening in a Jewish world that is overcritical of Israel.”
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vibrant, Zionism is successful and great projects can be beset by challenges. Israel needs great loyalty and endless love.” Watch the debate online at www. kosheroc.com
Beinart is “not an optimist,” because “the lack of democracy in the West Bank will have repercussions.” He is concerned that Israeli politics have been hijacked and that US politics can be hijacked as well. While Gordis finds the nature of the occupation problematic, he believes that Israeli democracy is not in doubt. He concluded, “The Israeli population cares deeply and needs a supportive America. Israeli democracy is KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // OCTOBER 2016
One People with One Heart KO S H ER O C S TA F F / CO NT R I BU T O R
ne People with One Heart is the theme of the OC Mega Challah Bake, a grassroots, intergenerational, contemporary Jewish women’s identity movement unifying all Orange County Jewish Women. The event, which is expected to attract more than 1,000 women, will be held November 10 at 7 P.M., at the Hotel Irvine, 17900
wigs, others in shorts and flip flops. They will come together to bake, bond and empower one another. The event belongs to every woman.
“It is a time to unite Jewish women and empower them with pride, and teach them one of the three commandments specific to women,” explained Roberta Carasso of Irvine. “Words cannot OC Mega Challah Bake describe this, but the 2016 is grassroots, energy of the support, intergenerational event that love, and unity could definitely be felt deep brings together an eclectic down to the core of group of women. our souls,” said Sima Staav of Yorba Linda. Jamboree Road, Irvine. Bonnie Curkin of Laguna Beach The OC Mega Challah Bake is a described it as “A beautiful chance to connect and celebrate community event — touching, with local friends and the global spiritual, meaningful.” Jewish women’s community. This year’s event will include Orange County will be joined by an opportunity to buy snacks, 465 cities globally to observe the mitzvah of challah in conjunction beverages and cocktails prior to the challah baking, during with the International Shabbos on-site check-in, starting at 5:30 Project. P.M. The venue offers excellent Now in its third year, the OC lighting and acoustics, according Mega Challah Bake has become to the organizers. a unifying event for women from “This is a joint community every Jewish background. There initiative with something for will be an eclectic mix of women everyone,” said Shana Segall of of all ages from all over Orange Irvine, one of the organizers. “It’s County, some in long skirts and a grassroots consortium of Jewish 6
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women. We represent every denomination and organization of Judaism, as well as the unaffiliated. It’s unifying to stand together and do what Jewish women have done for centuries.”
The cost is $18 per person. To register for OC Mega Challah Bake, visit www.ocmegachallahbake. com. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (949) 385-1551.
True Tikkun Olam J U L I E H O L DAWAY / CO NT R I BU T O R
JCC Teen Global Fellows and JCC Cares volunteer together with Heritage Pointe seniors.
hey look the same – a group of 67 teens laughing, running, jumping, dancing, and even a bit of flirting. But they don’t always sound the same. Fluent Hebrew and Spanish are sprinkled amongst the English jokes and stories. This summer, the Merage JCC hosted 67 teens – 21 from Orange County – and another 47 from Kfar Yona, Israel and Mexico City, Mexico to a week of So Cal fun. The charge was to have fun and make connections amongst global peers. The goal: the future of the Jewish Peoplehood. Outings for all 67 included the Hollywood sign, dance presentations, beach parties and Disneyland. Real meaning was found in the teens’ community service efforts shared with seniors at Heritage Pointe.
art supplies – stickers, pens, paper, glitter, and more – to children in hospitals to add a bit of brightness to their days. Another group of teens and seniors made challah covers and cards for Shabbat boxes for Simcha Shabbat, an organization that takes goodies for Shabbat to Jewish people that are in the hospital Making wind chimes for families at Ronald McDonald House was on the packed social action agenda as well. The full day of social action included making warm blankets for the Jess Rees Foundation’s Joy Jars which are also shared with children in hospitals. The teens learned that the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam transcend nationality and age. They created meaningful memories with the new senior friends that they made at Heritage Pointe.
You’d expect the teens’ volunteer efforts to support the seniors, but in fact, they were at Heritage Pointe to volunteer with the seniors. Together, the teens and seniors made art boxes for Discovery Arts, which sends the KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // OCTOBER 2016
Meeting Mark Lazar I L ENE SC H N E I D E R / CO NT R I BU T O R
ark Lazar is a “Valley Boy” who studied in San Francisco, lived in Holland and lived in Israel for 23 years. The JCC’s new director of Jewish education and head of its Center for Jewish Life is a professional Jewish educator with more than 40 years’ experience spanning diverse global settings, topics and audiences. In addition to wanting to come home and spend more time with his 88-year-old mother, Lazar said that the job is “the culmination of everything I’ve ever done to educate people from preschool age to seniors since 1973.” He is excited about the job, the facilities and the chance to build community here. Lazar, who sports long hair and tie-dyed shirts, hopes to “take things a step higher in regard to Jewish options for education.” He wants to supplement existing programs and/or be a resource. In terms of teen programs, Lazar thinks the Young Philanthropists program, which starts in October, is a “practical and real way to train leaders.” The program 8
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enables 9- to 12-year-olds to look at nonprofit organizations and decide where to allocate money. Another teen program, JCC Global Teens, is going to Israel next summer. Orange County partners with Mexico City and Kfar Yona for a week of home hospitality and ten days of touring the respective countries.
it a meaningful experience” for the teens and also lead an adult trip that will culminate in the Maccabi. He wants to create a “resource center for Israel trips for all ages for all teen programs to make knowledge more available.” Overall, he wants to offer a community-wide resource for engaging in Jewish activities.
The Jewish Educators Association (JEA) of Orange County is working together, mapping programs and sharing ideas, he said. It includes teachers, preschool teachers, youth New JCC head of education directors and youth wants to facilitate programs educators. A recent “day of learning” brought about for all. Lazar noted that when he taught at Hebrew High, the concept of Israel seemed abstract to students. Now he hopes to “make
“a higher level of professionalism and camaraderie,” Lazar commented. He wants to “supplement, not take away” from synagogue religious school programs. He believes that unaffiliated Jews “may tie into an ethnic or cultural identity, Israel or tradition,” so he is planning events like a Tu B’Shevat seder with a top-notch meal, good wines and an introduction to tradition. “I want to be sensitive to everybody.” Lazar said. “We can bring people in through social causes and common links and build community. We’re hoping for a diverse group.” For the interfaith community, Lazar wants to have user-friendly holiday celebrations, programs on values and ethics and “programs that enrich life and meaningful.” He concluded, “My main mission is to work with educators and have an impact on the community. Our destination is more Jewish options and awareness without coercion – to make the Jewish home homier.”
Remembering Shimon Peres A L I NA S H A RO N / CO NT R I BU T O R
Israel and the world mourn “founding father” Shimon Peres.
he state of Israel, as well as dignitaries and Jewish groups around the world, are mourning the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who passed away on Tuesday two weeks after suffering a massive stroke. He was 93 years old. “My father used to say: ‘you are only as great as the cause you serve.’ He had no interest other than serving the people of Israel, in whom he had great faith and whom he loved dearly until his final breath,” his son said.
a “cautiously optimistic” prognosis. On Tuesday, however, his condition took a dramatic turn for the worse. He passed away around 2 a.m. on Sep. 27. Longest political career in Israel’s history Born Szymon Perski on Aug. 2, 1923 in Vishneva, Poland, Peres immigrated with his family to then-British Palestine in 1934. In 1945, he married Sonia Gelman. In 1947, he joined the Hagana paramilitary organization,
which would later become the IDF. In 1953, at just 29, he was named director general of the Defense Ministry, becoming the youngest person to ever hold the position. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1959, and would become the longestserving Knesset member in Israeli history, including as prime minister from 1984 to 1986. In 1992, Peres was appointed foreign minister, allowing him to participate in secret negotiations that would lead to the 1993 Oslo Accords and earn Peres,
Israel’s ninth president was rushed to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer on Sept. 13 after suffering a massive stroke that led to bleeding in his brain.
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After Rabin’s assassination in 1995, Peres again served as prime minister and defense minister for several months until the 1996 elections. That same year, he formed the Peres Center for Peace to promote a better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Israeli Arabs. Peres continued to serve in the Knesset in the late 1990s and in the 2000s. He later announced he was leaving Labor to support then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his new Kadima party. In 2007, Peres was elected Israel’s ninth president. In 2008, Peres was ordained Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by Queen Elizabeth II. In June 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama, and in 2014, the
Tests performed over the past two weeks prompted doctors to give Peres 10
along with former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.
Former President Shimon Peres with then Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in 1962.
U.S. House of Representatives awarded Peres the Congressional Gold Medal. Peres also authored 10 books. Israeli messages of condolences Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett ordered schools nationwide to dedicate the first hour of Wednesday’s curriculum to Peres’ legacy. In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogized Peres and said he joins “the Israeli public, the Jewish people and many worldwide, bowing my head in memory of the nation’s beloved Shimon Peres. “Shimon Peres’ name will be forever etched in the Jewish people’s book of revival, as one of the greatest leaders Israel has ever known, and one of the state of Israel’s founding fathers. May his memory be cherished in the nation’s heart.” President Reuven Rivlin eulogized his predecessor, saying Peres was “young at heart and had an unwavering belief in the ability to achieve one’s goals.” “There is not a chapter in the history of the state of Israel which Shimon did not write or play a part,” he said. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement saying, “We bow our heads in respect for a great leader, champion of peace and beloved icon Shimon Peres. Blessed be his memory.” Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak also called Peres “a giant,” while Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon and Consul General in New York Dani Dayan called Peres a “man of hope.” Global Jewish reactions International Jewish groups are also issuing their own condolences. “Israeli-Americans join millions around the world in mourning and saluting one of the most beloved, visionary, and respected
Israeli leaders in history,” said the Israeli American Council in a statement. World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder also said Peres was “one of the greatest human beings I have ever known.” Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky said in a statement that “when I was released from captivity and arrived in Israel, he was the first Israeli I saw upon landing when he came as prime minister to greet me. I will always remember him as the individual who started the Israeli chapter of my life. I have always admired his devotion to his values and vision.” The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) President and CEO Jerry Silverman said “Shimon Peres was North American Jewry’s greatest ally, advocate and friend in Israel.” The National Jewish Democratic Council called Peres “a lifelong leader and trailblazer for the Jewish people and the state of Israel,” while the Republican Jewish Coalition called him “a man of vision and a good friend of the United States.” American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris, who met with Peres many times both in Israel and the U.S., said that “Peres had extraordinary energy, boundless optimism, and futureoriented vision, not only about the possibilities of peace and coexistence in the region, but also about the exciting pathways of new technologies for the benefit of humankind—from nanoscience to mapping the brain.” A global eulogy for Israel’s founding father Peres’ funeral will take place on Friday. He will lie in state at the Knesset Plaza on Thursday, so the public can bid farewell to Israel’s most veteran statesman. The
Israeli flag will fly at half-mast at government buildings as well as Israeli diplomatic missions abroad. Dozens of world leaders are expected to attend the funeral service, which will be held at Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery in Jerusalem. Among the leaders expected to attend the funeral service are Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, former President Bill Clinton, French President Francois Hollande, Britain’s Prince Charles, former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, German President Joachim Gauck and many others.
who will rank as one of the foremost of this era or any era, and someone I loved deeply,” said former British Prime Minister and Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair. German President Joachim Gauck lauded Peres as a “model for peace.” Russian President Vladimir Putin in a message of condolence said, “I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with this remarkable person many times. Every time I admired his courage and patriotism, his wisdom and vision, his ability to grasp the essence of the most difficult issues.”
In a statement, Obama called Peres the “the essence of Israel itself.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry believes officials from Egypt and Jordan will attend Peres’s funeral, along with other representatives from Arab states. According to reports, Pope Francis is also expected to attend.
“A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever,” Obama said. “Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves — to the very end of our time on earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah (thank you very much), Shimon.”
“Our father’s legacy has always been the future. Look to tomorrow, he taught us, build Israel’s future with courage and with wisdom and always continue to strive for peace. We were privileged to have been part of his private family. But today, we sense that the entire nation of Israel and the global community mourn this great loss. We share this pain, together,” said Peres’s son Chemi.
“I am sadder than words can express. This is a man who was a political giant, a statesman KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // OCTOBER 2016
Society of Builders I L ENE SC H N E I D E R / CO NT R I BU T O R
JNF is committed to the future of Israel.
verybody knows that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) plants trees,” said Jeff Goodman, co-chair of the JNF Orange County Community Breakfast, a kickoff event for the newly revitalized Orange County branch of JNF on Sunday, September 11 at the Merage Jewish Community Center. “Trees are the lungs of Israel, and Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with more trees than it had the century before.” “But trees are only 10 percent of what the JNF does,” he added. The organization is involved with water projects (reservoirs, irrigation and desalinization), historical sites (including Ammunition Hill, where Israel’s paratroopers are sworn in), forests (which are completely accessible), Aleh Negev (a facility serving 155 live-in disabled residents and 6,000 people on a part-time basis), farms that produce 60 percent of Israel’s vegetables and flowers, an indoor playground at Sderot (full of happy, smiling kids who can enjoy a terror-free environment), firefighters and programs in the 12
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Negev. The JNF is the largest landowner in Israel. Event co-chair Deby Goodman introduced special guest speaker Micah Halpern, an expert on terrorism, the Middle East and Muslim Fundamentalism, who spoke on the topic, “Inside a Terrorist’s Mind.” According to Halpern, “Before 9/11, Americans believed that a modicum of terror was acceptable. They did not realize that they were targets although the same place was targeted 10 years before by the same people.” He added,” “At that time the US was not even playing the game of fighting terror. Now it is up to the plate and swinging, forming a nexus with Israel.” Halpern related that terrorists share similar values and attack similar values, including freedom, equality and rights for women. He believes that terrorists are jealous of Israel for enriching and growing, because everything around it is desert. “Last year a Jordanian pilot was shot down by ISIS and burned alive,” Halpern said. “His father said it was against the Koran to kill a believing Muslim, but if you
don’ follow the principles of ISIS, you will be killed. A member of the supreme religious council objected and was killed. Other Sunni powers are fighting against ISIS. Al Queda looks moderate compared to ISIS, and ISIS is not about to disappear.” Halpern mused that three of the four major US Presidential candidates had a Jewish connection and that Donald Trump’s grandchild just started Jewish day school. “People are concerned that the Jews can unit and create a sense of power,” he said. According to Halpern, “Donors are givers, but contributors are partners. Make a link, and make a difference.” He added, “When people are destroying, we’re ready to rebuild. We build better than anybody in the word. We’re a society of builders. Despite our obsession with history, it is not an end in itself. It is a tool for the future.” The JNF, he said, is “committed and connected to the future of Israel.” When things are destroyed, “we build it bigger and better than ever.” Halpern explained, “The JNF does things no one else can do.
We transfer pride to ourselves and our children. We teach children to love Israel the way we do. The horizon is spectacular.” According to JNF National Campaign Director Sharon Freedman, “JNF affirms Israel, acknowledges that Israel speaks for every one of us and believes in the power of family and the dignity of all people. Our mission is protecting the dignity of our homeland and the security of Israel.” She added, “The benchmark of any charity is simple. Would it be missed if it weren’t around? Thanks to JNF, there is no water crisis in Israel, and we’re building new communities, building a medical center, paving the way for 300,000 new residents, helping firefighters, preserving Israel’s heritage sites, taking thousands of tourists to Israel, planting 250 million trees and building a living memorial.” “JNF is your voice in Israel,” Freedman concluded. “Join our journey. We’re about the vision of Israel.” For more information, please contact Lisa Grier, director, JNF Orange County, at email@example.com or (949) 2600400 x986.
In the Moment I L ENE SC H N E I D E R / CO NT R I BU T O R
reathe in the fragrance of round challah and honey cake. Experience the newness of the synagogue décor and the clothing. Hear the shofar and heed its call. The High Holy Days are a treat for the senses, but they are so much more. They give us a chance to shut out our daily lives and experience our deepest feelings. They give us a chance to think about our lives and our relationships and how to make them better. Best of all, they give us a chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves – a link in a long chain of tradition, a link to the past and the future of Judaism. In the final day of Moses’s life, the Jewish people, the new generation about to enter the Holy Land, gathered to make a covenant with God. The parashah, Nitzavim, admonishes everyone there and everyone not there, people of every occupation, people of every walk of life, to carry out the demands of the Torah.
observe the High Holy Days fully and wholeheartedly. For every observant Jewish American who works or goes to school outside High Holy Days give us time of the Jewish community, there to focus on our deepest is always the feelings. explanation of the days off at this time of year. Then there is the need to shake off the concern about missing something in the mundane world and the reaction of those outside of the Jewish world who may not understand what the High Holy Days are. We need to forget all of that for the time being. We need to experience the feeling of being enveloped together in our tradition, remembering our past and praying for our future. We need to be there for the sake of all Jewish people who ever lived and who ever will. L’Shanah Tovah!
Who are the people not there? They are the people of future generations, those who can feel as if they were standing there. In other words, they are us if we KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // OCTOBER 2016
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Spellbinding Selections RO B I N S I LV E R - Z W I R E N / CO NT R I BU T O R
Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company offers message of peace and harmony.
he Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC) had four sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House. What a thrill to be able to attend a performance, see these remarkably talented dancers and have the opportunity to meet with some of the participants! The audience was filled with people of all ages — families getting together, women enjoying “girls night out” and couples having date night. As in all of Australia, it was a hodgepodge
of creeds and faiths. Although the KCDC is an Israeli group, its dancers are not all Jews, which further proves how cosmopolitan our tiny MidEast nation has become. The sixteen dancers come from France, Russia, Spain and the United States but live on Kibbutz Ga’aton with the Israeli artists. This gives them the opportunity to connect while performing or doing daily chores, eating meals or listening to music. The audience faced the stage mesmerized by the talent in front of it. The choreography is so unique and spellbinding. Artistic
Director Rami Be’er learned from one of the best: Yehudit Arnon, a Holocaust survivor who dedicated her life to dance and educating others. Be’er has certainly taken her sense of movement to the next level. The selections in “Horses in the Sky” show off the individual’s talents and expertise. It seems, like the Land of Israel itself, to come together with a synchronized bang.
music and dancers so that every scene screams for attention. Nonetheless, if you close your eyes, you will feel like you are dreaming. Be’er says that there is no actual story, because he wants the members of the audience to interpret their own visions. Be’er wants the music and dance of the KCDC to create dialogue and form bridges not only in Israel and the Middle East but for audiences worldwide.
Costumes are simplistic so that they do not detract from the message of birth and renewal, of weakness to strength. The nearly identical dress also makes a statement that we are all the same, no matter where we are born, the color of our skin or religion we practice. The main thing is to find peace and harmony so that we can glide across a floor together.
Power streams from the music to the strength of each dancer to the words of “Horses in the Sky”. Ballet combined with jazz, gymnastics and talent galore. The KCDC is no second rate company from a small strip of land in the middle of the desert. This is a powerful, world-class troupe well worth seeing. The Sydney performances had several gracious sponsors including the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Sydney Opera House Board Members and individual patrons. Much thanks to everyone who made these performances possible and to those who support the KCDC year-round.
“Horses in the Sky” is a song for peace. It takes the conflict of living in Israel, of trying to make peace with our neighbors, to dancing together gracefully. Rami Be’er combines the choreography, 16
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The International Dance Village at Kibbutz Ga’aton is home to the Dance Journey Program, which
is sponsored by the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Interested dancers over the age of 18 can participate and perform alongside the professional troupe for either a five-month or ten-month term as well as a summer program. In fact, one former participant is a graduate of UCI who stated that the KCDC program was one of the most rewarding experiences in both her personal and professional career. Living on a kibbutz, learning Hebrew and Israeli culture, is an opportunity of a lifetime. These dance courses can earn university credit and are recognized worldwide. Plans are being made for this
program to be an accredited BFA in dance course of study. KCDC also runs several programs for teenagers. The Advanced Dance Program for exceptionally talented teens is for teens aged fifteen to eighteen. Professional Dance Workshops are an amazing opportunity for middle and high schoolers to get a better idea of what life is like for professional dancers, from learning about the extensive training to necessary nutrition in order to keep healthy as well as how to deal with injuries the KCDC experts help train the next generation of enthusiasts.
KCDC runs programs for at-risk youths, children from abusive homes or ones suffering from developmental delays. There is a multi-cultural program bringing Jews and Arabs together through their love of dance. Helping to sponsor any of these programs is a wonderful Bâ€™nai Mitzvah project. ď ? For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kosher OC Magazine - Jewish Life in Orange County: http://www.KosherOC.com